Go Bess Price Nungarrayi.
In case you DON’T know who Bess is, she’s a Warlpiri woman from Yuendumu (in central Australia), who’s now been elected to our Legislative Assembly (that’s the NT’s parliament, in case you’re not sure). For many years, she’s been an outspoken critic of those who ‘fetishize’ culture, and place it before the rights of women and children.
Bess RIGHTLY takes aim at what I’ll call CONSERVATIVE lefties – the tired-old has beens still ‘fighting the good fight’ from the 1970s land rights battles, whose views have become solidified in Australia’s national consciousness, Indigenous policy from both sides of the political fence, and much of what passes as ‘debate’ in Australian anthropological circles. It’s also a blind-sider at middle class urbanites, who’ve probably been to Bali or the US more times than they’ve poked their heads into Australia’s inland.
If this offends your sensibilities, then it’s done its job.
There is a new generation of progressives rising – and it’s not coming from the tired old lefties who are now the conservative status quo – it’s coming from disaffected Aboriginal people, sick of seeing people dying, poor and segregated in the name of ‘land rights’ and ‘culture’.
Bring it on.
I take this opportunity to talk about an issue that has always been close to my heart. Within the last three months two more young mothers, related to me, have died in Alice Springs town camps. One was injured mortally in public. Nobody acted to protect her. Dozens of my female relatives have been killed. Convictions have often led to relatively light sentences. I was told by a senior lawyer that no jury in Alice Springs will convict an Aboriginal person for murder if the victim is also Aboriginal and she is only stabbed once. And we all have done nothing effective to stop this from happening. It has been going on for decades. Why hasn’t there been the outrage that we would have heard from feminists if they had been white? Why is there such a deafening silence? I believe that we can blame the politics of the Progressive Left and its comfortably middle class urban indigenous supporters.
Because I have spoken out on this issue and others close to my heart I have been routinely attacked. Professor Larissa Behrendt claimed that what I say is more offensive than watching a man having sex with a horse. Her white colleague, Paddy Gibson, told the world that I was only doing it for the money and frequent flyer points. The Queensland educationist, Chris Sarra said that I was a ‘pet Aborigine’ who only said what the government wanted me to say. Chris Graham, the white editor of Tracker magazine called me a grub. A white woman in Victoria, Leonie Chester, calls herself Nampijinpa Snowy River on the internet. She tells the world that my people, the Warlpiri, are ‘her mob’. She and her friends have obscenely insulted me on the internet over and over. Marlene Hodder, a white woman from Alice Springs, and her friend Barbara Shaw, have called me a liar several times. The Crikey blogger Bob Gosford calls me Bess “Gaol is good for Aboriginal people” Price and accuses me of ‘vaguely malevolent and populist buffoonery that is designed to capture the attention of the tutt-tutterers and spouted by politicians that inevitably have a short tenure in power.’
But I am in good company. When Mantatjara Wilson, a wonderful, strong woman I called mother, told the world about the crimes against our children on national TV, back in 2007, with tears streaming down her face the left-wing activists moved to undermine her. They went into the communities, not to protect the kids, but to find women who would oppose Mantatjara. They talked about outrage and shame, not because of the crimes we all know about but because somebody was brave enough to tell the world about them and ask for help. That was what they called shameful. They worry about the shame felt by perpetrators not by the agony of their victims and their families. It’s easy to find women who will support their men even if they are killers and rapists. Families always stand up for their own.
Some few others have stood up and faced the vicious criticism of the Left. Here I acknowledge the wonderful work of Dr. Hannah McGlade in Perth and Prof. Marcia Langton in Melbourne. Warren Mundine and Noel Pearson have also spoken out. A conference of Aboriginal men in Alice Springs publicly apologized to Aboriginal women and kids for the violence and abuse that men have inflicted on them. None of these people have received support from the left or from Labor governments. So the Left have tried really hard to call us liars, to put us down for speaking the truth and for wanting to stop the killing and the sexual violence. But they have put no effort, none at all, into protecting our kids and our women.
