Photographer and Journalist Jason P. Howe moved to the mountains of Andalusia, Spain from Kabul, Afghanistan after suffering a breakdown attributed to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) The breakdown followed almost a decade of covering and witnessing violence and war for the international media. In countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Colombia.
Jason sits deep in thought in his study holding one of his first cameras. After leaving Kabul Jason struggled to deal with bouts of severe depression, drug abuse and alcoholism as he tried to deal with the many feelings he experienced after Pte Bainbridge a 25 year old with 3 SCOTS (The Black Watch) lost his legs in an I.E.D attack in Afghanistan. Jason walked over the I.E.D seconds before Pte Bainbridge he believes it was only his light gear of a camera and body armour that saved his life.
Jason has worked very little since leaving Kabul. This has meant he has increasingly changed the way he lives, in the long winter months he becomes increasingly resourceful to survive. Here Jason scavenges the remote river beds for fire wood.
Jason with his dogs outside his house. Life in the Mountains is hard with the nearest town over three hours walk away or a 30 minutes drive down remote mountain tracks that in the winter can often be impassable. The physical nature of living in such a remote location has allowed Jason to deal with almost a decade of conflict.
Jason sits in the kitchen of his neighbors. The remote mountains attract all kind of people looking for solitude. Jason's new age traveler neighbors moved to the near by riverbed in the late 90's where they now survive selling marijuana. In this barter economy Jason often trades his skills or labor for supplies.
Jason plays outside his kitchen with his dogs in the summer sun. As a consequence of years spent on front lines Jason suffers from hyper vigilance and is constantly on alert for threats. The dogs provide protection from thieves who often target the remote houses.
Jason scavenging for wood in the dry river bed near his home in the mountains of Southern Spain.
Jason lies outside while seeking comfort and reassurance from his three dogs after a nights heavy drinking at his remote house in the mountains of Andalusia, Jason's contact with people was minimal whilst in the worst throws of his PTSD, this has given way to an extremely strong bond with his dogs. Alcohol and drug abuse is a common coping mechanism and symptoms of PTSD this leads further to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Jason has since given up drinking in a bid to curb his symptoms.
An Afghan carpet depicting weapons of war lies in the hall of Jason's remote house in Southern Spain. Jason surrounds himself with many reminders of his time at War, this is a common trait in sufferers of PTSD.
Jason sleeps in the heat of a summers afternoon. The experiences of the military and media who face events of extreme violence close up can bring enduring turmoil. Jason often experiences violent night terrors and nightmares. In the past he has turned to alcohol and drugs to blot the intrusions out.
Jason walks through olive groves near his home in Andalusia. Due to Jason's experiences and hyper vigilance he carries either a grab bag or first aid kit every where he goes, with enough supplies for 24 hours in case he needs to escape or sufferers injury.
A photo of Jason and his brother in Helmand province, Afghanistan hangs in Jason's house. He embedded with his brother in Afghanistan sharing the combat experience from different perspectives. They are extremely close after their experiences on the front line. Jason suffered from violent night terrors and nightmares, a recurring frequent occurrence, the most vivid and traumatic of which see's Jason killing his brother with a rock and being unable to stop.
Jason outside his remote farm house in Andalusia after a heavy nights drinking. At the height of his depression he would often drink half a bottle of spirits and a bottle of wine a day to deal with his feelings and experiences of war. This coping mechanism further leads to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Jason has since given up drinking in a bid to curb his symptoms.
Jason speaks to his family in the UK in the river bed near his home in the mountains of Southern Spain. The remoteness and isolation is a form of self imposed exile. This enables him to deal with his experiences. Fear of strangers, public places and large crowds are a common symptom of PTSD. He still speaks regularly to his mother in England.
Jason sleeps on the balcony of his home in the remote region of Andalusia, Spain in mid winter. Jason's hyper vigilance means he sleeps not in one of the two bedrooms of his home but on the floor of the outdoor balcony, with his boots and a 24 hr grab bag to hand to enable him to make a quick escape if he needs. Jason's behavior stems from being involved in a large scale suicide bomb which caused major damage to his hotel in Baghdad whilst he slept, since he has chosen to sleep outside wherever possible.
Jason walks the three hour trek from the Vets in the near by town of Alora after his dog Delta fell ill with a mysterious illness. Without acquiring three puppies from a neighbour when he arrived to the mountains Jason believes he would of committed suicide in his darkest hours, with only the dogs pulling him through.
Jason prepares to drive the thirty minute drive to the nearest town collect supplies with his dog Delta. The acquisition of three puppies from a neighbor when Jason moved to Spain in his words "Saved his life". Without them he believes he would of committed suicide in one of his deepest depressions.
Jason walks his dogs along the local riverbed. He walks his dogs around two or three times a day to clear his head, increasingly he has moved away from the world of photography concentrating on a simpler existence.
Jason plays with his dogs on the dry river bed near his remote house in Andalusia Spain. He walks his dogs around two or three times a day to clear his head, increasingly he has moved away from the world of photography concentrating on a simpler existence.
Jason pauses to reflect whilst building a kennel for his dogs to protect them from the mid day sun. The experience and insight into the culture of reporting from conflict zones and the effects this has on the human condition often fuels a culture of denial that often exists within it. Jason now believes he was suffering from PTSD many years before his breakdown.
Jason sits in the morning sun after a night of heavy drinking, drinking is a way of blocking out the frequent nightmares he suffers after a covering a decade of conflict. At the height of his PTSD Jason would drink half a litre of spirits and a bottle of wine a day. He has since quit drinking in a bid to heal and deal with the consequences of witnessing a decade of violence.
Jason scans his surroundings after hearing a engine in the distance. Hyper vigilance and hyper arousal are common symptoms of PTSD with sufferers often finding certain environments, noises or experiences being triggers of memories for past experiences.
Jason hangs his washing in the summer sun outside his house in Andalusia.
Jason carries his Dog Delta the three hour trek from the Vets in the near by town of Alora back to his home in the mountains after his dog Delta fell ill with a mysterious illness. With out acquiring three puppies from a neighbor when he arrived to the mountains Jason believes he would of committed suicide in his darkest hours, with only the dogs pulling him through.
Cost Of Conflict
War photographer Jason P Howe's battle with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Jason Howe's photograph of Private Stephen Bainbridge stepping on an IED in Afghanistan set in motion a traumatic chain of events for the photographer himself as he comes to terms with a decade of witnessing violent conflict after moving to a remote house in southern spain.