Episode 1: Jac – Workplace PTSD, Vestibular Migraines and a cheating partner
Jac is a journalist and editor who has had an illustrious career in the Australian media.
Despite having a glamorous job, things have been less than shiny behind the scenes.
Jac’s first experience with trauma was workplace PTSD. Her second was discovering that her narcissistic parter was cheating on her. And the third, was getting a rare and crippling health condition. Listen to find out how Jac has coped with this triple scoop of poop.
Resources: Pema Chodron – When Things Fall Apart
Episode 2: Amy – Losing babies
Midwife Amy has an intimate understanding of what it’s like to lose a child – she lost her first baby at 24 weeks and suffered intense grief and PTSD.
Instead of moving away from the tragedy, Amy leaned in and retrained to become a midwife. This is how she found herself working in the same ward where she suffered her heartbreaking stillbirth.
Now, Amy spends her working life on the frontline of life and death. Here she shares her story, and explains what’s needed if you want to support someone through pregnancy loss.
Resources: The Perinatal Loss Centre
Episode 3: David – Stroke of genius
Forensic Psychologist David was going through a career crisis when another tragedy struck – a debilitating stroke that has changed his life – unexpectedly for the better.
David explains how to reignite your neural pathways after a stroke, and shares some of the surprising benefits of being forced into involuntary stillness.
Resources: David’s website
Episode 4: Karen – His last breath
Karen was a workaholic CFO when her son died in a freak accident. Rather than slowing down, she continued to work harder than ever until she finally asked herself ‘Why?’ She realised that she was working her guts out for the money and it was slowly killing her.
She found her ‘why’ in a totally different sphere – as a Beyond Loss mentor, author and speaker. Karen’s approach to loss – and what happens to a person’s spirit after they vacate their physical body – is paradigm shifting.
Hear how she got through every parent’s worst nightmare and used that pain to ease the suffering of others.
Resources: Karen’s website
Episode 5: John – A ten metre wall of water
Journalist John was in Tangalle in Southern Sri Lanka on Boxing Day, 2004. He says he heard the tsunami before he saw it – like the low roar of a jet engine. Initially it lapped against the steps of his shack and slowly receded, only to return with a cataclysmic force that decimated nearly everything – and everyone – on the beach.
Find out how John and his wife Cheryl managed to survive a tsunami that killed over 30,000 people in Sri Lanka alone, where you go when everything around you is destroyed, and what happened when he returned to Australia and had to deal with what he’d experienced.
Correction: Please note that in the episode the book is referred to as Against All Odds. The correct title is Against the Odds.
Resources: Against the Odds
Episode 6: Annmarie – Through thick and thin
Annmarie is the epitome of grace and composure, an image that doesn’t hint at the great sorrow she has suffered; the premature death of her brother in an accident when she was just 20.
But this is not the only trauma she has grappled with throughout her life. When she was in high school, she began her battle with an eating disorder that shrank her body while at the same time it improved her sense of control and confidence.
Following her brother’s death, this desire for control arose again – this time, with the autonomy of adulthood to enable it. Hear how Annmarie was able to kick the habit, all the while living with the sorrow of missing her big bro.
Episode 7: Elise – Breaking (up) bad
You know what you don’t want to happen when you’re expecting your first baby? Firstly, you don’t want your husband to break up with you. And you don’t want the baby to arrive five weeks early. You definitely don’t want to spend the first two months of your daughter’s life in neonatal ICU. But then when you get out, you really don’t want the whole city you live in to be in COVID-19 lockdown and the only person you’re allowed to see is your ex – yep, the same guy that dumped you right before your baby was born.
While all that’s going, you don’t want to have to figure out how to run your dance studio online while you care for your newborn.
So what do you do if all those things happened to you, all at once? Hear Elise share her story – possibly the Greatest Shit Show of them all.
Episode 8: Stephanie – A murdered baby on the church floor
A bizarre and devastating incident in a Florida church set Stephanie’s life off on a different course, one that very nearly ended with her speeding towards a tree on a highway.
But that wasn’t the end for this child advocate and foster mum. She found a way through the fog of PTSD, alcohol and depression to start a new life in a new country – and now she is at the forefront of helping parents have better relationships with their children, while also actively caring for kids who have nowhere else to go.
Stephanie shares what happens when you become the toxic friend no-one wants to hang out with, and how sometimes angels wear police uniforms.
Episode 9: Virginia – The mystery surrounding a brother’s death
Virginia’s big brother was a bit left of centre and, at times, their relationship was strained by his constant demands for help. But that doesn’t change the fact that Virginia and her brother were deeply connected – by family history, by a love of music, a shared post code and a mutually creative outlook on life.
So when the police knocked on Virginia’s door four days before Christmas, it blindsided her. Her brother’s neighbours had alerted the authorities that something didn’t seem right – and it wasn’t. Virginia’s brother’s body was found inside his apartment – but that’s not all they found.
Listen to hear Virginia’s story about uncovering the truth about her brother’s double life.
Episode 10: Harry – The bus trip to hell
Event producer Harry was attending an industry exhibition in Melbourne when he headed out on a day trip that was part of the program. He greeted the driver as he boarded the bus but little did he know that this driver would almost kill him 15 minutes later.