I recently went to Sydney for the launch of a book called ‘Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence’ by a wonderful, caring friend of mine, Dr Stephanie Jarrett. My words are on the cover of her book ‘We need to support those who tell the truth”. Dr Jarrett does that and she cares, maybe too much for her own good. I have seen the tears in her eyes and heard the passion in her voice when she talks about our murdered and bashed ones. I trust her completely. But of course those who aren’t interested in the truth are out to bring her down. She has been attacked in the Monthly magazine by its editor John van Tiggelen in an article called ‘Thinking Backwards’.
Dr Jarrett is saying that there are elements to our traditional culture that we must change if we are to stop the violence that is destroying us and she is right. Things are much worse now than the old days because of grog and drugs and the awful welfare dependency that is sucking the life out of us. There are elements to our culture that are good and should be kept. But we should be prepared to do what everybody else in the world has done, change our ways to solve the new problems that we have now and that our old Law has no tools to solve. Some people call this ‘integration’, others ‘assimilation’ because they want us to continue to live in poverty, violence and ignorance so that we can play out their fantasies of what the word ‘culture’ means. They have their own agendas and liberating our people from violence is not part of those agendas. I call it problem solving and saving lives.
Van Tiggelen talks about the book ‘Black Death – White Hands’ written by Paul Wilson in 1982. In that book Wilson argued that when a man called Alwyn Peters killed his girlfriend it was actually because of white colonialism and racism. It wasn’t the killer’s fault. It was the whitefella’s fault. This argument worked. Peters was given a very short sentence.
Dr Jarrett started to worry about Aboriginal women’s rights when she saw David Bradbury’s film ‘State of Shock’. This was made in 1988 and was based on the same case. Bradbury brought the film to Alice Springs and brought Alwyn Peters with him. In the film Bradbury gave only the story of Peters and his family. Nobody from the victim’s family was given a chance to give their point of view. They would not have backed Bradbury’s argument so they were ignored. I remember Alwyn Peters telling us that ‘she has ruined my life’. He was talking about the one he killed. ‘She comes to me in dreams’ he said. This made me feel sick. When my husband asked David Bradbury ‘why didn’t you talk to the victim’s family, you would have got a different point of view?’. He said ‘Alwyn Peter’s family are victims too’. In other words all of our sympathy was meant to be for the one who killed and his family and not for the one he killed or her family.
Back in 1991 Audrey Bolger of the ANU’s North Australian research Unit wrote a wonderful little book called ‘Aboriginal Women and Violence’. At last somebody was taking notice, at last a white woman was trying to get governments to act. She was ignored and, as far as I know, nobody tried again after that. Her voice was drowned out by the politically correct who took their lead from Wilson and Bradbury. Just keep blaming the whitefellas and every thing will be fine.
Audrey Bolger said in her book, way back then, that;
‘in the final analysis the problem of violence against Aboriginal women will only be solved by Aboriginal people themselves’.
The report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody said the same thing. In a way she was right, my people need to act now to stop our own violence. But in another way this has given governments and the wider community an excuse for the big cop out. OK, we whitefellas caused the problems but only blackfellas will solve them so we’ll sit around waiting for that to happen.
She also said:
– ‘the problem is a complicated one, bound up as it is with other issues connected with changing lifestyles. Working through these issues towards satisfactory solutions is crucial to the future well being of all Aboriginal people’.
She was right but in the twenty two years since she wrote that there have been no satisfactory solutions found and things are much worse now. It hasn’t happened and I’m sick of sitting around waiting while my loves ones are killed. We have had committees and research projects and advisory councils and ATSIC and now we have a National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Billions of dollars have been spent. We have had visits from United Nations Special Rapporteurs and Amnesty International indigenous officers. Not only haven’t solutions been found but none of these have even bothered to raise the issue. I want to work through those issues and find solutions.
For the Left and for many Aboriginal politicians on the national stage it seemed that the only issues worth talking about were the Stolen Generation and Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. These are real issues that had to be addressed. But they weren’t the only issues. In the meantime women still died, children didn’t go to school, epidemics of renal failure, diabetes, cancers and heart disease grew worse, young men went to jail. We kept killing each other and ourselves. Australians were not told that the death rate amongst our young men was higher outside custody than in and that more Aboriginal women died at the hands of their menfolk than Aboriginal men died in custody.
