In his powerful memoir, former police officer Simon Gillard details his life in the force with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how easily one man’s life can spiral so out of control. He is now working to create awareness about mental illness, and wrote Life Sentence to help other sufferers. Here are just a handful of Gillard’s suggestions to help navigate the darkest of times.
1. Early intervention
The earlier you get help the more chance you have of recovery. Putting your hand up and reaching out to seek help as early as possible is far braver than hiding your feelings.
I love the word ‘survivor’. My daily mantra is: ‘I am strong, I am alive, I am a warrior. Most importantly, I’m a survivor! Nothing can defeat a survivor, not even my own mind.’
The disbelievers will always be there. Don’t let anyone stop you achieving your dreams or being yourself.
I have PTSD. I have depression. I have anxiety. I accept that. And so what? I’m human.
5. Small steps = big change
The big picture makes normal chores like housework, exercise and everything else seem insurmountable. Break it down into achievable bite sizes.
6. Mindfulness / Breathe
Mindfulness is about being in the present, and the power of controlled breathing is the best drug, and grounding technique, you will ever have. Your mind feels clearer, your body feels relaxed and your tense muscles loosen.
7. Be nicer to yourself
Don’t beat yourself up; take one day at a time.
8. Get fit
Healthy body, healthy mind. Get moving! Eat healthily.
9. Educate yourself – knowledge is power
I researched PTSD, depression and anxiety extensively. The more you educate yourself, the more you listen to your therapists and put their advice into practice, the more you can acknowledge and learn what is going on with you.
10. New beginnings come from the end of another beginning
I am on my way – I won’t stop! I am not cured and don’t profess to be, but I’ll give it my all.
If you ever need to talk, beyondblue offer a Support Service by phone (1300 22 4636) or online at www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support