The mental health thread


#62

The old adage, knowledge is power, really rings true.

you hear the same old things about all this on repeat, do this do that yada yada, and in most cases they don’t tell you what the process behind it, they don’t tell you why it should help, or the triggers to look out for if it’s not helping.

Id’ encourage what you say above, find out a diagnosis, and then learn as much as possible about it, so you can figure out what to do, but also why to do it, or why it should help in theory, and then hope like hell it all clicks and works.


#63

Yep. I often look at it in abstract terms.

When you’re battling against a mental illness, you’re going up against something that knows everything about you.

The only way to level the playing field, is to know everything about it.


#64

Thanks, I’ll take a look at this one. I use another free one called Insight Timer, usually 20-30 minute meditations to help me calm down and release all tension before sleep, and sometimes for my anxiety during the day if I get a chance. It helps a lot.


#65

Hey Mate,
I just wanted to touch on a few things for yourself that may provide options given you mentioned your time in Timor. All vets with who hold a white/gold card are eligible to be referred for exercise physiology/rehab/physiotherapy sessions at a health care provider.

That’s what you can tell your GP ^
In plain speak you join a community of veterans that gather on a regular basis of between 1-3 times per week to undertake exercise structured around what you’re referred for on your card/by your GP. These referred conditions range from the classic lower backs/knees/hips/shoulders to the PTSD, Adjustment Disorders, Anxieties and unlimited other possibilities.

Now the benefits of cardiac rehab for a vet’s heart condition, rehabilitating an ankle/knee or simply the mental break and clarity from the aerobic training is pretty straight forward, but I unashamedly concede the most benefit to come from elsewhere. The community of these guys, in such an environment, with such similar experience and people to bounce off is of far more benefit than anything we provide. Some guys have come from isolation, I’ve seen guys come out of their shells or others take action when someone else is trying to retreat into theirs.

This isn’t a plug for my work and this may not directly relate to you but I implore you to explore it or pass it along to anyone you think it could help as there are plenty of places nationally that offer this style of service. I’ve worked in this field long enough to have an insight into the side of Veteran’s Mental Health, of guys I’d now call good friends, and there’s just not enough awareness of the services available for these guys that damn well deserve it. I have LTCs, Grunts ,SAS, Afghan, Timor, Vietnam; it caters for all different histories of service and often brings about a reunion or two where a few world problems are solved over a post session coffee (and a few more created too, don’t worry!)

In terms of seeking help, DVA advocates are your best bet for helping you out with getting the benefits you deserve. I kid you not that last Wednesday the exact line you said about it being ‘just East Timor’ was explained to me by another Vet with similar frustrations. If you’re WA local I’m happy to help where I can, similarly if you’re interstate though I’m somewhat limited in comparison.

In any case drop me a line or PM if you need any help at all, great to see you reaching out.
I have plenty more information and answers to your questions if you have any - take care mate


#66

I’ve heard/read this time and time again and could tell by the first few lines you’d served somewhere in the armed forces. I did some work with the Vets Affairs a while back and read over tireless amounts of claims as a lackey. I’m definitely no expert, so this may seem obvious but learn what you can from your local RSL representative. They’re a mixed bunch from the very well informed to the staunch. Find out what you can from your mates.

Aside from that, one of the tricky aspects of dealing with mental health is, often one doesn’t know exactly how bad a condition they’re in until upon reflection at some stage after they’ve gone for some form(s) of mental health assistance. Talking with those whom you shared experiences (not just in Timor but prior to that) with is one of them.

EDIT. Just read WesternDon’s post. Sound advice.


#67

Dmorg1, truly harrowing. It shocked me the first time I read an account almost identical your pt.1, what shocks and saddens me now even more is that there are numerous accounts all very similar which I came across. I’m sorry you had to endure this.

I hope your dealings with the DVA have been as painless as possible, Vietnam vets are unique amongst the different claimants. Many suffered more than just ball ache at the hands of the beauracracy. More importantly I hope you’re managing in general. Much respect.


#68

Paul thanks for your kind words and that goes to all Blitzers. Yes we were aware what was going on at home with the public when I was in Vietnam. The Unions played a major part in the hatred of the Vietnam war especially the wharfies in refusing to load our supplies onto the Jeparit. The posties refused to deliver our letters and our mail was one of the things that kept us going through the war. We were encouraged to write on the front of our envelopes when sending letters home “Wack a Wharfie” and “Punch a Postie” We were called the baby killers because of the My Lai massacre committed by a US platoon that massacred a village including babies. It became public knowledge in November 1969 while I was still in Vietnam. When I was in Vietnam my unit including me would often go and visit orphanages and give the little kids our ration packs including lollies and chocolates. When I arrived home I was shocked to see so much hatred towards us. Urine, pigs blood were some of the things were thrown at us. Horrible times in Australia history.


