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‘His body is here but his soul isn’t. He’s not the person I married.’

September 13, 2016

 

 

Lorraine’s husband Harry had an extreme breakdown in July last year – which left their family of four in a financial crisis.

 

“He told me he had a migraine and was going to the doctor, but thankfully he told the doctor the truth,” she said.

Harry, 39, served in the Navy for 11 years and had four major deployments including Iraq and Afghanistan.

His wife says there were signs that something was troubling him as far back as 2001, but it wasn’t until a few years after he left the military that he finally spoke to his doctor about it.

 

Harry said he was hearing voices and his doctor advised him to go to hospital, but then he went missing.

“We had to call the police, we had a search party out for him and that’s initially when it really became obvious that he had a mental health issue.  At that stage I didn’t even know it was PTSD, it was the hospital that diagnosed him,” said Lorraine.

 

The Adelaide couple, who have two children, Kelly, 5 and Oein, 4, then got help from a specialist military hospital.

"His body is here but his soul isn't. He's not the person I married any more," says 40-year old Lorraine.

"PTSD totally changes a person,  they're so withdrawn and they can be cranky.  He doesn't have the temperament with the kids he used to have.  And with the depression, there's withdrawal and that isolation from everyone that gets in the way of who he really is."

 

The former sailor is in recovery but is often admitted back to hospital.  Lorraine says the pair need to take it "day-by-day" to keep Harry's recover on track.

 

"At the beginning, a lot of people got in touch to ask how Hubby was doing, and he deserved that attention after all he's done...but no one ever asked how I was.

 

"I was left trying to pick up all the pieces and keep the family running, but people kind of forget about the carer."

Lorraine was feeling isolated and was trying to keep life "normal" for the kids.

 

Her husband couldn't work, Lorraine was studying and the family spiraled into a financial crisis. In the midst of it all, the Adelaide mother was thrown a life-line from Legacy.

 

"I knew Legacy was for widows but I wasn't a widow, so when I rang them they explained they do help people like me, in situations like this," said Lorraine.

 

The charity sponsored Lorraine and Harry's children. The two kids were be able to continue their swimming lessons and that meant a lot for four-year-old Oein's development; he had just been diagnosed with autism.

The financial support also meant school bills for his older sister, Kelly, could be paid and Lorraine could start driving lessons in an effort to be less isolated - especially when her husband was admitted for treatment.

However a Legacy legatee, Mary, became even more important to Lorraine than any of the financial support.

"Mary comes down to the house for a coffee when it's only me there and we have a chat.  I'm not from this country so my own social circle is quite small because my family and friends are all in Ireland, so she's my ear," says Lorraine.

 

"She's like a Granny to the kids and a Mammy to me.  Sometimes she'd come down in the car and we will go for a drive to the coffee shop and just sit there for an hour or two, just talking."

 

Legacy has an army of dedicated volunteers like Mary and many are returned servicemen and women that carry out this kind of important work. They provided a friendly cup of tea and some funds to keep this Adelaide family in one piece.

 

File feature image via Getty. *Lorraine did not wish to reveal her surname.

 

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