Jamie overcomes mental illness to win Invictus gold
Medallist inspires kids with story
WITH his service dog Tinkerbell by his side, Jamie Tanner can accomplish anything – even winning gold at the 2018 Sydney Invictus Games.
After retiring from the army in 2010 following 11 years serving in the infantry, Mr Tanner has faced his own battles trying to overcome mental health problems.
The Ballina local visited Tweed Valley Adventist College, where his sister Cathy Shepherd teaches, to speak with the children ahead of Remembrance Day about his experience in the army and winning gold for Australia in wheelchair rugby at the Invictus Games.
Dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder, Mr Tanner said he was proud of his achievements at the games.
“This year was my third year I was (competing at Invictus),” Mr Tanner told Tweed Daily News.
“My first year was in 2016 in Orlando, then 2017 in Toronto. I was asked in 2014 to go to London but I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t leave the house or do anything because of my mental health.
“Once the guys had come back from London and explained how it had helped them I decided to get off the couch and use it as my motivation to start my recovery. It was the best thing I ever did.”
Mr Tanner shared stories of his triumphs with the schoolchildren, but it’s his ability to turn his life around when he hit rock bottom that is the real testament to his character.
“Doing Invictus the first time was huge, it got me out of my comfort zone, it got me playing sport again, it got me into a competitive mindset and got me out of social isolation,” he said.
“It gave me my confidence back. I was lucky because my partner supported me but it sort of got to the point where I needed to do something. She was a big driving force to make me realise that I needed help because, like most people with mental health injuries, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with us. We think it’s the rest of the world that’s got problems, so to have that support was the driving force.”
While he had no plans to return to the Invictus Games, Mr Tanner said he would forever treasure the lessons he learnt through his experience.
“I think for me I’ve got out of Invictus what it’s designed for,” he said.
“Sydney was about cementing that journey for me. After Orlando, I really crashed and went downhill.
“In Toronto I fared up not too bad, so after Sydney I wanted to end on a high note.
“I’ve learnt from Orlando and Toronto what I needed to do after Invictus so for me it was about cementing what I’d done.”
CHAMPION INSPIRES: Invictus gold medallist Jamie Tanner and Tinkerbell meet Tweed Valley Adventist College’s (from right) Mia Shepherd, Kirby Land, Megan Southern and Dylan Kelly ahead of Remembrance Day.
Jamie Tanner with the gold medal he won in wheelchair rugby at this year’s Invictus Games in Sydney.
Jamie Tanner’s service dog, Tinkerbell, has helped him get through the tough times.