Week 6 and a bit Scamander to Orford and Freycinet

Monday, Oct 29, 2012 at 01:26


As well as the usual name and acclaim and photos this week’s blog is touching on some of my personal challenges. I will not bore you with all my thoughts and feelings, I’ll save those for “The Rambling Rambler”.

Have I told you all about my change of heart to raise funds as well as awareness? I had decided not to accept financial donations as I walked because I am lousy with money and carrying cash presents a safety issue. When I started walking people were asking who I was fundraising for and how they could donate but I didn’t have anything set up. At the same time I noticed Lifeline in the news about their funding crisis. I have used Lifeline on a number of occasions to help me out of some very dark hours so they mean a lot to me.

Lifeline help hundreds of thousands of people to hold onto hope and find the right help to recover and get support. They do many more things than just run a nationwide 24/7 crisis hotline with trained volunteers. Lifeline have many support groups for suicide bereavement, training workshops for suicide intervention, courses for schools and workplaces and annual national events.

In the early planning stages of The Happy Walk I thought about raising funds and dividing what wasn’t used for the walk between a few good Australian charities who have managed to keep their names clear of controversy. For this I needed to set up my own charity, having no idea how to do it I gave up on the whole idea of raising funds and chose instead to self-fund the walk with my disability pension and suggest my favourite charities to any anyone who asks to make a donation. This is how I started the first couple of weeks of The Happy Walk.

Since they started, Everyday Hero has been providing a place for people to create a fundraising account for a chosen charity where donations go directly to the charity not the individual or event. It provides an ethical and accountable way to set a target amount and watch the donations grow as people show not only moral support for the individual and event but also financial support for the charity.

The Happy Walk now has its own Everyday Hero account to raise funds for Lifeline. Don’t be put off by the fundraising goal, $1 million over 7 years is very achievable and Lifeline deserves every cent of it. This is the link if you have a few spare dollars to help out http://www.everydayhero.com.au/thehappywalk. Just one thing to keep in mind about pledging donations to Lifeline, only the first pledge will appear on the fundraising tally but every weekly or monthly donation will go directly to Lifeline even if it is not acknowledged through my account page.

New friends from St Helens Book Shop have already made a donation and I want to thank them very much for all their support.

On my way out of St Helens last week I met Heidi Howe from the Coastal Column, the local community newsletter. Heidi did an interview for an article for the next edition and just as I was about to head out of town invited me to stay with her family in Scamander. It was wonderful having a family to keep me company and they were so generous they took care of me for a second night after I had walked as far as Chain of Lagoons. Scamander is a very friendly place, on my way into town I met some locals who also offered me a place to stay and a car load of young guy and girls tooting, waving and calling out their support as they drove past several times. So many generous and happy people.

Beachfront at Bicheno, a very snazzy and comfortable Best Western Motel, donated a free night and cooked breakfast then the second night at half price. On the way into Bicheno I started struggling with exhaustion but Susie, who is working to save Tassie Devils, gave me a ride the last few kilometres into town.

It was a strange feeling that took me off guard. I rationalised the exhaustion, tears, sensory overload and loss of motivation as part of the walk, possibly catching a cold or just some asperger traits showing through and assumed I would feel better after a good sleep. Unfortunately good sleep has been alluding me lately with nightmares, night sweats and flashbacks waking me several times a night, this being normal I didn’t think much about it. When I woke the next morning in Bicheno I felt horrible, a sad unexplained miserable feeling I couldn’t shake just by talking to family. Spending some time outside in the sun taking a short walk around town helped a little bit, eating a big plate of salad gave me some more energy but I still felt sad and teary and couldn’t concentrate enough to meditate. Monday I woke feeling like I had the flu, aching, short sharp pains and more tired than when I went to sleep. An ulcer had become infected so I thought it was blood poisoning and went to the chemist for tea tree oil and betadine but they sent me straight to the doctor, phoning ahead to get me in at short notice.

