In the following story, Randall Smith, Churchill Education co-founder and director discusses how it was the combination of hope and a plan that helped him through to the other side of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
For 5 years, I worked with a psychiatrist.
When I say worked, what I really mean is he worked on me, and I worked on life.
It was my second bout of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a second wrestle that saw me stepping away from the everyday operations of Churchill for a good year.
And it was my second run at working with a psychiatrist.
First time round, the psychiatrist’s (well-intended) professional opinion had been along these lines:
“Randall, you’ve got PTSD. You always will. You’ll take these meds forever and one day, you’ll find your way back to seeing that the grass is green again.”
Unfortunately, apart from the script and these words of encouragement, we never dug any deeper in how to make that green grass life into a reality.
When I hit the PTSD bottom for a second time, Tricia encouraged me to reach out to an old boss of mine from the Queensland Police, Tonya Carew.
And Tonya didn’t just listen to me, she connected me with a psychiatrist who’s work changed my life: Dr Andrew Khoo.
Over the next 5 years, I spent a lot of time talking with Dr Khoo and from the very first visit we had together, he gave me hope:
“Randall, you’ve got PTSD. But there is hope for a life with PTSD in remission. It will take time but it is possible.”
Hope and a plan together are a powerful combination.
Whenever I wavered and whenever I felt overwhelmed, Dr Khoo reminded me to stay focused on what was before me right now, rather than getting lost in what could go wrong or what else could happen.
He grounded me in one simple sentence:
“How about you just cross that bridge when you get to it … if you get to it.”
And so I took him at his word.
Cross the bridge when you get to it
Over the next 5 years, I focused on what I could control, what was right in front of me, the bridge I was walking across.
It was life changing. The thoughts that could cloud my focus, the fears that could steal my sleep – I learned to send them marching with that one simple commitment. I refused to cross a bridge until I came to it. And the bridges that came to me, well, it turns out I never had to travel them alone.
My stress levels went down dramatically. My ability to deal with what was before me improved.
And over time, I found that my PTSD diminished until it was in remission.
It is a piece of wisdom I live by still and one I share regularly. Today, if you need it, feel free to pick it up too and make it your own. Also feel free to pick up the phone if you’d like a kind listening ear – 1300 793 002.
Co-founder & Director