Life, with my dogs, living on one acre in Tasmania. Living on a low income, and with Complex PTSD. I write about all sorts of things. I called my Blog Echidna Home because I have echidnas that live here
Its been a lovely day here in the beautiful Valley I call home. The photographs I have included are not from today, but they sum up all I am talking about.
The dogs and I all slept well and we rose fairly early in comparison of what seems to have become normal. (my medication after almost a year seems to be making me tired).
The dogs had their run.
For new readers I drive my car, and the dogs run up the road and back often with a stop at my neighbour on the hill for me to chat, and our big dogs to play together. Miss Treacle on the other hand my schnauser maltese cross who is 12, gets picked up and cuddled by Peter, and she just adores him.
His wife could not believe it when she saw Treacle in action. If we go up to their home and Peter is not out Miss Treacle will sit at their gate looking for him, and hoping. She cries with excitement when he is home and comes over to give her a cuddle. I swear she pines for him if she does not see him for a few days.
Busby and Toby are bros, and we do believe they are having a bromance. There is much licking and happiness, They run towards each other in ecstasy. When they play it can look really rough, but they are both actually very gentle with each other when they mouth.
Because Toby is a Springer Spaniel he has a soft mouth and is so gentle with Miss Treacle, though if he does get a bit rough with her, she will tell him off in no uncertain terms. He is a young dog, having just turned 2 in December. He has known my guys for most of his life. So he respects them both.
It makes us all smile watching these three get on so well. We have been driving past each other in our cars and Toby has made such a racket that they have had to stop so all three dogs can have a play in the paddock before we each pack up our dogs and head off. It is quite lovely.
The Huon Valley is very dog friendly with most cafes allowing dogs in outside areas, and there are wonderful dog friendly beaches where dogs and owners can swim and run play off lead. Each of the main towns Huonville, Cygnet, Geeveston all have lovely fully fenced off lead dog parks. Thanks to co-operation and fund raising of the Huon Valley Dog group.
Having a mental illness such as I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), my dogs are everything to me. They are my world, and if it was not for them I can be totally honest and say in my darkest days, I would have made a decision that I know would have been the worst decision I could have. Animals can make such a difference to people with mental illness. I have to get up everyday and feed them, let them out, play with them and cuddle them. Exercise them and keep them in good condition. I may go back to bed as I did in my worst days but I had got up..had some food and cared for my dogs.
My dogs know me warts and all. Miss Treacle is like my angel, when I am getting angry she will come and sit on my lap and push her body into me, she will try to nuzzle me and get me to make eye contact with her. She hates me on the telephone, as that is where she has seen me at my worst in anger. If I am getting frustrated with other drivers she leans into me. Yet even with all of this she loves me unconditionally.
Busby is my protector who is frightened of metal on metal noises, scraping chairs, wind, rain, thunder and lightning. We were out walking at Triabunna (a seaside town on the east coast, about an hour away, north of Hobart and a massive storm hit with wind hail thunder and lightning. It was horrendous, and understandably he has been frightened of these ever since. I had to pick up Miss Treacle, and poor Busby just tried to run off, I nearly dropped Miss Treacle, and dropped his lead, but somehow did not. I could not just stand there, with no protection. So we had to try and get to the car, about 100meters away. Needless to say we were all shaken up by this. My big gentle boy(41kgs/90lbs) now tries to climb up on my lap if we have storms and I have to close all the curtains if it is really windy. Which it often is as we live in the roaring forties.
So my dogs are my family, they are my constant companions. I have huge anxiety and panic attacks if I have to leave them at home, or it is too hot to take them with me. I have cancelled appointments and not gone to things because I have been to overwhelmed to leave them.
It is really interesting, I kind of thought with my budget being so tight and me being more content at home not finding it easy to be around people even to just pop in on people who tell me too. I have not been anywhere out of my home area, well the dogs walks and I have chatted briefly with neighbours, for a week. I imagine to many this must be such a strange thing and way to live. I do not believe I am depressed, as I am achieving some small things inside my home. On top of having been getting my veggie garden up and functional again this summer. My dogs make me laugh and I laugh at things I watch appropriately
I have achieved finding a new psychiatrist, but I had to do all the work and that really annoyed me and exhausted me. We have a company/organisation called Phscy 2 U. Which is supposed to provide people who live in rural and isolated areas the access to psychologists and psychiatrists. I have been seeing a psychiatrist for 7 months (need to have an assessment conducted to get a letter from he/she to apply for disability pension). I use the term 7months very loosely here. I saw this particular psychiatrist for five months and then I have been trying to find out why he told my GP I no longer wished to see him. (I never said that). So to catch to the chase. I had rung the organisation to find out what was going on and if he would see me but I needed a new referral from my GP which was sent on the 12 December 2019. They never got back to me. I rang again, to be told that they would look for another psychiatrist. Never heard anything, and as it was Christmas time now there was no point trying again until the new year. So ring again I did. No he was not seeing me anymore, no reason. They would look for a new psychiatrist.
One week later I ring again having heard nothing, oh the Psychiatrist had been away on leave and they would imagine I would hear from him soon. Another week passes, I hear nothing.
I ring again to be told I have to wait for this person to contact me as I am on ADHD medication and he is the only psychiatrist who can prescribe in Tasmania. I say I am not on ADHD medication where did you get that information from it is incorrect. Oh. I say since I am not on that medication you could find me a psychiatrist who could see me. She says she will send some emails.
I ring back again 10 days later. No record of me not being on ADHD medication no record of the conversation I had 10 days ago and no emails sent to any other Psychiatrists. Me not so happy. Person I spoke to lovely and says she will send something of right now. Me great I have been waiting since the 12th December it is now 26 January, and I have rung several times to follow up and no one has ever contacted me. This is making me unwell having to chase all this up my anxiety CPTSD is not great.
