The Weekly Advertiser

Shelly Pedder fighting mental health demons

pedder_warrior women-e

By DEAN LAWSON
Michelle ‘Shelly’ Pedder of Horsham is quick to acknowledge she has a serious mental illness that demands her constant attention and management.
The 48-year-old defence-force veteran, originally from Nhill, admitted she was in a consistent battle with personal ‘demons’ with a condition that, when it surfaced, was a nightmare.
Shelly said she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a crippling mental condition that had manifested after she had returned from peacekeeping tours to Cambodia while in the Australian Army in the early 1990s.
“I had loved the army life. I joined the catering corp and with my first posting I was in Canberra for four years. I was then in Sydney for six months, became a corporal and selected to go to Cambodia in 1992 three days before my birthday,” she said.
But Shelly, who joined the army at 17 and was discharged at 24, said her experiences in Cambodia were traumatising and ultimately affected her badly.
She said she had taken on various jobs after leaving the army, but her condition ultimately took hold and she became gripped in a wrestle with herself.
Shelly said her illness had been devastating, with depressive episodes unveiling her ‘most unpleasant side’ where she became her ‘own worst enemy’.
She said incidents had left her feeling confused, embarrassed, frustrated, without hope and nowhere to turn and had led to potentially deadly courses of action.
“PTSD is like the ocean coming in waves with highs and lows. The trick is to know your triggers and to be aware of them,” she said.
“But it is all about support. I get fantastic support from family and mates, but when you have this type of illness you need more.”

NEED: Horsham armed-service veteran Michelle ‘Shelly’ Pedder has joined a call for a 24-hour mental-health centre in Horsham.

NEED: Horsham armed-service veteran Michelle ‘Shelly’ Pedder has joined a call for a 24-hour mental-health centre in Horsham.

In understanding and accepting her condition, Shelly identified what she described as a major gap in psychiatric health services in the Wimmera.
It prompted her to put pen to paper and in following up a letter to The Weekly Advertiser urged the Wimmera to push for some form of dedicated centre to provide immediate help for people suffering mental illness.
“I have always wanted a mental-health hospital in Horsham to help not only me but other people with similar issues,” she said.
“It is very disappointing when I have to travel to Ballarat, Geelong or Melbourne because there are no beds available locally.
“This makes life tricky for me because I struggle with my ‘demons’ and family members can be so far away.
“I am passionate about this. I believe people rarely want to listen or deal with mental health, but we must.”
Country girl
Shelly said she was excited with news of a community project to try to establish a mental-health crisis centre in Horsham.
“I can’t tell you how much it does my head in when I reach a crisis point and have to go to accident and emergency for help,” she said.
“It’s terrible, they automatically know who I am and are understandably wary.
“Someone like me puts them under incredible pressure and stress and they try their best, but my issues are not their field.
“I leave going there to the last resort. I hate doing it because it is not fair on them as well as me and others who might have similar circumstances.”
Shelly said she felt pressured to leave the region so she could deal with her illness, but found the idea far from appealing.
“I’m a country girl through and through and this is my home and I want to live here,” she said.
“As the capital of the Wimmera, Horsham should be able to provide for anyone experiencing mental-health issues with immediate access to appropriate services.
“I understand from a political point of view that it’s hard to get much happening here because we’re in a supposedly ‘safe’ political seat.
“But this issue goes well beyond political boundaries. It’s just about providing people with adequate health services.
“And it’s not just about dealing with people who might have gone through personal trauma either.
“It’s an illness that can manifest itself in many different types of people in many different ways.
“I know from personal experience that we don’t have enough psychologists, psychiatrists or services in our region to meet the needs of people who need immediate help.
“From a sick person’s perspective, people suffering from mental-health issues need all the support they can get.
“Needing to travel great distances to get professional help isn’t the answer. I’m lucky in that I have a twin sister who I am very close with and good mates. But what about others who don’t?
“We should be in a greater position to help prevent people from dying – dying because they can’t get the immediate help they need.”
• People can visit www.beyondblue.org.au or www.lifeline.org.au for information and support about anxiety, depression and suicide. People in need of crisis support and suicide prevention services can call Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline on 13 11 14. If a life is in danger, people should call police on triple zero.

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The entire April 3, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

Short URL: http://www.theweeklyadvertiser.com.au/?p=76069

Posted on Apr 3 2019

Posted by on Apr 3 2019. Filed under FEATURED, Health & Lifestyle, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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