A wrap up for the year
With the events of Queensland this week still fresh in our minds, it’s hard not to feel the effects of the trauma involved on our colleagues and everyone else that is dealing with the aftermath.
Now is a timely reminder to check in with yourself and have a conversation with those around you. I know for me, incidents like this are a real trigger for and many that I care about. I had a couple of doona days and have focused on being kind to myself. The phone has been running hot and for a couple of days I needed to concentrate on processing the trauma and the feelings that I am having.
My heart goes out to all of you dealing with this and particularly the colleagues and families of everyone affected. It’s great to see everyone reaching out with support.
How do we process such evil? For me I made sure that I followed up on appointments with my art therapist, my psychiatrist and kinesiologist and also by attending group therapy which is based on the CBT model. Often having someone to talk to can make all of the difference and these people in my life pass no judgment of me for feeling the way that I do or for even being me.
It’s so important to have these conversations and I urge you all to do what ever you need to do to get your mental health in check. It’s a process but once you have these support measures in place they are a great tool to help us work through whatever it is that is on our mind.
My nightmares came back and I am finally getting it back to a manageable level. Another trigger that is very real for a lot of us is the time of year. For many including myself, Christmas is not a particularly great time as it involves having to deal with functions and family events that are often difficult due to social anxiety and the pressures involved with meeting the busy demands put on us. It also is a time of extreme loneliness
My advice to you is take it easy. Do what you can do and remember that your self care is so important particularly when you are feeling vulnerable or are suffering heightened hyper-vigilance. Keep the exercise up, even if it’s a casual walk around the block with your loved ones or in my case my Assistance dog Hank. It’s important to stay connected.
Hank came into my life a few months ago and is a real asset to me as he picks me up when I am not feeling right and even just his company is enough to motivate me to do something which is better than nothing.
I got Hank from Queensland and flew home with him after completing some rigorous training. This training is on going and gives me purpose to make sure that his needs are being met.
He really is a breath of fresh air and his love for me and mine for him is special.
Having the ability to take him with me is a real help and whilst he is only 8 months old and still in training, he is already doing his job and serving his purpose.
I have also recently rediscovered the value in doing good things that make me happy. A float in the ocean, some mindfulness and relaxation help me stay grounded in turn giving name greater resilience. A good deed for a friend or neighbour always helps give me purpose as does random acts of kindness.
This year also saw the development of the Well Beyond Program pilot which I participated in and found it valuable particularly for the members about to enter retirement. Having certain things in place before you retire can take the stress out of it and I certainly wish that something like that was available to me when I finished up. Emergency Services Foundation Victoria did a great job with the project and I hope that it is something that continues.
Last but not least, please remember to look after yourselves and your mates. Often a conversation whether in person or on the phone can make all of the difference. Stay safe! Watch your six and if something doesn’t feel right then question why that is so. You are all so important and I appreciate the support that so many have given to TJF.
Whilst we are still in our infancy, we have a strong following for which I am extremely grateful for and we are in the process of organising some informal catch-ups for veterans where they can talk in a safe environment and hopefully make some new connections or reconnect with people that they have lost contact with. This will hopefully begin to roll out in the early new year and offers an opportunity to create conversations.
Have a safe and happy Christmas New Year, take care and keep on fighting the good fight.
Lots of love. TJF