Next Fed Election > Aug  2018?
DAVID BARROW
Unlikely SENATOR for Aust.Cap.Terr.

Why AndrewBoltParty.com ??
I was a self-represented 
PARTY in litigation against ANDREW BOLT which ran for 4 long years.



DAVID BARROW -- INDEPENDENT Candidate

rss

DAVID BARROW, INDEPENDENT Candidate, Federal Election, Senate Candidate, Australian Capital Territory


Q&A with News Corp journo Claire Bickers
Filed Under:



Update



To: Claire Bickers

13 November 2017 at 7:08am

Your article in Daily Telegraph


Dear Claire,


I read your article in the Daily Telegraph today titled “How bounty hunters are trying to make money from dual citizen politicians”.


Was you article edited or pretty much published as you filed it?


Do you consider the reference you made to me was fair in the context of the slant of your article as a whole and the answers I gave to your questions on 8 November 2017?


Could you please send me a response by 3pm today.


Kind regards,

David C. Barrow






From: Claire Bickers

13 November 2017 at 4:40pm


Hi David, following up on your email, may I contact you on your mobile?


Kind regards,

Claire






To: Claire Bickers

13 November 2017 at 4:55pm


Dear Claire,


My concern remains that if I speak to you via telephone you may mis-report my words.


If we communicate in writing there is a documented record, which I can share online, in the public interest of the community then judging if News Corp papers are fairly and accurately reporting on persons contacted by its journalists.


Kind Regards,

David C. Barrow






From: Claire Bickers

13 November 2017 at 5:02pm


Hi David, the purpose of the conversation is not for publication.







To: Claire Bickers

13 November 2017 at 5:52pm


Dear Claire,


It seems that I will effectively be reporting on you.


There should not be anything that you seek to communicate to me as a journalist in a telephone conversation that you cannot also put clearly in writing.


Kind Regards,

David C. Barrow






Previously



From: Claire Bickers

8 November 2017 at 10:26am

Media query: citizenship seven common informer case


Hi David,


I'm touching base about your common informers case against the 'citizenship seven'.


Are you free for a chat later today, say after 3pm?


Kind regards,

Claire Bickers








To: Claire Bickers

8 November 2017 at 10:37am


Dear Claire,


I'm assuming you got my email from my website AndrewBoltParty.com


I'm not confident that anything I might share with you would get [reported] fairly or accurately in the News Corp papers.


I ask that you send any content concerning me for review prior to publication.


Kind Regards,

David C. Barrow






From: Claire Bickers

8 November 2017 at 10:51am


Hi David,


I'm requesting a phone interview but if you prefer I can send questions and you can respond via email?


We don't send out copy before publication.


Kind regards,

Claire






To: Claire Bickers

8 November 2017 at 11:05am


Dear Claire,


As you may know, relevant to the reasonableness of publication in a Lange defence is whether the publisher seeks a response from the person affected by the publication.


In a statutory defence of qualified privilege, a relevant factor as to reasonableness of the publication is "whether the matter published contained the substance of the person's side of the story and, if not, whether a reasonable attempt was made by the defendant to obtain and publish a response from the person".


Please be advised that I will not do a phone interview. Written questions are sufficient for your purpose and will provide me with documentation of answers and questions.


You are welcome to send me your questions.


As you can appreciate, I am quite busy so will require some reasonable time in which to respond.


I may also post your questions, and any answers I might give, online.


It may be that I am not the best subject for a News Corp story.


Kind Regards,

David C. Barrow






QUESTIONS asked.  MY ANSWERS:




Did you lodge a common informers case against all seven federal MPs who appeared before the High Court? If so, why?


Yes. See attached Writ of Summons issued 27 September 2017. This was the day after the Attorney General filed submissions (see ATTACHED) -- which gave me confidence that there was a proper basis for my allegations.


The action I commenced on 27 September 2017 gave a pathway for politicians to pay the penalty to a person (me) who would donate it to a worthy charity without seeking legal costs against them. It is a matter for the politician as to whether he or she wants to embrace that, starting with accepting service of the writ. The alternative is to face perhaps more mercenary 'bounty hunters' in the 12 months after last sitting in Parliament while disqualified.



Have you dropped the case against any of them? If so, who?


I discontinued against Senator Canavan on 24 [October] 2017, as I came to the view following the 10 to 12 October 2017 High Court hearings that a retrospective change to the Italian Constitution was not the safest foundation for disqualification. And so it turned out.


I congratulated Senator Xenophon via email on the referral question minutes after the 27 October 2017 decision and that is in the process of being discontinued.


Greens Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam consented to judgment back on 9 October 2017. We are waiting for the consent orders to be made.


Malcolm Roberts is waiting for developments as to whether he will consent to judgement against him; although I have also offered to discontinue with no order as to costs if he wants to deal with another 'bounty hunter'.


Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash have not made themselves available for personal service of the originating Writ of Summons and so I filed a discontinuance against each of them on 6 November 2017. They can deal with those other 'bounty hunters' now.


See attached various filings.



From your website, it appears Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlum agreed to pay you $200 each to settle the case. Have you received those funds?


I have not received the funds as yet. The consent orders have been filed but not as yet made by the Court. I expect that the Court will deal with the various common informer actions together, at which time orders will be made.



Are you intending to lodge a Common Informers case against Liberal MP John Alexander or any other current federal politician? And if so, why?


No. The action I commenced on 27 September 2017 gave a pathway for some politicians to pay the penalty to a person (me) who would donate it to a worthy charity without seeking legal costs against them. I've done what I set out to do.






To: Claire Bickers

8 November 2017 at 11:05am


Dear Claire,


Perhaps this fellow will be a more interesting subject for your common informers story:


https://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/10/30/21/14/nsw-man-could-be-owed-thousands-from-dual-citizen-politicians


Although tell him he's dreamin' about $460,000. Maximum is $3,800 for a Writ served on 5 politicians between 10 and 15 October 2017.


I would prefer that you leave me out of it.


Kind Regards,

David C. Barrow







High Court of Australia proceeding
M140/2017 David Charles Barrow v Malcolm Roberts, Fiona Nash, Nick Xenophon, Matthew Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters








27 October 2017: High Court JUDGMENT


5 Members of Parliament were incapable of being elected by reason of having dual citizenship.


One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts disqualified.


Greens Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam resigned with integrity from the Senate in July... and then doubled-down with more integrity on 9th October by consenting to judgment against them and payment of My Penalty Writ.   Story of their integrity at LINK.


Nationals Politicians Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash disqualified.  Did not serve my Writ of Summons. I will leave them to some other bounty hunter.


Senator Matthew Canavan is and was capable of being chosen and sitting in the Senate.  I had discontinued my claim against him on 24 October 2017.


Senator Nick Xenophon is and was capable of being chosen and sitting in the Senate... but is resigning to contest the State Election in South Australia.  See LINK






On 27 September 2017, I sued 6 current and former Senators and Mr Barnaby Joyce MP under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).


This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.


$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.


Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to the The Fred Hollows Foundation:


“We see a world in which no person is needlessly blind and Indigenous Australians exercise their right to good health.”



I will donate politician penalties to The Fred Hollows Foundation to end avoidable blindness www.hollows.org








Penalties have stacked up since I issued the Writ on 27 September 2017:


Yes, I slipped in Former Senator Culleton (formerly of One Nation) who was disqualified on 3 February 2017.