Since then so many more women have died and been sexually assaulted and many killers and rapists have been given very short sentences. And many more men have gone to jail. This has come from this whitefella sense of guilt, the fear of encouraging racism and the fear of changing our culture. All of the victims in these cases were Aboriginal. There seems to be a very different attitude displayed in the rare cases where the victim is white and the perpetrator Aboriginal. My people now feud much more than they used to partly I believe, because they doubt that the courts will punish the guilty enough.
The message to our young women is simple. ‘Our fantasy of what your culture is about is more valuable than your lives. Our fear of racism is much greater than our respect for your lives. We ask you to sacrifice your lives for our political agenda. You will only hear from us when we can blame a whitefella for the crime’.
The message to our young men is also simple. ‘If you kill your women we understand, we will take the blame and we can guarantee you our sympathy’. Since Wilson wrote his book and Bradbury made his movie the weakest and most vulnerable in our communities have suffered immensely, with no sympathy from the Left. Things are much worse now.
Bob Gosford, the Crikey blogger, is typical of the middle class white man who knows us better than we do and who ignores our suffering to push his own agenda. He regularly insults me and my people. He lived for a while in my community. In that short time he came to know my people, in fact my own family, better than I do apparently. He has waged a campaign against me for several years now.
Last week we saw this man freely discussing, in his blog and on radio, cultural issues in a way that has brought shame on all of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. Although he takes his pay from Aboriginal people he has shown that he has no respect for our culture. He is willing to publicly insult and shame us to push his personal agenda. He has never tried to discuss the issues he writes about with me. He has never spoken out against violence in our communities and spends all of his time trying to destroy the reputations of those who do. In his wisdom he calls me an ‘intra-racist’ because I am sick of the nonsense coming from those in the south who call themselves ‘indigenous’ but look, think, act and live their lives like whitefellas and, like Bob Gosford, think they know us better than we know ourselves.
I have even been warned by a white human rights lawyer from Melbourne that I could be charged with racial vilification under the Racial Discrimination Act. I have never heard this human rights lawyer speak out against the violence that is killing our women and girls. He wouldn’t even know about the deaths of the two young women in recent months and I doubt if he cares. There was no whitefella that could be blamed so he’s not interested. The hurt feelings of southerners who don’t like the truth are much more important to this human rights lawyer than the lives of our women and girls here in the bush. His priorities are obviously different from mine.
But what would I know. To this white journalist van Tiggelen I’m an ‘Aboriginal politician’. To the member for Barkly I am an ‘Aboriginal Liberal’. This implies that I shouldn’t be listened to. Only those on the Left know what a real blackfella is. Only they know which Aboriginal spokespeople can be trusted to tell the truth. The ones who agree with them. The Left decides for us but get angry when we refuse to let them put their words in our mouths. Even when the Labor government had Aboriginal members – ‘Aboriginal Labor’ I guess the member for Barkly would call them – I didn’t see them get much support when they tried to make a difference. And we in the Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council were used as a token, not taken seriously, except by Minister McCarthy alone and she was ignored.
If you read van Tiggelen’s article you’d think that Dr’ Jarrett’s book was launched in a room full of evil geriatric racists. I am obviously their tool and plaything. According to him, Dr Jarrett was half their average age. That would make their average age 120. Van Tiggelen is one of those whitefellas who call every Aboriginal person they meet with grey hair an elder and insist they should be respected. That is except, of course, Aboriginal people like me – Aboriginal politicians on the wrong side. Yet they despise their own elders. I would call Dr Jarrett an elder of her own people who genuinely knows and cares about mine.
To these on the Left, political Conservatives are a bunch of geriatric, racist conspirators who want to take away our rights even though they gave us:
• the vote in Commonwealth elections for the first time,
• equal pay,
• the 1967 referendum,
• the very first Aboriginal parliamentarian, a senator,
• the NT Land Rights Act,
• the first Aboriginal MLA in the Northern Territory,
• the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives
• now five Aboriginal members of the current NT Government
• and the first ever Aboriginal leader of any Australian Government.
Forget about Dr. Jarrett’s tireless scholarship and her deep concern for the lives and welfare of the most weak and vulnerable in our communities. Forget about the fact that she has never voted for the Liberals herself and doesn’t belong to a political party. She doesn’t echo the thoughts of the progressive Left. So, according to this white man, she can’t be trusted.
