No doubt, just like me, throughout the week you have seen, heard or read of inspirational stories relating to the 'Movember Foundation'. One such story appeared in today's Sunday Tele, as written by journalist Ben Pike, appearing on Page 46.

The story relates to the experiences of firefighter Paul Sharratt, recalling the time he and his fellow firefighters, by their heroic efforts, (my words not Paul's), rescued so many lives during the Christchurch earthquakes, which eventually took 185 lives.

It was during another such rescue back in Sydney, that Paul fell through a floor, landing on his head, while the property blazed all around him. Paul's thoughts immediately went back to his dreadful experiences in Christchurch.

Although Paul, (who was trained to recognise the signs of mental issues among his team), recognised that he himself was struggling, he did not have the strength to speak out about his own issues.

Yes, Paul took actions. He improved his diet, took up exercise and changed his lifestyle, however he still struggled with anxiety and worse still bouts of depression. The outcome being to withdraw from others.

It took Paul 2 long months of pain and suffering, before he felt compelled to talk about it, reporting it to his GP, his superiors, then his colleagues. 

In 2017 Paul was diagnosed with PTSD. Paul had previously lost mates as a direct result of PTSD.  Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 people exposed to traumatic events suffer PTSD. 7% of Australians currently suffer from the condition. Paul did not want to become another statistic.

To add to Paul's woes he was also diagnosed with Testicular Cancer!

Paul is a true supporter of the 'Movember Foundation', in his own words saying that, 'the reality is you are not alone; everyone (associated with the Movember Foundation) has had the condition you have had and you can get help' , adding, 'by coming forward and telling my story I want to make it easier for others to do the same'.

As I said at the beginning, a truly inspirational story, but more than that, it is also one that highlights the very real issues, being stigma, denial, and an innate inability, especially among the male of the species, to 'speak up and speak out'.

Thanks Paul for 'speaking up and speaking out!

Please, if you or someone you know is showing signs of anxiety (lethargy, moodiness, mood swings, lack of enthusiasm to socialize, declining appetite, increasing alcohol intake), then please do check out the following websites so as to either find or share some of the worlds best support and strategies to cope:

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