I ask if I can speak to a supervisor, she says no one is available at the moment but someone will ring back. I ask today? Yes today. OK
I wait and wait, the office closes at 4pm I have heard nothing and it is 3.30pm so I ring. The woman I spoke with was no help I said I had been waiting for a call from the supervisor, she says did you want the office manager or the Head person, me I just want someone who can help resolve this. She then went on to tell me emails had been sent before, I said are you meaning the emails that were sent this morning? No before that. Really how come you are the first person to tell me this, as the woman I spoke to this morning said nothing had been sent and she would email them. So would you give me the dates these emails were sent please. She was reluctant to do this. I again asked for the dates, and said to her I felt that I was getting a bumsteer from this company.
I also found out that the actual second referral from my GP which was faxed on the 12.12.19 (I rang my GP to confirm) was not put into this companies system until the 06/01/2020. No explanation available as they did not close the office until 24/12/19
In the course of this conversation I discovered there was no record of one of my phone calls and the conversation from that date. I as an RN/RPN (no longer working) stated that legally that was a huge error. I had called and there was no record of it! I said in a legal situation the courts would say if its not documented it did not happen, and that is wrong in so many ways in a medical setting to not have a record of a clients call documented. I said I would be contacting the Ombudsman in regard to that. I also said I had a right to know when the emails were sent I did not want to know who too. Just the date they were sent. She then admitted they were sent that morning! UGGh! I was feeling so angry.
I was so fed up and I could feel I was being triggered and my anger was beginning. I hung up not expecting to hear from anyone today.
A few minutes later I got a call from the person in charge. I had managed to calm myself a bit in the interim time, but I just waited for her to begin the conversation as she had rung me. She begins with there is no issue about the phone call not being recorded. I disputed this. I also requested that I wished to make a formal complaint about the process and what had occurred with the documentation she refused saying that me speaking to her was dealing with it. I said NO I wanted it to be documented as a formal complaint so it would go to the governing body. or whomever. As medical notes had to be kept objectively and correctly again I stated that in a legal situation the fact my phone call and the information was not documented in my notes meant it did not happen. How many other clients were having this sort of treatment? She did not like my attitude. She then said my previous psychiatrist did not want to see me. I said sorry is that documented? Where did you get this information? She did not respond. I said he sent my GP a letter saying I no longer wanted to see him, and that was not correct, as could be seen as I had rung up (and fortunately that had been documented twice) to say I did want to see him. If she had records saying he did not want to see me, than they should be sent to my GP, as the information she had was incorrect. As a mental health client that could go against me, if the Disability people thought I did not want to see the psychiatrist. I was so upset and my anger was rising. I just wanted to get an appointment with a psychiatrist, there are no psychiatrist available in the southern area of Tasmania that bulk bill. I can not afford to pay to see one at all. I was crying by this point and had to hang up. She rang me back about 10mins later, saying she hoped I had calmed down…I really battled to not bite her head off.. I let her talk, she said she had tried to ring 2 psychiatrists but no one was answering. She had left messages. I said is that all? yes I hung up. I was drained exhausted frustrated and just shattered.
The next morning I rang and lodged a complaint about information not being documented in my records and asking for a copy of the information that says the psychiatrist I had been seeing no longer wanted to see me. Not that I did not want to see him. I wanted my GPs records to be amended. I had to do that on the computer which at least was not a huge form.
I just can not cope. I do but it takes so much out of me. I get fixated and then begin to think if I am struggling and I am sort of better than I was, in some ways, how would anyone who was more unwell deal with any of this, and like with my Centrelink ban, I think many people would just give up and try and struggle on.
The concept of these Skype meetings is full of good intentions. But having people who have no idea and seem to not want to know anything about you but just give you drugs, (and Yes the meds I’m on are helping my brain but other areas are blah..like constantly weary. I sleep 12+hours with some weird really weird dreams, for a week or more and then I have a few nights were I am up all night, It is part of the have a brain that is functioning, or not symptoms.
Yet when I create a post such as this I see my mind is a bit all over the place, and I really struggle with paperwork. I am so fed up with what seems to me having to resolve things that I as the person with a mental illness should not have too. I am exhausted by the dealings of it all and my reaction is to begin to close myself off again. Not look at the phone, not communicate with other bloggers, not go and get the food I need. It was really only because my dogs needed their food for the fortnight that I ended up going out today. Then I am out for so long as I usually run into people who want to chat. Even today, I had rung and ordered my dogs meat, on Monday, and the person who took my order did not get it right. I had a few kilos in the freezer at home which would have got me over the long weekend(which I was oblivious too). So I was able to manage the situation in a no major issue kind of way, which was positive.
I keep reminding myself to be aware and to breathe, to acknowledge the feeling but not let it rule me. I also am getting better at saying to my little me that I the adult person am in charge and will deal with it. I am really happy to be finding so many amazing bloggers out there I especially love wordpress.com/read/feeds/36149739/posts/2580354980, Charlies writing and his artwork make me smile and light a spark inside me wanting to be creative again. Yet for the moment I have to put that on hold for a few days.
I am really thankful that as a hoarder, (I have not shared that here before) I actually am really conscientious about what I am bringing in to my home. For quite a while I was gathering boxes, so many boxes cardboard and today the dog meat came in two cardboard boxes, and I know that they will go out in my car port(now devoid of cardboard boxes) but I will use them and put them on the grass in my veggie area that I am trying to get rid of. I threw a fair few of the other ones away as it was very big problem into recycling. I was somewhere else today and I was offered a box to carry some things (breakables) but I said thank You but I won’t and explained that I hoarded them! Wow was I so happy that not only I said no, but I reiterated out loud the reason why I did not want a box. I knew I had two already. If I had a third that I could do without, and I said NO huge step forward.
As a hoarder I also have to look at anything I am bringing home in any multiples. For example I got several large bowls at the tip shop(which is where I was offered the box) and a few pie dishes all glass or pottery. Plus I needed to replace my microwave glass plate that spins having broken my 18 months ago. I was tempted by so much stuff, and the constant thing in my head was you do not need that you are trying to de clutter, and not hoard, you are hear for large bowels for bird baths and drinking bowls for wild life. (some of my old plastic ones are deteriorating and need to be replaced). So I came home with four bowels, on microwave plate and this was a near miss in the hoarder scenario, as I there were five different sizes and not being sure of the size I almost bought the five. Self talk and I looked at them all and from somewhere inside my brain, take this one and if it is not right I am sure they would let you do a simple swap next timer! YES wonderful. I got the one I chose home and it fitted. Yippee.
