Many losers on the battlefield of PTSD

War caused Kerryn McDonnell’s husband’s PTSD. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d424021
War caused Kerryn McDonnell’s husband’s PTSD. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d424021

She is the secretary of the Partners of Veterans Association Western Australia, a not- for-profit association incorporated in 2003.

The Association provides support, friendship, fellowship, information and education to those whose partners suffer from PTSD.

This year, the Association successfully lobbied the WA Parliament to declare the last Friday in May each year as PTSD Awareness Day in WA.

But, now it hopes to go five states better.

The 64-year-old has a personal stake in the campaign.

Mrs McDonnell’s husband, Robert (67), suffers from PTSD.

He is a Vietnam veteran and fought in the1968 Battle of Coral-Balmoral. The trauma of war changed him forever.

Mrs McDonnell said her husband had nightmares and anger management issues. He was diagnosed with PTSD in the late ’90s.

He hit a wall in 2004 and was admitted to Hollywood Hospital for a week.

It was during that time that Mrs McDonnell had to confront her own demons.

She said her happy facade crumbled after experiencing years of negativity, anger and verbal abuse.

‘Tuesday I went down to see him and take him some clothes,’ she said.

‘Wednesday, I was getting ready to visit him. I got into the shower and I was a mess on the floor. I just couldn’t stop crying. I had hit the wall.

‘I sat at the bottom of the shower for close to an hour.

‘I just lost it. I just couldn’t handle it and that was the start of me realising I had a problem.’

She was diagnosed with PTSD. The support of counsellors and friends who have shared similar experiences helped her cope.

Although her relationship with her husband is fine, her husband’s relationship with his sons is strained.

‘I used to walk on egg shells with keeping calm, but I never took it as it was my fault,’ Mrs McDonnell said.

‘Because you’ve done everything to keep calm, you tend to lose yourself though, and that’s what happened to me.’

On Thursday, August 14, the Partners of Veterans Association Western Australia is holding a PTSD seminar at the Perth State Library.

For more information, call 9228 3350, 0488 878 292 or email partnersofveteranswainc@bigpond.com.