There were many in that room in Sydney who I would disagree with. I don’t like or use the term ‘integrationist school’ that is used by Gary Johns. I certainly don’t agree with everything Keith Windshuttle says about our history. I am not their puppet, and they have never treated me that way. I am nobody’s puppet.
But these people ask me to speak to them and tell them what I think. They listen respectfully. They don’t ignore me in the first place, then attack, insult and vilify me when I do speak out like so-called Left progressives do.
I joined a Liberal party because I believe in the right of free speech, because I want everybody to be allowed to join the debate. Like our new Chief Minister, yes I’m indigenous, but first I’m Australian. Like him I want the Northern Territory to be one community working together in harmony. The Left wants to divide us from other Australians. The Left would never have allowed Dr Jarrett to publish her book. They are about censorship and denial of free speech.
I know about the frontier violence. Relatives of mine were shot in the Coniston Massacres in my parents’ lifetime. I know about the Stolen Children. My own sister was taken from my mother and given to an Arrernte family at Santa Teresa. Those who were taken and given to Aboriginal families in different language groups and different communities are never mentioned and don’t get apologies even though their mothers grieved as much as the others. I know about the jailing of our young men, almost all of my young male relatives have spent time in jail. I also know what it’s like to bury our children and young mothers, their lives taken in public, while the Left looked the other way.
I don’t have to be lectured to by the likes of Van Tiggelen and Gosford about the trauma my people have been through. I wonder how many of their own loved ones have been murdered. No matter that I achieved an 18½% swing in an electorate with a 73% Aboriginal population. These whitefellas don’t believe in democracy. They are saying that my people are stupid to have voted for me. I am a populist according to Mr Gosford. I don’t need to be told by these white men what needs to be done. I know my people. The politics has all been about blaming whitefellas. We don’t need more of that. It has meant that many good whitefellas have done nothing out of fear of making things worse, while the racist, the ignorant and incompetent keep doing damage. And the Left keeps blustering and lecturing and doing nothing.
Those who insult me will not close me down. I will keep speaking out until our women are no longer killed because they are women. I will speak out until they have the same individual human rights as Larrissa Behrendt, and all other Australian women have. I will keep speaking out until our kids have the same rights to a safe and healthy life, a good education and the same access to jobs as everybody else’s kids. Conservative, Progressive, Left and Right, and intra-racist – these words mean nothing to me. They are whitefella terms from their political history. Whitefellas made them up, we didn’t. I want a conversation with my people on our terms in the words we use. We are not politically correct.
I want to keep our women and kids alive, I want our kids educated and confident, I want to keep them out of jail, I want them to work and to be paid equally for their work. I want them to be able to choose how they want to live themselves and to be able to tell us what they want in good, educated English as well as their own languages. I don’t want them to be condemned to poverty, violence and ignorance in the name of a white middle class male blogger’s idea of ‘culture’. I will work with anybody else who wants the same thing regardless of the political labels attached to them by others. Call me whatever names you want it won’t stop me from helping to make this happen.
Thank you Madam speaker.
And this year, so much has changed in my life.
Some for better/some for worse.
In many ways, 2012 was an annus horribilis – right up there with 1983, 1992 and 2005.
Is there a discernible pattern there?
Not really, except that the years 1992 and 2005 are actually the worst years in cycles of bad years (2004-2008, being particularly awful).
So what was it about 2012 that made it so damned wrong?
I guess most of it stems from a deep dissatisfaction with my work. I had been promoted to director of research in 2010 – a job where I was expected to be largely office-bound, concerned mainly with strategic management and the Quest For Ever More Efficiency in The System.
For someone who thrives on being in the field, with quality thinking time spent on those long drives to field locations, this was a form of slow death. I was told by a management consultant (who, incidentally, has decided that the tiny little organisation for which I used to work should be structured like a lumbering, top-heavy, big government bureaucracy), that a lot of my time as a director should be spent thinking.
How was I supposed to do this when I was not doing one, but two jobs?
I was also the operational manager of the Darwin office for most of this time. I’d been doing this role since September 2010, in addition to my former manager position. So I was Director/Manager -Darwin. Which means, of course, that the daily operations -the brushfires and emergencies- take precedence over the lumbering cogs of strategic planning and management.
One can only perform two full time jobs for so long – and then something has to give.
Which it did.
