Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Wednesday 30 June 2021
My Amazing Body is a podcast where we explore interesting, unknown and misunderstood parts of your body with help from medical experts and stories from real Queenslanders. Join us for our special five-part series focused specifically on mental health and wellbeing.
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a treatable anxiety disorder affecting around 3 million Australians at some time in their lives. This episode is about PTSD. What is it? Who does it affect and what does it do to your body?
Natasha Briffa is a registered psychologist working in the allied health and therapies team for addiction and mental health services in Metro South. In this episode she explains what PTSD is and who it affects. She also talks about the best ways to look after your mental wellbeing. Kev, a Queensland man, talks about his lived experience with PTSD.
Meet our Guests
The most important thing that a loved one or a friend could do if they thought somebody that they knew was experiencing PTSD, was to just validate their experience.
I suppose I've never thought that I was a victim. I've never been a sufferer. It's just something that I needed to get over and something had challenged me and I didn't wish it to win.
Episode Material and Support
Queensland Health Help lines, counselling and support groups –1300 MH CALL (1300 642255) is a confidential mental health telephone triage service that provides the first point of contact to public mental health services to Queenslanders.
Queensland Health Dear Mind website. - Taking some ‘me time’ is important. And it also helps strengthen your mental wellbeing. Having a healthy sense of mental wellbeing has many benefits. It lifts your mood, promotes resilience in difficult situations and helps you get the most out of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live or how you’re feeling – taking a few moments for yourself each day will help you be a happier and more resilient you.
Beyond Blue - provides information and support to help everyone in Australia to achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
Beyond Blue Anxiety Checklist – this simple checklist asks you to reflect on your feelings over the past four weeks.
LifeLine – is a national charity who provide all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
If you or someone you know need support, book an appointment to see your GP and talk to them or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, and if it’s an emergency, please call 000 immediately.
Natasha Briffa: People are probably used to hearing about the fight, flight or freeze response. What happens to this is, if we experience trauma, our stress response is chronically activated. It's like we're stuck in our fight, flight or freeze response.
Host: Welcome to season three of My Amazing Body - a podcast where we explore interesting, unknown and misunderstood parts of your body. This is episode 5 of our special five-part series focused specifically on mental health and wellbeing.
This episode of My Amazing Body contains a firsthand account of what it’s like to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
It references trauma. If you or someone you know need support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 and if it’s an emergency, please call 000 immediately.
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a treatable anxiety disorder affecting around 3 million Australians at some time in their lives. We spoke with specialist psychologist Natasha Briffa from Metro South mental health services to find out more about this condition.
Natasha Briffa: When we're talking about post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, what we're talking about is a set of reactions that can develop after someone has been through or experienced a traumatic event. Now, a traumatic event can be any situation that involves a threat to someone's life or where someone has experienced serious injury. Most people will experience at least one type of traumatic event during their lives. A traumatic event usually are things like a natural disaster, a serious accident. It can be things like war, physical assault, sexual assault as well. And usually in the first few days or few weeks after experiencing a traumatic event, people will feel quite intense emotions. They will feel strong feelings of fear, sadness, guilt, anger, or grief.
However, generally these feelings will resolve on their own with supportive friends and family, and sometimes catching up with the GP and seeing a psychologist or a counsellor, and the person usually recovers.
Host: Natasha says if these feeling don't go away on their own and last for weeks or months after the incident then it could be PTSD.
Natasha Briffa: If the distress continues and sometimes it does, for weeks or months, then it may mean that someone has gone on to develop PTSD.
Host: Natasha explains that there are two types of post-traumatic stress disorder. Type one refers to a single traumatic event while type two is trauma that has happened over a long period of time.
Natasha Briffa: There are different types of PTSD. We have type one and type two. Type one PTSD is usually related to a single well-defined event, such as a car accident or being involved in a robbery. Usually, symptoms develop within six months of the traumatic event occurring and symptoms need to occur for more than four weeks to be considered type one. And about 10% of people who do experience a traumatic event and will develop PTSD. We also know about type two or complex trauma. This is trauma that's occurred over someone's lifespan. They've had exposure to multiple or ongoing stressful events, usually starting in childhood. However, it can be something that's occurring, ongoing in adult hood as well.
