A north-east man who lost his son to suicide has written a book to help come to terms with his grief – and to encourage more people to talk about mental health.
Former military nurse Chris Buswell, who suffers from PTSD as a result of his time in the forces and has a specially trained dog to help him cope with the condition, began writing Buried in Grief after undergoing therapy to help him deal with his loss.
The novel centres around parents who lose their son in a car accident and their emotional ordeal.
Though fictional, it was inspired by Mr Buswell’s own experiences.
His son Angus, who was night manager at the Peterhead branch of McDonald’s, committed suicide three years ago at the age of 22.
For the 49-year-old, his wife Karla and their 24-year-old daughter Abigail, a nighttime knock at the door from two police officers turned their lives upside down.
Mr Buswell said: “When I lost my son to suicide and I lost my mind for a little while – it went in an odd direction.
“There had been no warning at all so it made me very anxious on top of the military PTSD I had.
“The trauma was latching onto the personal trauma.
“To get my head fixed, as it were, by a professional at Cornhill, I had to relive events from my military career and the events surrounding my son’s death.
“It was a difficult time but it gave me a valuable insight into personal grief, and the story came from there.”
The book, set in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, deals with the immediate grief of the family and how it extends to the police, a pathologist, neighbours and even a florist.
Mr Buswell said: “It has a really Marmite ending – people will love it or hate it.
“But people have said there are characters they relate to.
“I’m at the stage now where I wanted to talk about suicide as I don’t think we talk enough about mental health, and I’m hoping that by doing talks and writing the book I can get that across.”
Also helping Mr Buswell is his PTSD assistance dog Lyn, who helps him cope with the stress and flashbacks from his time as a military nurse – particularly relating to his experiences in Cyprus.
Trained in calming techniques, the pet helps keep him calm and acts as a comfort when he needs it.
Mr Buswell, who lives in Boddam, said: “Before I had her I wouldn’t leave the house, but now I have her I’m off.”
He is hosting an event in Peterhead Library on Saturday, October 19, from 2pm to 3.30pm to talk about his experiences and how they led him to pen his book.