CHOOSING LIFE: Emu Park veteran leads way out of PTSD
DISCHARGED after more than a decade of military service, life became an everyday battle for veteran Andrea Josephs.
Post-natal depression and bipolar are just two of the misdiagnoses she was dealt before medical professionals realised Andrea was gripped by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Two years ago, the mother of four daughters tried to take her own life.
It wasn't her first attempt, but was the first her children knew about.
Only when her 14-year-old reached out with a tribute video, did Andrea's life find new meaning and Matilda Poppy, a not-for-profit veteran support organisation, was born.
"It was her way of expressing that she was proud of me, and that she could see me, as I was, feeling invisible in the world at the time of my suicide attempt; she wanted to show me she understood and my other daughters felt the same," Andrea said of her daughter's actions.
"At the end of the day I have had several suicide attempts, sexual assault, I've been through the dark process."
Andrea, who moved from Brisbane to Emu Park in December last year, said her lived experience became the essence of Matilda Poppy, a concept which initially represented "one veteran, one voice, one family, one lived experience".
After finding "peace and happiness" in what Andrea describes as the most patriotic town she has come across, she now plans to launch Matilda Poppy for he first time in Australia at the Emu Park markets this Sunday, March 19.
Andrea is sole founder and financier, and all her efforts will go towards funding veteran support services, advocating for legislative change and acknowledging all Australian Defence Force members, veterans and their families in their life, pride, respect and service.
The crux of Andrea's dream for Matilda Poppy is simple; that every Australian acknowledge a veteran and their service to show them they are valued, that they matter. Andrea's struggle to achieve this though is far from simple.
"I just want to change the narrative, I want people to realise that a veteran is not a dead veteran, they are living, they are people amongst you," she said.
"Don't be afraid to walk up to someone and say "g'day, thank you", you never know that that might be the one thing that could stop them taking their own life. If we can get to that with the families and the veterans themselves we will see a lot less suicide and homelessness."
Connect with Matilda Poppy via Facebook, or visit the website matildapoppy.com
- Emu Park Markets, Bell Park on Sunday, March 19
- Markets begin 7am, official launch from 10am
- Community invited to attend