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Transcript of Oliver Liyou's Story

Speaker 1: 

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Speaker 2: 

This podcast series will share personal moments of connection and deeply felt experiences. If anything you hear has a triggering effect, please reach out to someone who can help keep you safe. Well, remember you can find lifeline at any time on 13, 11, 14,

Speaker 3: 

and this was just a story, but it's stuck with my, and only one album with all of the ones. When Alice stand there and we hit the go to this place, I had a ocean and a whole lot of horses and a whole lot of kids, and it was pretty run down on everything. And I invested in this hole and it had been sick for a week. And I had rang the boss's clinic early in the week, instead of the snot getting better, it's getting worse. And the nurse that took the call said, you hadn't buys your bills. And this particular, I rang all of her direct and said, Oh, it's real sick. We were having dinner at his place. And, um, and we went out there and he had to put it down. I can just go on. And I've always little kids running around there was tastes from everybody, all of us put it down.

Speaker 3: 

He was crying, the paper, roll, crawling everything, all of us really badly affected so that I put it in an old slide. And before he put it in so that I could take it either period. And we went back to the boss's clinic and Oliver was so upset and he went into the clinic and he mocked as whole pie on the computer. All I dunno where the API that or whether he just arrived. He's just that short a man. And right now with this talking about this to people, some people say he's over the top. That's the boy that did that. And I'll forever be proud of him that he's got the courage to do this.

Speaker 4: 

Many of us probably think it's a pretty nice life being a vet, dealing with animals and charging big bills as a question, dental specialist, Oliver, Leo explains. We forget this, no Medicare for pets, and that Fetzer are struggling with stress financial pressure, long hours. And as you just heard from his dad, Len massive emotional dilemmas, Oliver built his practice from scratch while also inventing equipment and training undergraduates. At the same time, he was trying to raise a family and eventually it all became too.

Speaker 5: 

I enjoy all aspects of being a horsefeather apart from getting tired and not being able to do some of my own personal things. But, um, I do a lot of equine dentistry and it's really nice black and white stuff that you can see straight away within five minutes that you've helped that horse massively and being able to do it on a large scale, gives me more of a bus, but then teaching other vets how to do it, gives me a massive buzz. So, um, you know, to do it on a local level, but then to be able to teach others and, you know, you're having a massive impact on, you know, cause most animals are pretty nice critters. And um, so that that's the big buzz and I think that's a big that's the endorphin hit the most I'm looking for is just knowing that you've made a difference to that animal and it can go away and feel better for having met you or having interacted.

Speaker 5: 

I sorta think of it's of getting in trouble with mental health is due to the fact that we're often in a bit of a rubber band situation where we're trying to deliver the best quality standard of care to clients and their animals at the lowest possible price. And something's got to give in that tug of war it's often, you know, it's often the, the human side of the veterinary practice that struggles in that rubber band scenario. My ex wife was so correct when she used to say that, um, when I'd go out and do a, a, um, a job on a horse and they either couldn't afford it or just do it for nothing sort of thing. Um, and didn't charge properly. She'd remind me that I'm basically stealing from stealing time from her and my boys and giving it to the horse owner. And she said, you know, how do we earn our way to be more important than the horse owner in your life?

Speaker 5: 

Oliver? That was her question to me. It was a very valid question. I was in a big hurry to, um, to make it work because I knew that my boys were going to need me more and more and having read Steve [inaudible] book on raising boys where he stated that if you're working more than 55 hours, when your eldest boy reaches six, you're going to fail as a dad. So I was, you know, hitting the turbo button to try and get the business up and running and less need of me, um, for that business to keep running. But also didn't want to go broke and then have to sell up everything and then be back to renting and, you know, started all again. I knew I had a good business concept. I was sorta trying to limit my sleep to about four or five hours a night to make sure I got the stuff done.

