Chinook Crew Chick - The Highs and Lows of Military Life with Liz McConaghyFeb 17, 2023
by Dr Ruth Allan | 20 Feb 23
Liz McConaghy joins Dr Ruth Allan on Episode 066 of her show 'Brain Health: Unchaining Your Pain'
Liz, an Ex RAF Chinook Crewman, served 17 years and completed 2 deployments to Iraq and 10 to Afghanistan. She suffered from PTSD and in 2020 tried to end her life
She recently released her book ‘Chinook Crew Chick: The Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crew Member’ to try and help others with Mental Health struggles
During her deployments, she survived not only a near fatal wire strike onboard her CH47, but numerous enemy fire contacts' defending her crew by returning fire from both the M134 Minigun' and M60 weapons entrusted to her to operate
Her biggest honour of all her duties, however, was serving on the Medical Emergency Response Team, or MERT - more commonly known as the flying ambulance. This involved recovering wounded soldiers from the battlefield, often under fire, and witnessing them both die and indeed come back to life at her feet in the cabin of her Chinook
In this episode Liz openly shares the highs and lows that she experienced during her service and what she learnt from trying to take her own life following lockdown, and how she is using her story to provide hope to others
Liz discusses the impact of losing the network of people that was so essential to her, how lockdown isolation restricted her exercise routine, resulting in a change of behaviours and eating habits that quickly spiralled downwards. She shares the impact of the domino effect on her mental health and how her constant drive to not be a burden to others led to her seeking a terminal way out to end her pain
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Listen to Episode 066 with Liz McConaghy on Apple Podcasts
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Connect with Liz McConaghy
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Related episodes, books, topics and events
Episode 049 of 'Brain Health - Unchaining Your Pain' - TBI Help NOW with Dr Mark Gordon, MD
- Episode 046 of 'Brain Health - Unchaining Your Pain' - Baton of Hope with Steve Phillips and Mike McCarthy
- Episode 015 of 'Brain Health - Unchaining Your Pain'† - Embracing Trauma Informed Leadership with Christopher Freeze
- The Samaritans: Call 116 123
- The Veteran's Gateway: Text 81212
- Combat Stress - For Veteran's Mental Health - 0800 138 1619
- The Baton of Hope
Discussed in this podcast
- 03.39 - Optimal brain health for Liz McConaghy - knowing when to step back and saying enough's enough and I'm going to take time out for me
- 05.58 - When Liz lost her network of people that was so essential to her
- 14.35 - Surfing the emotional waves of lockdown. Creating embedded routines to work through the difficult days
- 18.55 - The impact of Liz losing access to her exercise routine during lockdown
- 23.20 - Where Liz's story started...
- 25.58 - Doing the job the best you can: equality, diversity and being human
- 28.02 - Liz's operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and her near death experience
- 30.41 - The hardest part of Liz's tour in Afghanistan - being part of the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT): collecting the injured soldiers on the battlefield
- 31.43 - What Liz saw as part of the MERT
- 32.12 - Becoming immune to the trauma of her MERT experience. Looking after the bodies as a precious piece of freight
- 33.33 - The treadmill of operations: the continual heightened response and adrenaline rush
- 36.47 - Filling the trauma cups
- 37.14 - The day Liz threw all the files everywhere from the back of her head
- 38.00 - Liz's spiral downwards to wanting to take her own life: loss of routine, developing bad eating habits, then insomnia, and started to look at the back story of her traumatic experiences, opening Pandora's box of trauma
- 41.00 - Liz's body snatching experience following increased dose of sleeping tablets
- 41.32 - Calling the GP for help after having suicidal thoughts
- 44.00 - The waterslide experience
- 46.26 - The truth around how Liz survived: calling the Samaritans and then 911
- 51.10 - The domino effect
- 53.15 - Wearing 'Resilience' as a badge of honour: Liz's learnings - her new definition of resilience 'being able to break and come back stronger'
- 55.21 - Giving your mental health a number out of 10 to keep track of it
- 56.36 - Asking the right question to help you assess things in your life that are affecting you: 'Is everything ok?'
- 58.00 - Showing your own cracks to be authentic and allow others to open up and identify their dominos
- 59.38 - The Jenga bucket of stress
- 1.00.48 - The most important value is that guides Liz in life - having a sense of purpose and having purpose
- 1.03.00 - Liz's one piece of advice if you're struggling and feel yourself spiralling downwards.
Please note this show is for educational purposes only. If you need professional support to optimise your brain and whole body health, please contact us directly or speak to your healthcare professional.
DISCLAIMER: Please always seek the advice of your general practitioner or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.
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