#71: Stronger than you think! With Elizabeth Woolsey Herbert

This is an episode about courage. About putting yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone and then finding it within yourself to make it work, because self-care does not equate self-limiting, and you’re probably stronger than you think.  

Elizabeth Woolsey Herbert is a retired equine veterinarian and practice owner. She moved from the US to Australia as a young vet and practised equine veterinary medicine for over 35 years. She’s also the author of a series of fictional and non-fiction books as well as a string of professional papers. She recently retired and has returned to the US, where she is now focusing on her writing career, and catching more fish. Here are a few lines about herself from our initial ‘get-to-know each other’ e-mails:

1. I did the hard yards.

2. I did it often on a 24/7 basis.

3. I went through every imaginable bad thing that could happen and survived.

Elizabeth’s story is filled with stuff we need to hear: It’s about a career driven by purpose and passion and a sense of responsibility. About the importance of relationships, continued growth, curiosity and creativity, using humour as a shield, and about finding joy in your work, but also fulfilment outside of work. Elizabeth also talks about turf-guarding between vets, gives some practical tips on avoiding worry, and shares what she’s learnt on how to build an amazing supportive team. We talk about the joys and challenges of rural practise, and about her creative writing career. 

“Never die without chocolate in your mouth!” 

But there’s also some darkness in this story, as there is in most good stories, and we’re dragging that darkness into the light with the help of psychologist Duanne Smith, with Elizabeth’s permission. Duanne helps to unpack aspects of Elizabeth’s journey in a post-episode bonus section (at the 1 hour 17 min mark) by answering questions about where to go for help and how to ask for it (and how to accept it!) when you’re hitting a rough patch, and also how to identify someone who might be in need of help, and how to respond, including how to talk about suicide. 

“Speak to another human voice, because it is about attachment. One of the main protective factors around depression mental health and suicide is that you’re not doing it alone.”

Some helpful resources if you need help: 

Samaritans Emotional Support: 135 247

Black Dog Institue list of urgent support resources.

Or contact us at thevetvaultpodcast@gmail.com if you feel like a chat with someone you know.

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