Long service leave* did the rest (*you get 3 months off in Australia, paid full time leave, if you’ve worked for the same organisation for over 10 years).
You know something is very, very wrong when you flip out – and I mean completely descend into a state of panicked depression and massive anxiety- after you’ve had six weeks off.
So much happened all at once. The issues look something like this:
- I didn’t like the job I’m doing
- I worked with an office bully. Three staff members had asked me how to deal with this bully, and began steps to report this person, only to ‘wait and see’ when they realised who serious these allegations are. I did not wish to work with this person anymore. I simply did not have the energy any longer to manage their insecurity.
- I disagreed with direction in which the agency was going
- Google’s Penguin update
- Having two lots of abdominal surgery
- Coming home to my parents having rearranged my kitchen (minor, I know, but sooo stresful at the time)
- Going back to work and feeling like I really wasn’t needed
- Having a 3 monthly performance appraisal slapped in my face in the second week back (this was the straw that broke MY back)
Descent into Darkness
Stephen Fry’s clip (below) explains exactly what happened to me.
Eerily, so freakin close to what I did.
The morning I walked out, I had an email about the routine, 3 monthly performance review which all managers (apparently) had to undergo.
I disagreed with the content of the previous 3 monthly review, which I had not seen, nor had it been discussed with me. It had been filled in (I assume) by the HR Director and the CEO.
That was it.
I told the office manager I was going home.
I then took as many sleeping pills as I could find.
I wanted to die.
Somewhere in before I passed out completely, the office manager texted me, concerned (the HR Director was really concerned, too). I replied that I wouldn’t be texting anyone anymore, or something to that effect.
My next memory is of the office manager in my bedroom, trying to wake me up, asking me if I knew where I was, my phone number, how many pills I’d taken.
(Note to self: apparently, you can take an entire bottle of 10mg Temazapam tablets and NOT die).
Obviously, I didn’t die.
But I was very, very sick.
My workplace, bless their little hearts, sent me off on ‘sick leave’, and to one of those government-contract psychologists that you get 6 free consultations from. Until he deemed me fit, I would be unable to return to work.
Seriously, the guy was a complete douche. Let’s just say that he and I had a personality clash from the first day. Whenever I think of him now, that song I Whip My Hair (you know that REALLY inane, annoying song), comes into my head.
He had a classic mid-length bob haircut.
And he was balding.
Ok. Time to be serious.
His abrupt, confrontational style WAS NOT what someone as highly sensitive and in such a black pit of depression as myself needed. He would challenge me to try and not feel as I was feeling, AND MOCK ME by sarcastically repeating turns of phrase that I commonly used.
At the first appointment, he told me straight out that I wouldn’t be able to go back to work for a long time. This freaked me out.
Why did it freak me out?
Because some part of me just wanted to be normal and get back on with life and my job, as much as I hated it. I was ashamed that I had burnt out, cracked and just walked out of the office and then tried to kill myself (3rd time, actually).
The only good thing to come out of the four appointments I dragged myself to with this douche was that he picked up on the cyclic nature of my depression and the failure of antidepressants to have any effect.
He took a complete life history and asked did I ever getting feelings of invincibility or huge highs.
Yes, I replied, I did.
All my life, I’d had what I would dismiss as fads -where I was obsessed with a particular thing- and high achievement portals, where I seemed to have super-human focus and was able to achieve anything I set my mind to.
I thought this was normal.
I thought everyone was like that… they found something which gave them meaning and direction in their life, took it by the horns and ran with it until they’d brought it to fruition or they’d grown tired of it.
Once these phases of hyper-drive passed, I was usually left with a sad little hole -a loss of meaning- in my life and frequently, a few weeks or months of mild level depression.
Again, I thought this was normal. I thought EVERYONE was like this and that I was just really bad at dealing with life when I had no ‘passion’ driving me.
I WAS WRONG. WRONG–> WRONG–>
“When you’re galloping along at a great speed, it is better than any drug you can ever take…” – Carrie Fisher on having a bipolar high.
None of this was ‘normal’ – it was classic bipolar symptoms. And the failure of antidepressants to ease my pain was further evidence.
I *might* be bipolar II was the message that I came away with.
Believe me when I say that I wasn’t just settling for one, douchy diagnosis.
Chapter 3, in Which I Get A Real Psychiatric Diagnosis
Things were moving fast.