Speaker 5: 

And because I was starting an online web store, as well as being a bit, and also also running workshops to train vets in dentistry. And then, um, and that was all part of the longterm goal. So I'd often get home from work at around eight o'clock at night and, um, often put the boys to bed and read him a book. And, uh, and then try and some time with my wife who was often tired then and ready to go to bed, but I'd know that I had orders to fill and vet emails to reply to, and that sort of thing. So then I'd go to my office and then I'd go out and start packing gear and preparing for workshops and stuff. So I was often working through till midnight, 2:00 AM at times. Um, I was also having to try and enlighten the veterinary profession that equine dentistry was worthwhile field to pursue.

Speaker 5: 

And because it wasn't at the time. So yeah, I knew that I was burning the candle, but I thought I just had, I was sure that I could get it over the line, but I had to also convince, um, you know, I guess everyone else in my life that I wasn't going nuts in doing it. So that was the challenge and, uh, had to try. And, um, you know, I was always, I think I did reasonably well had holding myself together in front of clients and, um, and I think they did a reasonable job as a dad and certainly did my best as a husband, but I was struggling, but I just knew that I just had to keep going.

Speaker 6: 

Here's one of his parents, Lynn and Jean,

Speaker 3: 

yeah. A dog. And that's what it was. And it just got the better, he just seemed like he failed. He has to keep harder and he didn't let people down and he's always very kind and consider it and say the marriage was going not going good. And, and he was having to put restrictions on spending that thing because you can spend more than you.

Speaker 6: 

Any marriage with young kids is a challenge, but I was also in a, um, in a business as a newbie business owner with a starting a new business and also starting a new concept, trying to convince the equine vet profession that this was a good concept to follow. So I was, I was getting tired. Um, but I would keep going. I was very determined, um, in, uh, I think it was November eight or November 10, 2005. Um, my wife who we'd actually run seven workshops in 2005. So we'd had our biggest busiest year ever. Um, the business had doubled each year. It went for those first three years. So we were having cashflow issues just through the rapid growth. And, uh, we were having just increasing demands from clients about wanting equipment, wanting horses, looked at wanting workshops, run that sort of thing. So I think my wife was starting to get pretty sick of, um, this, this, um,

Speaker 5: 

work regime that I was following.

Speaker 7: 

All of us started seeing a life coach psychologist to help him get some balance in his life, but he was either sleeping or racing until eventually his wife suggested he might be bipolar or depressed.

Speaker 5: 

So I marched along and said, my wife says I'm depressed or bipolar. I feel fine, but I I'm tired, but I'm busy and I'm still, you know, making things happen. So I went in there and then, so the discussion then focused in on depression and talking about depression and serotonin levels and whatnot. And she gave me a piece of paper and said, go to your GP and ask for this. And it was our packs. And so I went to the GP the next day or a couple of days later and said, my psychologist said, I do use this. And she'd said to start off on a low dose, cause it can give you stomach upset. So he's, he agreed. So started taking it. And then yeah, about eight or 10 days later, um, I can look back in hindsight and see that I, I really deteriorated, but I couldn't say that at the time, but I started, um, becoming probably infatuated with, um, I thought I've just done.

Speaker 5: 

I've tried everything possible and it's still not working. I'm still making my partner intensely unhappy. Um, my wife and, um, you know, things, you know, we're struggling with cashflow, we can't pay our bills. Um, I've got all this debt. I'm not seeing my kids enough. It all became, you know, monumental. And I think my mind just really started becoming infatuated with suicide. Um, I actually had a voice in my head saying, you know, this is a good option. Now you've given it your best shot. You, um, you can actually go and become an angel now, and then you'll always be with your wife and kids and be able to do stuff even invisibly. And that was how irrational my mind was working at the time. So, um, yeah, so it was on November 24 that, um, I was meant to be working at the races and, um, my marriage relationship was even worse and there was, um, a request for a divorce separation.