Host: Like with many mental health conditions, symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person. Psychologist, Natasha says these symptoms can be physical and emotional.
Natasha Briffa: It might be suddenly acting or feeling like the traumatic event is happening again in the present moment, feeling really emotionally upset when something reminds you of the trauma and it might be things like changes to our bodies, so we might feel really tense. We might have an increased heart rate. But it might also be things like we might a person in a particular clothing. Some jeans or some certain shoes and it might bring really intense emotions to the surface. And having intense physical reactions. Heart racing, dizziness, feeling shaky when something, or someone reminds you of the traumatic event.
The second category is avoiding reminders of the event or the second set of symptoms. Trying not to think about what's happened or the emotions related to what's happened, or just trying to avoid being around things in the world that reminds you of what happened. The third category is experiencing negative thoughts and feelings. It might not be remembering important parts of what happened during the event, developing strong beliefs about oneself, such as I am bad, or the world is completely dangerous, or others can't be trusted. Believing that the traumatic event is one's own fault and it's our fault why the trauma happened, or we might blame someone else who's not directly responsible. Really intense and long-lasting feelings, such as fear, guilt and shame, not being interested anymore in activities that you used to enjoy before the event. Feeling distant or cut off from other people and having real difficulty experiencing positive emotions, so happiness, love and excitement.
The fourth category symptoms that have us feeling really wound up. Feeling quite irritable, we might lash out and be violent towards others. There might be excessive use of drugs or alcohol or other unhelpful behaviours such as self-harm or suicidal behaviour, or just generally putting yourself in dangerous situations, being really alert or on guard, which we call hypervigilance. Being really jumpy, so if there's a really loud noise, or if you are touched unexpectedly. Problems in concentrating and challenges on focusing on tasks and difficulties falling asleep.
Host: Natasha says that you don't need to be the person experiencing trauma to develop PTSD. Vicarious trauma is when you witness someone else’s trauma, like if you are a first responder to an incident.
Natasha Briffa: The other important element is vicarious trauma. That's the idea that we can experience PTSD, or we can be diagnosed with PTSD after having worked with people who have experienced traumatic events, or sometimes the nature of the work that we do can be traumatizing in itself, which is then what we call vicarious trauma.
Host: Experiencing trauma can have an effect on the brain, it can change the way our brain develops and also the way we regulate our emotions and respond to stressful situations.
Natasha Briffa: When people experience trauma, it does have a ripple effect on the brain. Now, if we talk about PTSD that occurs across someone's lifespan, so that complex PTSD or type two PTSD, this actually alters brain development in children and adolescents. We know when kids are between birth and two years old, there's a critical period of brain development. Similarly, for kids that are aged between six and 12 years. Now, if someone has had repeated exposure to traumatic events during that time, then the wiring and firing of the brain, if you like, doesn't occur in the way that it's meant to. What this can mean is that, the areas of the brain that help us to regulate our emotions, help us to regulate our behaviour, they aren't developed in the same way, a healthy brain that has an experienced trauma develops.
We also know that the connections between parts of the brain, so our limbic system, that's our emotion centre of the brain. It's usually regulated by what is called the frontal lobe. So it's our thinking rational part of the brain, the connection between the two gets severed. And we're not able to rationalise our emotion brain, which means our emotions take over a lot of the time. We also know that when we have altered brain development, this can impact or destruct how our stress response or our nervous system functions. People are probably used to hearing about the fight, flight or freeze response. What happens to this is, if we experience trauma, our stress response is chronically activated. So it's like we're stuck in our fight, flight or freeze response.
Host: If you've heard of cortisol before you'll know that it's the hormone released by your body in response to stress. Natasha says that when you've experienced trauma our cortisol levels increase and our ability to manage stress becomes impaired.
