In Case You Missed It…

Posted: October 9, 2011 in Politics, World News and Events



Ready Flowers

Some of you may remember a blog I did a couple of weeks back titled “I Don’t Care For Apathy”. It was a bit of plea to lift our game with Mental Health Services.

For those of you who didn’t know, and I have to admit, I didn’t until it was pointed out to me, we are nearing the middle of Mental Health Month. So with that in mind, I thought it would be an opportunity to touch on the issue once again.

Mental Health is not just about the people who you used to say rode the “Special Bus” when you were a kid. Mental health covers a huge variety of conditions, some of them quite common, schizophrenia, anxiety, addiction, and depression to name a few.

In fact 1 in 5 of us will experience first-hand a mental health condition in our lifetime. That is a massive 20% of the population.

If 20% of the population will experience mental health issues, then this is an issue that we need to take out of the closet, and remove the stigma that is attached to it. If people can be a little more open, and not so quick to judge, then we will have come a long way.

Changing our perspective can have an extremely positive result for all.

Take heroin for example, people feared junkies back in the 90’s. Everybody it seemed, knew somebody who had their VCR stolen or bag snatched…. It is true, heroin is an addiction that ruined countless lives, addicts stole from family members, or whoever they could to feed their habit. Families were torn apart, children forced to go hungry, etc etc. In fact, it sounds a little like the debate on pokies we are having now….

In 2001, The NSW Labor Party decided it had seen enough and decided it would try something different. Premier Bob Carr fought a bitter opposition to have Australia’s first legal, and medically supervised injecting room opened in Kings Cross.

What Bob decided to do, was change heroin addiction from being a crime issue, and made it a mental health issue. Since then, the injecting room has been a huge success, saving thousands of lives, and undoubtedly for a lot of people, saved them from much anguish.

Even the current Liberal government, after a decade of fighting the room, and accusing Labor of being soft on drugs and crime, now they are in power, the Liberals have finally seen that to close the room would be like pulling the lifesavers off Bondi Beach, so the room is here to stay. It just took a while for the penny to drop….

Unfortunately, there are always people who will take advantage of people who are suffering from mental health issues…. Clubs providing a bus service to bring problem gamblers to their clubs, drug dealers preying on addicts, magazines and cosmetic companies that aim to damage women’s self esteem, and countless others who see those in need as easy targets.

My sister is a good example of this. Although undiagnosed, she quite clearly has mental health issues. Over the last 10-15 years she has alienated herself from all but her husband, who has his own issues. She has been cut off from the majority of the family, she has lost every friend she ever had, and has fought all attempts to get her professional help from her family. There is however one organisation that has accepted her for who she is, and even encourages her. That organizations name is Hillsong, and although in her many years of attending she is yet to make a real friend, Hillsong were quite happy for my sister and her husband to sign up and have 10% of their gross wages deducted from their bank accounts for the rest of their lives. How charitable.

I’m sure anybody who works in the industry probably has a million stories of pharmaceutical companies rorting the industry, or dodgy doctors promising the world and delivering nothing whilst taking government grants. Needless to say where there is money, and where there is a perceived easy target, there are people willing to stoop to any level to take that money.

While there are those who will take advantage of mental health problems, there are others who will use it as an excuse, to get away with things.

Two recent cases you may be aware of are Andrew Johns the NRL player, and 2GB “Shock Jock” Chris Smith, both of whom claimed to have Bi-Polar Disorder when trouble loomed. I’m not saying that they didn’t have Bi-Polar Disorder, maybe they did, but their timing was convenient, their medical records cannot be investigated, and it is a hard illness to diagnose…

Andrew Johns claimed he was Bi-Polar after he was caught with the drug Ecstasy, which he admitted to taking throughout most of his football career. When Carl Williams manufactured Ecstasy, it was called an amphetamine, when Marion Jones had her gold medals stripped after failing a drug test, amphetamines were called performance enhancing, when Andrew Johns was in the hot seat, it was called a party drug… Andrew Johns opened up on that hard hitting current affairs programme, The Footy Show, conveniently on the eve of his book launch. His claim of being Bi-Polar ensured issues over his previous drug use were not going to eventuate. And so the NRLs most famous players’ image was not tarnished by the media, which in Australia is 70% owned by News Ltd, who also conveniently own 50% of the NRL….