The weeks were passing and the CEO and HR Manager wanted to have a meeting with me about my role. This made me very uneasy – even though, deep down, these were both very nice people and wouldn’t be doing anything awful to me.
I am telling you this because everything seemed to happen at once.
I was having two lots of abdominal surgery and having to recover from that.
I was freaking out everytime I had to see douche-psych.
So I called up our local government mental health department. They put me on suicide watch and got me in to see a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist was a cool, sensitive guy.
Fairly young, but with a gentle-wise demeanor. Although the first meeting was awkward and long, I felt that I could work with him.
He confirmed the bipolar II dignosis, and on my second visit, recommended that I try Quetiapine on a low dosage.
As usual, I Googled this drug and there’s every side effect known to humanity appearing before my eyes. The most common being WEIGHT GAIN and intense drowsiness.
In between my first and second visits with the psych, I had the dreaded meeting by phone with the CEO & HR.
It was not nice.
The message they sent me was a hard, cold slap in the face: there was no room for me to be ill or faff about getting used to a medication that would make me sleep half the day.
They wanted to remove me from the director’s position and wanted me back at work ASAP.
They were ‘in crisis’.
I was devastated and totally non-functional.
Worst thing of all, during the phone call, I couldn’t speak. I just could not make myself speak or say anything.
I felt like a stroke victim, robbed of muscular and neural control.
This meeting took place on a Wednesday afternoon, via phone.
I thought about suicide for the next 3 days.
If I’d had pills, I would have taken them.
Finally, on the Monday, I woke up ANGRY.
If they (my bosses) wished to be such arseholes after the two years in which I’d worked two jobs for them (incidentally, they saved around $90K per year by NOT employing a manager in the Darwin office and getting their pound of flesh and sanity from me), then I wasn’t going to be pushed around.
By the end of the day, I would either have a contract and start my own business OR I would find another job.
God Finds My Car Parking Spaces or The Power of A Correct Diagnosis
“…God is saving you parking spots, every song on the radio is playing for you, you’re enthusiastic about everyone and you want everyone to be enthusiastic about you.” – Carie Fisher (again) on the bipolar high.
I started to read books by bipolar sufferers. Some of them were full bipolar I, but many were bipolar II.
In so many of these accounts, I found myself.
The quote from Carrie Fisher is EXACTLY what it’s like to be in the middle of a superb bipolar high. I have my own terms for this, synchronicities, connections, creative links. It’s an amazing period when you can really do anything, you have so much energy, you can get by on 4 hours sleep, things magically organize around you and fall into place.
Yet, I always thought this was normal.
I truly, really thought that everyone experienced life like this.
It was, I’ll admit, disappointing to find out that others don’t have this experience. It’s the nice side of being bipolar in my opinion.
The downside is … well, the much longer, more insidious downs. The depressions that can go on for months, or in my case, years.
And it is these downs which often mask the diagnosis of bipolar, causing it to be treated as one of the suite of depressions in the DSM-IV.
This means that many people suffering from bipolar are never correctly diagnosed, and they carry on with failed anti-depressant treatment after treatment. Suffering miserably.
The problem is that no one ever presents for psychiatric treatment when they’re on a high – (unless they’re on a full-blown hypermania, doing drugs, pretending to be superman or convinced they can read people’s minds).
Most people are like me – convinced that the pleasant euphoric highs and ability to focus and achieve are just gifts we’ve been born with.
All of this adds up to either a mis-diagnosis or the usual 10 years of failed depression-based treatments, to arrive at a correct diagnosis of bipolar.
And correct diagnosis means correct treatment.
I am happy to say that I’ve been on the Quetiapine (100mg per day) for 7 months and it is the best medication I’ve ever had.
For me, correct diagnosis equated with correct treatment.
Part of the insidious nature of bipolar II is insomnia. I’ve suffered from insomnia for my entire adult life.
If I had ANY superpower, it would be the power to fall asleep anywhere, anytime.
That just doesn’t happen for me.
However, what I didn’t know was all of the links between insomnia and bipolar highs and lows. Yes, Carrie Fisher said she went 6 days without sleeping. Well, I wasn’t like that, but let’s just say that I functioned on 3 or 4 hours sleep for weeks at a time, due to racing thoughts, creativity, worry, anxiety or a mixture of all.