Natasha Briffa: This leads to increased cortisol levels and chronic stress in our body, which can lead to increase inflammation in our body. And so our way of managing stress then becomes really faulty and we can develop really unhelpful ways of managing stress or emotional distress over time. The other way that the brain is impacted on, particularly when we're thinking about trauma and memory, there are two components or two areas of the brain. The first I've talked a little bit about already. So our limbic system or amygdala, this is the brain's alarm system. It's our emotion centre, it's our threat centre. It's designed to keep us safe. And when our threat system is activated, that's when that fight flight or freeze system kicks in.
But the problem with the amygdala is it's really not good at differentiating between real threat. So someone's standing in front of us threatening to attack us, versus just thinking about that happening. That's the first part. The second part of the brain that's impacted is our hippocampus. Our hippocampus is like the library and for our memory. When it works effectively, it allows us to neatly tag, stamp our memories, and then it allows us to neatly file away the memories in chronological order. The problem is though, is when our amygdala, so when our emotion, brain, our threat system is activated, this impacts on our filing system, essentially it scrambles all the files and the hippocampus doesn't tag the correct time to each memory.
What does that mean? Well, a memory that is actually from about 10 years ago gets timestamped as if it's happened today. it makes people feel those memories are happening in the here and the now.
Host: Studies show that trauma not only alters your brain functions, but it can actually shrink parts of your brain too.
Natasha Briffa: We also know in neuro imaging studies, so when we take pictures of the brain, our librarian, our hippocampus is actually reduced in volume. About 8% in some studies, the hippocampal volume is less in people who have experienced trauma. Similarly, our frontal lobe, the part of the brain that has to do with planning and being rational and problem solving, it also can be reduced in size, which you can see will start to have some serious impacts to people and their lives.
The other thing to consider is that when people have experienced overactive fight, flight or freeze response, this also has an impact on what we call our window of tolerance. Our window of tolerance is where things feel just right, where we're able to cope with the punches if you like, that life throws at us, we're calm, but not too tired. We're alert, but we're not too anxious, so we can just get through life. When we experience trauma, our window of tolerance shrinks. We have less room to move in that space. And what that can mean, is that, we're more easily dysregulated. This is when we start to feel quite agitated. We might feel really anxious or revved up or angry. We don't feel completely out of control, but we also don't feel comfortable.
When people become dysregulated and they've experienced trauma, they can then either become hyper aroused. So they might feel really, really extremely anxious or angry or completely out of control, and unfamiliar or threatening feelings can really overwhelm us and we might want to completely run away or stand up and fight. Or we can have a hypo arousal response. This is when we feel completely zoned out and numb, both emotionally and physically, and time can go missing when we're in this space. It might feel like that, in that moment, we're completely frozen. It's not something that we choose, but it's our body taking over.
Host: Natasha says that managing PTSD is an individual experience, while some people will find tools to help them manage their symptoms as they arise others will want to unpack the trauma through psychological therapies but the key to effective treatment is getting support.
Natasha Briffa: There are several evidence-based treatments that have good efficacy in treating PTSD. It's just helping people to get the support that they need.
It's really important when we're talking about treatment to understand that not everybody has to have what we would call trauma treatment, if you like. Often what we're doing when we're working with someone who's experienced trauma, is we're really just helping them to manage the here and the now. How what's happened to them in the past is impacting their day-to-day life and giving skills and strategies about to be able to cope with say the emotions that they might feel or the thoughts that they might be having. And for some people stabilising the here and the now is actually enough. For other people, they might stabilise their here and there now, so they're able to get through their day to day activities. They're able to get through life okay without having to go and open Pandora's box in doing trauma treatment.
But for other people, they will want to unpack that, and that's also, okay. There are several psychological therapies that people can access through private psychology or through mental health services to support with that work.
Host: Keeping your mind engaged with new ideas and experiences is an important part of strengthening your mental wellbeing. Doing regular mental challenges helps train your mental pathways. Let's give it a go, can you solve this brain teaser? We'll reveal the answer at the end of the episode.
My life is often a volume of grief, your help is needed to turn a new leaf.