So along with the part of my brain that is not functioning well and the constant tiredness, some aspects are going well.
The other thing is I am doing OK. I do think some of my reactions in dealing with the psych 2 U people were anxiety driven, I am no closer to having my assessment for DSP than I was nearly 8 months ago which is frustrating. I was about to write that I was also worrying about the new person changing medications, and I could feel myself reacting, and my auto anxiety responses physical sensations begin, and into my head came…not much point worrying about that now, you have five weeks before your appointment.
I am thankful I have an appointment, I am thankful that I am on meds that have some positives that out weigh the negatives, I am thankful for the wonderful bloggers who I enjoy reading, seeing their creativity and learning and sharing experiences with each other.
Do you get veggie garden envy? Do you look at others gardeners around you and compare your veggies to theirs? I do have a bit of a complex about this. Firstly I have an elderly gardener down the road from me whose garden is astounding. He has lived here for over 40 years and he grows amazing produce. Then up from me is a relatively new garden I look at each day and see how his pumpkins are growing (actual pumpkins) whilst my pumpkins are just flowering and tiny balls. Sigh.
The CPTSD part of me gets a bit triggered by this. What am I doing wrong, how can I over come it, beat him. What am I doing wrong? Why cant I grow these like they do? I’m hopeless. What is the point? I am a failure! I have spent a few hours today and I mean hours just doing that kind of fixated thought processing.
That is until I went for a wee walk in my little veggie garden and looked and saw what I have achieved this year so far. Sure mine is not the pristine, stunning, with all the appropriate structures for each veggie garden as my up the road neighbour. Or the old established garden of my elderly neighbour down the road.
My garden is my garden. It is a reflection of me, of where I have been and am coming from. It shows a hope for harvesting what I have sown. It is a simple display of my illness in so many ways. I started the day of with the what ifs, and have ended it with the wow look at how far you have come Tazzie. My garden shows even how I have been using the treatments to help me and each time I walk through it, my garden, I am filled with hope of a bounty of good produce. I am productive, I am working, I am contributing and I am looking after mother earth.
I did not realise I would be triggered today by such a benign thing such as vegetable gardens. I have a feeling that is possibly why I did not get to the first crop swap of the year, and possibly why I did not make it to the last one for 2019. My feeling of inadequacies. Yet I am not inadequate. My garden is showing that. Things are growing fruiting and ripening.
It is so frustrating to question myself by comparing. I do not have the experience of the older neighbour, and I do not have the money to spend on compost and the right soils or structures. I am not in a competition. I am doing this solely for myself. So how HOW does this become what it did for me today. Isn’t that the million dollar question for anyone with CPTSD. How and why does a trigger trigger you into that down hill spiral. I am so proud of myself that I eventually got up and walked out side, into my own garden.
I have been attempting to remove old growth and rearrange some pots on my deck, I am also making my half wine barrels into more flower space than food space as the wallabies seem to be able to get to almost anything I put in them though I have allowed several brassicas to self seed and hope that they will grow and I can share those with the wild life. I had to fence of my deck area to discourage them from coming up on it and eating everything. It includes the possums who love to denude my lemon and lime trees.
My fig and grape both have fruit on them, as long as I can keep the birds off them I may get some this year. I need to get more tulle material for next year as the netting can cause smaller birds to get trapped in it. This year it might be some tulle bags I have to attempt to save the grapes. If I can It would be my first harvest.
The chili I planted last year is looking quite happy and I have a couple of small purple appearing fruit on the one below.
The three sisters bed is going well the beans and corn are flowering, though I do fear that the squash is overshadowed for flowering. Which means I am extremely doubtful that I will be successful with any squash from this bed. I will wait and see February while a short month is usually the hottest in Australia including down here.
The tomatoes are fruiting and have more flowers which is great finally! The lettuces are doing well I have been picking some, the brassicca that has self seeded in here I have no idea what it is meant to be and has bitter leaves, but I have eaten them. It just seems to go to flower fairly rapidly. There is the self seeded sun flower growing extremely close to the the tomato plant on the left of r side picture. Everyone else’s sunflowers are flowering. My garden is an anathema. Eggplant/aubergine, has flowered though it is not doing as well as the one I had in last year. The marigolds are growing and flowering, yeah! There are also two capsicums in this bed that are tiny but have fruit, I also feel there is a zucchini/courgette or two in this bed that is beginning to take off but no flowers. There is such a schamozzle of vegetables growing in this small bed, it is a wonder any thing is happening really.
Brassicca bed is doing OK the cabbages have vanished, but the kale is holding on and the broccoli is beating the white cabbage moth with my help. Silver beet is seeding so I will let it and spread the seeds about other areas also. Perhaps not in beds as it grows quite well just in the grassy areas of the veggie patch.
My barlotti beans are flowering there are several around the edges of the three sister bed, the climbing beans whose name escapes me has purple flowers and is looking good.
The apples on the Crab Apple are getting larger. Down in the paddock the yellow gage (might be the green gage) plum is not ripe but the birds have tried them. I assume it will be a race to see who can get them. I have hardly any leaves on either of my gage plums they seem to have been devoured. Which is really weird, as it is not wallabies as it is more the higher leaves.
Blackberries look abundant, these are wild usually delicious and with the rain we have been having the last few days it should be a good season for them. Like wise apples this is the first time since I planted this apple tree (above right) and the plum( below ) they have fruited. The apple is loaded and the plum is well not so loaded but has some fruit. All the trees in the paddock get no extra water than what nature provides. The gage plums get the run off from the french drain which is the reason I believe they are so much bigger. Where as these two trees are totally reliant on nature.
A berry off my neighbours vine, I am not certain it may be a mulberry, it was lovely. I had picked it and popped it on the post while I looked for some more. This was the only one.
