24th April 2018 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day’: Stories of triumph from Australians who refused to give into darkness
As the owner of Focus Imagery, Graeme Bint is a familiar face around Cairns, well known for his down to earth personality and exceptional photography. What many don’t know, however, is that Graeme is also an ex-British paramedic, paratrooper and aid worker who suffered such severe Post Traumatic Stress and depression, that he once considered ending his life.
After a decade spent working across Bosnia and Britain witnessing things he says ‘no person ever should,’ as well as serving in both Northern Ireland and the Gulf, Graeme says the effects of war finally caught up to him.
“I guess you could say that after being on high alert for so long, my nervous system just couldn’t cope anymore. The constant shelling and sniping, along with the rumbling of the ground outside, the vibration of your building being hit, and having to regularly deal with being shot at on the streets, are the kinds of things that all scratch away at your nervous system over time.”
These experiences, combined with an inability to relate to family and friends back home who seemed to be fixated only on ‘trivial first world problems,’ left Graeme feeling increasingly alone in his struggle to ‘fit’ back into society. On top of this, he also began experiencing night terrors, sleep paralysis, and other effects of Post Traumatic Stress, all of which culminated in severe depression and thoughts of suicide.
“Depression crept in so slowly at first that I didn’t really notice it, but what really shook me during this time were the flashbacks and nightmares. They were utterly terrifying and insanely real; the kind that haunted me for days on end.”
“My family couldn’t seem to grasp the impact that living in a war zone had had on me, and seemed more concerned with why I wasn’t getting a job rather than what was going on in my life. Never once did they ask if I was alright or about my time in Bosnia. I don’t think it was because they didn’t care as such, it just wasn’t something that was important to them.”
Withdrawing from friends and family — who he felt didn’t understand what he was going through — Graeme began self medicating in a bid to escape from the horrors of his nightmares, spiralling into a deep depression that threatened to take his life. Often he would sleep behind a table in his living room, or try to stay up as late as possible to avoid the horrifying symptoms of his sleep paralysis — which he describes as akin to ‘having a demon sitting on your chest.’
Although recovery was a long road, Graeme eventually found his way out of the darkness he had been living in.
“One day I was laying in the fetal position—I couldn’t remember how long I’d been there—when out of the blue, in a moment of clarity, I asked myself what the hell I was doing?! I hadn’t survived my time in the military and gained my parachute wings just to die there in my room,” he says.
Beginning with regular exercise, and losing himself in good comedy (particularly Billy Connolly), Graeme pushed himself little by little to begin making positive changes in his life, including applying for a paramedic job — something he had wanted to do for many years — and speaking to a professional.
“The best epiphany I had was to wake up to myself and realise that I was the common denominator, and to seek help before I destroyed myself. I am at peace now and part of a truly beautiful relationship with an amazing woman, but this could never have happened if I hadn’t truly and openly fixed myself first—however ugly and confronting that journey was,” he shared.
“It took a long time, but some 20 years on I think I can say I am minimally affected by Post Traumatic Stress. After seeking professional help, I discovered that there was no need to be ashamed of having PTS; instead, I see it as a well-earned scar.”
Since moving to Australia in 2002, Graeme has since become qualified in Mental Health and Crisis Counselling, and is passionate about using his experience to help others who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress or mental health issues.
In 2017, Graeme decided to share his story with Brisbane author Jas Rawlinson, who at the time was searching for inspirational Australian stories for her suicide prevention book, ‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day.’
Featuring 10 real-life memoirs of triumph over suicide and mental illness, the book includes a diverse range of Australians, including inspirational speaker and childhood cancer survivor Michael Crossland, paraplegic circus performer Lauren Watson, Domestic Violence advocate Sonia Anderson, hip hop artist L-Fresh The Lion, and many others.
Ms Rawlinson, who lost her father to suicide at age 18 and suffered depression for much of her teenage and early adult life, says she was inspired to create something that would help others realise they weren’t alone, and that recovery was possible. A survivor of family violence and sexual assault, her story is also featured in the book.
“When you’re stuck in a hole, it’s hard to believe that things could ever change, and that’s when people give up. I wanted to use the power of storytelling to show people—through real-life memoirs—that where you are in your journey right now, is not where you have to stay.”
Released in October 2017 through the award-winning Ocean Reeve Publishing, the book has been endorsed by numerous mental health professionals, is featured as one of four ‘Inspirational Books’ on the website: The PTSD Solutions Community, and has even been credited by a U.K reader as helping to save his life.
‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day’ has also received strong praise from Dion Jensen, Author and Founder of ‘Success For Soldiers,’ who labelled it ‘one of the most superbly disguised and undervalued books’ that he had ever read.
“I deal with depressed and suicidal people as a matter of course, and I can say with full credibility and honesty, that Jasmine’s book is a CRITICAL component in overcoming the darkness,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“There are 3 words that hold the greatest power when speaking to someone in the hole: “I’ve been there.” This book is a collection of not only those that have been there, but have beaten it.”
Graeme is now looking forward to sharing his story with the community in June, when he joins with Ms. Rawlinson for the event: ‘Reasons To Live One More Day: Combating Suicide, Mental Health & PTSD.’ Hosted by Cairns RSL Sub Branch, the event aims to break down stigmas surrounding mental health, and show Cairns community members how to move forward in their journeys — regardless of whether their background is military or civilian.
Cairns RSL Sub-Branch Secretary, Mr. Mal McCullough, says he is excited to support the event.
“The Cairns RSL Sub Branch is pleased to develop a partnership in supporting the awareness of ‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day,’ as the theme of the book goes to the core of one of the main health concerns for Veterans, PTSD.”
The Sub-Branch are also currently developing a ‘Younger Veterans Advisory Group,’ which aims to ‘develop programs and initiatives that are relevant to the younger veteran, increasing their engagement with the RSL Sub Branch for support.’
In exciting news, Mr. McCullough revealed that he is also looking forward to welcoming Graeme onboard as a peer worker and veterans counselor, to ‘share his experiences and knowledge with other veterans in a peer support role.’
“It is with the commitment and dedication such as Graeme’s that we will make some real advances in reaching out to Veterans with the message ‘you are not alone’.”
Locals are invited to come along and hear both Ms. Rawlinson and Mr. Bint share their stories of triumph over adversity at the event, which will be held Sunday June 17th at Cairns RSL. Copies of ‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day’ will also be available on the day, for $20 each.
To RSVP, and for more details, head to the Cairns Facebook Event page: Reasons To Live – Combating Suicide, Mental Health & PTSD.
CAN’T MAKE THE EVENT? Get your copy of ‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day’ here.