Public Statement PDF (click)



SEE ALSO (click): My Reasonable Steps to renounce Dual Citizenship last year






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




Bounty Hunter (me) rewarded for 5 Disqualified Politicians
Filed Under:

High Court of Australia proceeding
M140/2017 David Charles Barrow v Malcolm Roberts, Fiona Nash, Nick Xenophon, Matthew Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters








27 October 2017: High Court JUDGMENT


5 Members of Parliament were incapable of being elected by reason of having dual citizenship.


One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts disqualified.


Greens Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam resigned with integrity from the Senate in July... and then doubled-down with more integrity on 9th October by consenting to judgment against them and payment of My Penalty Writ.   Story of their integrity at LINK.


Nationals Politicians Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash disqualified.  Did not serve my Writ of Summons. I will leave them to some other bounty hunter.


Senator Matthew Canavan is and was capable of being chosen and sitting in the Senate.  I had discontinued my claim against him on 24 October 2017.


Senator Nick Xenophon is and was capable of being chosen and sitting in the Senate... but is resigning to contest the State Election in South Australia.  See LINK






On 27 September 2017, I sued 6 current and former Senators and Mr Barnaby Joyce MP under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).


This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.


$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.


Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to the The Fred Hollows Foundation:


“We see a world in which no person is needlessly blind and Indigenous Australians exercise their right to good health.”



I will donate politician penalties to The Fred Hollows Foundation to end avoidable blindness www.hollows.org








Penalties have stacked up since I issued the Writ on 27 September 2017:


Yes, I slipped in Former Senator Culleton (formerly of One Nation) who was disqualified on 3 February 2017.








Public Statement PDF (click)



SEE ALSO (click): My Reasonable Steps to renounce Dual Citizenship last year






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




Greens double-down on Integrity
Filed Under:

Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters sign consent to High Court judgment entered against them and pay $200 Penalty to be donated to The Fred Hollows Foundation to 'end avoidable blindness'








In July 2017, Greens Politicians Scott Ludlam (STATEMENT) then Larissa Waters (STATEMENT) resigned from the Senate when they became aware of holding dual citizenship which disqualified them from sitting in the Australian Parliament.


Although they had resigned, the Senate President referred questions as to their disqualification to the High Court of Australia.


On 28 September 2017, their Counsel filed written JOINT-SUBMISSIONS to the High Court as to why it was proper that Ludlam and Waters were disqualified and so too should 5 other Federal Politicians.


On 10 October 2017, three-days of hearings began in the High Court to determine the referral questions, with 24 Counsel appearing (along with instructing solicitors) before 7 Justices (each with an associate).  Quite an aviary.


Lawyers for Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters also signed the following consent orders for judgment against them in my related High Court proceeding.










Apologies to Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, but it's a thing.  If not me then some other Bounty Hunter.



On 27 September 2017, I sued 7 Fed Politicians myself under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).


This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.


$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.


Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to The Fred Hollows Foundation to end avoidable blindness www.hollows.org:


“We see a world in which no person is needlessly blind and Indigenous Australians exercise their right to good health.”









You can see the penalties for each sitting day stacking up in this Graph (although caped at $200 for each Green as they have resigned from the Senate):






The $200 penalty rate was set in 1975. Adjusting for inflation, that’s $1,400 in 2017 Aussie dollars. A disqualified politician could voluntarily make up the difference with a personal donation of $1,200 per day:









Public Statement PDF (click)


High Court of Australia proceeding
M140/2017 David Charles Barrow v Malcolm Roberts, Fiona Nash, Nick Xenophon, Matthew Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters





SEE ALSO (click): My Reasonable Steps to renounce Dual Citizenship last year






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




Nick Xenophon ducks Penalty Writ? (he sort of did)
Filed Under:

Update


27 October 2017: High Court JUDGMENT


Senator Nick Xenophon is and was capable of being chosen and sitting in the Senate.


Congratulations to Nick Xenophon.... who is now retiring from the Senate to contest State Politics in his truly-native South Australia.






Senator Nick Xenophon and 6 other federal politicians are facing the High Court on 10 to 12 October 2017 to determine their eligibility of being chosen and sitting in Parliament.





Section 44 of the Australian Constitution has picked a fight with them for being dual citizens:


Any person who:

(i)     is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; OR     

(ii) is attainted of treason...

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.






On 27 September 2017, I sued the 7 Fed Politicians myself under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).


This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.


$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.


Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to The Fred Hollows Foundation to end avoidable blindness www.hollows.org:


“We see a world in which no person is needlessly blind and Indigenous Australians exercise their right to good health.”









On 3 October 2017, I emailed the High Court legal teams for the 7 Fed Politicians to see if they had instructions to accept service (or undertake to enter an appearance) for the Writ of Summons.


The alternative is to give "personal service", which is effected by handing to the person a copy of the document to be served or, if the person does not accept the copy, by putting the copy down, in the presence of the person to be served and telling the person the nature of the document.


I got a curious response from Peter Jackson, the Managing Solicitor at "Nick Xenophon & Co. Lawyers".


He said that he would need to take advice from the leading minds of the Constitutional Lawyers representing Senator Xenophon before he could say if the mundane mechanical step of personal service could be dispensed with.


And, further, the Constitutional Lawyers were so busy preparing for the 10-12 October trial that he could only try his utmost to respond within 7 days.


I ventured that this might lead to a public perception that Senator Xenophon was 'ducking service'.  But Peter Jackson was adamant.


So I said that he need not respond further and I will attempt to effect personal service on Senator Xenophon in Canberra before 16 October 2017 (when Parliament resumes... and a $200 bounty is levied for every day he sits if disqualified).


You can see the penalties for each sitting day stacking up for Senator Xenophon in this Graph (in Orange):






The $200 penalty rate was set in 1975. Adjusting for inflation, that’s $1,400 in 2017 Aussie dollars. A disqualified politician could voluntarily make up the difference with a personal donation of $1,200 per day:









On 9 October 2017, Peter Jackson popped up by email:


"We refer to recent correspondence, and have now received the advice of counsel [leading minds of the Constitutional Bar] and instructions [from Nick Xenophon].


We advise that we have instructions to accept service of documents in the proceedings you have instituted in relation to Senator Xenophon, and that you may take it that the informal service on us such documents can now be taken as proper service.


However, as you would be aware Senator Xenophon has announced his intention to resign from the Senate after the High Court has determined the matters in dispute. There are likely to be no further sitting days. The consequence of this is that even if you were successful, section 3 of the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth) would limit any recovery you could obtain to $200.00.


Further, it is likely that the High Court will determine the matter very shortly. If (as we respectfully anticipate) Senator Xenophon is successful (and it is the position of the Commonwealth Solicitor General in the proceedings that he will be), your action would be foredoomed to failure, and would be liable to be struck out. In that event, naturally our client would reserve his entitlement to seek costs against you on a full indemnity.


We anticipate corresponding with you further in due course, after the determination by the High Court."



I thanked Peter for his email and replied:


"I note that you optimistically believe that the matter will be determined by the full court prior to the 16 [October] 2017 resumption of the Senate sitting.


I also note that the full court took 58 days to find Rod Culleton was ineligible to be chosen and sit as a Senator.


And 57 days to make the determination for Bob Day.