The Deck. I am growing quite a bit on my deck this year. I have onions, herbs, sage, thyme lemon thyme, rosemary, basil, I have tomatoes in pots and above right shows my first ripening tomato. OH MY I am excited. The basil has been doing well in the photo below left with the other tomato plant which also has fruit. There are two other pots with tomatoes that are flowering. I have lettuces growing in containers. I have Tahitian limes, normal limes, and a couple of types of lemons in pots. I have not as yet put any in the ground. I neglected my citrus trees and spent another few days cleaning aphids and scale off them, making ants very unhappy as I destroyed their farming. I have some strawberries growing but they have not taken off, and I know this is due to me not putting them in a more acidic soil. I have grown potatoes in the past but they take up a lot of space and I can buy them fairly cheaply fresh local produced. I don’t eat a lot of potatoes.
You can see the fencing I have used to keep my produce garden on my deck safe from possums in the left photo above. It is great easy to take away and move about, I can pack it away when not in use.
My garden is all my own work, I make the compost, I bring in manure from local horses, and a friends sells sheep manure. I am proud of what I have achieved this summer so far.
My garden in whole brings me so many blessings, the wild life, the birds, the views, flowers, shade on hot day, wind protection, a place to sit and watch the world go by. A place to earth myself, to get down in the dirt and feel at peace. Connected to Mother Earrth. To see the cycle of seasons, life, death. To plant a small seed and see it grow and provide food for me, for creatures. To have land to just lay down on and watch clouds roll by in the sky. I am so rich, I am so content, and I have all I need.
Mother earth is important to care for and all that lives on her now and in the future.
When you have C-PSTD and you are really working hard to utilise strategies to minimise reactions to triggers especially those that are overwhelming angry. It is so so frustrating when you just can not seem to make headway.
I am on a Government Benefit here in Australia, called Newstart. It is for those of us who are unemployed. I am very appreciative that we have benefits available to us. Even though this one has not kept in line with the real costs of living. There was a increase in September 2019 which gave the average recipent a $3.50 a fortnight increase. Not even enough to buy a loaf of bread and a litre of milk!
That is an aside, as I have shared here I manage on this low income $578 AUD $397.30 USD /305.25GBP/358.22euro. per fortnight/two weekly. I manage because I own my home out right and have no debts. I do without things at times, and will live on simple cheap nutritious meals when I have to for unexpected costs.
I have been banned from going into any office of Centrelink (the government organisation that manages Newstart and other benefits, payments, and pensions. I said F..k as a descriptive word not directed at anyone and I was upset, loud, frustrated and bewildered by the system. I never threatened anyone or abused anyone. I remained seated and was loud. It was all over the wording my GP had put on my medical certificate that means due to my mental health illness I am not well enough to work or look for work. I have tried volunteer work and a free unit at uni both of which I did not manage. My Gp had written that I was permanently unable to work. Centrelink does not like this as if I am permanently unable to work, than I should not be receiving Newstart but a disability pension. There lies the problem. My GP will not write anything other than permanent and Centrelink will not accept my certificates. (They want it to say temporary or exacerbation). I the unwell person am caught in the middle. The result of this kerfuffle is that I am banned from entering or speaking on the phone to anyone at Centrelink.
The original ban was for three months which I felt was unjustified. I asked for a review and now I am on a 12 month ban, which is actually 13 1/2 months sigh.
I have been assigned a personal case worker. Which as everyone else says is brilliant, and it is in a way as you only deal with one person, they have to respond to you in a certain time frame. It would seem ideal. I can only phone her, and she has to contact me back if she is not available.
Now the reason I became angry frustrated is part of my CPTSD is that I find ridiculous bureaucracy, and security questions, such as this triggering.
When I ring this person I have to speak to someone else first I guess reception, never mentioned in the letter explaining what I have to do, so that triggered me as I follow the letter to the nth degree so as not to have issues down the track. I firstly before speaking to a human have to enter my Centrelink number and use my access code. So it frustrates me that I then have to give them my full name address and date of birth. I asked why to be told it is for security. I commented that any of my friends, family or someone who might have stolen my wallet would have all that information, so not very secure! You get a picture of how I am. I am triggered by this seemingly pathetic security check. Even if the person rings me she wants to know this information too. Sigh
It starts the whole process of badly. I have been in touch with my local member of federal parliament whose office is brilliant. I vote for her because of how much she really tries to help the community she represents, even though I may or may not vote for the party she is with. One of her office people has been helping and they have a number they can ring for this sort of thing. I was advised by this person that in future If it was required that I contact them or they me a letter or a message would be sent to me advising of a phone call coming. The number is always unlisted and I do not answer unlisted calls. Unless I am aware of someone contacting me as in this situation.
I have had disastrous contacts with this person, as she just really does not understand that my reactions, are not something I can control once they have reached this point. I have hung up in the past so I do not get to the angry frustrated me, but the flee me instead. She was annoyed by that, too. I have been told by her to calm down, and that always works! Of course not. I have been sobbing just trying to get through what ever I have to to meet the demands of the Centrelink bureaucracy. ( which can change at any time) with this person, and I can honestly say I don not believe we have had one successful phone conversation. She is supposed to be in a specialised area working with people who have been banned for what ever reasons. many I imagine with mental health illnesses chronic pain, I am sure there are some really bad people too.
This most recent episode I responded to the letter, I rang first thing in the morning as soon as the office hours opened. I spoke to a lovely woman who told me my case worker was not in as yet. I was ringing as the case worker had rung me the night before at 5;17pm I assume she left it until last thing. Because I had no notice of her ringing, and I had been waiting for a social worker to call me(who also has caller id withheld number) I answered. I was upset as she said who she was and then asked me for my name address and date of birth? SHE RANG ME! (I live alone they know that) She has also spoken to me before. So I was triggered by the unexpected call plus the checking details, I had no ability to do my preparation to attempt to minimise the triggers. I was also upset that she had rung at this time. (phone offices close at 5pm) but she can call me after this? I still had one day to attend to what I needed to and was trying to get a social worker to ring on my behalf with me. To avoid the very situation I was now in. She got so fed up with me, and I am sobbing saying the MPs office told me I would be messaged, before you would ring me. She said she did not have to! Seems no one talks to each other in Centrelink. I said she did. She just told me to let her talk and I was falling apart. I did not want to dissociate on the phone which I could feel myself doing, so I hung up I was still crying and my little dog, climbed on my lap and licked my tears, she is like my support dog, she picks up on all my emotions and really will try to bring me back when I am triggered.
