Let the Christmas Countdown Begin!

Apparently it’s 34 days til Xmas!! Don’t @ me for putting up my Xmas so early, it’s later than the last couple of years! I made a time with my sister and the two youngest nephews to come over and help with the tree and decorating. That was yesterday, and it was a fun long day.

The putting up of the Christmas tree means I also started wearing my Xmas clothes and earrings. Not shoes yet but tomorrow! I have skirts and tunic tops and dresses and two pairs of shoes from Rainbows and Fairies (we did the shoot for the new Xmas print Santa’s house on Tuesday and those photos have gone up!

My teeshirts are pretty much all from TeeTurtle and the earrings are from Indifferent Avocado, Burnbella and various other online places over the years.

I haven’t put my outdoor lights out yet – it was super windy yesterday and the inflatable tree and Santa tried to leave, but when that dies down I’ll string up fairy lights outside with them and the meerkats! i was very restrained on the weekend and didn’t buy two more from Woolies , but if you want to add to the #CultOfTheMeerkat, you can via my throne :p

Christmas also means summer and it looks like lotsa boat rides in Bruce new tinny!

Black Dog Institute Summit on Self-Harm #BDISummit

Pretty obviously there’s a content note about this post for suicide and self-harm

Thanks to Livingworks, I received a bursary to attend the Black Dog Institute Summit on Self Harm in Sydney last week. It was a huge day, starting with catching the 4.51am train down, so I’ll reflect on it with prompting from the posts under the #BDISummit hashtag

The day before, most of the experts had been at a summit organised by the Lancet on putting together the research from around the world on self-harm and suicide statistics, themes and prevention. Lots of British accents, but also people from around the world. There were people researching self harm in lower and middle income countries and how the reasons for, means, and intentions vary from high-income countries. There were also Indigenous perspectives and reminding us that all the basics, like income above the poverty line, less traumatic emergency department experiences, and compassion in general lead to such great results.

Conference mode means mentos and apparently these fancy glasses that I was so tempted to smuggle out but I was good and stuck to perishables like a banana for breakfast the next day and few tea bags.

Emergency and Inpatient Departments are not fit for purpose

Nearly everyone who has gone to the emergency department feeling suicidal or having self harmed in some way has had one or more bad experiences. If you had a good experience, that is amazing and you probably went on to seek and get treatment and didn’t end up back there. If you do survived the assessment in an unsuitable place without excusing yourself, you face a super long wait for any outpatient therapy, or if you end up in inpatient it can also be a very scary, far from healing experience :/

What use is giving CBT to someone in poverty? 

Well, given the long waiting lists that psychologists have in Australia, the huge gap you’re up for in most instances if you do get in to see someone, we’re not even at the point of being able to see what a good block of therapy can do while someone is subsisting on welfare in this country. Personally I was fortunate enough to do my block f DBT but I wouldn’t have gotten into that if I hadn’t been at the point of self harming and having the right diagnosis, and surviving the year you need to before the program commences. I have too many friends on Twitter (whose demise is distresses for many who have it as their lifeline quite literally when it comes to seeking emotional and financial support)  who saw their mental health stablise when JobSeeker was above the poverty line and mutual obligations were suspended and they were just left to be by a system that is designed to make money for providers without having to give outcomes to “participants”. argh.

Lived and LIVING experience

Interesting discussion at the podium and in the breaks about living experience of self harm and the validity of being able to live a meaningful life while still self-harming. But differentiating this from the person who appears to be well, who is going about their right daily activities, but s struggling or suffering privately. There was discussion around “protecting” the lived experience workforce from further harm as well as allowing those who are participating in research or work to be able to identify for themselves whether they are currently well enough to take part – like me coming to the summit that day and being able to identify if I needed to tap out, or knowing that I would be worn out in the following days from the experience, whether that is just from the early start, social and masking spoons used, or form any more emotional energy from such a heavy topic.

Last of all, what’s an event post with me without the food?

Breakfast was served during the initial session, with mueslie and yoghurt, and mini big breakfast (thankfully without eggs) coming to the table with pots of coffee.

Raspberry and banana bread and fresh fruit at morning tea, along with a nice cold iced tea.

There was hot food at lunch, but I had a couple of chicken rolls and some Greek Salad. I took a couple of rolls for the train ride home for dinner along with some of the fruit at morning tea.

Chocolate slices for afternoon tea – a very sense brownie for me with a little more coffee for the afternoon roll home.

Nice swift train and tram ride home – I wasn’t murdered in the dingy Star casino light rail station which was a relief!

Where to from here? I watched part of a webinar from Lived Experience Australia on how to become a peer worker on Monday, but it was the basic things like do the course and network and find out where you really want to use your skills… And I kinda know that. I also know that I looked up the peer worker course that TAFE NSW runs and immediately realised I don’t yet want to commit to formal study, and so won’t even apply for anything for first semester next year if at all. Maybe 2024. I’m finding that one external engagement outside my own appointments and anything that I take my niblings to is more than enough currently, like the summit, or a modelling day, or a Greens event. And I want to keep doing that stuff. I also don’t know if peer work as such is for me, but I’m glad being a researcher with lived experience of self harm was also modelled at the summit.