Chris Smith, the afternoon 2GB Shock Jock, got himself into trouble last year at Xmas. Chris, it seems, thought that getting drunk and groping female members of staff was appropriate behaviour. For Chris, this was not the first time he had mistaken sexual assault for Christmas Cheer, having being fired for this behaviour by a previous employer. After initially being stood down by 2GB, out came the Bi-Polar excuse, and a few weeks later, Chris was back on air, where he remains today, telling us how immoral others like Craig Thomson are. Here is a link to an article on the events before Chris discovered his Bi Polar status…

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/27718.html

Using a mental illness as an excuse, if you don’t have one, is the lowest of the low in my books. It trivialises the issue, it treats the public like morons, and for those who suffer with these diseases every day, it must feel like being stabbed through the heart.

Anyway what can we do to make things better?

I think we should start by being a bit more open about mental health issues as a society. By being open, it raises awareness, which will then create better understanding, and hopefully lead to less judgement. By understanding, I don’t mean just the understanding that people have an issue, I mean gaining an understanding of the ways we should interact with them, and what we can do to greater assist them.

We need to be more open as a society to reaching out to people. We shouldn’t need to wait for RU OK Day to ask how someone is, if someone has an issue, do something, it may inconvenience you, but you will feel better about yourself later. I’m sure if you were having some kind of breakdown, you would hope somebody, even a stranger, would help you. So, you should do the same. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. It’s not rocket science…

If you know somebody is going through a hard time, offer them a shoulder to cry on, or lend your ear to their problems. Sometimes even the smallest acts can make the biggest difference.

If you know somebody who is dealing with a severe mental disability issue in their family, offer some help if you feel so inclined. One can only imagine the hardship on an entire family, and the effects on their mental health in dealing with a family member with such issues. If you have not seen it, below is the preview to a fine Aussie movie on the subject, highly recommended.

 

As I said earlier, Mental Health Month is easily missed, I nearly did. Maybe what we need is a day to help raise both awareness and funds, a national day where people get to wear something silly all day, maybe their pyjama top, or slippers all day, a monkey hat like in “The Black Balloon”, something like that anyway. If a Mental Health Day could get even 10% of the mindshare of say Red Nose Day, or the Pink Ribbon campaign, or the Shave for Leukaemia campaigns, it would be brilliant. I hope some marketing whiz puts their mind to this…..

The media also has a part to play in ensuring the public are more understanding and less judgmental when people are suffering mental hardship. We have all seen how the media seems to relish in the breakdown of public figures. We only need to think back as far as Michael Jackson, or as he was known prior to his death “Whacko Jacko”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming the media, the media sell a product, we buy it…. What we buy, determines what they print.

So, if nothing else, I hope people will think twice before laughing at someone going though mental trauma, or a moment of madness. Be it Britney Spears shaving her head, Paris Hilton breaking down in the car on her way to court, Wynona Ryder going for a five finger discount, or Angry Anderson thinking he will ever be taken seriously…

Here are some links that may be useful to you, or somebody you know one day.

http://au.reachout.com/

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

http://www.lifeline.org.au/

http://www.samaritans.org.au/

As Jerry Springer says “Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other”.

Also, please remember if you are buying anything online to check the Charity Shop via the link below. It is not like Vinnies, and when purchases are made via the site, the companies donate to charity. There are stores like Dick Smith, Vodafone, and Flight Centre on there, even iTunes if you are buying music.