Stiff is my spine and my body is pale, but I’m always ready to tell a tale. What am I?
The next story is a firsthand account of what it’s like to experience post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you or someone you know need support please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 and if it’s an emergency, please call 000 immediately.
Kev: I'm Kev, who's a lived-experience peer support worker and consultant to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
Host: Kev is a retired firefighter living on the sunshine coast, he's also a Beyond Blue volunteer speaker and has had a lived experience with Post traumatic stress disorder.
Kev: I was a firefighter in Queensland, in Brisbane North, 1983 through to 2008. So 25 years, and I hadn't really known much about what post-traumatic stress was. It just sort of manifest itself over time because I'd woken up in so many anxiety attacks and wasn't functioning well and coming out of nightmares every night. So the, I suppose, crux, was one night I actually went to the study and, in the dark, wrote a resignation letter. Probably about a page and a half, quite scathing and damning towards the institution that I thought was causing me to revisit a nightmare that was just a continuous one for me. And I did that, disturbed my wife, Jo, when I got back to bed and said we need to do something about it.
That was in 2007. And in September 2008 I was medically retired, because, under the Fire Service Act, I could no longer discharge my duties as a firefighter.
Host: Kev says that the day after writing his resignation letter he spoke with a colleague about how he was feeling and that lead him to seek support.
Kev: I approached a station officer at the same station that I was at, but on a different shift, so when they came on the shift that night, I approached him. Someone who I respected and trusted, just to state that I wasn't feeling right physically and mentally. And I know, right at that moment, I felt absolutely naked. I felt like I didn't have a thing on. Stripped bare, I suppose. But I knew if I didn't do it that we wouldn't get back to finding out what the problem was. He suggested to me get in contact with support services for firies, which at that stage was known as Fire Care.
And I did that, and also to visit a GP. So I did both. And once I had some time granted to by the GP, to have some time off and a referral to see a psychiatrist, it was after then that I was told at that initial visit with the psychiatrist, that I had PTSD. And that's when I said, I simply asked the question, do I take a pill for that and what do those letters stand for? I had no idea what it was.
Host: Kev knew getting additional support was important, but it took him a few weeks to come to terms with his diagnosis.
Kev: I just wanted to make sure that I had the best care. So I actually had to fill out a work cover claim that would allow me access to an outpatient day program at a local private mental health hospital. I was two week into a four weeks course when I realised that this is what I have. That was the time that I accepted that this is what I have. I knew nothing about post-traumatic stress disorder before that, and that was a real education for me. Not that a lot was taken in the first couple of weeks, because I probably thought, this is just everyone else, it's not me. But then I realised, no, this is exactly me.
Host: It was Kev’s family that first noticed the changes in his behaviour but looking back he feels he was experiencing symptoms for many years.
Kev: We have twins now that are 24 years old, and back when Jo was very heavily pregnant with those twins, not long after I'd been to a double aircraft fatality at Caboolture. And my mother, who was staying with us at the time, had approached Jo to say that I was changing. And we had no answers for that, and that's about the time I remember having my first anxiety attack or panic attack. And after that time I suppose there was many times when I became quite different. I was a super happy person. I was genuinely happy when I joined the job and I got to a stage where nothing really brought much joy anymore and I thought that was probably just getting old or being a father.
I had no idea of the things that were occurring. I was becoming avoidant of social events that I used to enjoy. I wouldn't seek out crowds. I was becoming very reclusive almost. And the anxiety attacks were becoming more and more common. Especially over the last couple of years that I was working. Up to three and four a week for at least a couple of years prior to any sort of diagnosis.
Host: Kev developed depression and anxiety. He would often experience panic attacks after a nightmare while bouts of emotion could come over him at any time.
Kev: I'd wake up out of a nightmare that consisted of 15 critical incidents that I've been to. And I would relive each one of those incidents like it had just occurred. But they're all in chronological order so they might have been one in 1984 and then a couple in '85, and '87, whatever it might be. And if I went through that list of incidents and relive them like they're just happening right now. And I felt like I'd left out some sort of detail and not respected the people involved, I’d have to go back to the start again. Back to the first incident that occurred. So I was getting no sleep. So a panic attack for me was often coming out of that nightmare, in a lather of sweat with my heart pounding like it's going to beat out of my chest. Gasping for air and searching for a window or a door where I can get that next breath in. I would nearly be quite panicked about trying to open a door or just to get to the fresh air.