Perhaps 57.5 days is more realistic?


Please also note that former Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam have now consented to judgment to be effected against them and to pay a $200 penalty which I intend to donate to The Fred Hollows Foundation.


Consent Orders are as follows [amended]


1. Judgment be entered for the Plaintiff against the Defendant in the sum of $200.00.


2. There be no order as to costs.


I urge your client to be on the right side of history with this.


The tradition of the Common Informer is hopefully in part the future of the Bounty reward system of the foreshadowed advances in Whistleblower legislation [see REPORT].


I expect to be in Canberra until 16 October 2017 if Nick or his NXT staff would like to discuss. Or I can be contacted on Mbl... before there is an X-IT from NXT (and any more poor puns).






I am a big fan of Nick Xenophon. And almost met him at the gala fundraiser for NXT candidate Marie Rowland in the 2016 Federal Election.


I was running as a fly-in, fly-out Independent Candidate from Melbourne against Tony Abbott in the NSW Northern Beaches electorate of Warringah.


So the NXT organisers of the gala event in Warringah were not too keen for me to ask Nick a question in the Q&A after his speech.


I simply wanted to ask Nick this Dorothy Dixer: Will there be any horse trading in a party you lead?


Nick didn't need to answer.  His principled "No" actions on the job spoke for him.  And that's very cool.


He will be missed in the Senate acting for South Australians (and all Australians) howsoever his troubles in the High Court might break.


Vale (Federal) Nick Xenophon.  And on the third month of 2018 he may be resurrected (SA State Elections)?



SEE MY: 2016 Federal Election in Tweets






Public Statement PDF (click)


High Court of Australia proceeding
M140/2017 David Charles Barrow v Malcolm Roberts, Fiona Nash, Nick Xenophon, Matthew Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters





SEE ALSO (click): My Reasonable Steps to renounce Dual Citizenship last year






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




I sued 7 Dual-Citizen Fed Politicians in High Court
Filed Under:

Public Statement PDF (click)


High Court of Australia proceeding
M140/2017 David Charles Barrow v Malcolm Roberts, Fiona Nash, Nick Xenophon, Matthew Canavan, Barnaby Joyce, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters





On 27 September 2017, I sued 6 current and former Senators and Mr Barnaby Joyce MP under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).


This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.


$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.


Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to the The Fred Hollows Foundation:


“We see a world in which no person is needlessly blind and Indigenous Australians exercise their right to good health.”


In recent referrals to the High Court by the Parliament, the 7 defendants are being questioned over whether by reason of having dual citizenship they were incapable of being elected.


In my High Court statement of claim, I allege they were disqualified and I seek a penalty to be paid to me.



I will donate politician penalties to The Fred Hollows Foundation to end avoidable blindness www.hollows.org








Penalties could stack up for the remaining sitting days in 2017:






The $200 penalty rate was set in 1975. Adjusting for inflation, that’s $1,400 in 2017 Aussie dollars. A disqualified politician could voluntarily make up the difference with a personal donation of $1,200 per day:






SEE ALSO (click): My Reasonable Steps to renounce Dual Citizenship last year






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




ALIASES: when online goes off
Filed Under:

In Australia, "goes off" has different meanings

     His car goes off like a rocket  –  a fast car

     This party goes off  –  social gathering is successful

     This vanilla slice goes off  –  this pastry is delicious (pictured)

 

Better eat your vanilla slice before it goes off  –  your pastry is spoiling

Goes off like a bucket of prawns in the Aussie midday sun  –  depending on context, either a success or a room-clearing stench

 

Online we all encounter Aliases (or pseudonyms).  There are good reasons to obscure identity.  It can protect privacy or employability, and give us more freedom to play out a role.  When successful an Alias goes off!

However, Aliases can also be used to unfairly attack others with impunity.  This nasty side is when an online Alias goes off – like a spoiled vanilla slice.

Ethicist Dr Leslie Cannold resigned as lead candidate of the WikiLeaks Party (Julian Assange senate ticket) in the 2013 Australian Fed Election.  This was a new political party established with a National Council but when political deals were done with far-right parties that subverted the National Council directives there was a raft of high-profile resignations.

Leslie and others who resigned then experienced nasty online attacks from people hiding behind Aliases:

 



 

Source and further story: Cathy Vogan http://thing2thing.com/?p=3822

 

TRANSCRIPT

INTERVIEWER:  Leslie when you think about it do you see this is a kind of a nice asymmetrical warfare?

Because on the one side you've got people's real identities, the victims of the attacks.

And on the other side you've got people hiding behind pseudonyms – or behind websites where nobody even knows who's speaking. It is an asymmetrical sort of unfair – because people who have been accused can be pursued and attacked by others – whereas those who have uttered the statements, well it's not really being directed to anybody.

Who's interested in a PollBlogger [Alias] being attacked?  Holding them accountable for what they're saying?  Even if it's defamatory.

DR LESLIE CANNOLD: Well, they're choosing that medium on purpose because what they're trying to do rather than answer the actual claim which they can't answer without admitting to having problems with the process, which is what we said, and without admitting that there was something not right that happened in terms of the actual preferencing – they've just gone right around and gone well we'll go after their credibility.

And the best way of going after someone's credibility?  I mean Tweeting and Facebooking is brilliant for that – if you've got people who are already set up under pseudonyms.

And you know, there can be legitimate reasons people have pseudonyms.  But there can also be very illegitimate kinds.

So these people are custom made for attacking the credibility of people who are public – who do have their reputations and their face on the whole thing.

And of course you can't respond to them at all.  You've got no idea what their intentions are. What their background is.  You can't ask questions and demand answers.  Well, where did you hear that?  Can you provide some evidence? They can choose to answer what they want.

 


 






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




CRIKEY Guy Rundle rallies in Mental Health Wars
Filed Under:

As detailed in Mental Health Wars in Oz Media


– CRIKEY journo Guy Rundle was asked to please explain himself.


2 April 2015, Rundle has rallied to now have a serious go: Rundle: ‘depression confessional’ culture obscures the true nature of mental illness.


It is, however, unclear when Rundle writes:

"This in turn has thrown doubt on the serotonin/cortisol hypothesis. This isn’t unusual in this area; for more than half a century, lithium has been used to treat bipolar disorder, yet there is still no authoritative theory of how it works. The placebo effect disturbed many practitioners, which they dealt with by ignoring it (no profession is more practiced in psychological defences than psychological professional practice)."


Does he mean lithium has a placebo effect?  Or the wider "serotonin/cortisol hypothesis"?

 


 

Lithium was not a placebo effect for me (I'm sure).


October 2014, in a defamation trial against Andrew Bolt (of the NewsCorp stable), I publicly disclosed for the first time that that I have a bipolar condition well-managed with medication since 2007.


One 'benefit' (sort of) from having an illness that was raging untreated for so long is that I have some lengthy comparative time periods with and without medication.


Here's my timeline:


1989: age 19 onset of bipolar symptoms: disruption to relationships, career and finances due to manic and depressive moods.  This raged for the next 18 years.


2005: age 36 first bipolar medical diagnosis after attending psychiatric sessions for 6 months.  Diagnosis confirmed through second opinion of world leading psychiatrist Prof Isaac Schweitzer.


