My Life As The Black Sheep – *Warning! This blog may contain triggers*

As its Mental Health month in NSW this October, I thought I would share my journey with you.. Well the edited version!!

I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

What is it? Think Multiple Personality Disorder except mine is the only voice in my head.

Quite a lot of prison inmates charged with serious violent crimes have BPD. Its hard to pinpoint the exact number but its anywhere from 20% up to 47%. Its slightly higher in the female population. This fun fact I remind hubby of frequently.

Woman are three times more likely than men to suffer BPD.

I guess this is because BDP has its beginnings in a traumatic event. Sexual violence is the main cause.

My traumatic event was swinging off a live power line when I was 6.  Thankfully I walked away with a few nasty injuries and some scars.

The main symptoms are a feeling of insecurity, persistent impulsiveness, confused emotions, and self harm.  All of which I have battled at some point. Other associated issues are panic attacks, OCD and feeling sad all the time.

The results of these symptoms differ for everyone but heres what its been like for me.

The insecurity has manifested itself as a need to control every part of my life. It drives my family crazy! I am much better since I became aware that not everyone is like me but I had lists and rules for everything and got very angry if those weren’t followed to the letter! Was like OCD. It does come in handy. With some of the jobs I have had where routine was the key its been a blessing. I don’t think I’d have been good at wool classing otherwise.  And when rouseabouting tidiness is the key.

The impulsiveness – where do I start!! Alcohol and telling people what I think. Not always together! But I walked out unscathed!! Thankfully because I also have mild Aspergers (if I was 4 now that would have been the first diagnosis – BDP starts in the teenage years) I have issues with personal space so one of the other risky behaviors associated with BPD, sex, wasn’t an issue.

Confused emotions. I have trouble knowing what I ‘should’ feel. Should I be feeling worried when someone gets seriously injured or just have this angry feeling because they have now put my day out. That sort of thing.  Sounds heartless but that’s it!  I often respond with anger due to the confusion of feelings. It has been good in times of high stress. I have seen some horrific and life threatening injuries that I could just deal with while everyone else panicked.  I’d be half way to hospital with the patient before they got their act together,

The self harm didn’t start until I was pregnant and living in an extremely abusive relationship I thought I deserved (confused emotions again). And I wasn’t self medicating either.

The panic attacks are a more recent and truly frightening thing!! To be in a public place and too feel the world go wobbly, not be able to breath, not wanting to share this event with everyone around you is awful! They were bought on by medication for misdiagnosed depression.

The problem is I wasn’t diagnosed with BPD until three years ago. Prior to that, even after being hospitalized due to a suicide attempt (Panadol doesn’t kill you apparently) they thought it was just depression, baby blues, anything but really. One person got close when they diagnosed me with PTSD. BDP mimics the symptoms.

I was only diagnosed after I had a  two and a half week “moment” – my anxiety levels increased, I hid in the house from everyone, covered all the windows, was terrified of the kids, thought constantly about suicide and how I could achieve it and lost about 10kg in a week.  Surprisingly I was admitted to the ‘closed ward’ at the local hospital. It was in there they diagnosed my illness and from there I started the long hike out of that pit!

How?

I found a fantastic psychologist who I gelled with. This is very important.

I did a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy course through my local Community Health centre. They taught me that not everyone thinks like I do and showed me how to deal with that curse!

I joined Nutrimetics by accident. I just wanted the skincare and makeup at a huge discount but got so much more! I discussed in a previous post how much the wonderful people involved have shaped my life. For the first time I had people who believed in me for who I was, not what they wanted me to be or to get something. That is the single most powerful piece of knowledge I have.  I have never had friends before.

Sheer willpower has been the biggest driving force. I can’t let my kids down. I am all they have. I can’t let the suicidal tendencies take hold. And I need to be functioning well enough to support them in case they end up with this inheritable mental illness and feel as I did all my life that nobody cared.

All the attention this month that I have seen has been about normalizing mental illness. That’s great. But the services provided for the treatment of mental illness isn’t nearly enough.

Medicare pay for a certain amount of psychologist visits and even then there’s a gap to pay. And its not nearly enough visits.

