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Resurrected: Andy and Zoe Cullen’s story of battling PTSD . . . and winning against all odds

EARLIER this year Andy and Zoe Cullen shared their gritty story of love, hope and winning the battle against depression with a captivated audience at the Australian Defence Force and National Service Reunion held in Moree.

Andy and Zoe – co-authors of inspirational book Resurrected – spoke candidly about Andy’s battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“PTSD is just a part of my story but it doesn’t define me,” Andy said.

“I have learnt to embrace my past, to live in the present and developed a hope for the future. I look back fondly on my service and I am grateful I have found my new purpose in sharing our story of hope with others.”

Andy and Zoe established PTSD Resurrected in 2017 with the aim of restoring hope, healing and purpose to individuals suffering from PTSD as a result of trauma experienced during service.

“It was birthed out of a necessity to provide hope to the veteran and first responder community suffering extremely high suicide rates as a direct result of trauma,” Andy said.

The charity recognises trauma does not only impact an individual but an entire family.

“As a result we help individuals and families address trauma from a holistic perspective including spiritual, mental and physical,” Andy said.

Out of the healing process the book, Resurrected, was born – now in its second edition.

Resurrected gives a raw account of the realities of war and its effects on marriage and family and can be purchased online at www.oceanreevepublishing.com/product/resurrected/, with five-dollars from every sale donated to PTSD Resurrected.

Andy, a veteran of 17 years’ service in the Australian Army, retired as a Major in 2012 having served six years as a soldier in the Royal Australian Infantry (RAINF) and later as an Officer in the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE).

Much of his career focused on Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and he was awarded the Commendation for Distinguished Service for operations in Afghanistan.

Zoe grew up in Byron Bay.

She has a passion for life, family and travel and after university married into the Army – her own career took a back seat to Andy’s life as a military officer.

Andy was diagnosed with PTSD following multiple deployments to Afghanistan.

His condition worsened as he battled with a loss of identity and purpose.

He eventually ended up in a mental hospital, falling into a dark depression that very nearly cost him his life.

Zoe was left to pick up the pieces of the broken family but together they fought their way through the many challenges living with PTSD brings.

Zoe was forced into the position of sole parent of their four young children.

She suffered inexorable pain and heartache as she struggled to keep her family and her life together.

“I remember feeling so alone, because nobody understood,” Zoe said.

“I felt so trapped in a relationship with this man that looked like the man I married but didn’t, or couldn’t, love me or my babies.

“It was like someone had flicked a switch. He was unreachable. He constantly and viciously wounded me verbally and emotionally without care.

Andy and Zoe Cullen at the Australian Defence Force and National Service reunion at Moree Services Club earlier this year (Image: Bill Poulos).

“The damage was irreversible. There was no coming back from this. I was physically depleted. I felt no more love for this man with whom I’d exchanged death-to-us-part vows,” she said.

“My bucket was empty. He had used it all up. I had nothing left.

“But as exhausted and emotionally distraught as I was, I had to keep it together, otherwise all was lost and our healing journey really began once we were on the same page,” she said.

Andy and Zoe are Ambassadors for Mates4Mates, proudly supporting the Defence Force injured and their families and also facilitate the REBOOT Combat Recovery Course in Australia.

“It’s a course that provides practical help for service members, first responders and their families, addressing the moral and spiritual wounds of combat for the veteran as well as the family that were fighting a battle of a different kind at home,” Andy said.

Andy and Zoe’s work is ongoing, and the healing never really stops.

Through registered charity PTSD Resurrected, they have helped returned servicemen and first responders and their families travelling the same, sad, yet inspirational journey.

It is also a journey of hope that is helping save the lives of countless sufferers.

Resurrected, the second edition can be purchased online at www.oceanreevepublishing.com/product/resurrected/, with five-dollars from every sale donated to PTSD Resurrected.

Resurrected is also available in e-Book format.

Donations can also be made online at https://ptsdresurrected.org/.

To read about Andy and Zoe’s emotional visit to Moree earlier this year go to:

http://www.deluxecafemoree.com.au/andy-and-zoes-story-one-of-hope-love-and-inspiration/