Back to the lovely woman at reception who talked to me as my case worker was not in. I explained my mental illness and that I am meant to be messaged if a phone call is going to be made to me. She assured me this would be done.
Imagine then two hours later, I am sitting out side having a coffee. The phone rings, again I think it may be the social worker, but no. It is the case worker. No message! I begin with I am supposed to get a message before you ring. She it says on my computer you were sent one me well I have not received one she well Im on the phone now, me I am not up to talking with you, I am waiting for my social worker to phone me so she can talk to you. she it will only take a few minutes. Me I am waiting for my social worker to ring you so she can talk to YOU on my behalf! Me What part of I am not up to talking to you now do you not understand? she don’t speak to me like that, Me I keep telling you I have a mental health illness, I can not deal with you today, I have been advised by the ministers office I will be notified by Centrelink of any phone calls via messenger or a letter. I am waiting for my social worker to contact me so she can talk to YOU! My computer says one was sent, it was sent. implying what says I ? I hang up.
I ring to find out what is happening with my social worker, to find out she has been off sick all week? Oh I meant to ring you says the woman on the other end of the line. I cry and she says she will see how she can help when I tell her the situation. If I dont talk to this case manager by close of business today I may not get my benefit next week.
Another social worker from a town 40km away contacts me and is wonderful she gets onto my case worker, explains she has my permission to talk. The social worker phones me back in the afternoon and apologised but she can not get the information on my behalf as I need to have a letter of authority by my social worker before my case manager will talk to anyone. FFS!
I’m exhausted, I ring the government ombudsman office to be told there is nothing they can help me with. they advise me to ring a NGO Advocacy service I ring them they suggest the OBUDSMAN’S office. I ring that office back informing them that it is not in their scope of practice to deal with Centrelink complaints, I am them advised to ring another community group in Tasmania, who inform me it is not in their scope of practice either I ask what that means. Basically there is no funding provided by the federal government for these organisations to help with Centrelink problems. Again I am told to ring the OBUDSMAN’S office. I inform them of this with this organisation too. I ask is there anyone in Tasmania that can help with some one with a mental illness and serious issues with Centrelink? No!
I ring my MPs office, let them no that I have no avenues of support available, and they are very apologetic, they have done all they can as they are not a support service. I understand that and say I am very very appreciative for all the help they have given me. I just want to inform you of two things, that there is no support service in Tasmania that gets any funding from the government to assist people with mental health illnesses and issues with Centrelink. Oh I thought so and so did, I say no not in theirs or this groups scope of practice, legal aide send you to the first group and the government obudsmans office sends you to the two groups that can not help you as they get no funding and it is not in their scope of practice. A form of discrimination for people with a mental health illness I believe.
So here I am being a advocate, for my own situation and imagining how many other people with mental illness are out there battling Centrelink, with no support and who just give up. The Government wonders why incidents of verbal assault anger, abuse, physical abuse, assault and aggression face to face and over the phone with staff at Centrelink offices is increasing.
I do feel for the staff, and at my little office there are some brilliant staff. It seems they are not able to help it is someone who travels from Hobart to manage the office(she was my first contact). From a mental health nursing perspective, I see how hard it is on the staff. They should be trained, and supported, but they are paid, they get sick leave they get free counseling, they can take paid stress leave The client on the other side, gets no support no pay if they can not deal with the minutiae of the bureaucracy. I am trying to get the disability support pension. 61 pages as an initial form, I gave up filling it in, I had to see a social worker to help me. (I have two degrees! my mental illness impacts me like this).
I have to find a new psychiatrist from Psych 2 U a internet service where you are allocated a psychiatrist generally from Sydney or Melbourne, my first one told my GP I had decided I did not want to see him anymore, which was not true. I questioned him about his methods, (he asked me if I had thought about moving into a over 55s supported village?) I live independently, I hoard but am working on that, I dont shower regularly or wash my clothes because I have mental illness. I find being around people difficult, and I told him only the week before I would like to move as it getting to busy about me up a mountain at the end of the road. He also asked me every month how work was? He knew I was unemployed and having issues with Centrelink. He apologised for that , and as part of my illness when I feel overwhelmed I will flee which I did on this day. I never mentioned not seeing him again. I have phoned the organisation twice to find out why but he just does not respond. So now I have to begin the process again , after five months. So I can not be on anything else except Newstart.
I look at the supposed professional who I have to have write a letter in regard to my mental health for Disability Support Pension and who has made no effort to get to know anything about me. I know that psychiatrist often are more about medication, and I am better on the medication he commenced me on. Worth it to me to stay on it even though some side effects are not great. I feel because I have been a mental health nurse I am not so in awe of the profession. I have a brilliant psychologist and gp, both I have been seeing for some time, but my psychologist is not a clinical one and so disability support want me to see a psychiatrist ..I have to stay on Newstart. I continue to practice the things that help me with triggers, and hope that something will work with my case worker. Oh I have still not received a message that someone was going to call me and that was three days ago now.
I am OK I wanted to share this as it is the reality of my life and my CPTSD. It is why I am unable to work, and something I struggle with. I prefer to be on my own and talk and meet people when I am able and in control so I can leave when I wish or need too. I find that so many people do not understand that after these episodes I am exhausted physically and emotionally, my mental health deteriorates and If I am able to do the treatments I know and use that will help me move through the issue it will take me some times a couple of days before I can deal with anything anyone involved in the issue. I feel ashamed and embarrassed . If I could stop the behaviours the responses I would; but fighting(anger), fleeing (escaping), or freezing (dissociation) are my inbuilt safety survival methods. It is how I have managed my illness. It is what has kept me working living and being a part life. The relearning and implementation of new methods is a long road, and may not be always successful.
