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Dealing with disaster

September 9, 2013

By Barry Tucker

People who lost their hopes and dreams during the night of September 7, 2013, might be suffering a sense of loss right now, even depression. I have been there a few times and I hope the following will help them over the next few days.

I became near-suicidal when I lost my small business, my home and eventually all my savings in 1991 — around the peak of ‘the Recession Paul Keating had to have’. The losses occurred because I hung on in vain hope, while the business cash flow and eventually my savings disappeared.

I should have put the business on hold, found a job, even a part-time job to cover the mortgage, and waited for the economy to recover. I’d never been through a recession so I didn’t know what to do and there was no one around to advise me.

I told psychologists at the St Vincent’s mental health centre that I was depressed and needed treatment. They knocked me back, saying simply “You’re not depressed. We can’t help you.” I figured out later it must have been the fire in my eyes and the anger in my voice. If you haven’t lost the fighting spirit, you’re not done yet!

I wanted to run, to hide, even kill myself. Instead I started destroying personal possessions, irreplaceable photos and negatives, writings, all personal and business records, prototype board games — anything that reminded me of myself. Ridiculous, of course. I couldn’t erase my memories. This kind of ‘self mutilation’ was misdirected. It was not my fault that the greed and excesses of the 1980s eventually caused a massive private debt that required a tightening of credit to bring about a correction. Keating actually said it was “… the recession Australia had to have”.

I was not to blame. My small publishing business was extremely efficient, made small payments to some writers and encouraged many more. It was productive in every sense and kept me busy 12 or more hours a day, seven days a week. The sense of loss when I had to close it down is almost indescribable.

My savings slowly disappeared because I sat on my backside for several months, playing computer games and trying to win Lotto. These activities were distractions from my loss and avoidance of doing what I had to do, which was to re-enter the workforce; another low paid 9 to 5 which I’ve always resented because I knew I was worth more than that.

I’ve always had troubles as an employee. I’m too independent, too self-directed and strong minded. I’ve always made the mistake of blowing my own trumpet — the most unwelcome sound to be heard anywhere. It took me most of my working life to get out of the workforce and into a self-employed situation — a happy coincidence of the arrival of desktop publishing, which was a perfect fit with a lifetime of experience. I was more productive and happier than I had ever been and it lasted less than three years.

What does all this have to do with losing an election? It’s about the loss we might be feeling right now, the anger, the blame game, the lust for revenge, the frustration.

Recall what I did post 1991. I figured, wrongly, that I was going nuts. I went nuts anyway and tried to destroy any evidence of myself, without actually destroying myself. Then I sat on my bum and spent my hard earned savings on food and rent (and Lotto tickets).

I refused to acknowledge reality. Oh, I could see the little bugger sitting there in the corner, laughing at me. I just pretended it wasn’t happening. I simply didn’t want to re-enter the workplace, which was never a happy place for me.

Another thing was happening and I am sure this will be happening to some of you too. I was suffering from the loss of something worthwhile to do. When you have your head down 12 to 18 hours a day doing something you love and it gets taken away, you are suddenly lost. You’re left wondering where all the energy went. This in itself is depressing and robs you of more energy. It’s far better to recognise the loss or failure, accept it as a valuable lesson, acknowledge and remember the good bits and start to plan your next venture.

It’s important to stay busy. That doesn’t include becoming a Sim City or Civilisation world champion.

It’s also important to talk to friends. Be careful who you talk to. A good friend who is likely to tell you what you need is a good kick up the bum is best avoided right now. By all means blow your top. It’s all very well for Eastern mystics and Samurai warriors to say it’s important to stay cool — we don’t live in their world. Get mad, but don’t go mad. Get it out of your system rather than stewing in anger.

There is much to do, although you may not be in the mood for it yet. Partly because of the way our preferential voting system works, the electorate has put a maniac in charge of a new government. Abbott will make a lot of mistakes; it’s in his make-up.

Console yourself with this thought: Abbott did not win this election, Labor lost it. They lost it in 2009 when they began squabbling among themselves, when PM Kevin Rudd gave up on “the greatest moral challenge of our time”. The Libs started to win from the time Abbott rolled Malcolm Turnbull on the issue of climate change. Abbott inherited one of the most thoroughly organised and professional PR outfits this country will ever see. It has penetrated the mainstream news media (MSM), including the ABC, opinion polls have been rigged, and the powerful Catholic church is on-side. There are wealthy individuals on the Labor side, but the Liberals have the backing of international corporations, billionaires and millionaires. Individually, and even in combination, we had no chance against this machine which used every trick in the book to win power. Read the IPA agenda, including the preamble, to see why the Liberals and their corporate bosses want this power.

So, blow your top, have a blast, get it out of your system and pick an area of government or news media you would like to focus on. Draw up a plan and get busy recruiting support. There is much to be done to repair and save one of the greatest and normally most decent democracies on this planet.

All you need now is a goal and the will to carry it out. I had a plan to quit my minor smoking habit and, right on cue, in the middle of my chaotic 1991-92 crisis, I went cold turkey on November 17, 1991. I’ve never smoked since. There is within each one of us an enormous will and power to survive. It will emerge and empower you whenever you need it.

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