A while back I obtained the coroner’s report relating to my Dad’s death and the car accident which was the.. contributing factor to that event.
Several reasons. One, I had kind of been hoping for pictures. Crash scene pictures or autopsy pictures. There were no pictures. What is annoying though is that one of the expert reports mentions photos, which I definitely didn’t get, but also, going by the page numbers on all of the things I did get, there are I think about 5 or 6 pages missing, which I suspect are probably the pages with the pictures. I’d enquire, but.. well, it took me something like 25 years to get the report in the first place. By the time I work around to being able to ask why they didn’t send me the gory pictures of dead bodies and smashed up cars, I’ll probably be a grandmother.
There were quite a few ‘eyewitness’ statements from other people who’d been on the road that day too, or who’d gone past the scene of the accident. It was interesting the way they described some things, which I’m sure were completely normal but quite emphasised the difference in technology between then and now – primarily, I guess, communication technology. They talked about driving along trying to find a house where the people had a phone that could be used to call an ambulance or if they would have to go to the closest town to find a payphone. I know there are a lot of people who think we rely too much on mobile phones and such devices, but in that kind of situation they’re certainly a great invention. Not that they would have made any difference for me, as my Dad was dead instantly and the rest of us didn’t have life-threatening injuries; but in lots of accidents people do have injuries that become more threatening the longer they have to wait for treatment.
Then there was what the people were actually saying. That was a bit of a surprise to me. Pretty much all of the people concurred that he was being a dickhead (paraphrasing) and not adequately adjusting his driving habits to account for the conditions on the day, namely that it was raining and the road was wet with reduced visibility. Because he was running late and in a hurry.
Oh, right. Well, fuck you too.
On the one hand you have pretty much everyone I ever met that knew him says that he was absolutely taken by me, that I was the sun and the moon and everything else, that he was the proudest father and completely wrapped around his little girl’s finger.
… but not so much that he could slow the hell down and take a little care with my life, his life, and the lives of his nieces and step-daughter as well.
I know he’s not the first parent to drive dangerously, or maybe stupidly is a better word, with children in the car, and definitely won’t be the last. But I didn’t think that my parent would do that. I didn’t think that my parent, who as a person professionally dedicated to protecting people and the law who should absolutely know better, would do that. It makes me wonder if he thought about his actions and the effect they would have on the people his life intersected with. Or was he one of those “but it won’t happen to me” types? It makes me angry that he didn’t think far enough ahead to consider the responsibilities he had.. to me, mostly, but to other people too. When you have a child you have a responsibility to be there for them and to take care of yourself so that you are able to fulfill that responsibility. Even when I’ve felt at my worst, lowest points, one of the things that forces me to try and to keep going is that I have three children and a husband who rely on me, and I don’t want to let them down. Even when I don’t care about myself, I care about them and I know that I have a role in their lives which I need to fill. Why didn’t he feel that way?
Cause and effect, fixed points in time, chains of events… That event led to other things led to other things led to other things which ultimately led to Daniel and our children. My beliefs tell me that big things like this are planned, ahead of time, by our higher selves; so that we might all learn the lessons we need to learn in order to evolve and grow as spiritual beings. I definitely wouldn’t want to change anything that might lead to me not having aligned with Daniel in the place and time that I did. So maybe my father could have chosen to not follow the script we planned out, but if he’d done that.. What if this event caused by his stupidity – and undoubtably one of the focal causal points in my life – is the one thing that could not change while preserving all of the people and things I love about the life I have now? How can I feel anger at his lack of forethought and at his carelessness if in fact those traits were designed and planned on a higher level to put everyone affected in the right places for other important connections and lessons?
So I’m essentially of two minds about it all. There’s the whole ‘screw you, asshole’ sentiment that comes from knowing that your parent knowingly and non-essentially endangered your life; and then there’s the more enlightened acceptance that things happen for a reason that some part of me knows and understands as essential.. even if that part of me is not consciously accessible right now.
