Picking Up The Peaces

PTSD Education and Awareness

Living With PTSD

Stories of People Living With PTSD

What’s it like to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? The fact is, experiences vary, and the symptoms are not the only effects. Shame and guilt are often underliers. Here are a few personal accounts of living with PTSD.

“Brutality Beyond What Anybody Could Imagine”

“I lost my innocence during four and a half months in a Turkish jail, powerless and terrified because no-one knew I was there. I saw brutality beyond what anybody could imagine. I had been so brutalised and displaced mentally by the horrors of the experience that when I was released I was a puppet. In the beginning I wasn’t aware that I had post traumatic stress disorder. When I returned to Australia my mental state manifested in anxiety and nightmares and night terrors and fear. I started to avoid people, I lost my job, I lost my home, I lost the beautiful young woman that I’d married and the two young children that we had… It cost me a lot. And I still didn’t know about PTSD. Now, it is a recognised mental illness, but in the society we live in it is seen as a weakness, or you are seen as a coward. They talk of combat fatigue and battle stress, but I saw it clearly that PTSD is horror fatigue. I went through the Prozac era, with doctors pumping me with sedatives, and I descended into another hell – prescription drugs – almost as bad as had happened to me in Turkey. I’m improving now, and Picking Up The Peaces is a very important part of my life, and a natural supplement to the hard work I put in to get off benzos.”
– Mark

Click here for the full 30 minute 2XX


“Why Couldn’t I…?”

” I was incredibly nervous the first time I sought help. I was really doing it for my family and didn’t see how talking would help, but when I spoke to my counselor and met other people with PTSD, I realised I wasn’t the only one. My counselor taught me how to relax when I got scared or angry, and gave me the tools to deal with everyday life. We started talking about what happened. This was really hard to start with, but it got easier after a while. I talked a lot about the flashbacks I was having that made me feel angry. How could this have happened to me? Why couldn’t I sleep? Why couldn’t I stop the nightmares and thinking about the riots, the burning buildings and the mayhem of those couple of days? These were not the kind of questions I could talk to my wife, Kate, about, but it felt good talking to someone about it. It’s been a difficult road for me and my family, but I’m learning to deal with my demons, and my future is looking brighter.”
– David Tonacia


“No Longer Bulletproof…”

“It took me 30 years to find out I had PTSD. I’d known there was something wrong, and spent countless hours and dollars trying to ‘fix’ myself. When the diagnosis came, it was an amazing relief… at last I could understand why my actions and reactions for so long had been so irrational. But that was only the first step. Jumping through hoops to have the condition officially recognised and treated was almost as bad as the original traumas – and this time around I lacked the resources of a bullet-proof 20 year old. My GP said ‘I was in Vietnam at the same time with the Medical Corps. Best holiday I ever had. Who put you up to this scam?” The symptoms worsened. I couldn’t work or concentrate, became a virtual hermit for about five years, withdrawing further emotionally from my family, often in depression or anger, with painful reactions to noise. Decades of sleep deprivation and use of only the lowest moods. Treatment since has helped; the flashbacks are gone, I can now shop and walk in crowded areas, and loud noises rarely send me into a quivering mess. I still hit the wall, but the good times are lasting longer.”
– Laurie Drake

Click here for the 20 minute 2XX

interview with Laurie.

And here’s a 3-minute video on the value of persistence when confronted by post traumatic stress disorder.


Mental Illness Education ACT has many personal stories by people with various mental illnesses. Well worth checking out.

Other people have described experiences like:

“I see him sometimes. Yeah, sometimes he’s there, cheeky. But yeah, it only lasts for a little while, but it’s like when they first get sick you’ve got to grieve for them and sort of say goodbye to that person, so.”
-Tara Bermingham, Ben Millman’s Partner, on the ABC 4 Corners program  The War Within.

“…Everyday felt surreal…”

“…I was so tired all of the time…”

“…I felt like I was watching from the sidelines…”

“…My mind seemed to switch off when I needed it most…”

“…My legs would start to tremble and giveway…”

“…Sometimes I would become so angry. Why did this have to happen to me?…”

“…It was as though I wasn’t there…”

“…time was standing still…”

“…I felt like I was watching things from above…”

“…I couldn’t keep eye contact. I had to know what was happening around me…”

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