The clock strikes midnight and there is the end to Christmas 2019! Instantly every media area is full of Summer Sales, End of the Year Sales, the news is filled with that retail is concerned about the pre Christmas sales and not enough spending before so their hope is money will be spent at the sales. Credit card debt and personal debt in Australia is increasing rapidly. Yet when I go to second hand shops and tip shops I see so many incredible items with no wear some with tags still on, in great condition. I recently picked up a bed side light for $10. I needed one, but could not afford to buy any new that I had seen. This was a solid metal durable movable one. I had seen similar new for over $80.
I think I have mentioned previously I do not own a credit card. I learnt the hard way how credit cards can cause financial problems. I had one as I was looking at buying a house. I had previously had a personal loan for a car, and I assumed this would be enough to provide proof of my history for paying back the loan. I was knocked back for a mortgage as there was not a recent credit history!
I struggled to comprehend how this could be since I had no debts. Seemed the banks did not like that.
It was suggested I get a credit card, to establish a credit history. Sigh. So I did. I requested the lowest amount as my limit. $1000 AUD. Well the out come was I kind of got carried away with what I could now buy! I spent more money than I earned and before I knew it my balance was $1000. I paid it off $200 a month as I was paid monthly at that time.
Then Christmas was coming and I wanted to give friends and family great gifts. The balance on my credit card was about $500 at this point so I contacted the bank and requested an increase in the value of my line of credit. They put it up to $5000 it went to my head. Christmas coming and friends saying lets go for a holiday to Queensland. I was in spending heaven.
I listened to things my family and friends said they would like for Christmas and went and bought the dearest thing they mentioned. I want to make them so happy. I said yes to the trip and paid airfare accommodation on the credit card. I felt so excited. It was going to be a brilliant Christmas! I also had the trip to look forward to in mid January. I had no savings, and was just paying the minimum monthly payment on my card. I worked and bought take away food and coffees everyday. I also went out a lot socially dancing and eating out with friends. I was living the life.
Christmas came and my extravagant gifts were appreciated. I felt so good. I was now looking forward to our holiday.
On arriving home, I was so happy. I had had a lovely Christmas. One of my friends rang a night or two later and said lets go grab a meal. I said OK. Nice meal and we laughed and enjoyed being together. The bill came and I put my credit card on the table to pay my share and my friend put cash. The waiter took it away but a short time later came back and said I am sorry but your card has been declined. I was mortified. I walked over to use my debit card. Insufficient funds. Oh my there must be some mistake. My friend fortunately had enough cash to cover my share and I said I would pay her back as soon as possible. Which I did.
I paid a bit of the card to get it back under its limit but in not too long it was up again and I struggled to pay anything than the minimum payment off, I ended up paying a few dollars more to bring it back under the limit. I was still spending on it though.
I went to pay my electricity bill a couple of months later and my credit card was declined again. Not only that they informed me it had to be cut up! I was so embarrassed. As this was a final demand or my power would be cut off if the bill was not paid by that date.
On the way home I checked my bank balance $3.60 woah! (I would not be paid for two more weeks). That was all the money I had in the world! I was over $5000 in debt and my power was going to be cut off. I had some groceries and a bit of a pantry even back then. However if my power went off my fridge would not work nor my fully electric oven or the microwave or washing machine in my rental flat. I was very fortunate at this point in one way that my rent for the month was taken out the day my monthly pay went into my bank account.
I was going to be two weeks before I had any more money. The power went off on Friday afternoon, and I went all weekend with no power. I was so up set and shocked at my situation. I was going to a family dinner on the Saturday night, and realised I was going to have to tell them my situation.
I did and it was bad, I was so upset at myself and embarrassed, and neither parent would lend me any money as they thought is would be better that I really learn the lesson of living on what you earn! I was devastated as I really believed they would rescue me. I left early returning to my dark flat and cried angry tears at them for not helping me.
I ate some really weird food over the next two weeks. I had no social life, as I could not bring a plate, or go out to eat. Or even a coffee. It was work, home hand wash some clothes, work out what I could eat. Let me tell you cereal with water is not very nice. But it filled a empty stomach. I ate cold baked beans, and spaghetti no bread. I ate cold tinned soup mixed with water cold. I was incredibly fortunate I was renting a unit water still operated even with out my power.
When I finally got paid I had to pay a re connection fee and the bill.
The good news with this experience was I have never had a credit card again! I live quite OK with out. I only live on what I have and budgeting and shopping lists and my pantry have been the difference. I pay my bills when they come in. I don’t wait until the due date, as If I have some money in my account after my costs I pay some of it off the bill and when my next payment comes in I pay the rest. I will even pay extra on them.
Why on earth would anyone do that? It gives me some wiggle room. Now I am on a very low income I have to be very aware of when my big bills are due. My home and content insurance and my rates. I am very fortunate that my council has quarterly payments, as this year for the first time I am paying the quarterly but even then I pay more if I have it.
When my insurance is due, I usually do a few weeks of spending very little if I have not been able to budget enough fortnightly to save for it.
The most interesting thing is I don’t really recall the holiday I took, or what I purchased, the place I ate out or clothes I bought. I had fun and the friends I was so generous with are not in my life anymore. The regret I have is how much I spent and that I thought I could buy friendship. I regret extending the credit card beyond my financial income and needs. I still would have been able to go away on the holiday.
Did the credit card help me get a mortgage it must have because when I re applied for a mortgage I got it. What having a credit card did for me was to put me in a situation I never wanted to be in again.
I was really hurt and angry when no one in my family would rescue me. As it is this episode of tough love was the best thing they could have done for me in the long term. It changed my mentality.
I may live on a tight budget and am frugal. I still can afford to meet up for a coffee at a cafe (as I don’t let anyone into my home that is another post). I look at what I have. I am not against anybody going to the sales if they need something.