In fact, right from the start I was in severe depression, and I had no idea. I might be just driving along in a car and I'd start to tear up or weep when I was on exercise block at work. Jo and I were out one day. We were trading in an old Magna Wagon that was a petrol-guzzling thing that we just didn't enjoy anymore, and we were going to pick up a brand-new car over at Mount Gravatt. So, we went to a café to have a coffee, just to wait for the new vehicle to be ready for us, and I sobbed into my hands for half an hour for no particular reason. It just came out. It was terribly embarrassing for us both. It must have been excruciating for Jo because she... neither of us knew why, it just happened. So I didn't recognise I had depression in myself and probably still don't, but I do know when I'm happy now, so that's a good thing.
Host: Kevs says his partner Jo has been his rock, but as a father of three living with PTSD has been challenging at times.
Kev: if I didn't have Jo I wouldn't be here now. She's been the rock, especially when our kids, I suppose, have only ever known me to have post-traumatic stress disorder. They don't know of any other way. I was probably quite stern and abrupt with them. I remember when I went to that course that I mentioned at the private hospital, they were standing on the other side of the modesty bench in the kitchen, they could hardly even see over it, that's how old they were. They were only very young.
But on the other side of that modesty bench, I leant over the top and I said Dad's got to go to hospital, get his head fixed up. So they weren't really at a stage where they could understand, and I think over the years and over time they've learnt to accept a father that didn't... Not that he didn't wish to go to see their concerts and other things at school, it's just that he couldn't get into the auditorium. I was someone who just... I couldn't walk in the door. If I did, I'd let them see that I was there and then I'd go outside. And then they'd ask me afterwards, oh, how was I when I was playing the violin or whatever it was, and I said you were very good, but I could only hear that from the outside. So going into crowded rooms wasn't a good thing for me.
They've worn the brunt of all of that over a long period of time. In their late teens I individually apologised to each one of them. I said that it wasn't part of who I wanted to be, it's just that's who I was and please accept my apologies for something that was unknown to me. So, they've had to deal with that, and Jo's had to pick up the pieces all the way along. When I was off work and Jo was a major earner of the household money, she'd ring me every five minutes to make sure that I'd made the kids' sandwiches for school and got them on the bus. It would be a constant during the day, have you done this, have you done that? Because I just wasn't functioning as a human being.
Host: Leaving the fire force was like leaving family, but Kev found his close friends where the most supportive of his disorder and still are today.
Kev: Our own close friends and certainly the ones that had been the support for me that are still firies today, that has been really beneficial. Because it's not something that you feel very proud about. I felt quite ashamed and quite guilty that I couldn't do the job anymore. So, I slipped away. No one that I worked with on shift knew why I left. I just slipped away, and I never even went back to the station to pick up my gear.
When you're a firie it's sort of part of a big family, I suppose. And I felt like I'd lost my identity overnight for who and what I was. Any sort of work I would relate to my work as a firie, which meant, often, life and death situations. So, I didn't wish to get back into that, or I couldn't actually get back into many sorts of work at all, because I couldn't put my hand out at the end of the day because that came with a certain responsibility that, whatever I've done, I've done it well, and I can't guarantee that for life. It's a strange sort of feeling. So, I would do things to help people. We had neighbours across the road, a younger fellow who did some gardening. He had a young family. And I said, well, if you want a hand at any time, I'll give you a hand.
Host: While Kev says that he will live with the symptoms of PTSD for the rest of his life he has found coping mechanisms to help.
Kev: I suppose I've never thought that I was a victim. I've never been a sufferer. It's just something that I needed to get over and something had challenged me and I didn't wish it to win. So that's pretty much the way I've viewed it always, is to, just, each day get a little bit better.