And I was also so very excited that on the same day, my blogging buddy Trae was presenting at a conference over in Perth alongside Grace Tame as someone with lived experience of mental illness. Recovery is so cool. But also seeing and hearing my friends and myself thrive after so many years surviving.

How I spent my $20

oh, hai  there. I’m Fiona. You may now know me now as the woman on Q+A with $20 who looked pained at Jim Chalmer’s response to her question about how those on fixed incomes like the disability pension are supposed to make choices between food and medicine (seriously, I better pay that chemist bill as soon as I get this posted – my Webster paks are a lifesaver both literally and metaphorically)… Why are we the ones having to suffer now to keep inflation in check?

My questions and his non-answer:

So, it’s taken me a good couple of days to recover from the trip down to Sydney – got the shuttle bus the ABC organised from Broadmeadow station at 5pm with 20 others, we got there around 7:30, then went through screening, I got handed my question on a card and was told that I was the second question and that like I had spoken to the girl on the phone about, Stan would be asking me followups and she and her chatted about my situation and such a couple of times on the phone in the previous days.

It was a bumpy ride, but to my relief a fellow local Greens member and his mate were also on the bus, so I could chat to them and calm my nerves about the whole process. And we got a photo with our idols in the foyer.

Fiona and Wylie making peach signs with big ted, little ted, jemima and humpty at the abc ultimo studio

We went in around 8pm, I got a microphone attached to me. There was a warm up stand up comic. The questioners were all run through to make sure they got our names right etc, and I was SUPER excited to see that a teacher that I often had in primary school Mrs Turner was there!

I didn’t expect a real answer from Jim, just as I didn’t expect Labor to raise welfare since they walked back their promises and demands that they had in opposition in the lead up to the election they just won. Basically they promised us nothing and we should be grateful for that!

So, back to why you’re here? After my triumphant non-answer getting on Q+A i called home to Bruce to scream into the void and get his reaction and love. Which I got. And a request for burgers on the way home, to which I lol’d “Yeah I can spend my $20 on that!” he laughed and said, don’t worry about it  but then I wanted burgers, and given the rough trip back, chatting with the young liberals and eating lollies and pretzels at dinner, I totally needed those burgers by the time I was back in Tronno at 1am!

So, to all the Daily Mail commenters who commented on my food choices and my fatness, yeah, I had midnight Maccas with that $20 that PureProfile surveys had credited me during the trip down (another DM commenter had suggested them too, don’t worry, I’ve been doing them for 20 years). It was the best Big Mac I’d had in a long time, the chips were salty and fresh, like me, and I needed something in my belly because I needed to be up at 7am to get to my usual Friday appointments of pickup up FoodBank and Ozharvest to share with my sister (and much free bread because there was non in the budget for us) and then to my Antabuse rehab group where we discussed what we like about our sober selves. 20 months sober my friends!

Yeah, I’m fat. And yeah I could exercise more to lose weight, but I’m glad I’m not the bulimic, exercise obsessed skinny girl I once was, 2 hours at the gym a day, running 5kms to quiet her mine. My blood tests are always showing I’m in pretty good health considering, and while I’ve been on seroquel I’ve not been anywhere near skinny. I’m mentally pretty good at the moment, and working on my mental health and life goals, while being a good human being. Looking after myself and my family and friends and being sober and safe. Financially, I’m not making any headway, but I don’t have a credit card to go into debt on, and so long as I can pay my rent and smile, I’ll be okay. Also, so long as the politicians have a food allowance that is five times the daily JobSeeker payment, don’t police our food choices, mmkay?

So, it’s been a big few days. Glad to be home with my boys and love my family, friends and twitter crew to death. Sent Bruce off this morning to work in his little tinny, and I’ve been a good housewife, doing dishes and washing and earning my keep while rolling marbles on Twitch. I also played some Scotty Goes to Centrelink (The Albo Update) earlier, and will probably go another round soon!

The full episode can be seen on the ABC website or YouTube

Please, if you also feel that it’s ridiculous that in Australia people on welfare payments are deliberately kept below the poverty line, sign this petition to parliament to have the rate of all welfare payments raised to above the Henderson Poverty line which is currently $88 a day. The petition is an official parliamentary one so you’ll need to click the verification link in your email when it comes through to complete the process.

May be an image of text that says "signed the petition to #RaiseTheRate to #88aDay because... POOR PEOPLE DESERVE NICE THINGS UINCAPLOYEO AUWU NOINN NOINN Sign and share! auwu.org.au/petition"

Can’t eat resilience – Labor’s Budget had no pleasant surprises

Good morning. Happy Budget Boxing Day, how’s the hangover? There’s not enough water in the world to wash away the fact that people on welfare payments got exactly what was promised and what was expected from Labor’s budget – nothing. A few comments about us being lucky to even be getting the upcoming CPI increases to payments, that cheaper childcare will help somehow, that more free tafe places will help people get into work even though all their other qualifications haven’t. More language about rorts in the NDIS and expected blowouts demonising the wrong people.

