From PTSD, anxiety, and depression, to saving lives as a paramedic

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

We love seeing what our job seekers can achieve, with the right support crew by their side. We recently heard from Bec, who courageously sought help to manage her mental health conditions, before scoring her dream job with NSW Ambulance. Check out Bec’s story below.

Bec’s Story

“When I came to EPIC Assist (EPIC) I was lost. I was struggling with severe PTSD, anxiety, depression, and very low self-worth. It got so bad I could barely leave my home – I couldn’t be in crowds and I didn’t know how to talk to people.

I had been studying psychology for a few years but was struggling to get through it because I couldn’t complete my assessments.

I didn’t know where I wanted to be or how to get there, but I knew that this wasn’t it and I couldn’t give up.

I worked with Rob, Del, and Penny at EPIC in Lismore over many years. They were so welcoming and happy to chat that I found I enjoyed going to my appointments. I was also working with various psychologists and psychiatrists, determined to get to the point where life could be better.

Over time I became more involved in the volunteer organisations State Emergency Service, Rural Fire Service, and Lifeline. I found lifelong friends within these organisations and I was getting out of the house. The skills I was learning – not just doing the job but also talking to people and making friends – meant I was becoming more confident. I still got anxious all of the time, but I wasn’t going to let it win because life wouldn’t change if I stopped fighting; if I let myself give up.

Over time, the guys and gals at EPIC began to say that I was becoming more confident, a different person to the one they’d met. I thought, ‘You’re kidding, right? I’m a ball of nerves!’ I hadn’t even realised how far I’d come. By this stage I was close to finishing my degree, I’d done a diploma at TAFE, and I had a job. But I still wasn’t where I wanted to be, and I had to keep moving. So I did.

I kept working and pushing myself every day to get out and do better.

Then out of the blue I received a phone call from NSW Ambulance asking if I’d like to continue my application to become a paramedic. This was three years after I’d been for the interview (that I thought I’d made a total fool of myself in). I said, ‘Sure!’ This began a wild ride for the next 12 months of trying to jump every hurdle placed in front of me. This process tested my newfound strength and resilience in every way possible. But the one thing I’d learned from my journey was to never give up. So I pushed on and finally I received a call saying, ‘Congratulations, you start in Sydney in two weeks, then you’ll be off to Broken Hill for 12 months.’ Wow! It finally happened; all that hard work finally paid off.

So now here I am, in Broken Hill, starting this new journey to one day become a paramedic. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle at times with my anxiety and depression, but I’ve learnt many ways to face it and I now have many friends I can turn to for support. Now I look at every obstacle I’ve faced and those that lie ahead as a way to build my strength and resilience.

There are so many people in my life now that I can thank for where I am today. Del, Penny, and Rob from EPIC are definitely up in the list as they’ve stuck by me through it all. But most of all I need to be grateful to myself. While I couldn’t have done it without these people, I was the only one that could take each step, fight each day and push myself further.”

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