There is no courage in suffering in silence. Real strength is facing your own vulnerability and realising the importance of human connection.
By Annabel Jellett
I don’t know how to write about my life without sounding lofty, or pretentious. Being a medical student, and a psychiatrist wannabe, makes me annoying enough already. That being said, there is something rather funny about sitting in medical school and learning about PTSD and finding it relatable.
What are the treatments for PTSD? Just take a look at my weekly schedule. EMDR on Tuesdays and meditation classes twice a week. Acupuncture, and my ever-growing stack of cognitive behavioural therapy books, and prescriptions that need filling. My stress levels are so high that my doctor thought I might have a stress hormone-secreting tumour. Yet, we’ve all just got to keep calm and carry on.
At medical school, I look like a duck gliding effortlessly along on the surface, but if you peek under the water you will see my legs paddling furiously to keep afloat. I think all of us are secretly like that, even if we don’t show it on the outside.
I was one of those people that came into adulthood and realised that my childhood was perhaps not as cool and normal as I thought it was. Memory repression works like that I guess. But even amongst all the suffering and pain I’ve experienced in my early adult years, I’ve come across something even more powerful; love, friendship, vulnerability and wisdom.
Organisations such as Open Arms have changed so many lives, including mine. The work they do in providing support for veterans and their families, especially in the realm of PTSD treatment, is phenomenal. If you are going through something at the moment, please reach out to them. There is no courage in suffering in silence. Real strength is facing your own vulnerability and realising the importance of human connection.
I speak as someone who has experienced violence indirectly because of the Defence Force, but I hope my story will not take away from the voices of those who suffer PTSD from their own service or experience of warfare. One person’s suffering can not be compared to another person’s suffering and the violence that sometimes gets brought home, as it was in my case.
I speak all of this from a place of resolve, forgiveness and compassion. My past can’t hurt me anymore because I’ve tried to make peace with it, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
I don’t think war should be glorified, or particular actions condemned, but I do believe we should all confront the very real, the very alive consequences of it. Nightmares should not be a generational curse, as they are in my family.
I have been wonderfully supported by the veteran community throughout my education and personal life.
I hope together as a community, we can raise awareness and funding for PTSD treatment, and become more conscious citizens together. I hope to work as a psychiatrist to give back to this community. I have been wonderfully supported by the veteran community throughout my education and personal life. Your stories are valid and in moments of connection we find healing together.
I don’t know if this is the story AVCAT asked for, or wanted, but it is my story and it is honest. I hope that if it resonated with you, even just a little bit, you are encouraged to seek professional help, such as contacting Open Arms at 1800 011 046 to see if you’re eligible. There are many great authors who write on the subjects of resilience, boundaries and vulnerability including Dr Rebecca Ray and Dr Brené Brown.
Please start these vulnerable conversations with the people you love, we can’t change anything if nothing changes. Talk with your families, communities and workplaces, because mental health matters and no one should have to face PTSD alone.