Charity Shop

Comments
  1. Wixxy, bloody sensational write, excellent examples and rationale thank you for such a clear journey through muddy waters. Let me share something with you & hopefullly some followers.

    I was discharged from the military a broken soldier in 99 & couldnt get over it. My marriage slowly corroded then broke up in 2005 and there went my kids, house, car and money. The first night I returned home to an empty pitch black house and no screaming kids hanging off my legs screaming “dads home” I spiralled. Found myself sitting on the floor in a dark loungeroom holding a loaded gun thinking how easy it would be. Struggled through the night crying, screaming and raving hesitating only because of what my kids would suffer, but I managed only just.
    I then turned to drinking and fighting for release, found rugby clubs an excellent outlet for such activities if you abuse the sport just right.
    Couldnt hold a job, went bankrupt, lost friends through aggression and slowly but surely pulled apart my world until all I had was a car, a dog, no money and nil prospects.

    Then in late 2007 a woman I knew walked up and advised me I was in trouble, dropped two books in my lap. “Taking care of yourself and your family” which is supported by beyond blue, and “post traumatic stress for dummies”. She grabbed my face, looked into my eyes and said “Read them or not its your call, but Brooksy your a fucking mess and need to get your shit together and until you do stay away from me because I cant handle your aggro anymore”.
    Then she walked away.
    I was stunned but eventually I read the beyond blue book and I saw myself on almost every page.

    That was when I began to come around and sought that stuff I thought was only for for sooky weak bastards called counselling. Its now years later and my perspective is back, okay so Im still broke but thats on the up, the head is clear, I have made peace wth my past and I have a brighter outlook than ever before.

    Your article made me remember a dark night when eternity was close, the attraction it can have when your world is in tatters is almost sensual and sublime.
    Had never really heard of depression, and thought stress was for weak bastards that couldnt handle life. My general feeling was that ex soldiers, those ten foot tall takers of life and defenders of humaity of which I was one, we should be able to handle it all without complaint shouldnt we?. Hell I was a seriously hard bastard.

    But we cant do it alone while in hiding from ourselves, nobody can, your to close and its too hard to see when your blinded by depression.

    For those who read this who may be going through tough emotional or financial times and feel they are alone, DONT because you arent and dont have to be.
    Seek an ear to talk into because the one simple act of speech can give you such relief and bring light to your darkest hours. Counselling may seem like something you dont need or feel you cant do but you can. Do it for yourself, your family, your friends, because like me the life you save can indeed be your own.

    Sorry Wixxy, I didnt mean to hijack your post, but this subject needs much support and people to speak from experience at every opportuniity telling others its ok to seek help when it feels like all is lost.
    Theres no shame in it, we all need help sometime and asking is far easier than imagined.

    Thanks again, its an awesome post mate. bravo.

    • wixxy says:

      Wow, Wayne, that is bloody amazing, you have some guts being so open about your past.
      Thanks for sharing that with us, and I’m glad someone reached out for you, and that you are doing well now.
      I’m kind of lost for words (for once) after reading your comment.
      All I can say is Thanks Mate
      The world is a better place with people like you in it….

      • All good now mate, but originally I wouldnt talk about it either, not to friends, family nobody, and nobody was what I had left at the end of the breakdown. All bar 1 good mate who thought she would give it a shot.
        God bless her cotton socks every day the rest of her life.
        No single person should feel its impossible to seek help wixxy.
        And asking if a mate is okay and being there shoud be natural to aussies.
        If I can own up maybe a reader in a slump may see thay can do it too and avoid all the twists and turns I could have avoided with a single call and a few decent conversations.

        My life would / could be entirely different and who know I may have still been married and doing ok. Never know, and now I just try to stop others walking the path.
        Talking is the only way to raise awareness and reduce incidents, and it can work if guys and women are willing to have their experiences used as examples to others.
        And I am.

        You did good with this one, you really have, keep punching wixxy its needed.
        Cheers.

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