And while sitting in the ED of the local hospital for 4 hours waiting to be admitted during my psychotic break I wondered how people who didn’t have the support I had got on. Did they just leave and commit suicide as my thoughts were suggesting?

I had lived most of my life being seen as that strange kid who can’t get on with others – the ‘black sheep’.

But it has shaped who I am and for that I am grateful.

Don’t let these awful feelings define who you are. Their are a lot of farmers doing it tough and the rate of male suicide on our farms is terrible. Get help, don’t be afraid.

Lifeline

Beyond Blue

Why Are People So Unkind?

I am always completely taken by surprise when I learn a company I need to deal with has a business model that works on taking down the little man.

We have been waiting for a while for some cows to start this Wagyu journey.  Two days ago we got the call we’ve been waiting for.

“We have found some cows, they’ll be there Tuesday.”

Hubby asked where they came from. The cagey answer made hubby wonder what they had to hide.

It wouldn’t be good business if we didn’t do our homework.

You see, we recently made a substantial purchase of cattle through a large “reputable” dairy cattle dealer.  Of the 40, 3 are empty (of those 2 have infections that may or may not be treatable thus maybe not be able to breed), 1 arrived with a massive abscess on her udder so she will never go into the herd, 1 died from an infection in her uterus she had when she arrived, 2 had damaged legs we have treated, and we’ve found 3 so far with udder and teat problems.

Will the dealer or the previous owner do the right thing? At this time – no. That’s 1/4 of that purchase with problems.

Close to $20,000 down the drain.

So hubby rang around – he knows everyone! – and found the source of the cows. Alarm bells started ringing as this herd has a major mastitis problem. We have just spent 2 years and untold dollars ridding ourselves of a strep mastitis (untreatable) we inherited from yet another bad investment. Seeing a pattern here….

We aren’t getting those cows – end of story!

But it made me think of other big players taking advantage of the little person.

Our two big grocery stores have done a great deal of harm to the dairy industry and fresh produce in general.

Coles has recently been caught out gloating over what a success the $1 litre milk campaign was.

Tamar Valley Dairy in Tasmania has gone into receivership, in part due to supplying ‘Private Label’ yogurt to Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

Both Woolworths and Coles have joined the animal rights activists groups on their anti factory farming crusade with little thought given to the practicalities of caged hens or sow stalls or those who borrowed money on the contracts that are cancelled.

Coles spent a fortune advertising ‘no added hormone beef’, when in reality there is more hormone found in soy and eggs.

Paul Shoker, a Twitter friend with a farm near Coffs Habour who supplies supermarkets with fresh bananas, avocados and other fresh produce, has also mentioned he has basically given his product away at times as the price was so low.

We produced 67 litres more milk in September than August and were paid $3828 less. We’ve lost $0.1543/litre off our base price on 66,000+ litre average monthly volume since July. Yet we were told in July there was less milk being produced than they needed.

But it doesn’t seem to be a local thing either.

Recently in the USA, a company named Panera Bread thought it would be a great idea to tell the world how lazy the people who grow chickens are if they give their sick animals antibiotics.

‘Irish Farmerette’ Lorna recently wrote a blog after watching a local TV presenter tell their audience that there is no difference between the cheap milk and the more expensive brand. Lorna questions why people would spend less on such a great protein while still buying other rubbish that can’t even be considered food.

The most fantastic thing has happened though – farmers world wide have discovered social media and aren’t afraid to use it!! Through this we can give the consumers another view – our view. The view from the coal face as it were.

We live in a world where too many kids believe milk comes from a bottle. Nobody seems to want to know where their food comes from or how its grown.

Where $2 is plenty for 2 litres of milk, but $1.25/litre for sugar, preservatives, other nasty’s and water is acceptable.

Where consumers are only willing to pay $1/kg for locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables but will pay $30/kg for imported lollies.

Where we need a survey to establish how we tell our kids where meat comes from.  I guess some parents believe this should be taught in schools too.

And where a ‘family friendly’ recipe  suggests If your kids don’t want to touch the meat or bone, cut it up into small pieces.

In a nutshell, all consumers seem care about is the price.

If only everyone had a go at farming. Even for just a day or two.

Go help Paul carry bunches of bananas up the sides of steep hills.