29 March 2007: after 2 years of resistance I finally started taking Lithium. Very positive results stabilising moods which enabled me to work the regular hours of a job again.  Since then have taken Lithium daily for 8 years and added Lamotrigine in Dec 2007 to give more protection against depression.  It should be noted that these bipolar medications can have serious harmful side-effects; although I have not suffered any that I am aware of or have shown up in regular blood tests.


Summary: 19 years with no symptoms; then 18 years bipolar raged without medication; then 8 years on bipolar meds and have achieved mood stability.


I would recommend people with disruptive moods seek out an opinion, or a couple of them, from a healthcare professional, and also consider medication.  For me it has been a miracle and perhaps it will work wonders for you as well.


For all the insight and empathy-awareness that came from the 18 years between 1989 and 2007 of whiteknuckled, untreated rapid-cycling bipolar chaos, I would have preferred that someone encouraged me to explore medical help earlier.  In my case, it would have saved me much needless suffering.


David Barrow

 


 

Guy Rundle


 


Article: Rundle: ‘depression confessional’ culture obscures the true nature of mental illness

 

Mia Freedman’s original confessional on her anxiety, coupled with her supporters’ follow-up commentary, display a profound lack of understanding of the historical and social causes of depression and anxiety.




Good God, when you go to war with Mia Freedman, everyone piles on. Your correspondent made a comment on la Freedman’s piece “I’m finally ready to talk about my anxiety”, and suddenly everyone was there, from la Freedman herself to her Dad to Ageistas-turned-Guardianistas, to (ha) Paul Murray, one of Sky News’ resident shock jocks. It was like a Wes Anderson movie, you keep expecting Owen Wilson to come through the door in a silly uniform.


So let’s try and get a bit more light than heat from this conversation, shall we? First off, depression and anxiety are a real thing, individually and socially. Despite being compared to Mark Latham by Freedman (of which more later), I’m emphatically not of the “pull yourself together we didn’t have this in the 1950s” school.


But there are different types of depression and anxiety. Manic depression/bipolar disorder seems a fairly separate condition. Serious or clinical depression, which leaves people unable to function, is separated off (in various different ways, by various categorisation systems) from a more common-or-garden variant. There are various types of anxiety, but one particular type appears to be related to depression — which is why it responds to SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) drugs that were originally marketed as anti-depressants (whereas other types, which respond to other drugs such as Xanax and Valium, do not). “Standard depression” and anxiety appear to be on the rise in contemporary society. But are they?


The question is not easy to answer. Some types of subjective disorder/mental illness appear to occur in all societies. The condition we call “paranoid schizophrenia” appears to be constant, with a 1% occurrence in all societies — and is identified as a disorder, even in societies that believe in magic and supernatural forces (which is one thing that marks schizophrenia in a secular-scientific society). Serious clinical depression appears to have a degree of universal occurrence, too — stories of people falling “into a melancholy” lasting for years appear to be a record of this.


But what appears to be new are distinct forms of depression and anxiety spreading over an ever-wider area of social life. For a century or so, a form of anxiety — known for a number of decades as “the nervous breakdown” — has been current. More recently, it was joined, and to some extent superseded by, a persistent form of depression that leaves people functional but feeling utterly hollowed out inside — feelings of meaninglessness, obsessional negative thinking about self, disconnection, lack of pleasure, low energy, fuzzy mind, psychosomatic illness, etc. A certain type of anxiety has a similar structure of circular thinking — extreme hypochondria, panic, etc — to the obsessional negativity of depression.


Whatever the occurrence of other types of subjective disorder across cultures, this condition appears to be very specific to our culture, that of prosperous consumer-oriented, media/image-dominated mass society. Cultures based around smaller intimate societies, pre-capitalist forms of production, strong religious or traditional beliefs, may have all sorts of problems, but they don’t have these ones, by and large. From within the sociological/social-psychological discipline that suggests a root cause — meaningful life in such societies is founded on shared meaning, a lesser role for individuality and choice, and a common belief system. That puts a ground beneath people’s feet. Sadness, even misery, occurs, but they do not become that vague, cloudy but tormenting, depression/anxiety that many modern people recognise.


“The argument that mental depression could create a persistent physical depression pre-existed the rise of the market for SSRIs, but it was effectively cemented in place by their success.”


Further to this theory of the psychology of depression/anxiety is a theory of physical changes created by it. This is the “cortisol hypothesis” — the argument that the long-term occurrence of such feelings elevates levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol, which is eventually depressive in itself, and also lowers the levels of the brain chemical serotonin. Playing a role in many functions, serotonin has a role in regulating mood, chiefly by allowing us to gain pleasure from the presence of trusted others (the “loved-up” effect of MDMA/ecstasy, which creates a serotonin flood, may be, in effect, causing one to identify strangers as loved others). The suggestion would be that persistent depression gets people “stuck” in a physical-mental rut, from which it is difficult to get out of by an act of will or self-determination alone.


Chemical anti-depressants have been known since the 1950s, but they were fairly crude in their effect. In the 1970s, fluoxetine was discovered, the first SSRI. Serotonin fills the “synaptic gap” in the brain — the space between synapses, the brain’s many billions of connection points. The cortisol hypothesis suggests that in depressives, it is reabsorbed too quickly by the “receptors” (like little drains) budded on the synapse. SSRIs have a chemical structure similar to serotonin, but they are not absorbed by the receptors — so they “plug” some of them, and serotonin stays in the gap longer. This appears to produce an immediate lift in many users of SSRIs, but the main effect appears to occur three to five weeks later, when a sustained lift out of depression often (but not always) occurs.


From the time Prozac, produced by Eli Lilly, came on the market, every other Big Pharma company started to bud off variants. Zoloft and Paxil were the two major ones, and Lexapro, the variant Freedman was spruiking, one of the minor leaguers. Such drugs are all minor molecular variants of each other, and they have a 17-year branded patent (after which they can be sold generically by anyone). However, the corporations producing these drugs can extend the patents if they can argue that they treat other conditions — thus Lexapro had its patent life extended as an anti-anxiety drug, and Zoloft was applied as a treatment for “social phobia”, a pretty amorphous condition that the manufacturers argued was a hard medical condition. In one particularly audacious move, Zoloft’s manufacturer tried to have “shyness” defined as a medicable condition.


SSRIs took off in a way that no drug ever had to date. By the 1990s, they were the most -prescribed drugs, earning Big Pharma billions, hitting prescription levels of 10-15% of the population. They were in use for about five years before people began to notice that they were changing the culture, our idea of selfhood — and the actual materiality of the selfhood of people taking them. The argument that mental depression could create a persistent physical depression pre-existed the rise of the market for SSRIs, but it was effectively cemented in place by their success, their vast marketing campaigns, and the capacity of Big Pharma to fund research that tracked in certain directions.


But as SSRIs spread and governments cut back funding for more expensive talking-therapy approaches, the mental-to-physical theory of depression and anxiety began to fall away , and a simpler de facto model took over — depression and anxiety were treated as purely physical/neurological functions, to be directly adjusted by drugs. GPs had preferred to refer troubled patients to psychotherapists, to apply a mix of talking and drug therapy; increasingly GPs themselves began to prescribe the drugs with very little follow-up. They had initially been presented as taking three weeks to work, but it was clear to many that an immediate effect was occurring in many people. GPs want to alleviate suffering, large numbers of depressed people came through their doors, the drugs seemed to work, and GPs tend to be practical types, not prone to cross-cultural analysis. Though other people tried to emphasise the complex nature of depression as a social/psychological occurrence, the de facto physical theory started to win out.


