It’s an absolute honour to share this latest guest blog post from my new mate, kindred spirit and legend - Dean Gladstone.
You may recognise Deano from the Bondi Rescue TV Series. As well as being a professional lifeguard Deano is a Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, Wellness Coach and self confessed Heath Food Nut.
You have seen Deano undertaking countless life-saving rescues, providing critical first aid to rescued patients on TV and undertaking amazing fitness feats along with his life guard team mates.
But behind what you see on TV is a personal story that Deano has carried for some time. Like so many of us behind the façade of our outer selves there is often inner journeys of trauma and recovery that have affected our mental fitness.
Deano’s recovery journey continues and he has kindly shared with us his coping strategies and tips for a healthier lifestyle both physically and mentally
I know writing this blog wasn’t easy for Deano to go through, and recognising that, Deano sought additional support to help him through it, demonstrating that it’s more than ok to seek help when you need it.
Thanks Deano! You’ve certainly inspired me mate
Please consider the content of this blog, it may make you feel uncomfortable if it relates to one or more of your own experiences. Should it make you feel uncomfortable at all, please speak to a person you trust, and/or seek professional help or send me a message.
Here we go…. this is Deano’s story…
“Well, it’s a small but unforgettable part of my story, one that changed the course of my life!
12 years ago my life wasn’t bad. I was doing ok at most things and I liked my work, my friends, sport and fitness. I had a girlfriend and my family was great.
Then came the moment when it all changed.
On a night out, early evening, I was sipping my first beer.
A guy ran up from behind and smashed me in the face with his fist. I didn’t see him coming and was knocked unconscious. This single cowards punch was so severe, my 4 front teeth were knocked out.
When I regained consciousness, he was on top of me, continuing to attack me. I could taste the blood in my mouth and could feel my teeth bent back at 90 degrees or missing. My front teeth were never found.
I was rushed to hospital in a neck brace. I did receive spinal damage but luckily, not near my spinal cord so I could walk unaided, but the anxiety and fearas a result of the injuries meant it would take me weeks to leave the house. I only left if I had to, for dental appointments and other essential medical and police meetings.
It took a couple of months to return to work. The dentist did what he could to make me look better with an artificial tooth and repairs to the other damage, but I was struggling hard mentallyto get through each day.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome(PTSS) and the anxiety was severe.
In addition to the physical damage, I also developed allergies that I had never had before. After meals, my nasal airway would block up and I’d have to breathe through my mouth which made restful sleep much more of a challenge - I hadn’t been sleeping well after the assault anyway. Then there was the unbearable skin irritation.
I would scratch myself in my sleep, sometimes until I bled. I wasn’t familiar with dermatitis and eczema but they became part of my life, which doctors attributed to me living with PTSS.
The nightmares, frustration, anger and resentment were also apparent. I just wasn’t myself! I had so much support from the boys at work and my family. I was lucky enough to stay working but I still relied on family for emotional and financial support - the medical bills were high – over $50k on dentistry alone.
I realised I desperately wanted my health back.It became my obsession and for me to do it, I had to make massive changes in my life. I stopped the sleeping pills, doctors and other commercial medication, replacing them with naturopathy, acupuncture and massage therapy. I’d stopped drinking alcohol and didn’t like to be out where alcohol was consumed. I didn’t feel safe around alcohol.
It’s been a long, tough journey and in some ways, I’m still on it. Here are some of the changes I made to help me with PTSS, anxiety and my other health issues.
Celebrating little victories
Making little improvements and acknowledge the success. The combination of these two can have a massive impact.
Cutting down on toxins – Reducing 2 sleeping tablets to 1 and then none.
If you are a smoker, reduce the cigarettes or days/times you smoke.
If drinking is your challenge, drink no alcohol on school nights or reduce the volume.
Every little step in the right direction is fantastic. I found little steps meant the ultimate goal didn’t seem too unachievable.
There had to be acceptance for what happened. You can’t change the past but you can write the future.
After accepting the assault and the challenges that followed, I found gratitude in a number of ways. We all know the one punch victim stories are awful, but I realise I was one of the lucky ones, I could have been killed. If this assault is the worst thing that happens in my life, I will be very grateful.
Thoughts, Breathing, Hydration, Nutrition, Movement and Rhythm
I learned to influence my mood, my stress level and many other things by controlling other variables in my life.
The biggest part of my life that I could easily influence was my diet. Clean eating made the most amazing difference to my mind and body.
I cut out processed food, increased my vegetable intake and drank enough quality filtered water - these are 3 tips that everyone could benefit from.
Processed food often has the 3 major nasties in one hit - sugar, gluten and vegetable oil. Avoid these for better physical health and mental health too.
If you always do what you have always done, then you will always get what you always got. I changed and I didn’t apologise for it.
I rebuilt a new, smarter, tougher, stronger, kinder and better me but it took bravery and commitment to change.
Exercise – my drug of choice
Feeling stronger, fitter and more able is so empowering. I encourage everyone to find some form of exercise that they enjoy. Walking is great exercise. I needed to build strength, work on my posture, improve mobility and get back in the ocean.
Being grateful and positive is a practice
Writing down what you are grateful for is highly recommended as is setting new goals, learning new skills and trying to be a better version of yourself.
Less than perfect is ok
I actually became a little over-obsessed with my new lifestyle and criticised myself when I couldn’t get achieve all I perceived would make me better. The perfectionism I’d placed on myself began to affect me. I needed to learn that some days it was ok not to be perfect. I learnt to accept that balance is good.
Don’t go it alone
Rely on your support network. Reach out for help. Spend time with your friends and family and let shit go.
Sometimes it takes losing something to make you realise how important it is to you. For me, as a Lifeguard and Fitness trainer my health was everything.
Hopefully others don’t need to have a moment like this to realise what is important.
Get in touch and keep up to date with Deano:
Please fell free to contact me through the blog comments section, whether it's to become one of my guest bloggers, seek advice or provide feedback. You can also contact me via email at: TheKiltedRogueRunner@outlook.com
Should you feel in a position of crisis or need some assistance please seek help
https://www.beyondblue.org.auTel: 1300 22 46 36
https://www.lifeline.org.au/Tel: 133 11 14
https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.auTel: 1300 65 94 67