And I invite anyone who thinks $1 is a great price for a litre of milk to come work with us for a day. Be here at 4.30am because that’s when we leave the house. Lunch is often an optional extra. And make sure nobody expects you home before 9pm….

I just thought I would throw this article in.  Sort of sums it up really.

Apologies for all the links…

The Humane Thing To Do

Today is one of those days I wish the animal rights activists could spend the day on the farm with us.

A few days ago a heifer we’d been watching calved in the usual place – the scrubbiest, hardest to get at spot on the place!

Normally she’d be in the springer paddock, but she had no respect for fences! So she was running with the main herd. Which is ok as we could keep a good eye on her.

She didn’t come home one afternoon and we ran out of light before we found her.

The calf was not alive when we found her early the next morning, but she was up and walking around which was good.

We walked her home and she came into the bales that afternoon as per usual.

What wasn’t usual was the massive odeama (swelling of the udder) under her belly. Or the hardness of her teats.

I gave her the usual treatment – Syntocin – to assist the ‘letting down’ reflex so she’d milk, relieving the pressure.

A couple of phone calls and no milk later I found I had done all I could for the day and that is wasn’t unusal for a heifer with a large odeama not to let her milk down. I just had to hope for the best.

She didn’t let her milk down the next morning, though the teats were slighty more pliable. Some milk came out of the front quarters the afternoon and the next morning (yesterday).

We called the local vet to come have a look.

The vet hadn’t seen a heifer with the swelling of the udder and glands like this poor girl had. And that she was probably pre ordained to have this problem.

There was not a lot we could have done to prevent this. Maybe milked her last week when the swelling really started to happen, though we see heifers like this occasionally and they generally come in ok. And we try not to fiddle with them until they calve.

The vet explained she was never going to milk. End of story.

I have seen a lot of animal rights activists posts of late telling me that as a farmer I have no reguard for the welfare of my stock and just look at the bottom line. They believe its all about the dollars.

We had two options

1. Treat her with anti inflamitories and hope she survives three weeks making her elidgible for sale to the abbitior which may have covered the vet bill and given us few much needed dollars or

2. Put her down.

We have chosen option 2 as its the humane thing to do.

Due to fire restrictions and other reasons we have chosen to give her to a local who takes cull cows to feed his greyhounds.

I wish the ones who are forever telling me how animal welfare is at the bottom of my list and that I really don’t care for them at all could have been in the yards with me as I held her, said thank you, sorry and goodbye to a heifer I have been nurturing since birth. Too me she’s part of the family.

I’m glad the rest of the herd were in the yard between us and the dairy so hubby didn’t see me blubbering.

Modern Day Farming

Last week I was sent a link on Twitter to a YouTube clip of a fantastic crush and an internal ultrasound device to test cows for pregnancy (preg testing). Both hubby and I looked at it, then showed it too our neighbor, all of us deciding we wanted the ultrasound device! The possibilities! We wouldn’t need to pay anybody else to do the job, and we could potentially do it while they were being milked. Any cow could be looked at as we found her.

As sometimes happens, we had the unexpected opportunity to watch one being used on some ‘in calf’ cows we’d purchased that we found were empty. One of the agents’ people came to give a second opinion – with one of these devices!

This device shows the uterus of a cow and everything in it on a screen that can be mounted in the crush area or in a special set of goggles. How cool is that!! Apparently its most accurate earlyish on till what would be called the end of the second trimester in humans. Later pregnancy scans show the cotyledons. Earlier scans show the calf in a skeletal image.

We had three ‘empty’ (no pregnancy) cows test. All were shown to be empty.

The most amazing thing I found was we could see the uterus was healthy in two, and that there was an infection in the third. Makes it much simpler than guessing what might be the cause or if they’ll go in calf again. Normally we would have a vet or a specialist preg tester in to do the job and we just have to believe what they tell us.  With this we could see what the young man was talking about.

We also snuck two of our own in that we were deciding what to do with. Both were in calf so we got to see what they looked like too. I’m glad they were in calf. They’ve become pets.

I am sorry now I didn’t take photos of the process.

This was the realm of vets not that long ago. Now its possible for us to have this on farm to be used as required.

Except the cost!! So it won’t be happening soon!

One day……

Cows in the yard