I believe, and I've been told that my amygdala or my, basically, the adrenaline pump is sort of broken. And I'm still quite hypervigilant. We were watching a movie last night and Jo and our younger son and I said did you hear that car door shut? And Jo just turned to me and she said, no, you're the one that can hear that. We can't hear that. So I went out the front and it was actually on a busy road, it was across the road. So I actually have to constantly manage that hyper vigilance, where there's many things even as we talk now, I still hear the traffic going past and I'm conscious of other things that most people wouldn't be aware of, and so I have to concentrate quite heavily to make sure that I'm in the moment and I'm in this conversation rather than waning off into the other things that disturb me, I suppose, in a constant fashion.
I think when I spoke before about that nightmare and I how I can go into each one of those incidents like it's just happening right now, so that's still there. That memory is quite vivid still, but I have managed to find a place that, I suppose it's in my brain but it feels like it's outside my head, where I believe there's this external hard drive. And I can go to that any time I wish to, but I don't give it any credit any other time. So, it's a bit like just a portal that I can go to if I need to, but I seldom need to. That probably is the biggest thing when it comes to if I feel some sort of anxiety attack developing, I can see that coming now, I know what the signs are. And Jo has a good understanding about that now, too.
Host: Through his role as a Lived Experience Peer Support worker Kev is able to share his story with others, He feels particularly fortunate to be able to support other firies and help them process their own experiences.
Kev: Especially those people that I said were my closest friends in the job that had supported me all those years, have now come back to ask me for the same sort of support because they can hear different things that I have talked to them about over time, and now they're realizing that they're feeling those same sort of things. So it actually has turned around. So, no I'm actually there to help them, because I suppose it's a bit like one of those things. You've been there before, so, don't worry about it, we can get out of this hole. So it's probably not about me anymore, it's about the other person and what they're dealing with and how can we find a way for that person to find their best way out.
And it's nice to know, if other people have been in those situations before, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. I'm very fortunate to be able to present to others, and I'm fortunate to be able to talk with others and not take that onboard myself, so there's no vicarious influence back to me, which is great. And I've always been very careful not to mention any graphic detail to anyone, because I'd hate to think that I was the cause of their post-trauma stress.
Host: His advice to others would be to get on top of how you are feeling straight away and take the support available from friends and family or a professional.
Kev: And certainly, get onto it straight away. Like I said, earlier I was a really happy person, but it got to the stage where the kids couldn't find a tickle spot on me. Most people have got a... under their chin or under their arm or under their feet or something. They couldn't find a tickle spot on me, and there was nothing that brought me joy. I couldn't even smile. So that should have been a tell-tale sign for me. That was my usual behaviour, was a very jocular person. Always joking around, to be someone who just couldn't find that anymore. So, the earlier you get onto it, the better. I've learnt so much about myself, my emotions, who I am and what I need to do to help myself now.
I think it wouldn't be true when I credit unless I gave all that credit to Jo. I can say I'm here today because of Jo. And I can laugh again now and smile, which is great, but without that support... and I think we need to, if we have support, don't shun it away.
Host: Psychologist, Natasha says that validating someone’s experience with PTSD is an important part of being a support person and if you or someone you know is concerned start by speaking with your GP.
Natasha Briffa: The most important thing that a loved one or a friend could do if they thought somebody that they knew was experiencing PTSD, was to just validate their experience. It can feel really scary and it can feel really out of control when you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Sometimes it can be really therapeutic to just say, gosh, that must be really tough not being able to sleep every night, because of these awful nightmares that you're having. Just validating the person's experience.
For somebody who might be experiencing symptoms of PTSD and they're concerned that they're really struggling to cope with those symptoms, I think getting some support is always a good step and you can do that initially just by having a chat with the GP and seeing what options are there. It may be getting a referral to a psychologist that specialises in trauma treatment. It may be seeing a psychiatrist and sometimes too, it might just be in recruiting more people in your life. So family members and friends to help, to support through those moments as well.
Host: If you think you may be suffering from PTSD, book in to see your GP and talk to them.