On a more scientifically curious note, though.. I already know that my memories of the day are in many ways less than factually accurate. I wanted to compare the few visual memories with actual evidence to see how they are similar and/or different, to see how the images recorded in my brain may have changed over time, to see if there is any other data inside my head that I have just not had the right triggering stimulus to unlock. So I’m still annoyed about not getting pictures.
i’m feeling a little… tight in the chest this morning. anxious, i guess. scared. hopeless. the usual.
i don’t know if it’s me… actually, it is me, but what i mean is i don’t know if it’s part of me inherently or if it’s behaviour that was conditioned into me after years of being told and shown when i was young.. that everything i do is wrong and everything wrong is my fault. and i do try really hard to remind myself that it isn’t true but sometimes the devil voice is a bit louder than the angel voice. and that’s when i feel a desperate need for your voice.. your actions that are louder than words, louder than all the other voices. your hands and your lips and your other parts, telling me with every touch and every groan that i’m not wrong and that i am worthy. and i can believe you because i trust you and i believe, inside me, deeper than the parts of me that are affected by the bumps and challenges of life and the complexities of neurotransmitters and hormones.. i believe that you could only touch me and love me like you do if i was something wonderful. and because you do touch me and love me i believe it, a little bit. enough to smooth over those bumps and balance the chemicals in my brain and my body, for a while, at least.
sometimes. or maybe a lot of times.. i am my own worst enemy. or maybe all the times. because what is wrong with me is what makes it so very hard to ask for what i need. on a good day, i can do that.. show you, tell you, that i want – need – to be joined to you, to show you that i think you’re amazing and beautiful and strong and brave and gentle and loving and hope that you feel that and know it, and know that i will feel that back from you. and that helps to keep me having more good days, it keeps me steady and i take less steps backwards than i do forwards. but on a bad day, when i have struggled and fought with my own mind about doing the things i must do, when i am tired at the end of a day and so exhausted from the battle.. when i most need you to hold me and remind and reassure me that you are with me, part of me, always ready to catch me if i stumble.. i have no energy left to tell you that i am stumbling.
i didnt actually mean for this to be depressing. i wanted you to know that.. that while i am having a bad head day, i keep trying because of you. because i want to be better for you, because you show me that i am worth it. and i am so grateful and thankful for you, even when i really don’t understand sometimes how you can put up with a person as flawed and broken as me. i hope that when i am the real me, not pulled down by my demons; when i am silly and hippy and witty and flirty and optimistic and naive.. i hope that i show you strongly and loudly enough how much i love you and how happy i am to share my life with you. how important you are. my air, my water, my sunlight, my daniel.
i love you.
jeg elsker dig.
When I look at myself in a mirror, I see a tired crazy person. I see not only the partial physical reflection but what I feel like on the inside defining that image as well.
Our new bedroom in our new house has mirrored doors on the wardrobes, which are side long to our bed. So when we first moved in, it was a surprise when I kept catching sight of myself as I came and went, or when I was sitting on the bed reading or whatever. Is this how I look to people further removed from me?
The thing I noticed most was my back. It’s really odd to be shocked and surprised about something that has been part of you for over half your life. My spine is curved. But because it is from back to front, and I normally only see myself from the front on, it is not something I often see. And I’ve become so practised at being careful of the way I sit and stand and lay and lean so as to not irritate the muscles in my shoulders and back which must pick up some of the slack where my spine is not doing what it should that I do it now without consciously thinking about it, it’s a habit. So even though every movement I make is in consideration of this deformity, I rarely actually think about it.
It’s so noticeable. It’s so pronounced. There’s no way that anyone could not notice it, looking at me from anything other than perfectly straight on. Surprisingly, I never get asked about it. I am surprised that a kid at school or kinder has never said to me “Why is your back like that?” Maybe they’ve whispered it to their parents and have been told “SSH! You don’t ASK things like that! It’s rude!”
