Living with disability in rural Victoria.

This is something of an update journal entry. Trigger warning: Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, anxiety.

So I move to rural Victoria. It’s another step really. When I first moved out to Melton it still had a sort of country feel about it. Before the population doubled in ten years. Having Asian, African and Islander folks move in could have been really good for the place. Alas, it was done in the worst possible manner. Greedy developers bank another quick million and live a long, long way away from anything like the McMansions they build.

Country Victoria seemed like a positive step. I’m now in a town with no teenage gangs, no traffic lights and no franchise food stores. All big wins. The funny thing is that I picked the place largely because there were Reiki and meditation practices here. It seemed to bode well for some sort of alternatives. Alas, everyone’s known each other since primary school and it’s whiter than Melton ever was.

The supposed “alternative” is that kind of New Age veneer of difference that’s permeated with middle class prosperity doctrine. Other inhabitants are the older style country folk with porches, dogs and shotguns, having “I shoot ferals” and “vote no to the extreme greens” in their ute bumpers. Friendly folks when you meet them, but you don’t know whether to expect them to shoot you or try and sell you amway.

After my last appointment with the psychologist, during which we discussed the public housing application and my need for security and stability, this came up. She thinks there must be little nests of hippies out there somewhere. Doing google searches for hippies living in public housing in rural victoria turns up all sorts of hits. Rural dispute resolution, the history of Prahran, bogans sucking off the public tit… Fairly predictable really. I’ll keep my ears open. There’s some months left before the first year’s lease here runs out. Maybe Beaufort is worth looking at, since the Rainbow Serpent festival runs there every year?

Odds are though, even if I do find a hippie heaven with permaculture gardens and bicycles in every yard, I’ll still be a crazy cat lady living in a boarded up haunted house. While hippies and alternative types might be more understanding and easy-going in response to someone suffering chronic health and mental health issues, there’s always the personal stigma. There are millions of Australians who live with disability and many who’ve experienced homelessness. It would be nice if there were communities around where people who’ve survived these things can gather and support each other. That’s my pipe dream, I guess.

Recently I was hanging around Youtube and happened across a bunch of videos about Borderline Personality Disorder. I won’t stream any of them here, but if the subject interests you, here’s a couple of links.

BPD vid 1
What its like to be borderline.
What borderline feels like.
Borderline Personality Disorder.

The reality is that even if I do find a friendly, healthy place to live, odds are that I’m not going to make many friends. This is the reality of living with disability in Australia. You’re forever fighting your way upstream against the tides of bullshit, judgment and ridicule from those who are either ignorant programmed parrots, or stressed out wage slaves. The suicide rate in this country is not an anomaly.

Thank Goddess for the internet.

Edit: Had an appointment with the psychologist last week. She is an absolute life saver. For about four years now I’ve been seeing her on something like a monthly basis. She helped me try to focus my thinking more creatively. After going through “the rage stage”, which many middle aged women will recognise fondly, I decided that there wasn’t much use being permanently angry and I’d like to do something constructive in spite of the meta-narrative.

Easier said than done. The meta-narrative is specifically designed to force people into being either wage-slaves or welfare-slaves and punishes people dreadfully if they resist. Like that slogan: “This is capitalism, the system that takes fine minds and turns them into homeless alcoholics.”

The conversation with said Psych included questions about this Dialectical Behaviour Therapy which was mentioned by some of the BPD peeps in the video commentariat. Apparently it’s another reference by modern psychology back to the spiritual tools of Buddhism and Ayurveda. That’s really popular at the moment, and includes Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Values Based Living.

Personally I find a combination of the original Vedic meditation, visualisation and yoga together with a bit of values based focus to be the most helpful at the moment. A lot of what I’ve written in the other pages about Circularity explains the development of the thinking regarding that.

One of the big problems, there are two, is that these programs are largely developed by people who haven’t suffered from these “disorders” and who are making a living out of treating them. The claims that talking to a psychologist or counsellor as if they’re your best friend for a year, will “fix” Borderline Personality Disorder is a dreadful misleading approach that’s likely to cause a lot of people a lot of pain down the track.

It reminds me of the post Vietnam approach when veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were told that six weeks of therapy at the local VA hospital would fix them right up. That lie lead to much more trouble and people killed themselves out of feelings of failure.

These personality disorders don’t just happen out of the blue. They are the result of a child developing in an environment that isn’t suitable or doesn’t support them adequately. Or worse. Some 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are child abuse survivors. The issue then is the core neuronal wiring of a person’s personality, behaviours and thought patterns occurring in a situation of violence or emotional instability. The very basis of their mind. Considering the difficulty of stroke victims who attempt to relearn motor control or speech… Consider what its like to try to rewire core childhood behaviour patterns. The “patterns” or experiences, that are not only learned processes like most kids playing with blocks, but entrenched by associated trauma. Anxiety and depression become a very big part of the person’s day to day living. Shit, I had my first breakdown at 16…

A year of “chatting to my best buddy, the shrink” isn’t going to make a big dint in that. Which is why the ancient Buddhist and Vedic traditions are useful. They provide an open ended time frame and useful tools for a person to journey with this. There’s no real demands. There’s no pressure to conform back to the 9 to 5 treadmill type living. Ayurveda particularly encourages a person to find their own unique balance, physically and emotionally.

Rather than coming along with a big metal stamp to press onto you from the outside, to shape you into something that someone else wants, you get time, space and support to be yourself.

That brings me to the second big problem, which is the cultural difference in the systems. Psychology is in trouble anyway because any person who attempts to become “healthy” is going to come into conflict with the consumer culture. The meta-narrative, as I said, doesn’t encourage free-thinking individuality by people motivated by community and family needs. It enforces consumption, debt and endless slaving away on the treadmill to pay the mortgage and car loan.

Where do we go with all this? Regardless of living in a rural or urban environment, living according to your own personal values and interests is going to go against the grain. There isn’t a whole lot of popular support for this and you’ll never see it in the papers except where hippies and communists are being ridiculed. The meta-narrative defines itself as the one true story appropriate to all people everywhere, and anyone who dares to live differently must be a terrorist, communist or perhaps feminist. It’s all knee-jerk social programming that’s very emotionally connected. So attempting to become emotionally healthy will bring you into conflict with that also.

This is where I come back to my values as the alternative is to get so horribly angry and frustrated at the world. If I’m going to live on this planet with my family and friends, I want to get something good out of it. Fortunately its a two-way positive because humans are a gregarious species that have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in cooperative groups. Working to get what I need means my family and friends are also benefiting. And not just in that “if I’m happy I’m nicer to be around” kind of way. If I enjoy being creative; gardening, cooking, sewing and everything else, this overflows in many practical ways in addition to the emotional support that I can offer them.

And simply supporting others who are living with disability or wanting to live as post-consumers or permaculturists, can go a very long way.


About Syburi

Witch, bitch, creatrix; hippie, dreamer, gardener. Lover of books, music, rescue animals, piss and vinegar.
This entry was posted in Australia, mysticism, sustainable community, teh interwebs, the bad joke and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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