The approach was also attractive to many sufferers too. Depression has many factors, and some of its particular occurrence may have individual factors — dysfunctional childhoods, bad adolescences, physical/sexual/emotional abuse, personality traits useful in some societies (e.g. mildness, gentleness, introversion) that make life difficult in an individualist, market-based society. Committing to therapy offered a longer, more difficult path, one that involved admitting a lack of success in negotiating parts of life, and confronting things that the depression or anxiety might have been an unconscious strategy to avoid. Not only do SSRIs offer an immediate lift, they also offer the idea that one is afflicted with a random physical condition. It not only absolves the sufferer from a more difficult struggle, it gives one the status of the ill, a degree of special dispensation.


“The physical theory of depression ignores the stark fact that many societies that do not have our characteristics simply do not have the levels of depression and anxiety we are experiencing.”


But this ever-widening acceptance of the physical approach to depression occurred at the same time as some contrary indications. While it was clear that SSRIs altered the chemical processes of the brain, several studies suggested that there was no difference between SSRIs and a placebo in alleviating depression and anxiety. This in turn has thrown doubt on the serotonin/cortisol hypothesis. This isn’t unusual in this area; for more than half a century, lithium has been used to treat bipolar disorder, yet there is still no authoritative theory of how it works. The placebo effect disturbed many practitioners, which they dealt with by ignoring it (no profession is more practiced in psychological defences than psychological professional practice). There was no real theory applied, but the simplest one would be from anthropology — the pill is a gift, a material exchange of reciprocal connection between doctor and patient. Effectively, it’s an invitation to magical thinking that relieves the patient of the burden of their own afflictions, and thus allows their energy to flow outwards to the world again. “Pick up thy bed and walk” — Jesus, by using a touch of the hand, was one of the first documented short-term psychotherapy providers.


SSRIs have been so lucrative for their patent-holders that they have gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain the market. This has meant playing down some of the serious side effects. Earlier anti-depressants had had general side effects — they left users feeling sluggish and fuzzy. SSRIs had particular side effects — they left most users without side effects, but caused a very dire one in a small number (1-2%) of users, which was a sudden and overpowering surge of suicidal feelings. The simple enough theory of that was that depression had the effect of depriving very troubled people of will (and was thus to a degree protective). Recharged by an increase of energy and purpose, but with none of their psychological issues dealt with, the combination supercharged the drive to self-destruction. There has also been an argument that SSRIs promote homicidal behaviour, for related reasons, and Big Pharma fought court cases all through the ’90s to try and head that off at the pass.


Proportionally, these were relatively rare occurrences — though given the numbers of people taking these drugs, the raw figures of suicidality are quite high — but in the 2000s another issue began to emerge, that of habituation and neurological damage from long-term use. SSRIs had been marketed on the claim that they wouldn’t have an effect on people who didn’t have depleted serotonin, wouldn’t diminish in effect over time, and wouldn’t cause receptor damage. But none of this had been tested prior to FDA approval and only emerged after the drugs had been in use for a decade or more. The dangers are obvious — prolonged use could reduce the effectiveness to zero, damage the mood “hardware” and leave sufferers in a worse state than they began in, and with resistance to the drug in question.


That SSRIs are beneficial, life-saving in some instances, and an effective treatment for deep-seated and resistant depression and anxiety seems well-established (though some would disagree). But the level of prescription that goes with the “physical” theory of depression/anxiety is vastly in excess. No one really advanced the simplistic physical theory of depression, bald and unvarnished; it has simply grown up around practice — and then it started to steer the practice and exclude alternatives. But the physical theory of depression ignores the stark fact that many societies that do not have our characteristics simply do not have the levels of depression and anxiety we are experiencing, especially the levels of it in adolescence and childhood.


When we approach it from the other end, the social end, we can say something different about depression and anxiety — that we have a depressogenic society, creating depressed people who would not otherwise be so, and creating a vast amount of unnecessary suffering. But what is it about our society that is creating this depressive excess? As I noted, the clear division is between societies “grounded” by abiding others, shared purpose and work, mutual obligation in close networks and a relatively concrete belief system. Modernity, of any character, is the factor most likely to increase these conditions — scattering villages into cities, replacing traditional culture with mass culture, allowing people to become isolated and disconnected — but that only goes part of the way. After the “great transformation” when we went from “communities” to abstract societies, both the working  and middle class re-assembled community in the form of neighbourhoods, associations, congregations, etc.


But, in the 1960s, those worlds were subject to a fresh break-up. A consumer economy, class mobility, liberal social revolutions and a new centrality for mass media put the individual at the centre of social life — with the increased risks of collapse that individualism creates. In the ’80s and ’90s a further break-up of social networks occurred with the extension of the market into all areas of social life and the absolute dominance of a culture based on a vast stream of images. Beneath this all, a master process ran — working life ceased to be about production for a local community, for each other, and became commodity production, work to produce something with no particular meaning attached to it, to sell on the market.


The result is a society that is supercharged, dynamic, often exciting, and liberating. But it is also competitive, setting people against each other, hyper-individualistic, repeatedly dissolves grounding meanings — where you grew up, how you lived, etc — and all of it driving many people to work very hard with no meaningful purpose. When the going is good, it’s great, when it’s not, you can fall for a long way. It is also afflicted with what one might call the “precursor” of depression and anxiety, narcissism — a see-saw of manic (and defensive) overvaluation of self and a sense of crushing insignificance amid the global image gallery.


That way of life can create outbreaks of depression and anxiety everywhere, but it tends to hit two groups hardest. The first is the powerless — those with little control over their lives, victims of under-resourced education, abusive backgrounds, working-class worlds from which work has been removed, rural areas in serious decline (where community has become attenuated) and the like. Depression and anxiety in these cases are what Martin Seligman called  “learned helplessness” — when no choice you could reasonably make could make a difference, you collapse into a vicious circle of defeated and depressive mood.


The other group that seems to be afflicted by depression and anxiety are at the other end of things — culture and media producers. Levels of depression and anxiety appear to be very high amongst this group, judging by the number of articles written about it in media for affluent consumers. There are many particular reasons for this. Culture/media producers work in a world of images, disconnected texts and relentless production of content with no great meaning. It’s like working in a hall of mirrors. Unless you understand that you’re in a hall of mirrors, you are bound to be disoriented. Then there is the particular form of the work. Whatever the many advantages of such work over factory labour, the latter doesn’t ask for your continued passionate engagement; many people in culture and media circles find themselves sucked dry by the continued demand for ideas, opinions, performance, etc. Increasingly this demands a mobilisation of self, drawing on personal experience and attitude to create material for sale. Within an overarching purpose for doing it — political, for example — many people will simply find themselves out of gas. That is particularly so in our era. The great era of liberal media is over, when large organisations were willing to put capital in the service of truth and inquiry. With honourable exceptions, media are now content mills, and media and culture can feel, for many people, a ghastly parody of what they went into it for.So, many people have a desire to believe that their depression or anxiety is nothing other than a physical illness, and a whole medical system is willing to agree with them. But there is also an interest the system itself has in maintaining such a false and simplistic belief. To really address these issues. we’d have to start thinking about social and cultural change — rebuilding a way of life in which there is more possibility for people to live in meaningful interconnection, less set against each other in an isolating manner, and less dominated by commodities, and images. Those who have an interest — even an unconscious one — in the current world continuing are those who have an interest in selling meaning back to a general populace one piece at a time. Such interests cannot but shape their worldview.


