Time to heed the advice

Warialda paramedic gets a wake-up call

Mental Health

Listen to your wife is the best advice Jerod Sutherland, a NSW Ambulance manager, can give.


Listen to your wife is the best advice Jerod Sutherland can give.

"Women are good at picking up on stuff and if they are telling you something is wrong then there is something wrong," Jerod said.

"We all get nagged to mow the lawn 67 times and it usually takes 24 times for them to tell us to fix the tap in the bathroom before we do it.

"But when your significant other says go see the doctor there is something wrong with you, listen to them."

For 12 months Jerod, who is a manager for NSW Ambulance at Warialda, didn't heed his own advice.

It wasn't until his wife Deborah of 25 years gave him an ultimatum, get help or she was going to leave him, that he listened.

It was the wake-up call he needed.

"It was the turning point for me, she was the one that helped me," he said.

Jerod went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with depression. That was six-and-a-half years ago.

ADVICE: Read the guide here.

ADVICE: Read the guide here.

"The biggest thing I found was that I couldn't see there was anything wrong with me. I used to say 'I'm fine, I just need more sleep'," he said.

"The misconception about depression is that it is just sadness. I wasn't sitting in the corner crying every day, I was getting on doing my job.

"I wasn't moping. I was a functioning human being, but I had a short fuse. Thankfully I didn't turn to the bottle like a lot of people do."

At the time of his wake-up call he had been working as a paramedic in the town he grew up as a boy.

"People saw me as the six-year-old boy with a snotty nose, not the man who was there as an ambulance officer to help sooth their ailments," he said.

While working in his home-town added to the pressure, it wasn't the nasty jobs that would tip him over the edge.

"It could be as simple as an older women falling over and breaking her hip that reminds you of your own grandmother, it was things that made it more personal."

Jerod took a change of scenery and moved towns into a managerial role.

He undertook cognitive therapy, spoke at men's health nights and worked on projects, like restoring a hot rod, as a coping mechanism.

"Coping mechanisms, cognitive therapy and talking to somebody helps me.

"When I speak about mental health, I liken it to a jenga pile. When you start your career as an ambo you start with a full jenga pile that is all intact and lovely. Different jobs take different pieces out of your jenga pile.

"Some people are lucky enough to go their whole career and the pile doesn't fall over. Some get part way through their career and it falls over.

"My jenga pile never fell over, it got very shaky, but thankfully listening and seeking help kept it upright."


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