#69

Thanks for sharing dmorg1


#70

I’ve been hesitant to post in here, cos of alot of bad blood from alot of people, but eh, i only really see one person from this site so meh. that plus in reality and like i’ve always known my problems are lesser imo cos there’s no visible cause or reason, ■■■■ just happened haha.

anyway i suffer from anxiety, and altho never clinically diagnosed, from reading and watching and ackowledging certain traits, suffer from depression. I prolly should get a proper diagnosis on both fronts.

Guess can’t add too much to any of the above situations other people have described, i have good periods, i have bad periods, and have alot inbetween.

I guess i dont’ have it as bad as others, so i’ve never really gone into full blown do everything possible to fix it (as much as one can) mode, so i don’t have the lows others have, and i don’t have the highs others have, I just sit in a somewhat numb middle, where i’m content when i’m not visible thinking or reactiong emotionally to being unhappy.
Guess that’s the curse to not having a visible concrete reason as to why i suffer it.

The only thing i’d make mention of, in the hope some get it is, I’ve always tried to be pragmatically honest to a fault. However that gets interpreted as negative or miserable or all that crap, even if i turn out to be 100% correct in what I’ve said.
I’ve never seen the point in trying to live in any sort of fairyland, or delusion, I believe i can see faults in everything, and still choose to invest my time, energy and effort into whatever, because I choose to see the whole picture, the good the bad the ugly, and go right, I like this or that for this reason, while also acknowledging i don’t like this aspect about it.

and that’s all i’ve ever seen it as, a pragmatic analysis of my perceived facts of reality, to get as close to what i believe is the honest truth on anything or situation.
and trust me, people have claimed i’m harshly unfair on the EFC, among other things, that’s nothing to the scrutiny i put myself under and through, via the same lovely process above.

anyway, that’s enough rambling, take what you will from it, whether it was something or nothing.


#71

Excercise is the single biggest thing that helped me. I don’t really feel comfortable sharing on here, but I was all kinds of messed up

Taking up boxing was the best thing I ever did. Would recommend it to anyone


#72

Yes, (as we both stated earlier) you really should get a proper diagnosis.


#73

There’s a reason Exercise Physiology as a profession is booming and in many cases muscling in on the turf of physios.


#74

Part 3.
PTSD. My journey with posttraumatic stress disorder.
I couldn’t settle in Melbourne very long. I became very restless, so I quit the Defence Dept job and went to Darwin. I got a job with the Bureau of Meteorology as a Communication Operator, but my life was going further down into a big black hole. Drinking very heavily by now and getting into pub fights. I had so much anger in me. It was strange because I felt good when I was in fist fights. After six months in Darwin I transferred in my job back to Brisbane to be closer to my family. It didn’t work as I was upsetting my mum too much, lashing out putting my fists into walls, doors and upending furniture etc. My sister married a yank and was living in Portland Oregon USA. I decided to quit my job with the Bureau and head to the USA. On arriving in Portland Oregon, I soon discovered my sister was being abused by her husband. This put me further down in the black hole. I took off to Vancouver in Canada, travelled by train across Canada to Montreal Quebec. I had a plan to end it all by jumping off the train during the night but discovered all the doors were locked. After Montreal I headed back to the USA to New York city. I booked into an old cheap run-down hotel about two blocks from Time Square. Here I hit rock bottom. The date was the 30th April 1975 and on tv I viewed the end of the Vietnam War with helicopters being pushed off Aircraft Carriers and people fleeing the fall of Saigon. I broke down as I lost my best mate in Vietnam. The price for Australia was high, losing over five hundred Aussies, with the wounded over three thousand. For the next few days I boozed and wiped myself out. Fumbling for cash from my wallet in a bar for more drink, I came across a piece of paper with an address of an American soldier, who was attached to my unit in Vietnam in 1969. He gave me his address in case I ever visited USA. He lived in Billings Montana. I decided to visit Ron as I needed someone to talk to especially someone that experienced war to see how he was coping. I travelled by Greyhound bus to Chicago, stopping for a couple of days, then onto Billings Montana. I found Ron was no longer living at the address he gave me. He had shifted to Helena Montana. It was an emotional reunion like two brothers getting together again. Ron had moved on from Vietnam well. He didn’t have any issues from the war. He married Sandy a High School Art teacher. He was an accountant but opted to be a postman, a simple way of life he reckons. They were both into fitness and health which turned out a blessing for me. They could see I was struggling with life with the booze, so Ron and Sandy and their network of friends got me going again. The biggest hurdle was to get me out of the bars. They set out a plan for me with coping strategies and techniques. Every morning they got me up early and got me into a routine and practice mindful meditation, then onto exercise like bike rides or an early morning runs. They introduced daily golds for me, like chop carting wood, gardening work, or cleaning and helping their friends with any odd jobs for my keep. They introduced me to cross country skiing and rock climbing. Every day was set up with some activity that would stimulate my brain and provide distraction from my problems and negative thoughts, breaking the cycle of rumination, increasing a sense of control over life, increasing my energy levels and above all motivated me to do more with self esteem and a sense of achievement. I owe my life to Ron, Sandy and their friends of Helena Montana. I was with Ron and Sandy for four months. Off the booze I discovered I had improved my self esteem and confidence and I was determined and motivated to do well in my life. After eight months in the US, I returned home to the Sunshine Coast feeling like I had been given a new life, but I was still having nightmares.