In the wake of last week’s article, the critic fielded a number of criticisms, all of them easily dealt with. A persistent one was that “I was not a doctor”, so couldn’t speak. Well, first of all I wasn’t advocating a course of action. Freedman was, pushing a line pretty strongly pro-SSRI, and implicitly suggesting indefinite use. I merely pointed out the side effects. Freedman’s doctor either didn’t point these out, professionally remiss, or Freedman didn’t pass them on, and she was remiss. More broadly, however, the idea that only doctors, or those channelling them, can speak on the topic is to pre-decide the issue as a medical one, and depression/anxiety as a physical disease, which is pretty circular. The most extreme form of that was the argument that to suggest that people with such conditions, think about whether factors in their life might be contributing — like living in the vortex of media-entrepreneurial mania — was to be “patronising”. This seems about the most bizarre application of the medical “physical” model of depression/anxiety around; that you should entirely abandon any sort of reflection on how you live, and simply jack into your brain with a chemical. This is the denial of autonomy and self-determination at its most confused.


Secondly, was the suggestion that a personal article should be above criticism, especially a “brave”, confessional one. But, of course, it wasn’t just a personal article — it was evangelising for a certain type of drug, so to claim immunity would be perverse. And how brave is it to publish another mental illness memoir, really? Nor is contacting the author for more information a feasible option. If you’re going to advocate a debatable course of action based on your own experience, it becomes a public object, to be debated with robustness.


Depression and anxiety have become major topics in the contemporary world because they’ve become major challenges in many people’s lives, either directly or through people they’re close to. But the depression/anxiety memoir, etc, has also become something else — a heroic narrative, something that lifts the reader out of the mundane and tells of overcoming the odds. Frontier narratives for a built-out world, inward ho! They make people feel alive in a deadened world, which is why they are endlessly repeated. Without pushing back against this on a collective level, it will only get worse. It will be worse for your kids, and it will occur in a context not of expanding opportunity and prosperity, but of the narrowing of such. The crisis will come, best prepare for it.


Australia has become a world centre for this. Whether we have more depression and anxiety than elsewhere is hard to quantify, but we sure love to talk about it. We’ve gone from true blue to Beyondblue in a couple of generations. One reason why that might be, is that our culture was so thin in the first place. With old value systems like imperial mission or cultural nationalism gone, we’re just a big suburb on the coast, swamped by the new anti-culture, anti-social media, etc. Depression confessional has become the centre of our cultural life. Politicians, footballers, writers, etc — it never stops. There was a point to it early on, but now it is part of a cultural predicament. And also of diminishing returns, as the discussion never moves forward to what it needs to do, which is to talk about this issue as a social and historical phenomenon. Ultimately, to make the decision to ring-fence a part of your own behaviour as pathological is to make a separation between self and world that can’t help but put your whole subjectivity “in brackets” as it were. For some it may be necessary; for all it should be a last resort. Better to try and avoid the trap altogether than to hack your leg off to get out of it.


Books from which this article was drawn and further reading for those interested:

  • Rick Ingram (Ed) Contemporary psychological approaches to depression: Theory, research, and treatment;
  • Peter Kramer, Listening to Prozac and Against Depression;
  • Peter Breggin, Toxic Psychiatry;
  • Joanna Moncrieff, The Myth of the Chemical Cure; 
  • Martin Seligman, Helplessness: On Depression, Development and Death;
  • John Cornwall, The Power To Harm;
  • Erich Fromm, The Sane Society and On Being Human; 
  • Susan Pinker, The Village Effect; 
  • Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism;
  • Pierre Bourdieu, The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society; and
  • The depression-anxiety film club! Three films by Adam Curtis: The Century of the Self; The Trap; Watched Over By The Grace of Loving Machines.

Over to you, Mia.






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




Mental Health Wars in Oz Media
Filed Under:

15 November 2014, Sydney Morning Herald writer Lisa Pryor makes a personal disclosure that she takes care of her mental health with the help of anti-depressants.


20 November 2014, former Labor(leader) politician turned journalist Mark Latham wrote a column in The Australian Financial Review provocatively titled Why left feminists don’t like kids – wherein he attacked Lisa Pryor's article.




23 November 2014, SMH journalist Annabel Crabb wrote a piece admiring Lisa Pryor's depression disclosure and strives to find the good in Mark Latham's behaviour – although ultimately Annabel is not a fan of bile.  She also writes prophetically:


From the disclosed single fact (Lisa Pryor takes anti-depressants) he confidently inferred a rippling and – one would have to think, at least borderline defamatory – array of contentions. That Lisa Pryor hates her children. That this is typical of feminists. That this is especially true of feminists living in the inner-suburbs, outside of which quasi-infanticidal regions, according to Latham, women do not use feminism as a crutch to "free themselves of nature's way".


31 March 2015, Myriam Robin of Crikey reported that Lisa Pryor is suing Mark Latham and the AFR for alleged defamation:


Pryor sues. Fairfax columnist Lisa Pryor has sued Fairfax columnist Mark Latham in the New South Wales Supreme Court, along with Fairfax itself. A directions hearing will take place on April 30.


The case follows a failure to "resolve matters directly", Pryor wrote on Twitter yesterday. In November, Pryor approached Australian Financial Review editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury wanting a printed apology after a column she wrote for Fairfax's Good Weekend magazine led to her being attacked by AFR columnist and former Labor leader Latham, but she was denied. "As a former opinion editor, I completely appreciate what a disgrace it is that something so malicious and defamatory could make it into any newspaper let alone a newspaper of the Financial Review's standing," Pryor told Crikey sister site Women's Agenda at the time.


Pryor is a lawyer, journalist and medical student with two small children. Her Good Weekend column focused on how she responded when people asked her how she managed to do all this. Her usual response: "caffeine and anti-depressants". Her piece focused on the benefits of her open disclosure, and of getting help when necessary.


Five days later, in The Australian Financial Review, Latham wrote a piece entitled "Why left feminists don't like kids". In it, he criticised Pryor for her column, questioning why anyone would describe needing neurological assistance to raise children. "Women I speak to in western Sydney, who have no neuroses or ideological agenda to push, regard child-rearing as a joy," Latham continued. "Financially, if they can avoid work, that’s their preference." But "political feminists", which Latham used to mean women like Pryor, didn't like children and didn't want to be with them, he claimed.


Pryor has said she won't comment further on the case at this time. Fairfax and Latham were contacted for comment. -- Myriam Robin

 


 

7 March 2015, Mark Latham shared his views on mental health again in the AFR article The one crucial difference between worry and anxiety – with a backdrop of the movie Bird Man.


9 March 2015, Helen Razer of Crikey waded in with Razer on Mark Latham's Harden Up Prescription for the Depressed Chattering Class.  This was an attack on public disclosure on the premise that talking is not a way out of mental illness.  Razer wrote:


It is absolutely true, of course, that the talking cure is one legitimate means of addressing mental illness. But the technique pioneered by Freud to unfold between therapist and patient was never intended to play out in a public context.


