I am a 49 year old man, serving 21 years in the Defence Force. But it all started back when I was a teenager and followed me through my life.
At the age of 13, I started drinking to run away from my pain. I found out the hard way that drinking and suicide ideation don’t mix and ended up in rehab at age 22. I have been sober ever since.
In about 2010, my thoughts started turning back towards ending my life. I found myself going through a life changing and traumatising accident. This left me thinking about ending my life, once again. I knew a part of myself didn’t come back with me and knew I was going to be a danger to myself, so I asked for help.
My life had changed forever. I lost count of how many times I tried to take my life and I wasn't able to work again. We moved to Perth (where my family live) so I could have support. I called someone every morning to say I was alive. Sometimes they would call me if I hadn’t made the call, even though sometimes it was as simple as me not being able to find my phone.
Suicide ideation wasn’t all I was dealing with. I had severe anxiety, I couldn't speak more than three words without stuttering and I had the shakes so bad I had to think really hard to make it stop. I have depression and PTSD, memory loss, and even a little brain damage. I felt like I was a prisoner in my own world - I didn’t see a way out of my situation, so my thoughts kept coming back to taking my own life.
Through time, and with a lot of hard work, I was able to slowly re-enter the world. I started to think: ‘I am walking forward’. I even felt the need to help other Veterans. If I can walk forward, so can they. Sometimes I felt my efforts fell on deaf ears, so I would lose hope again. Time and time again, I had to find new paths to follow.
I found myself working in my garden and listening to music, and I started to write poetry. These things were so helpful, and writing poetry was new for me. I didn't know I could do it. But I did know, it was time to turn things around again.
With the right support, my life was taking a new turn - from always thinking about taking my life, to being well enough to talk to others about where I had come from to where I am now. I was slowly growing and my mindset was changing. I was thinking ‘I CAN do this,' and it had been a long time since I thought that.
From a scared and broken child in a man's body to a man with hope, I was slowly able to reconnect to society. I was pushing my personnel boundaries into new territories.
Yes I have PTSD, and yes I have other mental ailments, yet I am not waiting at home for them to run my life. Now, I have learnt the self-care skills it takes to keep me well.