With the Quetiapine, the insomnia has been tamed.
It took about two weeks for me to get used to it – and even now, there’s times when I take it and I am knocked out within half an hour.
The highs and lows…
I still feel highs and lows. Mostly the lows, which the Quetiapine doesn’t seem to work on very well.
However the highs… I still get them but they’re at a level where they’re sustainable. If anything, whereas before I was like a sprinter with these highs and they consumed EVERYTHING, now I’m like a marathon runner – I’ve been able to enjoy the highs and harness them.
As for weight gain…
I’m convinced that people in internet depression forums blame their obesity on their drugs most of the time. If you’re eating a healthy diet and exercising, you’re just not going to stack on the weight.
Whilst I can understand that you might be made drowsy by your medication, this usually passes after a few weeks.
Someone will disagree with me on this point, I know. Before you do – I am a fitness freak and no bloody pill is going to make me fat.
But There’s This…
Unlike depression, which is widely accepted and now much more discussed in society, bipolar has the ‘crazy’ stigma attached to it.
I cannot tell people that I am bipolar.
Not unless I know and trust them. About 6 people outside of my partner and children know of my illness.
Even my parents do not know.
Which is part of the reason I wrote this blog post.
I am getting on with my life (more on that next post), but I have this huge freakin crazy-woman illness that I’m stuck with for the rest of my life.
My life isn’t perfect and it’s stupid to think that it will be, but then it doesn’t majorly suck, either.
However, having bipolar is like having an affair.
It’s a dirty little secret, best not spoken of. It’s shameful, immoral and nice, ordinary people don’t do it.
And I guess that’s how I’m going to end this post.
It’s not something I can yet speak publicly about – but write and blog about it…
I guess I can.
As an anthropologist, I’m accustomed to answering people’s questions about what it is that I do:
Do you study spiders? No, I leave the arthropods (spiders) to the entomologists.
Have you dug up any interesting fossils lately? Well…. umm, no. That’s palaeontology, and whilst some of the people I work with might be unkindly described as ‘fossils’, they’re most certainly alive.
Anthropology is, of course, the study of human cultures. In my case, it’s working with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to help protect their sacred sites.
Of course, most people probably assume that anthropologists know what archaeologists do in the field, and vice versa, as the disciplines share a lot of similarities.
In reality, this isn’t quite the truth – which is exactly what I discovered at a recent Flinders University field school on archaeological field methods at Redbanks (near Mallala).
1. It’s Not About the Digging
I thought I’d be carefully excavating artefacts in neatly squared trenches with all manner of natty little trowels and brushes.
I was sadly mistaken.
Most archaeology in Australia involves field surveys, which means you’re looking for artefacts on the ground: lots of walking, surveying, measuring, flagging and recording artefacts in the database at night.
2.You Will Be Mistaken for a Surveyor
Theodolites. Dumpy levels. Red and white sticks.
Archaeologists use all of these – and more.
People driving past your field site WILL mistake you for a surveyor.
After several days of holding up a red and white stick and making sure it’s level, you will mistake yourself for a surveyor, too.
3. Archaeologists Love Gadgets
Studying archaeology gives me a whole new excuse to buy more gadgets!
There’s callipers, portable desks, prismatic compasses, weather-proof notebooks, brushes, scales…
…and at last a real excuse to buy an iPad for work!
4. No Snakes, But…
Indiana Jones always seems to find snakes. During 11 years of outback fieldwork, I’ve rarely encountered snakes.
Beetles, ants, flies and spiders, however, are everywhere:
Do NOT forget the Aeroguard!
5. Flagging, Tagging and Bagging
Despite the Hollywood stereotypes, archaeology has plenty of repetitive-but-necessary tasks.
Like flagging, collecting and recording more than a thousand glass fragments, broken pieces of ceramic and and clay bricks.
Whilst we didn’t uncover any buried treasures, I did walk away learning something that’s true for both archaeology and anthropology: always expect the unexpected.
It seems rather silly to maintain this blog at all.
As a medium for communicating my thoughts and feelings, Twitter and Facebook have replaced blogging for me.
I was going to write a parting post and delete the blog, but then I realised that the blog is a PR3 and in many ways, an asset to my business.