10 March 2015, I wrote about my own public disclosure of bipolar illness in my October 2014 defamation trial against Andrew Bolt:


It had plenty of potential to do good for me and those it might reach.  My story is of a long-term sufferer who found a medication regime with no noticeable side-effects that removed the endemic disruption in my life.  If you hear this story and feel the same way then I encourage you to seek a mental health assessment and if diagnosed consider your treatment options.  I feel it can also contribute to diminishing stigma.

 



 

23 March 2015, Mia Freedman's wrote a personal article I’m finally ready to talk about my anxiety.



24 March 2015, the usually insightful Guy Rundle wrote a nasty attack article in Crikey about Mia Freedman's disclosure of anxiety.


27 March 2015, Mia Freedman's father Laurence Freedman responds:

Re. "Rundle: the dark side to Mia Freedman's life blather" (Monday). Guy, I regularly read your posts with interest -- insightful and relevant. However, the post about Mia Freedman was both cynical and uninformed. You assumed that someone else wrote the piece. Not so. She did write it -- her language and style is unmistakable. You trivialised the problem of her anxiety, clearly having never experienced it. Regrettably your cynical comment about her mentioning the drug that has helped her and her search for therapeutic help lays you open to the same criticism of style over substance- something not often seen in your posts.

A little research, or direct communication may have resulted in a more understanding article and a more sympathetic take, not only on her particular plight, but that of the many sufferers of anxiety and depression. Knowing something of the media myself, I understand that, in the same way as Mia's writing is in the language and style of her audience, so is yours. However, your target demographic is quite different from hers and in my opinion, by using the language that you did, you missed your target. A small, yet important, lost opportunity. Look forward to reading your next posts. By the way -- liked your in-depth post on Malcolm Fraser. He sat on our boards for about 15 years. Chaired a number of audit committees. Always difficult for him to open up, due to shyness which came across as aloofness. Had little small talk but loved to talk about cars and always chose expensive wines for meal times and armagnac after. Not so different from most men.



(via Crikey, 27 March 2015)


30 March 2015I wrote some Comments about all this, including a timeline of my bipolar illness if that might help others.



8 March 2016 (a year and a day after publication) Lisa Pryor settles defamation case against Financial Review and Mark Latham.





CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




CRIKEY Guy Rundle nasty Mental Health Article
Filed Under:

30 March 2015


Mia Freedman's father Laurence Freedman responds to a nasty article The dark side to Mia Freedman’s life blather by the usually insightful Guy Rundle (Crikey):


Re. "Rundle: the dark side to Mia Freedman's life blather" (Monday). Guy, I regularly read your posts with interest -- insightful and relevant. However, the post about Mia Freedman was both cynical and uninformed. You assumed that someone else wrote the piece. Not so. She did write it -- her language and style is unmistakable. You trivialised the problem of her anxiety, clearly having never experienced it. Regrettably your cynical comment about her mentioning the drug that has helped her and her search for therapeutic help lays you open to the same criticism of style over substance- something not often seen in your posts.

A little research, or direct communication may have resulted in a more understanding article and a more sympathetic take, not only on her particular plight, but that of the many sufferers of anxiety and depression. Knowing something of the media myself, I understand that, in the same way as Mia's writing is in the language and style of her audience, so is yours. However, your target demographic is quite different from hers and in my opinion, by using the language that you did, you missed your target. A small, yet important, lost opportunity. Look forward to reading your next posts. By the way -- liked your in-depth post on Malcolm Fraser. He sat on our boards for about 15 years. Chaired a number of audit committees. Always difficult for him to open up, due to shyness which came across as aloofness. Had little small talk but loved to talk about cars and always chose expensive wines for meal times and armagnac after. Not so different from most men.

(via Crikey, 27 March 2015)

 

Mia Freedman's personal article: I’m finally ready to talk about my anxiety

 


 

COMMENT by ME:

 

October 2014, in a defamation trial against Andrew Bolt (of the NewsCorp stable), I publicly disclosed for the first time that that I have a bipolar condition well-managed with medication since 2007.

One 'benefit' (sort of) from having an illness that was raging untreated for so long is that I have some lengthy comparative time periods with and without medication.

 

Here's my timeline:


1989: age 19 onset of bipolar symptoms: disruption to relationships, career and finances due to manic and depressive moods.  This raged for the next 18 years.


2005: age 36 first bipolar medical diagnosis after attending psychiatric sessions for 6 months.  Diagnosis confirmed through second opinion of world leading psychiatrist Prof Isaac Schweitzer.


29 March 2007: after 2 years of resistance I finally started taking Lithium. Very positive results stabilising moods which enabled me to work the regular hours of a job again.  Since then have taken Lithium daily for 8 years and added Lamotrigine in Dec 2007 to give more protection against depression.  It should be noted that these bipolar medications can have serious harmful side-effects; although I have not suffered any that I am aware of or have shown up in regular blood tests.


Summary: 19 years with no symptoms; then 18 years bipolar raged without medication; then 8 years on bipolar meds and have achieved mood stability.


I would recommend people with disruptive moods seek out an opinion, or a couple of them, from a healthcare professional, and also consider medication.  For me it has been a miracle and perhaps it will work wonders for you as well.

For all the insight and empathy-awareness that came from the 18 years between 1989 and 2007 of whiteknuckled, untreated rapid-cycling bipolar chaos, I would have preferred that someone encouraged me to explore medical help earlier.  In my case, it would have saved me much needless suffering.

David Barrow 


 


In my personal evidence at the Bolt Trial, I also had this to say on well-managing my bipolar illness in all the years since 2007:


So all during this time I've had stability of mood, Your Honour.  It's really changed my life and I would recommend to people to get an assessment or a couple of assessments and consider medication.  So I found the stability.  To me, from 2007 it's like sort of waking up from a coma saying, you know, you were 30 then and I'm 45 now.  I don't feel 45.  I feel like I'm about 30 because I had so much disruption in those 15 or 20 years that it's sort of like missing time.


So I've had stability in all that time since 2007 up to now.  That's seven years I've been taking that medication every day.  I mean sometimes I forget but not - I don't ever choose not to take it.  I have a pill box reminder and I actually have Lithium and I explored a different type of medication called Lamotrigine which is anticonvulsant and that actually gives you more of a base under the depression, whereas Lithium stops you more going up too high.  So I use Lamotrigine for the base and a little bit of Lithium to help with the top and I feel like I've felt when I was 16 or 17 and have done all that time.  It's quite a miracle.

 


 

Guy Rundle



Article: The dark side to Mia Freedman’s life blather


Mia Friedman has written a long article about her anxiety and the marvelous medicine that cures it. But she doesn’t mention all those silly side effects — like coma, convulsions and possibly death.



Many years ago, a leading conservative wrote a column in the old Melbourne Herald about the Doug Anthony All Stars. Later I asked him if he’d been pranked by DAAS — had they somehow smuggled a fake op-ed in under his name?