Hope my story can help anyone with depression. Part 4 within the next few days.


#75

You can torture yourself with this: there never really is a “a reason”. It just is. You just live with it and do what you can to minimise symptoms (and sometimes, after a bit, you realise you’ve not had any down patches or moments).
No real cause, no real cure.

But yes as Peos says, get yourself diagnosed. It’s really just knowing the name of what you’re dealing with, takes a GP one appt. Sounds like you’ve got mild-ish stuff, but if you’re noticing it, your life could well be better if you get some counselling/meds/lifestyle changes/whatevs.


#76

For all:
Govt provides coverage of counselling through a “mental health care plan” which your GP can prescribe. Even if you’re skint, there are psychs who will bulk bill it.

See here


#77

I’m lucky enough not to have suffered any kind of mental illness, but my work (yes, another social worker), and experience with friends, family etc tells me I’m nowhere near immune. I guess no one is.

2 things:

Mental Health First Aid training is very good

There is serious courage in this thread, and the fact that this thread is here makes me feel really good about bbq as a community, while giving me some hope for broader society. Well done everyone. Keep this space safe, encourage others to share, and all the best.


#78

Having a mental health plan is great. Reduces a lot of the cost of seeing a psychologist


#79

I’m not sure I’m depressed, I’m sure as ■■■■ exhausted, constantly.

I’ve got a partner, who despite being undiagnosed we are pretty certain is autistic, who also suffers from depression and anxiety, I’ve got a 10-year-old daughter, I’ve got a 7-year old daughter who has been diagnosed with autism and anxiety, I’ve got a 4-year-old who we are just starting the diagnosis process for, but I expect we will find that she is also autistic with a nice side of something like oppositional defiance disorder as well. Also got a 2-year-old son and the partner is pregnant with our 5th.

So I’m not sure so much if I’m depressed or simply don’t have anytime for any kind of self care myself, or that I have to give so much to everyone else that I have nothing left for myself.

On top of that you have the additional burden of the financial stress of being a low single income family.

I’m not suicidal or anything but I have thought in the past that if something was to happen to me, my family would at least get a payout of around $450K which would not necessarily be a terrible thing, because at this stage I get paid next Wednesday and have to figure out how to make about $50 stretch until then.


#80

First thing I’d say Ealesy, is to never be too hard on yourself. You’re living some legit high-end, real-life stress there, the type that would give most people some level of stress disorder / anxiety. (I know from personal experience that financial stress in particular can be absolutely debilitating.)

I’m not in any way qualified to make a judgement call on whether you have depression or not, but regardless of that aspect, it does sound a bit like anxiety. How well do you sleep?

Maybe just have a chat to your GP about it next time you are there, and maybe read through the posts above about mindfulness and meditation. It could be of benefit.

And while it is noble to be selfless and invest all your time and energy looking after those closest to you, you do need to be selfish occasionally and look after yourself. The better you are, the better help you’ll be.

All the best man, and good on you for sharing.


#81

Wow, That’s sounds very challenging and stressful.

I’ve always been of the belief that everyone should have a good therapist, regardless of what mental state your in.

I’d say, if there is one positive thing you could do for yourself, it’s get yourself a psychologist. They’re not just there for you to talk about your emotions, but they also give you strategies of how to manage children, your partner and family issues. Which sounds like you might well need.

For a start I’d suggest making a call to Relationships Australia, ask to talk to someone about your situation. They might suggest you and your partner see a therapist together, as a whole family or possibly suggest a men’s program for you. Relationships Australia specialises in supporting families. They also offer billing which is based on wage, so if your on 60k a year, they might charge $60 a season (for example). In the long run it’s a great investment for your stress levels and family.

Anyway, it could be worth having this conversation with your partner ( about Getting help together) especially with another little one on the way, and the stress levels about to rise to another level. But also giving yourselves a game plan for how your going to work as a team to manage 5 children in the house.

http://www.relationships.org.au/what-we-do/family-relationship-centres