So the revelation was: if I don’t see the hunchback.. does that mean that other people don’t see the crazy person?
No more silence: mental illness should be talked about – The Drum Opinion Australian Broadcasting Corporation
I read an article today about mental illness and there were some really good points in it. You know how sometimes you read something and think to yourself that it’s exactly what you might have said except you haven’t ever managed to put those words together in just the right kind of way to actually do that?
I decided to go public about my condition late last year in the hope that it may encourage some other people to take that first step and seek professional help.Shortly after featuring in a newspaper article and a television current affairs piece, my wife and I took our young son to the Perth Royal Show.
The reaction to what I had done from total strangers was quite astounding. Many people I had never met came up to me that night to express their support and encouragement for my rehabilitation.
But what struck me most of all were the first few words that came out of their mouths. Without fail, they either said "you were very courageous" or "you were very brave" to have spoken so publicly about your condition.
I later reflected on those opening words and it indicated to me that we still have a significant way to go before mental illness is embraced within society like most other physical complaints.
Had my media appearances chronicled a battle with cancer or some other serious disease, I doubt people would have come forward and called me brave or courageous. I would think that the most common opening words might have been along the lines of "sorry to hear about your illness" or "mate, all the best".
But when it comes to admitting a mental illness people automatically seem to view one’s public admission as an act of bravery or courage.
I think it’s because it’s still so misunderstood, you have to be brave because you don’t know if the people you are trying to talk to about your illness are going to be other people who have gone through something similar and so understand, or if they might be people who don’t know what it’s like but know that it’s a genuine problem and are interested in learning more, or if they might be the type of person who will scoff at the possibility that such illnesses even exist and tell you that either you’ve been scammed by the medical profession wanting you to believe you need their drugs and services or that you are a weak person who should basically just pull their socks up. There are comments like that on the article, as well as productive, thoughful non-critical comments. One in particular was well worded:
A big difference between mental illness (e.g. major depression) and diabetes or asthma, is that too many people still believe we are somehow in conscious control of our mental illnesses; that if we just “picked ourselves up” or if we just “don’t worry, be happy” we’d be OK.
It’s not hard to see why this should be the case. People rely on personal experience; everyone knows what it’s like to be down. It’s pretty difficult, therefore, for many people to appreciate that major depression is more than just a slightly scaled up version of the blues.
Plus we have a whole industry in pop psychology that tells us about the power of positive thinking; taking control of our thoughts and therefore our lives. So the attitude becomes, understandably, that surely those who succumb to mental illness just haven’t been trying hard enough!
I think we have a way to go in understanding the conditions, and I think education and openness are key.
by “Yeah so”
Very good points and worded so succinctly. It takes me pages and pages to get those kind of observations out yet I still often feel like I’ve not really expressed myself properly :P As s/he points out in the second paragraph, everyone feels ‘depressed’ sometimes, and having people understand that feeling depressed is not the same as having depression is a difficult thing to achieve. Perhaps it’s partly a result of the words we use: ‘being depressed’ and ‘suffering or having depression’ are very similar phrases. Comparing again to diabetes or asthma, though, we have ways of talking about feeling similar symptoms as those conditions that contain within them an implied transience – ‘I’m feeling puffed out (after that race)’, ‘Whoa! I’m on a sugar high (I shouldn’t have eaten so many easter eggs).’ Being puffed out or having an excess of sugar in your system is not necessarily an out of the ordinary ocurrence, and if and when most people experience those things they will be able to easily identify the causal event. And people recognise that it was the one-off event that did that and that’s what makes it different from the permanent conditions of diabetes and asthma, because when people have those conditions, the puffed out or sugar high effect can happen without a specific cause, because something in your body doesn’t work quite as it should.