Wasn’t the case, and would have been difficult to do in those quill-and-platen days. Seems to have occurred in the new Debrief Daily, where someone has used Mia Freedman’s name to write the inch-perfect parody of self-absorbed life blather. From the title “I’m finally ready to talk about my anxiety …” to every detail, this is a masterpiece. Thrill to Mia’s commitment to working out her problems via three different therapists, followed by her conclusion that it’s a chemical imbalance, and her manic professional self-promotion has nothing to do with it; cheer as she plugs a brand-name drug three times, sounding like an old snake-oil testimonial. Marvel at this kicker:


“To subscribe to Mia’s free weekly newsletter where she writes exclusive content about her life, shares links to what she’s reading online and includes photos of her often ridiculous outfits, go here.”


Because, hey, why deal with anxiety by reducing excessive self-consciousness when you could take an anti-depressant — the drug she’s taking is just a Prozac variant — and power on with a life where you’ve commodified your own selfhood to build a media brand?


Actually, sadly, one will have to be serious for a moment: Freedman is spruiking a drug with serious side effects. Quite aside from the standard SSRI side effects — sudden attacks of suicidal thinking, reduced sexual response, vomiting, tremors, and a couple of rare (very rare) fatal conditions (serotonin syndrome), the particular SSRI she’s advocating causes birth defects in children if used by pregnant women, and has the highest rate of suicidality onset of all the SSRIs — so much so that in the United States every packet has a “black box” warning — a heavily bordered prominent notice alerting users to a high suicidality risk. Oh, and in 2010 its manufacturer was fined $300 million in the US for illegally marketing the drugs to children.


More generally, it’s a little odd for a self-confessed hypochondriac to be so enthusiastic about what some describe as a neurotoxin. It works by blocking the receptors that absorb serotonin in the brain. Ample evidence now suggests  — surprise, surprise — that long-term use of such drugs creates habituation and, via atrophy, a depression that resists treatment. The term now applied is “tardive dysphoria” — pity really, as it would have made a great name for Mia’s weekly newsletter.


Not the worst thing, but still pretty crap, about this is that it will feed into mugwump Mark Latham’s argument that there’s no depression or anxiety, it’s all a plot by professional women, and all you need to do when feeling down is stay at home for the rest of your life, and you’ll be right as rain. Anti-depressants are hugely over-prescribed — especially now as they are marketed as anti-anxiety, anti-social-phobia, anti-OCD drugs, so they can be re-patented and have their brand names plugged in lifestyle articles — and depression and anxiety overdiagnosed. But they are both real phenomena that largely afflict the powerless and trapped.


If you’re neither of the latter, then before committing to permanent use of a drug that’s a cousin of ecstasy, maybe you should, I dunno, examine your life, and see if changing it will help — especially as some people appear to be regarding you as a guide to life, a thought that has me reaching for the MAO inhibitors. Good god, Dr Kennett will be in on this next, the Black Dog Institute snapping at his heels, Beyondblue hovering like the shadow of Skywhale over the debate. The powerful might need to address issues labelled, accurately or otherwise, depression and anxiety, by changing their lives. The powerless need more power over their own live to address such issues, so the change has to be social as well.


Well, maybe I’m being a little harsh. There’s a common “evangelical” effect that happens when people take a drug that starts working for them (and that they believe, wrongly, will work at that pitch indefinitely) — and that is to a) tell everyone about it and b) consign all one’s difficulties to having a physical cause. Freedman seems to have got a bad case of this, and, by a rough count, 15 blogs where she can talk about her own life, and her affliction of feeling continuously scrutinised etc, etc. Most likely in a couple of years, there’ll be a “my drug disaster” story.


In the meantime, would it be too much to ask people writing about whatever this thing is that we call “depression and ‘anxiety” to do a little cursory research before they sound off? This thing, cosa nostra, has clearly become a feature of Australian life, more so than elsewhere. While trying to work out what’s going on, it might be best to avoid giving one-sided meds recommendations to your fanbase.






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




Comment on CRIKEY Helen Razer Mental Health Article
Filed Under:

Razer on Mark Latham’s Harden Up prescription for the depressed chattering class


by Helen Razer


Crikey 9 March 2015 


If Latham is annoyed by anything, it is perhaps the constant act of false revelation. I am absolutely sure that the frequent personal writing and broadcast on mental illness is produced by people who suffer. The personal disclosure is not false but what is false are the ideas that (a) no one talks about mental illness and (b) talking is a way out of mental illness.


It is absolutely true, of course, that the talking cure is one legitimate means of addressing mental illness. But the technique pioneered by Freud to unfold between therapist and patient was never intended to play out in a public context.

 




COMMENT by ME:


There can be more to a talking cure for mental illness than just telling one's own personal story.  We can encourage others to seek out a mental health assessment and consider possibly taking medication and/or talking things through with a health care professional.


I self-outed myself for the first time publicly as having a bipolar condition on 20 October 2014.  This was the first day of my defamation trial against Andrew Bolt and the Herald Sun.


I was self-represented throughout the proceeding which commenced way back on 30 April 2012 when I was still a law student – before I was admitted to the legal profession as an Australian Lawyer on 19 March 2013.


Barrister Dr Matt Collins QC (whom yesterday began grilling Treasurer Joe Hockey in a Fed Court defamation trial), was lead Counsel for Bolt & HWT against me in my October 2014 trial.


Documents that were added to the Court Book by the Defendants just before my Bolt defamation trial was heard by Justice Terry Forrest gave every indication that Dr Collins QC intended to out me as having a bipolar condition for whatever tactical reason.  Perhaps he would argue this would be relevant to damages; or maybe Dr Collins would spring it on me to try and unsettle me if barristers might do that sort of thing.


So on the first day of the trial, 20 October 2014, I got out the front of that and gave my personal evidence from the witness box about my long journey from when the bipolar illness first seized me at age 19 until I finally had the insight to present for a medical diagnosis in 2005 (age 35), and then after much reluctance I started taking medication in 2007.  I then achieved and maintained mood stability from 2007.  It's quite a miracle.  My personal evidence on all that is here.


This was a "self-outing by a middle-class sufferer of mental illness" that Helen Razer (aka Hell Raiser) writes of – however, against her thesis, it had plenty of potential to do good for me and those it might reach.  My story is of a long-term sufferer who found a medication regime with no noticeable side-effects that removed the endemic disruption in my life.  If you hear this story and feel the same way then I encourage you to seek a mental health assessment and if diagnosed consider your treatment options.


In my personal evidence at the Bolt Trial, I also had this to say on well-managing my bipolar illness in all the years since 2007.  It is a talking cure for mental illness which also reaches out beyond myself to encourage others to seek help:


So all during this time I've had stability of mood, Your Honour.  It's really changed my life and I would recommend to people to get an assessment or a couple of assessments and consider medication.  So I found the stability.  To me, from 2007 it's like sort of waking up from a coma saying, you know, you were 30 then and I'm 45 now.  I don't feel 45.  I feel like I'm about 30 because I had so much disruption in those 15 or 20 years that it's sort of like missing time.


So I've had stability in all that time since 2007 up to now.  That's seven years I've been taking that medication every day.  I mean sometimes I forget but not - I don't ever choose not to take it.  I have a pill box reminder and I actually have Lithium and I explored a different type of medication called Lamotrigine which is anticonvulsant and that actually gives you more of a base under the depression, whereas Lithium stops you more going up too high.  So I use Lamotrigine for the base and a little bit of Lithium to help with the top and I feel like I've felt when I was 16 or 17 and have done all that time.  It's quite a miracle.






CLICK to Scroll All My Blog Posts




David Barrow Email