The things I am really thankful for are that I own my home out right, that I have no debt. If I was not in this situation when I had my breakdown and was so ill mentally I have no idea what would have happened to me. Even being in this situation I did have thoughts of suicide. I can not imagine what might have been if I in such a secure environment had these thoughts, how much harder it would be if I was paying a mortgage, or renting. I would have lost my home, not been able to afford to rent. I may be homeless living in my car not working. I know this is a situation for many people. I know I am so rich and fortunate. I have a good roof over my head. I have clean water to drink, I am content.
I don’t have children. So again this does make it easier in so many ways for me. I still believe that if you have a mortgage you need to be paying this off first and foremost. If you become ill or loose your job, how will you pay for it? Perhaps you have income insurance, great ..
I have spoken to a someone I know recently as we were talking about finances and she asked me how I could live with out a credit card. I said pretty easily really. Firstly even if you do pay you full amount off every month you still have to pay an annual fee for the privileged of having a credit card. She is also paying a mortgage. We chatted about how much a month she spends on her credit card it was a lot to me. She is on a good income. I asked her did she need what she spent on her credit card, or was it she wanted the things. She looked at me. I looked at her and said that is how I began to realise how to pay off my debts.
If you need something that is fine. If you want it, why do you want it. Look at how much you could save if you added that to your credit card debts/mortgage. (This is another post in the near future) I said to her CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARD! You can learn to live without it. Using cash brings you back in touch with the value of money. You take it out of your bank account…you have to hand the money to pay for the things you need or want. You begin to see where YOUR money is really going.
I am fortunate as on a benefit I have a bank account that I do not have any charges on. (Thank You Bendigo Bank, I get nothing for saying this). I pay cash for nearly everything.
Perhaps it is living in a rural town community, that makes a difference. If I don’t quite have the money to pay for the groceries on the day, and I hardly ever do this, but my local independent grocery store will let me pay it when I can, usually for me it is the next day. I also use local tyre company and they will let me pay off tyres (set of 4) I am also able to get an interest free loan up to $1000 through a government scheme. So there is a support there if I needed it. I have filled up my car and gone to pay, and not realised that my automatic payment for my internet was taken out leaving me less money(i know my dates now) and fortunately the guys at the petrol station no me, and I could pay them next week. I do not make a habit of not having enough money. I now check my balances and make sure that I have enough petrol to get me to my next payment date. though life can cause things to happen where petrol is required to be used that I have not budgeted for.
I do not have savings per say because extra money is usually earmarked for a bill in the future.
Perhaps the most important thing for me with my Complex PTSD is that I keep my stress as far as possible to a minimum. Being debt free has helped immensely with that. Learning to be content being at home has also been a saving bonus and a joyful thing. Part of my managing the many issues that my illness can cause me is minimising things that I may get anxious about. Distressed about, so knowing where my money has to go is the first step in my planning for the next 12 months. Anything that I can put in place to help me manage helps me to live in more contentment. Not having debts. Huge HUGE
I was heading to Cygnet to catch up with a friend at the bakery. Great food and coffee. Wonderful croissants. Local fruit ice cream and sorbets so delicious made on the premises too. It was Friday, and the Cygnet Folk Festival would be starting in the afternoon. Yet the town was already busy as organisational stuff and food trucks, venues and staging were all happening all the place. My friend and I enjoyed people watching. I had my dogs with me. They were petted and commented on by lots of people.
A walk around town was an interesting experience, even though the festival has not officially started there are lots of people about and some really strange things to see
I am not really sure what the idea of this really is but as far as contraptions go it was quite exceptional. A piano that when played light flames and smokes. I might see it at night when I imagine it will be even more awesome. My friend is playing it and one of my neighbours (the fire fighter tshirt) is looking at it. (you can see joyfully for me rain clouds forming, not so good for the festival.
My dogs and I went down to a lovely dog friendly spot down on the bay, and Miss Treacle and Busby had fun racing about sniffing and marking, as I took some photos. I was sitting watching some swans and cranes landing. As well as the sun slowly sinking behind the hills.
As the dogs were running around I was listening to some music coming from across the bay. I could hear beating drums and a beautiful voice. Looking back towards town (photo above )you can see white amongst the trees, tents and campervans fill the reserve and sadly access is not permitted to the locals who walk through it ever day or go to take their kids to the play area for the weekend. Or to see the birds in the bird sanctuary. It is only one weekend a year I guess. People pay to camp here about $40 for the weekend three nights .
To the left you can see the white tents, these are for Glamping accommodation at the festival
Two photos below are looking down over the main st.
It is a pretty valley and the township is settled adjacent to a lovely bay. Mindy you being an Island it is not hard to have water near you.
The end to the day was a little similar to the beginning in that we came across another native critter on the road. This time a wallaby eating grass on the side of the road. I stopped to let it get away without any danger from my car.
It is less than three seconds it moved and got away. They can be so hard to avoid on our roads, which is why I try to travel at 40km p/h especially during dawn and dusk but also at night when they are about.
I do apologise for the quality of these photos in this post. I had to change them from a SLR camera setting to a JPEg and it seems to have made a huge difference to the shots.
I do find that in among a lot of noise and people something I once enjoyed, I no longer do. I find myself enjoying the periphery of things. After walking through Cygnet today and listening to the music and the noise, traffic and smells. I was needing to get away from it. So I was really chuffed that there was no one else down on the point where the dogs and I spent a lovely time. My CPTSD does impact me greatly sometimes. I know I am better than I have been in quite a long time. I do come home from this sort of thing exhausted and just basically spend the next 24 hours in a semi immobile state. Hard to explain to people who have not experienced it. I do feel sometimes, that it is the after effects of going out and being part of the world/community place I live, is often what stops me. My progress here is that I now know this. I now accept this is me and my life in the present time. Instead of pushing myself and doing the expected I dont anymore. That in itself is a wonderful difference. Knowing my limits, and retreating. One of my favourite things is saying I am content with the discontent.
As the eastern areas of NSW and Victoria burn and the death toll sadly rises, and homes destroyed my heart aches for all the communities impacted. These extraordinary weather conditions the heat that our Government continues to deny is in any way related to Climate Change. This Saturday the weather forecast is equally if not worse than New Years Eve.