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For sure, if I was corporate Fiona from this photo I found last night, I’d be benefitting from the promised 6 months paid parental leave (because I still thought I’d be having kids back then). Any promises around childcare were welcomed as she watched speech pathologists and occupational therapists unable to return to work with the long waiting lists in Canberra daycare. She’d be happy with the reduction in maximum PBS medicine costs since she was working and didn’t have a health care card, Her partner had property and she was aspirational. But then, reality took hold and we are where we are now.

I remember getting the small tax cuts back in Howard’s final years. $10 here and there.  Working in community services and health, we all lamented that they should keep the money and invest it in health and education, but we dutifully spend it on latte’s at Coolo.

Labor never promised any raises to Centrelink payments, in fact they backtracked from any talk about them from the 2019 election thinking that the voters didn’t like them pormising anything good. They walked them back to we’ll have a review and maybe look at a real raise in 2024. Which is about when they project real wages to start going up in relation to inflation. In the meantime? We get to remember Labor’s greatest complaints about the LNP and how none of them could ever survive on JobSeeker, but there’s literally nothing in the budget for those on payments. Correct me if I’m wrong, PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong!

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These photos? They’re from a blogger event in Sydney in 2012. It was for Kleenex Cottonelle and we broke pintrest because we were trying to pin too many things at once. A wonderful greenwashing promo. That was when i was an Aunty blogger, or a food blogger, depending on who was paying for drinks. I’m wearing the last pair of glasses I bought from a shop in Australia, they set me back $700. $200 for the frames, $500 for the lenses, and from then on it was Chinese online glasses all the way.

I dug out these pics because I got a bursary to attend the Black Dog Institute‘s Summit on Self-Harm in Sydney on November 10 as a person with lived experience of self harm and the mental health system. It’s at Doltone House, the same venue as the Contonlle event, I thought it looked familiar when I was planning the early morning train trip down! I’m really really excited! It’s going to be a huge day, with a 7.30am start, so, a snooze on the 4.51am train down and coffee on arrival please and thankyou! If I recall correctly it was well catered, so I hope they still are!

So, now to plan my days around having the spoons for the summit, for taking it in, for networking and holding conversation with some amazing researchers! The program looks great!

But what do I wear???

Lake Macquarie Pride Fair and Break the Poverty Machine Rally Newcatle

SO, that was a HUGE weekend with a lot of planning and build up, lots of talking and posting and having my brain switched on, and now that I’m in recovery mode I’m going to look back at it! This is my boot after ditching the tables and gazebo at the scout hall from pride, but before the rally Monday. It’s chaos like my brain! I’ve now gotten to Wednesday and think I MAY have a virus, but it’s not certain, so I’m just drinking all the water and resting up. RATs are neg so far. I’m probably just peopled-out.

I did touch a lot of people as I was putting on soooo many temporary tattoos heh Only a couple of cleavage ones, unlike ten years ago when I was applying temporary tattoos for the Sex Party (now Reason) at Sexpo in Sydney!

A lovely evening, with perfect weather and a mix of market and community stalls, lotsa freebies and cool things, and a great vibe! Well done Newcastle Pride Inc! Thanks for bringing pride to Lake Mac!

Sunday was a rest day, and  then I picked up my Twitter friend Aeryn from the station who’d come up from Wollongong for the rally!

Here are some of the experiences of welfare shared by attendees at the Newcastle rally. You can click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.

Why is seeking welfare the same effort as a full time job and it's still not enough to get by #raisetherate

And then the tear-jerker from Andrew who I’d been chatting to outside Centrelink while he was waiting for a friend. He started off with the expected – red meat, social life, coffee, giving up tobacco being a near killer as it got more and more expensive, but then, the story of how he’s been saving for a headstone for his baby boy’s grave since he dies 8 years ago at two days old just hit me hard. I apologised for having to bring it up, but he reassured me it was okay and it was good to tell someone who cared. Every time he comes close there’s the unexpected expense like a huge bill or a fridge breaking down and he just hasn’t gotten there.

The speech from Catherine was powerful, with John Mackenzie also telling it like it is. Mum says we were on NBN news that night, but they haven’t posted that story on socials.

Aeryn and I went for a scenic drive, listening and watching the rally from Adelaide on Twitch and stopping for lunch at gorgeous Nobby’s, at Bruce’s insistence I treat us to lunch somewhere.

And here we are. Check out the #BTPM tag on twitter and other socials for posts from people on Centrelink around the country pleading for a better future this Antipoverty week. There’s way too much talk about what would be nice but nothing tangible being offered, as usual.