Speaker 5: 

Um, and I thought, well, I can handle that and I'll just go on, um, you know, get my business sorted out and then I'll come back and, you know, hopefully be able to get the marriage back on track on that. So I went inside to my office and started punching in, um, figures on my new Excel spreadsheet that my friendly accountant had sent to me, um, to help me make business decisions and everything I put into it. It kept coming up loss, loss, loss. You're never going to profit. And it became a, I just thought, well, I've tried everything I've given it my best shot. And this voice has had me, here's a better option going to become an angel. Then you can be there to help everyone you want to. Um, and I, yeah, I, I reached for, you know, as vets were very well trained in how to end suffering, we're actually trying to university how to end suffering in animals.

Speaker 5: 

And, um, and we're taught, you know, trained and we're paid to give the spiel to the owner to not feel bad about putting their pet to sleep. Um, you know, you're reassuring them, it's the right thing to do and, and they'll be in a better place and I'll be able to run around with their other furry friends in the heavens and all that sort of stuff. And I think in hindsight that I look back on that and it was probably those little subconscious, almost Sal pitches that we put to clients to make them feel better about it. I think that my, those thoughts were coming into my brain was how I view or how I, I guess, try and explain to me what was going through my head at the time, because it really was a very calm, relaxed feeling. And it was, it was just the right thing to do at the time.

Speaker 5: 

So it just shows how messed up my brain was because I'd had that thought, you know, hundreds of thousands of times before when I'd got stressed and it never became an issue. Um, but this, this time was why different after I'd taken the lethal lethal substance, I'd sent a text, a goodbye text, uh, to my wife and she, she was a, an error why at the time, and she was sore it and then immediately rang my brother. Who's working about 10 minutes away. And he jumped straight in the car and was there in about five minutes apparently. And I was unconscious. Um, I was on my back. My math was full of vomit. Um, and he'd fortunately just done a CPR course. And, uh, he rolled Millman side and then did CPR and rang the ambulance. And, um, and they came, ambulance came and took me to the hospital through connecting with others. We can hold on to hope, to speak to a crisis supporter, please call 13, 11, 14, 24 hours, seven days a week,

Speaker 8: 

all of the lie. And I'll always say you who he was and kept a log with the machine. And OD was under pressure from quarters to turn him off the family, his brothers and sisters, old gathering ground. We had a good doctor from Sydney. A specialist came up, we had Bosch from professionals, bodied used. We're putting him in your tape comma. I need Mike come out of it. Or, or, and you know what he did.

Speaker 5: 

Yeah. It's just a series of miracles, really? Hell I actually survived. And when I was in the coma, um, there was talk of, it was so bad that there was a better 5% chance of me not having permanent brain damage and whatnot from, from

Speaker 6: 

at all and talk of turning off the life support. And, uh, there was talk of organ donation and all those discussions were going on. So I'm very, very lucky to have got out of that one.

Speaker 3: 

You know, he's bright down cold and he has friends from all over the world ringing. I'm concerned about him eventually came up to live with us up here and we got a big old house and he loved it here. And he exercise well, he slept well. He had, he's fine to talk to everybody.

Speaker 9: 

Well, we didn't talk about anything much. Wally was here. I always used to think I should be doing something. I don't know what I could be doing. Should I have him on little projects or find something in the garden to Diggle, you know, whatever. And the whole time that's the why I was feeling, but he was sleeping a lot. And to me, let sleeping dogs, sons, husbands, anybody else? That's my thing. If I want to sleep, I must made to sleep. And so a lot of it early in the piece, that's what he did.

Speaker 3: 

Well, I think he was just mentally and physically tired and worn out. And he was like, you know, it just needs a big spell North, cross your paddock somewhere to just get well again. And that's, you should have seen him when he left to go back. He looked like a seven, eight year old again, he was fit and healthy and bright and happy. And that was just when I wasn't three or four months. So why from all the pressure and everything,

Speaker 6: 

I'd heard many other, you know, times where I'd heard about suicides and those always you'd always hear that they took the coward's option. It's a selfish thing to do that sort of thing that I was very aware of. That could be, um, some people's sorts, but it was the psych nurses that really queued me up on that. And they said, you know, you might worry about that, but just, just, um, just walk with your head up high and just focus on you. You're not gonna, you're going to get better and you're going to focus on getting better and you're gonna focus on not falling over again and not so coming to that illness again. And I still struggle with, uh, with the, on the side of it, because I know that it's my own personal thought patterns that can get me into the, into the problem in the first place. So I do feel responsible for my own mental health issues in a way that I try and use that feeling, that I feel responsible in a way to help me stay motivated, to try and prevent me going that path again, if that makes sense.

