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From guilt to feeling good

It wasn‘t the combat. Combat and taking action was what I was trained for. My problem was the way of life over there. It is just so different. Life is cheap. Women and children are abused, sold or killed so easily and I couldn’t do anything about it. We couldn’t interfere with local customs but having to stand on the sidelines made me feel helpless and guilty.

Coming down from deployment, from always being on your guard, took some time but before long I stopped jumping at loud noises and I even got used to feeling safe again in the Sydney traffic.

But home felt different. It was like I was looking at my life through different eyes. I felt like I had changed but my family had stood still and now I was out of step.

A civilian man in a depressed state of mind.

The launch of a range of mental health educational resources and self-assessment tools in 2012–13 continues to improve mental health awareness, reduce stigma and barriers to care, and encourage individuals to seek help early. (20120513 DVA_MF_2056)

I couldn‘t tell my wife. I wanted to protect her and the kids from the bad stuff I had seen. They thought I was a hero, not realising how guilty I felt. I started shutting them reached a point where I just didn’t want to live with them anymore.

I didn‘t fit anymore. It got so bad I didn’t want to get out of bed.

I spent a lot of time on the net, wasting time so I didn’t have to spend time with the kids. The kids reminded me of how helpless I felt overseas. I found some YouTube videos about other veterans and they were talking about how l felt. lt made me think that I may not be the only one. They also talked about how they asked for help and things got better. There was a link to the At Ease website. I discovered that what I was feeling was not unusual, and I could change it.

At first I tried some of the self-help tools on At Ease. It was hard at first, but once I started to think first before responding, there were fewer arguments at home. But I realised I needed more help.

I talked to my wife. We both went to see her GP and I was referred to a psychologist. We went together for the first appointment so my wife could explain to the psych what she was seeing at home and how different I was since I went away. That really opened my eyes. The following visits were by myself. The psych made me feel safe to talk about my sense of failure and guilt. He helped me come to terms with my actions and to realise my feelings of guilt had resulted in serious depression.

DVA is paying for my treatment and I didn’t have to make a compensation claim. I am still working and that is really important, and I am talking to my wife and kids - not about the bad stuff, but how I am feeling. It has made such a difference. I have an app on my phone that helps me stay on track between appointments with the psych and I am starting to feel in control again. It is a good feeling.

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