So I think I’ll leave it up for the time being, purely for my own evil purposes. (Insert evil laugh).
2011 was a pretty crap year for me. In late 2010, I was promoted to a director’s position in the agency I work for. This means I’m in senior management, doing strategic management rather than operational management. I do very, very little anthropological fieldwork anymore.
I do get on planes a lot, though.
I suffered months of depression, struggled to act simultaneously in 3 positions at work, and did not enjoy managing certain individuals at all. Afterall, I am an anthropologist. I have no quals in management, and have no FREAKIN’ desire to obtain an MBA.
Steep learning curve, indeed!
However, on a positive note, I completed a course in forensic anthropology and became involved in the identification of human remains found near Alice Springs in late November. This side of anthropology has always been a passion, and I’ve decided to pursue this by undertaking a Masters in Archaeology this year.
(not insane, I’m just no ordinary girl)
On the business side, my partner and I started an online business (Travel Outback Australia is part of that). I’m pleased to say that in the last 6 months of 2011, we made $4000 online.
This is where I’m heading in 2012. Thus, this blog still has a purpose.
The River House
This is a complete retreat, on 24 beautiful bush acres, right on the Murray River in South Australia. The river is 50 metres from our front steps.
There’s no streetlights, you can’t see any neighbours and there are NO FREAKIN hoons in cars roaring past.
At night, it’s quiet and dark.
This might sound scary to city folks, but for those of us who are healed by nature and time away from people, it’s a blessing.
We’ve spent quite a lot of time going back and forth this year, spending most of our holidays here. There’s gardens, sheds, chicken yards, horse stables, and lots and lots of natural bush.
Our plan is to move here in a couple of years.
I’m quite disgusted at one section of the yoga community.
Not here in Australia, but those Stateside.
I mean, most people know that before you open your mouth, it’s a good idea to check your facts.
Unfortunately, some folks don’t share this philosophy.
Even stranger, they unfriend you when you point out their mistake.
The uncritical acceptance of things that simply aren’t real/true is something I can no longer abide.
I haven’t been practicing yoga regularly. At least, not the yoga that most in the yoga community would recognise.
Perhaps being a real yoga rebel is part of the shift I’m ready for this year.
My inspiration: no one you’d ever imagine or associate with yoga.
Let’s just say, from now on most of my yoga will be very, very private.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve learned more than I ever would have imagined about things like HTML, SEO, writing copy and more.
All things which have re-ignited by creative fires and given me passion where I had none.
This was a journey that began with Desert Book Chick (my book blog which I’ve killed off) and continued with Travel Outback Australia.
I’m sure you’re not wondering what I’ll be focussing on right now, but in the off chance that you are:
- owning/doing less
Sampai jumpa lagi
It’s a long, long time since I’ve updated this blog.
I can tell you that I won’t be updating this blog often, as I’ve moved on. However, as it continues to get a lot of hits and people seem to enjoy the content, I’ll leave it up here.
If you’re looking for what I’m up to, or want to get in touch, please try the following:
And the site that’s making us serious internet money: Travel Outback Australia
Love to hear from you soon
My work has been crazy-busy, so busy I am not even going to attempt to explain it, and now I have run right up against my holiday (vacation).
In fact, I started my annual leave yesterday, but today (Saturday) I spent 3 hours in the office without interruptions and was able to finish something which should have been finished 3 weeks ago. Tomorrow, I’ll be going back to finish off more work which I simply haven’t been able to get near for nearly two months.
On Monday then, we head off into the desert for three weeks. Whilst I was intending to schedule some posts when I was away (both here and on my other blog) I’ve been so busy this hasn’t eventuated.
The desert? The Simpson Desert, the Oodnadatta Track and various other places. Place so remote, there’s no electricity. No internet and definitely NO mobile (cell) phone reception. We are meeting up with my brother and his family at Maree. (Please check out the links). Then we will be driving north and camping out under the stars along the Oodnadatta Track, up to Dalhousie Springs, up through the Simpson Desert and eventually back into Alice Springs.
This trip has been over a year in the planning, and we are all so excited to start our fabulous journey… and to have a rest and recharge out bush away from everything. Thus, if you’re waiting to hear from me, see a reply to a comment or email or wonder when and IF I’ll be writing again…
…I’ll be back in three weeks.