Speaker 5: 

So finding the right therapist, and luckily I had been advised of this might happen by a, a, a friend and a colleague who was also a lecturer of mine at university. He, um, he's been instrumental in helping the vet profession with, um, sort of trying to get to the bottom of the problems, but he warned me. He said, um, just be careful. And don't take everything you hear from the psychologists and psychiatrists as gospel. When I did find a someone who I could connect with, you know, I could tell that he sort of understood where I was coming from and I wasn't feeling judged and I wasn't being lectured to, and that sort of thing. So, and then every bit of advice he gave me I'd implement it and it would work. So that was the, you know, the proof of the pudding's in the eating, all of his psychiatrist gave him some coping strategies at this time, my marriage was finished and, um, but I had to try and get it back on track.

Speaker 5: 

I wanted to try and get back in our home and be there for my kids and my wife and his advice was you got nothing to lose here. Okay? Worst case scenario, you're getting a divorce, but the better you can improve yourself and get healthy, stronger, positive, energized, the better, the more attractive you're going to be for your wife or ex-wife whichever situation it was going to be. And if that doesn't work, will you be attractive to another partner anyway? So you got nothing to lose. And, you know, it's such a simple concept, but it was gold for me at the time because that then ticked all the boxes that I needed to that also helped with my mental health. So it was also mental and physical health, which, you know, just to so go together. The CBT for me was brilliant, um, because it really,

Speaker 6: 

again, struck a chord with my own personal experience of how, when I'd get to a certain level of stress. And this was goes right back to when I was 10 years old. So I was really an immature mind forming these behavior or thought patterns of if things got really tough, I've always got the option of taking my own life. And in the CBT, it was explained that that's just a negative thought pattern that starts as a little, little smoldering fire, and then suddenly gets out of control and becomes sort of a raging Bush fire. So they taught us how to identify those little negative thought patterns and actually grab them and stop them from escalating as it had done so many times before in my life. So that was just, um, really good in that. It really taught me that your mind is like a, almost like an external computer that, um, you can actually take control of your thoughts and, and grab them and ask for evidence, are they really true or not? And if they're not true, or you throw them in the bin, you can learn this stuff superficially, or maybe read it in a book, but you've got to really implant it deep into your brain. So that it's useful when you are under the pump mentally and emotionally. That's when you go back to your revert back to your sort of childhood behaviors. And, um, so it was sort of like having to re-install the hard drive in my brain to try and to get that

Speaker 5: 

time management was a big stress and a big fear for me, cause I was trying to fit too much in. And so having had, I guess, relationship problems, I would instantly start thinking, Oh, this is, you know, if I'm running late, it's all going to be bad when I get home. Or if, uh, yeah, if I say no to that client, I can't see your horse. Maybe they'll stop using me. Um, you know, and so I'd be taking on more stuff than I could physically handle. And or if I, you know, hadn't rung them back, I'd start thinking, Oh, they're never gonna use me again. Cause I haven't rung him back that same day, that sort of thing. So yeah, just, um, little global beliefs you get in your head rules that aren't necessarily the case or if it might be something like you walk past a client in the shopping center and they, they haven't used you for a couple of years and I don't say hello.

