As you might imagine, being in the middle of the school holidays has slowed down our travels. We picked up Kirstine’s eldest son for the first week, and made our way back to the Murray River for some fishing and bush camping. The weather was spectacular (it IS Winter though, right?), and the kids caught some carp, and explored the bush, imaginatively naming areas as they created a fantasy world all their own. They even carefully relocated some geckos and skinks so that they “would be safe while we were gathering wood”. They were motified to then see four kookaburras have a free feed of the “saved” lizards 15 minutes later. A new electric chainsaw made collecting wood easier, and all the kids were keen to learn how to use it. Paul has been fully trained in using a chainsaw, but even so it was only the eldest of the kids who got to have a lesson in safety and use. The week passed amazingly quickly in this way, and all too soon it was time to pack up and take the kids to spend the next week with their other parents and families. The joys of blended families!
We spent a couple of days in a caravan park, as we do after we’ve been out bush camping. There is a definite need for flushing toilets, showers and washing machines by that stage! Camped at the site next to ours was a Cub! We really do find them everywhere, as if we are drawn to them with our own. Through Luna we met a delightful couple, and got into conversation about how depression has affected her since she has had multiple health scares and surgeries over the last couple of years. Whenever we have these conversations, we find it interesting to know how people have found a way to keep moving forward on their darkest days. For this lady, it was her fish, and keeping her brain active through colouring in and cooking. She also has a fondness for driving a quad bike on a friend’s property for hours at a time when they go to visit!
It’s important to remember that no-one with depression WANTS to feel the way they do, and it can be so difficult to find an activity to keep your interest when your attention span is affected. Paul gets great satisfaction from the photography course he is doing, but it can be very hard for him to find the motivation to work on it. Another friend of ours is a talented artist, but his health struggles have kept him from picking up the brush and putting it to canvas. We are staying with friends for a couple of days in the country before picking up the kids, and a discussion we had last night highlighted just how many people we know who are going through a hard time mentally – many of them are men, and as Paul’s mate said, men are still conditioned not to talk about it when they are struggling with depression. It’s not just a generational problem. This is why Paul being able to travel and talk, as much as that takes a significant toll on his own fight against mental illness, is important. Men need to see other men standing up and saying “I’m not OK, and I’m not coping”. They need to know the avenues of assistance open to them. Suffering in silence is no longer expected of anyone.
So I’ll step off my soap box for the moment and update you about some of the other activities we have been up to.
Kirstine has set up (and is still working on) an online merchandise store for Driving Oz with the Black Dog. This is a fundraising activity, as all profits go to our charities. It’s also a great way for you to get behind our cause, and spread our message as well. If there is any merchandise not listed on the website that you’d like to see, send us an email and we’ll see if we can add it for you. We welcome the creative feedback as we update the store.
We’re also giving serious consideration to running a raffle for a holiday, but we need to know if there are people willing to sell some tickets for us! We can mail them to you, so put up your hand if you’d like to be an advocate for us by selling some raffle tickets at your school, work place, community group! Let’s kick this fundraising into top gear!!
Our story has been published in some additional media, so we’ll put the links for those here. A major magazine publication has also been in contact about doing a story with us, so that was an exciting development!! We’ll let you know if that happens as planned!
Camper Trailer Australia article – 04 July 2017
The Miner newspaper article – 14 June 2017
99.9 Voice FM website 07 June 2017
Lastly, at the end of this week we pick the kids up and begin making our way to Sydney to work with Videocraft at the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) Expo. We’re not quite sure what we’ll be doing, but it will be exciting nonetheless!!