Friday, March 11, 2011

A Life Less Ordinary

Thou shalt not be a victim
Thou shalt not be a perpetrator
Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander
as written on the wall at the Holocaust Museum, Washington DC

We, at times in our lives have all guiltily been a bystander.  As a child, in the playground, watching the bully belittling and terrorising.  We were grateful for not being sought out, or perhaps too afraid to stand up even though we innately knew it was wrong.  Sadly, it starts in the playground and once a bystander forever a bystander will be.  It carries on into high school.  You only have to watch Mean Girls to get a snapshot of what life is like for kids in high school now.

Even in Tertiary Education where most students would consider themselves enlightened, believers of equal rights, not many would take the time to help right a wrong.  Oh, for the '60's when we fought for what we believed in.  We marched for peace, we fought for free speech, woman burned bra's and everyone listened to Martin Luther King and cried when he was assassinated.  And how can you not be inspired by the below powerful image from Tiananmen Square.

What has happened to us.  Why are we so comfortable to watch on the sidelines when people are belittled, tormented, berated and treated unfairly.  You only have to watch any coverage of our darling pollies to see them also belittle, torment, berate and bully each other.  THESE PEOPLE are running our country.  They think that it is acceptable to name call and bully to get their point across.  WHY?  I want to know when this behaviour became acceptable.  When did we become so desensitized?

Workplace bullying is rife.  It is given lip service in the media but why would changes be made when our Government the one we voted in the people we chose, carry on with playground bullying.  What hope is there for change to happen.

I too, have been guilty for remaining silent in the past.  But one day I stopped.  I had to.  I was suddenly the Mother of a disabled child.  In silence, our community saw us sell our house to fund his therapy.  In silence, our Government allowed us to slip below the poverty line.  Years later in silence, I allowed this to break me.  In silence, I curled up and like a foetus sought solace in the darkness of my room seeking the same safe womb I knew as a baby.

For many years I used every opportunity to talk about what autism is and what it meant for us and how easy (with funding) organisations like Autism Qld can provide support and early intervention.  Early intervention makes the world of difference - it is a proven fact.  Not just in kids with autism but in many disabilities.  But Early Intervention is just what is says "intervention that must be early".  No point doing something when they are 30.   The earlier you start the better.  We knew this, we sold our house and our beautiful son will hopefully be an active, able member of our community.  He most likely will not need a disability pension.  We have probably saved the tax payers millions.

If I ran into someone 'famous' I would try and talk to them about this, I would ask for their autograph or for some form of celebrity memorabilia to be sold to help fund 'Early Intervention' for Autism Qld.  I rang the newspapers, sent emails to the editors, wrote to members of parliament, asked my family members to write to their members.  I tried and tried and tried.  I refused to be silent about an issue that was so very very important.

Now, I am again facing another battle.  This battle is a battle for my life.  I do not have a terminal illness. But I do have a mental illness.  This illness fills my head with falsehoods and dark dirty messages telling me I am worthless and mean nothing and really it would be better for everyone if I was dead.

I am trying so hard to ignore those poisonous rotten messages.  I keep thinking of my precious family and friends who, I know think I am worthwhile.  But I have found there are some people out there who don't understand depression.  That is fine.  I don't have a problem with that.  I just wish they could be silent about it.  How hypocritical of me.  I want to have my say but am denying others from that same right.

What I have done instead, is cut them from my life.  They are allowed to think and say what they like.  We will choose to disagree.  But in my quest for wellness, I will only surround myself with people who believe in me.  People who will not be silent but instead people who will stand up for me.

Thank you for standing up for me.  I am trying to get strong enough to stand up for myself and one day I will be a force to be reckoned with.  I will never remain silent.  I will advocate for the rights of the mentally ill, the rights of the disabled and the rights of their carers.

If you are interested in also ending your silence go here Every Australian Counts  which is a new initiative launched by National Disability Insurance Scheme.  They hope to revolutionise the way people with a disability, their families and carers are supported in this country.

As Martin Luther King proudly and loudly has stood up and cried "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"

So I am crying out and telling you I matter.  What I stand for matters.  My family and friends matter.  My beliefs matter.  And any person who is a carer of a disabled person/child matters.  We need to support each other, and voice by single voice choral a chant that we matter, that we will be heard and that we will demand not just change but improvement.

My two gorgeous kids and I celebrating Autism Qld's Dress Different Day a couple of years ago.

Take care, Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution~ Kahlil Gibran


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