Speaker 5: 

And you think, Oh, they, they don't want to use me anymore. They don't like me, but it might be that they were just having a bad day. They had no clue. They were in another, you know, on another planet with their thought patterns. But you know, in a depressed or anxious mind, that little thought pattern of are, they're not going to use you anymore and take off. And then it becomes, they're not going to use you nor are their friends and you're going to go broke. So it can escalate that quickly that going from someone not saying hello to you quickly says, you're going to

Speaker 6: 

go broken, lose everything, and you'll probably be in jail. So that it's yeah, it's how our stupid brains can play tricks on us. And it was the Stephen Covey analogy of, you know, your life is like a plane flying from Brisbane to LA. You know, you're getting blown off by external winds coming across the plane, 95% of the time, you're off track. But so long as you keep trying to get us back on track, you'll eventually get to where you want to go. And that is my life. I, you know, I know where I want to get to. I know it might change when I get there, but, uh, I think I, to get worried about getting blown off track on falling off the wagon of doing exercise, I used to get worried and think I'll, don't bother trying that again. But now I just think, well, no, don't feel bad about it.

Speaker 6: 

You just, just Shuman, just get back on the, start your exercise again or something and don't beat yourself up over it. Because I think that the negative self talk in beating yourself up that's to me was a big part of my, um, getting into trouble. Yeah. But the biggest thing for me has been getting a good night's sleep. I don't think I said that before, but that's been massive for me cause I would before I was always in a state of feeling tired, but I just keep pushing through it. But now I don't have that feeling anymore. Just being chronically tired

Speaker 4: 

on of his also found hope by speaking out about suicide rates, amongst vets, letting others to the problem and encouraging them to get help.

Speaker 6: 

Yeah. The catalyst was losing my mind. I'm down the same path I went, but he, he did not survive. And um, you know, that just really made me realize that if he can succumb to it, I just thought anyone could, because he, you know, we'd spoke about it and spoke about suicide and he'd never had any thoughts and he would, he was so adamant. He'd never do it. And that sort of thing. And to see him then get in that path, it just scared the bejesus out of me. And I just saw this is not right. Um, and I knew the struggles that he was gone through similar struggles to who I was with, you know, debt and hours and you know, trying to make a family life balance with veterinary practice and business management and that sort of thing. So I just really thought this is part of my purpose of life, I guess, was, um, to, you know, I'd been given a second chance that he, and a lot of others don't. So I need to try and do my bit to try and chip in and try and help others, um, find ways to prevent them going down that path. I'm not sure if you've heard about Hendra virus, it got so much, so much media publicity, and we've had two vets, you know, die of Hendra virus in 20 years, but we keep losing four vets a year to suicide. You know, why isn't that getting more publicity? And you know, the skeptic would say, there's no money in suicide.

Speaker 9: 

Well, to me, it's the best thing in the whole world to expose this. Suicide's always been hidden. The why, and it's a selfish act and all this sort of thing. I think no, these are people that are driven to their last breath or most that they're just desperate. And I think the world will be a better place for that. And that's not right. That's the way they've distorted thinking has come to them.

Speaker 6: 

For me personally, I don't know anyone who I could call a friend or a colleague who's ever died in a car accident, but I've lost five friends, five veterinary friends, colleagues to suicide. So to me, it's, you know, it's more of a risk than driving a car. So what I'm speaking to other bets about is to not feel that it'll never happen to them because from my own personal experience, you know, I, I was well aware that I'd thought about it many, many times, but I was also well aware that I'd never act on it, but suddenly, you know, that something changed in my brain to, to, uh, have me act on it. And, um, I sort of say that the speaking up is, is, uh, is fine to do, but also I also, um, say to them the importance of, you know, learning to say no with a smile and don't beat yourself up for saying no that, um, you know, you go.

Speaker 6: 

And one of the things I learned in the CBT thing is that, uh, you should only give away things that you can afford to give away. So if you can afford to give away money, then give away money. If you can afford to give away your time, give away your time. But if you can't afford to give away your time, don't go giving away. Cause it'll leave you short and you will suffer and then you can't be there to help others. And that was a big, um, sort of mantra that I locked onto that if you can afford to give away horses will give away horses or, you know, be material things or time or money or words or advice. But sometimes in life you just got to knuckle down and look after yourself. And I'm trying to learn to identify which stage of life you're in, because it's going to change from week to week and month to month.

