The mental health thread


Part 4.
PTSD. My journey with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Late 1975 I went back to my old job with the Bureau Meteorology. At the beginning of 1976 I began night school to complete my Senior certificate in Physics and Maths. I was off the booze and feeling better although I was still having nightmares and anxiety attacks, but my focus was to complete my Senior certificate. I passed both subjects at the end of the year and this enable me to apply for two jobs, one with Foreign Affairs Dept in Canberra and the other within the Bureau as a Technical Officer Meteorology Observer. I was successful in both applications but chose the Bureau job as I wanted to get out of communications. In the meantime, I had been dating a young lady for six months and we married on the 5th March 1977. Directly after the wedding I started my twelve months course in Melbourne at the Bureau Meteorology School. On my course I was experiencing anxiety attacks with body shakes and trembling especially when manually tracking weather balloons by radar and using a slide rule. My condition worsened as the year went on, so I went to a local doctor to get some tablets to calm me down, but he refused and instead sent me to a Psychiatrist. The Psychiatrist said I had severe war like depression causing anxiety, like Battle Fatigue in the Second World War and wanted to put me into Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. Note PTSD was not named at this stage. I refused to go into hospital, but he did put me on anxiety tablets in which helped to calm me down. To continue with the tablets, I had to make monthly appointments to see him. I successfully completed my course and was posted back to Queensland to Amberley Air Force Base along with another Vietnam veteran who was on my course. His name was Don, but his nickname was “The Grunt”. He was an Infantry soldier in Vietnam and his platoon was hit hard with high rate of casualties. Like me he was having nightmares and not sleeping much. In Vietnam he had to put several of his mates into body bags. This was his recurring nightmare with their open eyes in death staring at him. He was living in the Officer’s Quarters and never left the base until his annual holiday to Bangkok. The only person he could communicate with, was me. Sadly, he ended his life in Bangkok in 1981 by shooting his brains out after I had transferred to Longreach. Only spent one year in Longreach before the Bureau transferred me back to Brisbane in 1982 to the Relief pool. In October 1983 my daughter was born in Brisbane. Two months old, she had an operation to remove a digital fibroma tumor from her toe. We blamed it on Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide to eliminate jungle cover which contained the deadly chemical dioxin which caused serious health issues including cancer, birth defects, rashes and severe psychological and neurological problems with Vietnam veterans and their children. In August 1984 I was transferred to Charleville Airport Met Office. My son was born in August 1985 and he often came out in rashes all over his body. The doctors didn’t seem to know what it was. One said it was caused by stress, but we believed it was Agent Orange. In 1988 I was promoted to Officer in Charge at Gladstone Met Office. With the new position, pressure increased causing more nightmares and anxiety attacks. My family and friends pleaded for me to go and get help but I refused as I was obsessed with work in other words I had become a workaholic instead previously I was a alcoholic. My lifestyle was busy. I was on the local Council Disaster committee, Acting Port Meteorology Agent by visiting ships in Gladstone harbor to maintain their instruments, junior soccer and AFL, and I joined the local Vietnam Veterans Association (VVA). VVA made me their Welfare Officer but I only lasted in the job for a month. I was visiting this Vietnam Vet in Gladstone Hospital. He tried to suicide after he threatened people with a shot gun in the caravan park where he was living. By visiting him my nightmares and anxiety increased so I quit the VVA job. Surprisingly I survived the Gladstone years as I was in denial of my condition. In 1993 I was transferred to Rockhampton Airport Met Office as a Supervisor. The office was like a pressure pit hole with a lot of personality clashes in the workplace. Nothing destroys morale faster in a workplace than personality clashes when two or more people can’t get along. It drags down the entire office. I tried to present a “normal” face but it was a debilitating struggle with the pressure immense, eventually something had to give. It was only a matter of time before I cracked.

Will do Part 5 in a few days. Sorry about my story dragging on.


Don’t worry in the slightest about the length of the story, if sharing helps you or others to make their way through issues like this it’s worth more pages than the internet can generate!


Back in the 1980 and until recently the Mental Health Ward at Heidelberg Repat was very ordinary and you were probably correct in not going there.

Happy to say, that in the last four years they have improved amazingly. My Son has been both an inpatient and outpatient, and I have visited regularly. Many Vets from Vietnam now getting good treatment and counselling, along with those the latest wars, and others from Police and Energency Services.


It’s a special thing to give others (an) insight, where otherwise we would be/are left in the dark and only have anecdotal information.

So don’t be sorry, I think it’s great.


My admiration and respect goes to each and everyone of you who have shared your story.


Threads like this are actually bad for my mental health. When I see others struggling more than me, it makes me feel worse about my own anxiety which has no cause but has always been apart of me. It took me until 2 years ago to identify what I’d always assumed was low self esteem or worthless feelings were actually anxiety. I haven’t needed medication but found seeing a psychologist for coping techniques invaluable. However now that I’m pregnant my hormones are making it all flare up on random occasions which sucks massively.