Here in my little valley Huon Valley in Tasmania we were in on going fires from before Christmas through to May, and we know that many local business reliant on summer visitors are still recovering. So I cannot imagine how long and the trauma that these communities will be dealing with and the length of time it will take.
I am not including any photographs on this post as Australian Fires season has been going since September. I find it so unbelievable that fire fighters the majority in rural communities volunteers who give up so much to defend out primary infrastructure, and communities. Often loosing their own homes and sadly I believe 7 fire fighters have died while fighting. Because they believe in the communities they live in. Reports are saying 5Million hectares/12,355,269.07acres have burnt.
In a total fire ban, where people where fleeing their homes and other died defending them or on their way to safety, both state capitals Sydney and Melbourne went ahead with New Years Eve Fire works, and from what I have
I went into a small town near me today, as I needed my medication filled. I was also putting out there, that it would be nice to have a conversation with someone I know. I love that so often things happen for me when I put things out there.
I took the dogs for a walk dropped my script in to the Chemist, bought some things I needed and decided to have a coffee. The cafe was full of people sitting outside, whom I knew and hoped I could chat with. I sat with my dogs at a large community table, everyone left over a few minutes.
My self talk began, oh gee nobody wants to sit with me, or likes me! When I am really unwell I might fixate on this and think really negative things; what I might have done, said that has made people want to avoid me, have I talked to much, been invasive, too loud, have my dogs annoyed them?
Fortunately today I was able to turn that switch off and knew that Yoga had finished 20 minutes ago and most of the people had been to yoga. That it is the silly season where most people have so much to do. It was good to be able to not ruminate and realise it did not matter anyway.
I sat enjoying my coffee, looking at the world passing me, everyone caught up with their own lives. I realised how fortunate I was to be able to be comfortable on my own sitting in a cafe, enjoying my coffee, observing all that was going on around me. I watched with delight as a sparrow flew down onto the table and began to clean up the crumbs. Its movements were so cute, and it had no fear of me or my dogs. It even hopped down and moved about Busby no fear. I was being caught up in being mindful, and enjoying it.
A shadow crossed my vision. It was a man I know, we have talked quite a few times. He has PTSD and was an alcoholic. He actually owns a house but at times having neighbours too close, he prefers to live in nature. So will camp out in the bush. His appearance is different, he is quite aware that many people see him as a derelict. He is not. He owns his home. He is not destitute in fact he is financially secure. He has university qualifications and has been involved (in a professional manner) in some horrible tragic episodes in his work here in Tasmania.
He stopped and said hello and we ended up sitting talking for over an hour. It was interesting, and I enjoyed our conversation. I was aware of many people who would say hi to me as they walked by or came into the cafe, yet ignore him. It can be hard enough being different in small town, add to that having a mental illness, and appearing different, it His clothes were clean, he was dressed in a hoodie with it up which was unusual as it is a warm day here today. I have never found him to be anything but a kind and considerate interesting person.
We were talking about how the world seems to be in turmoil and so full of negative bad feelings and vibes. He shared that for him it is the very time to be appreciative and look at all the positive things about us. We covered quite a few topics, and I really enjoyed our chat. It was just what I needed. Love it! I consider him a friend.
My dogs who had been very patient were happy when I said goodbye and finally moved off. We walked to the Chemist to get my medication; to get some fresh free range local eggs from our local wholefood shop(where many products are sold cheaper than the large national chain grocery supermarket)! Plus it saves petrol to shop locally.
I noticed that some of the guys from the Men’s Shed were returning the Little Free Library they had originally built it and it needed a bit of tweek, so it had been missing for a couple of weeks. It is lovely that it is back in time for all the visitors who will be coming to visit our beautiful valley. I often take a book and bring others back. I also love my State Library. Both great ways to get books to read without costing a cent/dime. Out libraries are amazing with free internet, story time for children, activities in the school holidays, stuff for adults as well. So I stopped to have a browse and took two books. I am so glad that the new medication I have been on for a few months now has given me more concentration so I can read a more involved book than I have in the last few years.
It was getting hotter and my dogs who had been so good were panting after our walk it was almost noon (daylight saving time) and it was time to head home. I looked at my gorgeous companions and decided that a swim to cool off was in order. So on the way home we stopped at a lovely local spot for a paddle and for Busby to fetch a stick that I would throw for him into the water.
Treacle is more a paddler, though I did take her out of her depth a little way so she could swim back in. Good for her back. I am pretty certain that it is not her favourite thing. She is a treasure though and swims and waits for me to come out.
Busby is always a bit tentative at first of swimming out of his depth. No exception today. Even though I was in the water too. I had hoped this would help him but it didn’t. I had not planned on a swim today I was in a dress. I did not let it stop me from a refreshing swim in I went fully dressed.. Busby eventually did come in and had a ball. He always lets me know when he has had enough, he takes the stick and hides it. Too funny.
The week has been improving each day. I have been out and watered the garden and my deck plants, it is almost 20:00/8:00pm and the temperature remains at 26.3dC/79.34 this is so unusual for Tasmania. Compared to South Australia where Adelaide its capital city was 43.7dC/110dF and a rural town called Ceduna which reached 47dC/116dF I am quite ok with the warm night we will have.
Sydney and Canberra are forecast to reach 40dC tomorrow. Adelaide 44dC tomorrow and 45dC on Friday.
Where as in Hobart tomorrow it is forecast to be 23 and 33 on Friday. It is very strange weather for this time of year.
I am very happy with the sunshine and warmer to hot days, as my vegetable garden is starting to respond finally. Things will be late this year.
I feel for people in the areas with such heat. Fires in NSW have burnt an area bigger than Wales! My Thoughts with the fireies who are and have been fighting fires across the Mainland and here on the north east coast. All the incredible volunteer bush and country brigades. The people who have come from overseas too. Thank You for giving up your Christmas to help us! It was our turn this time last year to be surrounded by fires and smoke impact. So I truly understand what you are dealing with.