Speaker 6: 

But making sure that you look after yourself first, because if you're gone or you fall ill, you know, you're not going to be nearly as productive. And that's why you are trying to help people in the first place. Um, the other things I talk about are the importance of, you know, not reaching for, you know, historical quick fixes. If you're feeling tired, not reaching for another cup of coffee or not reaching for a sugar hit, you know, go for a power nap instead I'm going exercise. Um, things like meditation and mindfulness. They're also good things to learn to practice at getting better at. And I'm just switching your brain off for a little bit. Don't use alcohol to switch your brain off. And you know, some of these things I'm saying I sometimes fall off the wagon as well, and sometimes do drink alcohol or do go for an extra cup of coffee.

Speaker 6: 

But I know that I should, I can't keep making that a habit. So it's not like I, I'm saying, you know, you, you should never do this, but know the principles of where you've got to keep aiming to get back to. And, um, don't lose faith if you do fall off the wagon occasionally, and that sort of thing, just don't worry about it, get up and get going again, sort of thing. The importance of not becoming isolated is really important. Um, making sure that you've got, you know, probably five friends or colleagues or whatever that you feel comfortable enough to bring this topic up with because you can't always reach any of, one of them on the phone or whatever. So make sure you got a good five of them that you can reach out to. So that sense of tribe and belonging, the other one is, um, you know, finding your purpose, know what, what your, you know, finding your purpose, finding your passion in life and that sort of thing.

Speaker 6: 

And following that and going for that, but work out a way that you can, um, you can hopefully make a living out of it. Um, the other one I say to vets is we get into so much trouble in so many vets get into trouble financially. I think it's because when society thinks we should be rich and, and when not. So then yeah, there's a temptation to go and borrow more money and live beyond your means and that sort of thing. Um, or it might be, you know, you just work harder and harder to try and make it work. Um, so learning to manage finances and in, you know, and live within your means. And that sort of thing, I think is something that would be beneficial to be taught more of at vet school to help them cope with this concept that society thinks you're rich, but you're actually struggling to pay your rent. So, you know, I, you going to just admit that you're struggling or are you going to try and look rich and go so far into debt that you, you know, you end up sacrificing your relationships, your marriage and all that sort of thing for that?

Speaker 5: 

Well, I, for me now is good. Carolyn and I, and my partner we've been together for five years. Uh, I know that I've still got the, I guess the genetic building blocks to overwork and, um, probably push myself too hard, but I'm much more receptive. And I put a lot more emphasis on the relationships close around me to make sure that they're good. And they're okay. And looking after a relationship almost goes hand in hand with looking after your mental health, because it's, you actually slowed down, you stop and smell the roses and you actually listen and communicate. And so I guess it's a, it's a double bonus that you enjoy a good relationship, but you also, that's also good for your mental health. So it's really win-win.

Speaker 10: 

I think it's wonderful what he's done, um, to bring all this out into the house and, and to speak about it now, whether you're a vet or whatever you are it's, um, it's great to me. I think what he's doing,

Speaker 4: 

thank you for listening to holding onto hope. Lifeline Australia is grateful to all our interviewees who share their stories in the hope of inspiring others. We also acknowledge all of you. It provides support to people in crisis and those on their journey to recovery. If you found this podcast helpful or inspiring, please share it, rate it why to review or subscribe wherever you download your favorite podcasts. If this story has affected you and you require crisis support, please contact lifeline on 13, 11, 14. You can do this@anytimeorvisitlifeline.org.edu to access web chat every night from 7:00 PM to midnight. If it's inspired you to be a lifelong volunteer or to donate, please visit lifeline.org.edu with thanks to WIA creative for interviews, editing, and production, and the voice of lived experience, which is essential in the development of our work

Speaker 1: 

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