Beyond Blue has a 24/7 helpline to listen, provide information and advice, and point you in the right direction so you can seek further support.
If you suspect a loved one is experiencing PTSD the best thing to do is to sit and talk to them. We’ve provided more information in our show notes.
The most important thing to remember is that PTSD is treatable with the right plan and support.
Natasha feels that when it comes to the stigma of PTSD there is still a long way to go and would like to see the focus shift from what’s wrong with you to what happened to you.
Natasha Briffa: I think we've done quite a good job at reducing some of the stigma relating to particularly complex trauma. I think we've made a lot of gains in comparison to some of the other mental health challenges. I still think that there is some stigma though, when it comes to people who have experienced trauma in that they should just be able to get over it or just be able to go to work or just be able to look after the kids. I think when you are experiencing a serious mental health challenge like PTSD, you can't just get over it. You do need the support in working through the symptoms, in finding ways of managing what's going on for you. I think if people could just get over it, they would.
I know even for me, I'm someone who myself has experienced quite severe anxiety and some days I can't just get over it either. I think that's a big piece of work that we still need to improve on. That shift of what's happened to you rather than what's wrong with you, I think really works to reduce the stigma.
Host: Looking after your mental wellbeing is important as it allows you to off load stresses you may have and build up your resilience. Natasha says it can be as simple as eating well and connecting with others.
Natasha Briffa: When we look after our mental wellbeing, it gives us some resilience. It gives us a bit of a buffer. It allows for our cup to be less full, so that if we are faced with stress or a future traumatic event, we're best, I guess, equipped to manage that situation. However, if we go through life and we don't look after ourselves, our cup is full all of the time, we have no buffer, we have less resilience, and it means when we're faced with a stressor, we're just not going to be able to have the tolerance to deal with it effectively.
Every single human can work at maintaining a good mental wellbeing. I think there are several things that we can do in order to maintain wellness. We can eat well, we can get good sleep. We can be physically active. We can stay really connected and have good relationships and we can engage in activities like mindfulness or meditation, where we choose where to focus our attention, where to focus our thoughts and our emotions. We're living life in the present moment. We're not caught up or worried about what happened yesterday, last week, last month. We're not worrying about what might happen tomorrow, next week, next month. I think everybody benefits from that.
Host: For Kev it's about getting out in nature, being active and helping others.
Kev: We generally go for a walk each day, Jo and myself go out there. At least a half an hour, and we solve the world's problems while we're out, which is good. We just can't solve our own at times, but... that's very helpful for me and for Jo too, I think. I like to listen to music. At times it can be quite diverse. From heavy metal or Led Zeppelin, to the next moment might be classical music or Enya. I'm not sure, depends on how I feel in the moment. And I do enjoy fishing, beach fishing more than anything else. Surf beach fishing. Don't mind a game of golf every now and again. And I like to be active. I like to have a purpose. Yesterday I painted a bedroom, put a bed together and slept on it last night. Yeah, I like to be active. And if someone's in need, I'll give them a hand.
Host: If you'd like to know more about your mental wellbeing and simple activities that you can add to your daily routine to help strengthen your wellbeing head to qld.gov.au/mentalwellbeing. You'll find the link in our show notes.
Thanks for joining us for this episode of My Amazing Body - Mental Health and Wellbeing. It's the final in our five-part series - we hope this special series gave you better insight into mental health conditions and helped show you how you can strengthen your own mental wellbeing. If you enjoyed it, don't forget to leave us a rating or review in your podcast app!
Did you guess this episode's brain teaser? Your help is needed to turn over a new leaf. The answer is a book. Congratulations if you guessed that tricky tale.
Thank you to Natasha Briffa and the team at Metro South Hospital and Health Service for lending their time and expertise to this episode. Thanks to Beyond Blue for connecting us with volunteer speaker, Kev and a very special thanks to Kev for sharing his experience with PTSD. My Amazing Body is brought to you by Queensland Health. Thanks to my podcast colleagues, producer Jess, Carol our audio technician and Helen on music and sound effects.