I think it’s this difference that it is hard for people to understand. Yes, everyone gets depressed.. but for most of these cases there is still the identifiable causal event. You lost your purse, your period is due, your dog died, your work is moving and it’s extra stressful and that stress manifests as you feeling depressed. When those situations resolve themselves, so too will the feeling of depression. (Or with time, in the dog example, to adjust to the loss.) But when you feel down, unmotivated, defeated, etc, and there hasn’t been a triggering event – that’s what happens when you have depression, as in an actual medical condition vs a feeling.
While there is a place for positive thinking and determination, it can’t take you all the way to being better. It’s effectiveness will depend on how much external support you have providing that same encouragement and how bad your depression is in the first place. In much the same way that reducing your intake of sugary foods can help in the management of diabetes, it’s still not a cure, it doesn’t fix what is broken inside your body.
The problem with mental ilnesses, I think, is that the effect they have on you can alter your behaviour and perception of yourself and your world in a way that most physical illnesses don’t. It’s easy to see how someone with a physical illness or disability experiences the world differently, their orthotic device or walking stick or wheelchair is right there in front of you making it clear. When the problem is inside someone and you can’t see it and you’ve always been in complete control of your feelings and reactions, how do you begin to comprehend that it is a genuine, huge difficulty for many people? How can you imagine a colour you’ve never seen?
actually I’m not sure if it is politics that sucks or if it is just political parties. or the way that our voting system is set up.
this week there is a state government election. i quite like our current premier and would be more than happy to vote for her to keep her job. the problem is, i can’t. i’m not knowledgeable enough about the general political processes in other countries but I get the impression that in other large western countries that I am somewhat familiar with, that when they have an election for, for example, their national leader, people are voting directly for the person they would like to see in that office. here, you vote only for your local representative based on the area you live in. there are different areas and boundaries for council, state and federal electorates. in the state and federal elections, it’s the overall number of members a particular party gets elected that determines who will be the premier or prime minister. the party leader of the one that got the most members elected gets the job.
i understand that in theory this ensures that the leader at high levels is representative of the ideals that most people support.. but it really doesn’t work that way. in the current state election, in order to support the incumbent premier, anna bligh – which i would like to do – i would have to vote for my local member who is in her party. my local member is a guy called michael choi and i think he has held the position for several election periods. however i’m not going to vote for him because he does not believe that ALL of his constituents are worthy of the same representation and social and legal rights as every other person. this is not acceptable to me.
so, what to do? vote for him anyway so that i support the leader of his party (who has differing opinions to him on the issues that make him an offensive choice)? cost: this gives my implicit approval of his views that I disagree with. vote for a different person? cost: i am not supporting the premier I like. not vote? cost: $20 fine. (here, voting is not a democratic right, it is an obligation.) make an invalid vote? cost: i don’t get to have my say.
i think it may end up being the vote for him anyway option. only four of the members of labor voted the way he did on the civil unions bill, but all of liberal voted against it. and i really like anna. and i don’t know a whole lot about campbell newman, to be honest, but in all the ads i see he comes across like a smarmy salesman. i can’t see him struggling to speak through obvious emotion at a press conference. he either doesn’t value all queenslanders as equal or else doesn’t have the guts to go against his party’s official stance. economy and growth and development and all that is important, yes, but what good is doing lots of stuff for the future if you don’t show that you care for the people you represent right now? that is what i want to see in someone i elect.
we are getting ready to move. our current abode has (probably) been sold and the new owners want to live in it themselves. we’ve found a new place which is closer to the school so that is good. there’s a huge yard for the expenditure of energy and a big space behind the garage that can be used for storage or a play area. or both.
the actual process of getting packed up and cleaned out and making sure that all of the relevant people and companies have been told is giving me some anxiety. i am trying to do the best I can at keeping that away by doing as much as i can to get ready. children are being encouraged to sort through their own things but are for the most part uninterested. abigail says it’s ‘boring’ and kristian seems to feel his time is better spent redecorating the walls. with his textas. i have confiscated his textas.
now i ran out of time, i was writing this on my phone while i waited to pick the kids up from school.