You know what the doctor said? It is depression and anxiety creeping up on me again. A little bit of poison from the infection, a little bit of exhaustion but mostly a lapse in care of my mental health. A combination of all of the above as well as letting go of a friendship that only existed in my imagination, stress about the sun spots growing on my face, sorting out a hysterectomy and feeling as though I am failing myself is taking its toll.

It sounds crazy. While I’m out here walking for depression awareness and suicide prevention I am trying to prevent my own depression relapse. Most us who have experienced depression (or an anxiety disorder) will not ever experience it again if we take care of ourselves and get the right help early when we start to feel sick but we need to keep in mind our vulnerability and know the signs.

The signs of a relapse are the same as the usual signs of depression and some of these are:
Persistent sad and negative thoughts and feelings,
Loss of motivation and interest in favourite activities,
Difficulty completing routine tasks like work or study,
Sleeping difficulties like insomnia or over sleeping,
Changed eating habits like over-eating, under-eating,
Misuse or increased use of drugs or alcohol,
Erratic and risky behaviour changes,
Slowed reactions, speech and movement,
Thoughts of hopelessness and suicide.

The important thing is to let someone know you don’t feel well, take some time off to get better and see your doctor or support provider for help. Remember prevention is better than cure so keep taking care of yourself and don’t ignore the warning signs.

Anyway, after seeing the doctor and having a good cry, I put on my happy face and enjoyed a few hours of relaxation in The Blue Edge Bakery while waiting for the bus to Coles Bay. They were so nice, even gave me a free coffee they had made accidentally and when I bought some brownies for my next hosts they put in a bunch of free chocolate truffles while I wasn’t watching. Their kindness was so unexpected and refreshing.

Yes, you read that right, I caught a bus and I will be catching another one today into Hobart because I’m emotionally and psychologically tired. From Bicheno I caught the Freycinet Connections bus that dropped me off right outside Sheoaks Bed and Breakfast. They didn’t need to, it wasn’t on their bus route but they chose to because they are very helpful.

The owners of Sheoaks, Allan and Margaret, support Lifeline through the Black Dog Ride events in Tasmania and very generously offered to help me too. Sheoaks is a modern ecofriendly flash place perched up on the hill overlooking Great Oyster Bay and the mouth of Swan River. It is just a short stroll down to the beach through native bushland and dunes. Allan and Margaret were great company taking my mind off my problems and letting me help out a bit and I enjoyed hanging out with the cat and dog. Barney the tabby is very old and smelly but very cuddly and a cuddle was just what I needed. Jesse is blind and deaf and fussy about the company he keeps so I felt special when he came to me for a rub.

Tuesday was Freycinet Day and it was fantastic! I had originally planned to walk the full circuit so I carried a full pack but spent so much time relaxing on the beach at Wineglass Bay I wouldn’t have made it over the hills to Cooks Beach so I walked across to Hazards Beach and had enough time to hide my pack in the bush, jog around to have a look and return to the beginning of the track before sunset. It was a big day but it felt good and even better finishing with a hot shower and shelter from the rain at Big4. It was perfect weather and the views spectacular. I even met a couple from back home, the Law’s, who know Dad from Laurieton Men’s Shed.

On the way out of Swansea I reached my emotional limit. Too much rubbish going through my head and heart I’m too tired to process properly. The night before was a real shocker including waking up everyone in the backpackers hostel screaming myself out of a nightmare. I spent 3 hours by a paddock gate staring at trees and grass and fog wondering what to do, whether to keep going around Tassie or postpone it until a wet season break up north or tag it onto the end in 7 years or just walk the easy bits or just do bushwalks or take a good long break and keep going from Hobart. Annie from Bicheno picked me up and drove me to Orford where I have been resting in the Blue Waters Hotel Motel and finally made the decision to bus into Hobart, spend a couple of days with friends then continue walking to the west coast after wandering down to Cygnet. I am happy with this plan and hope to add on a wet season break of bushwalking down here.

So after a qiet walking week but a rollercoaster ride of emotions and mental health challenges I am on my way to the capital of Tasmania. Look out Hobart!

Take care of yourselves and each other

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