You certainly put my problems into perspective. It’s amazing how all consuming your own probs seem until you see what someone else is going through.

Thanks for sharing dmorg1. It’s horrible and interesting/eye opening all at the same time.


I just started reading ’ The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck '.

May not be cure-all but it’s certainly raises some good points for those that suffer from stress and anxiety.


not just in regards to mental health, but in general you always think to yourself yeah we don’t know what this guy or girl has gone through, so we shoulnd’t judge, think of them badly etc etc, but as a natural instinct we kinda do.

but people just go through so much crap in their lives that it’s just not right.

one of the main other areas I was really awoken to last year, was just how prevalent domestic violence is, again you know it’s out there, you know it exists, but just like mental health issue, you just don’t realise how many people have been through it, or are going through it.

Hopefully this thread has helped everyone whos read it or posted in it, if for nothing else but to maybe get a better insight in why people are the way they are.


This is by far, the best thread on blitz I’ve ever read. Bravo, blitz


If nothing else, sometimes it helps to know that you’re not alone.


Or even if you are there are many people who are happy to have a chat to you.

Sometimes being annonymous also helps talk about something you feel like you can’t talk about in person.


My workplace has just booked an independent, external counsellor for us to chat with. We all have a 30 min session booked for us which is not compulsory.
I think this is a positive thing but part of me is very cynical based on some incidents i have seen in the last few years involving heavy bullying by middle/senior management. (2 of which ended up at the Industrial Relation Commission and the employees won).
Personally I have been on a bit of a rollercoaster the last 12 months due to stuff concerning people close to me but I dont feel like I have anything particularly wrong with me…I’ll go for a chat with an open mind but not sure what to expect.
Good on them for trying I suppose, it might be the catalyst for some people to start the road to recovery.

I have nothing but admiration for those of you who have shared your struggles in here. That takes true strength and for that you should be proud.


Mrs Fox is a clinical psychotherapist and does EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) for many Companies large and small. Totally confidential and optional for the staff, and it seems to turn around poor culture in many Organisations where staff struggle for all sorts of reasons to perform their jobs and be happy in their work.

It also focuses Management into understanding that their staff need mental health support for work, family and life issues. Results seem good and these Organisations continue to offer the program and pay the substantial costs, so they must get a return.


It’s worth asking about the confidentiality of the practice when your employer is paying for it. Often the particular psychologist will be committed to confidentiality of their client. Once your situation is discussed amongst the team of therapist. It might not be. Ethically it’s not good practice to disclose confidentiality, but technicality the employer is the client… not the person sitting the therapist room.

Its generally a good option for staff to get free therapy. 99% of the time there won’t be a conflict of interest between the needs of the employer and employee receiving the therapy. But there can be an issue. I’d encourage anyone to discuss the disclosure process, when there is a conflict of interest.

Ie. I was receiving support from EAP, which is very much encouraged for all people working in Welfare & mental health organisations. I disclosed that I was struggling with this job, and have applied for another job. My particular therapist was committed to my welfare, but her supervisors were concerned that their client (my employer) they were wasting $$$ on a service for someone that will be resigning in the next month.


Well Jono, all I can attest to is the effort Mrs Fox goes to ensure everything is confidential. And I know how it works as I do all the invoicing for her to the Companies she does EAP for.

No names are ever used, in any document, EAPservices are advertised as available to Staff (they offer a number of Counsellor contact Names), and it is up to the Employee to call Mrs Fox make the appointment and then we bill the employer. I was very sceptical about it at first, as I was not sure that a Company would pay an invoice with no order number or any real details like the employees name, but they all do !!

Mrs Fox does do a summary report back the Employers periodically, but again no names are used and it is really about statistics on numbers using the EAP. As part of Mrs Fox professional process, she does undertake supervision sessions with her peers, but again no names and no personal details are ever on the table.


This is small fries compared to everything else on here but I’m having one of those weeks where it feels like I’m carrying everyone and more and more just keeps piling up. Start the day and get to bed exhausted without having done the small goals you’d like to have done for yourself and then tomorrow’s stuff looks more hectic than today’s. How do you decide who to say no to? Bring on the weekend. Haven’t had a drink for weeks. Friday night after a run might be time for a few.


I can perhaps help with that one… it’s my all day every day.

  1. Make a list
  2. Prioritise the list
  3. Delegate
  4. It’s OK to say No

At the end of each day redo the list

Only takes a few minutes each day but it orders your thinking which helps enormously.


Thanks Darli. I’m hoping it isn’t forming into a new trend. I will certainly be coming up with a system of priority if it continues. When I start neglecting a few of my own things (like keeping fit) I start to go a bit off kilter.


I don’t question the ethical practice of psychologists or their organisations. In fact, EAP can be a big case load for many therapists. It’s very normal for Psychologist practices to be an EAP certified practice.

But it’s always important to ask these questions of the practice, when someone else is paying your therapy bills.