Harry was one of 13 passengers who were involved in the accident, and one of six who ended up in ICU when the 3.8m high bus went under a 3m overpass.
Suffering devastating injuries, amnesia and, later, depression and PTSD, Harry’s story takes a remarkable turn when he becomes involved in an appeal for the driver.
Resources: Guardian story about the accident
Episode 11: Brett – PTSD: Running for his life
Did you know that car accidents have a particular smell? Ex-police officer Brett says that it’s one of the things that will stay with him forever.
According to Brett, a normal day in the life of a first responder involves attending the scenes of car accidents, domestic violence incidents and suicides and, that when he first joined the force, the preferred organisational method of coping with this daily trauma was a trip to the pub.
Brett’s interview sheds light on the toxic culture of the police force, the psychological fallout from extended exposure to it, and the lifesaving healing he found in long distance running.
Resources: Trail Run Magazine article
Episode 12: Monica – Divorce
Three kids and many years of marriage down the track, yoga teacher and nutritionist Monica realised that her marriage was over. She made the scary decision to leave her husband and has had to navigate her way out of the relationship, with all the financial, legal and emotional hurdles that entails.
But rather than sinking into a quagmire of alcohol and pizza, Monica called upon her many years of yoga training and nutrition education to stay afloat, practicing what she preaches.
This journey has taught her how to help other women who find themselves in the same boat. Hear her story and be inspired by her enlightened approach to heartache.
Episode 13: Janelle – MND: The long farewell
Janelle says that she started grieving the day her mum was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
This incurable disease – and the heartbreaking experience of watching her beloved mother succumb to its effects – became the pivot point of Janelle’s life.
But there were other issues that arose – the caring commitments and how to best manage them, tensions between Janelle and her siblings, and the inevitability of planning a funeral.
Episode 14: Petrea King – Chronic pain, cancer recovery and life of service
Petrea King is CEO of the Quest for Life Foundation which she established in 1989. She is a well-known author, inspirational keynote speaker, teacher and facilitator. She is also qualified as a naturopath, herbalist, clinical hypnotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher.
In this interview, Petrea shares her own experiences of trauma, explains the new five-day PTSD workshops Quest for Life is running and delivers a frank and uplifting look at the hard work of living in service to others.
Episode 15: Keith Banks – Undercover and overwrought
Keith knows more than anyone what it’s like to run towards trouble. During his time as an undercover police officer, he dealt with some of Australia’s most violent criminals, drug lords and crooked cops. He is also one of the most highly decorated police officers to have ever come out of the Qld police force and has dealt with his fair share of trauma – his own and other people’s – resulting in undiagnosed PTSD.
Keith shares some of the stories from his career, as well as the ways he came to terms with those incidents, the power of martial arts, the healing power of the writing process and the moment he finally forgave himself.
Resources: Drugs, Guns and Lies
Episode 16 – Mark – A daughter’s brain haemorrhage
Mark was on a client call when his daughter’s mother kept calling. And calling. And calling. It was unusual so he cut his work call short and called her back, only to discover that his 10 year old daughter, Mina, was in an ambulance on the way to hospital.
Mina had suffered a brain haemorrhage and had lost one third of the functioning of her right brain hemisphere. Her left side had lost feeling and mobility.
This was the beginning of a 2.5 year battle to help Mina regain her independence, while also questioning the medical establishment’s normal procedures around rehabilitation.
Mark shares how he got through it, as well as the emotional fall-out that occurs when the crisis is over.
Resources: What is a brain haemorrhage?
Episode 17 – Melissa and Peter – A son’s drink driving death
Melissa and Peter’s son, Jordan, was 18 years old and an apprentice carpenter when he attended his first work Christmas party. Later that night, he decided to get in the car and drive back to the Gold Coast to visit his mates. He was 2.5 times over the limit and he hit a stationary car and killed its four occupants.
Melissa and Peter share the story of the aftermath of the accident, including the grief, guilt, sense of responsibility and overwhelming motivation to share their story in the hope that they will save young lives.
Resources: You Choose Your Road Safety
Episode 18: Dr Mel O’Brien – Genocide gets you down
Mel is a Doctor of International Law who specialises in genocide studies. She has spent a lot of time in the field visiting significant sites of conflict and war museums, as well as interviewing survivors and their families.
But as you can imagine, the subject matter takes its toll. Listening to the horrifying things people do to each other, as well as the isolation of long solo trips to places like Armenia, Bosnia and Cambodia have proven challenging.
Listen to Mel talk about the support networks that make it possible to keep going with the work, the passion that fuels her research and the book she is working on that seeks to reveal the patterns of behaviour that precede genocide events.
Resources: More about Mel here.
Episode 19 – Michelle – Both parents died of cancer three months apart
How can a ten year old kid even begin to deal with the death of both of her parents? Perth woman Michelle was eight when her Mum was diagnosed with Melanoma that had turned into a brain tumour. Six months later, her Dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Two years later, they were both dead.
Michelle and her brother went to live with their godparents but it was not an easy ride. From acting out, an incorrect ADHD diagnosis, anti-depressant medication at eleven years old and bullying at school, listen to hear out how Michelle finally overcame her turbulent childhood and rebuilt a family of her own.