My mind is spinning, my heart racing, my body tingling...how good it feels to be back!
After having the extended 'holiday' that I apparently needed to have, my overactive imagination is gushing with ideas and strategies. You will all see some incredible opportunities unfold this year...played out in the very public arena through my presence in the wonderful world of social media.
If ever you feel the need to have a 5 month break from work...or life - SHINGLES should never be your preferred option. Trust me!! I knew very little about shingles, until I was struck down with a severe bout back in September. I knew it was a rash, and thought it would be irritating. WOW! If the shingles I knew about was a guppy sucking on my big toe - then the one that I came to know intimately was a GREAT WHITE - and it chewed me up and spat me out!!! The nerve pain was excruciating, initially deep in the muscles of my back, and later on the surface of my skin. I was unable to wear any kind of shirt for almost 8 weeks, as the nerve endings were so sensitive. Pretty much had to stay confined to one room of my house, because any air low was painful, as was temperature below 25C or above 27C. I could only sleep on my back, but could never pull the sheet up above my waste!! I felt physically ill most days and was subsequently struggling with appetite, energy and basic brain function. I tried just about every medical treatment and herbal remedy suggested, but the only thing that appeared to be working...was TIME.
That was just the excitement of the physical impact...but of course my good old mate the BLACK DOG had to pop in and keep me company for a couple of months too!! It is so incredibly difficult to explain to someone who may have never experienced depression. In fact even for many of us who have, it holds sway in many different shapes and forms. Physically unable to do any form of work, I cannot even begin to describe the frustration of not having any mental capabilities either! To spend most of the day lying down playing CANDY CRUSH!! Couldn't concentrate well enough to read more than two or three pages of a book. Sat at the computer at times for hours, looking blankly at the computer screen unable to remember what I was going to do. Watched my phone ring on countless occasion and let it go to message. Many emails were left unopened, as I knew I was neither capable of reading them, let alone responding.
In golfing terminology...I had the YIPS!! What used to be as easy to me as sinking a 1 foot putt, was not even catching the lip of the hole!! Only a few short weeks ago, I was questioning if I would ever be the same old irritating, shit stirring, 'bull at a gate' Farmer Gregie. My confidence and belief in all that I had done, and everything I still hoped to achieve had vanished before my eyes. I could not walk into a 4REAL store and instigate a conversation - with an employee or customer. I could not pick up the phone and speak freely. I could not even interact, by reading comments or answering questions, by post insights through social media. I COULD NOT :( I was a broken man who had lost his way. I had no purpose - had lost belief - had given up!
Depression is a strange beast. There'll be many well meaning people who will try and 'cheer you up'. Unfortunately it is just not that simple. You cannot think 'happy thoughts' and push it out of you mind. Your logical brain may suspect that the thoughts are not real, yet you are still powerless to feel anything other...the way you feel. There are tools to help and yes medication and therapy are important. But even if all hope appears lost, you must believe one thing. TIME will defeat depression. You might not know exactly how long this will take or when it will happen - but as long as you're sucking in oxygen, TIME has the opportunity to play its pivotal role. And should you again slip back, TIME will still be there to do its thing again... and again.
As each week passes, I look back at where I was and how I felt, in disbelief at my progress and improvement. I feel like, "Wow I'm getting better", yet I continue to get better, week after week. It sounds contrived to suggest that my recovery has been nothing short of miraculous...but it's true. It is like somebody flicked the switch a month ago, and I've gone from the dull glow of a candle, to the brightness of a flood light. Perhaps another four weeks from now I'll be radiating as brightly as the light towers over the GABBA!!!
Physically I'm still struggling and learning what works best for my body. Mentally, I'm getting there - despite frustrating lapses of...FRUSTRATION. One thing I know for sure is that our business stands a much greater chance of survival with me working 'off farm' than on farm. We've put together a really good team on the farm, who with Dad and Uncle Ray's guidance and wealth of knowledge have kept things running very nicely indeed. The survival of our family farm is reliant on the survival of 4REAL MILK. During my absence I have come to understand with clarity, that nobody within our organisation has the ability to communicate the message, and interact with the people who will in turn save 4REAL MILK - YOU!! Nobody...but Farmer Gregie!!
I have become an accidental activist. A voice for all Aussie farmers, that has been lost for decades. A forgotten story that has not been told by corporate dominance. A future pin-up boy for Australian Agriculture...a GLOBAL SENSATION...sorry...wait...too far?? Okay getting a little carried away there!! It's good to aim high right? I talk in seriousness about the comparisons between what Steve Irwin did for wildlife conservation in his short time on the planet, and what I have set about achieving for the future of Agriculture. His ability to communicate a message was as irritating to some, as it was inspirational to others, and appears to be a talent I share. His global impact on his chosen field was actually magnified through his work away from Australia Zoo - although it will forever remain his legacy. I say in jest, that I will one day be as big as Steve - but no stingray will take me out! More likely a runaway tractor. But in seriousness I also recall vividly the indelible mark that fateful day left in my heart, when the news broke on the radio. I was in the tractor raking hay - I could take you to the paddock and almost drop my hat on the spot where I heard of the tragedy :(
Sometimes structures are unable to be repaired. The integrity of their framework has been compromised or destroyed. They are condemned and need to be rebuilt from the ground up - for the protection of human life. That is today true of the Dairy Industry I've grown up in, as I look on astonished at the unnecessary devastation since the 1990's. The systematic dismantling of a once strong and thriving industry has gone on unabated to far too long, without government intervention or consumer comprehension. Corporate greed will be the death of agriculture in Australia - but it is what gives me strength, gives me purpose and fans my fire. I refuse to idly sit around any longer, to watch my farming friends drop like flies - and see your LOCAL FRESH MILK evaporate into thin air.
I am making a STAND, and you are all more than welcome to join me. No longer am I fearful of the all conquering CORPORATE MACHINE. They have bought their way into media and bombard us every day with subliminal messages built on retail profits, not commercial realities. Their propaganda has so effectively infiltrated every aspect of our lives, that we are oblivious to the fact that CORRUPTION is determining market value...not COMPETITION. The Australia you live in today is no longer a capitalist society, but a dictatorship. CORPORATE GREED are now running the show - and we are funding their ongoing campaign, by spending 80% of our money with them instead of supporting independent businesses. Market manipulation, compliments of predatory pricing is simply a means to an end. Whose end? Gigantic Multinational Companies desire to kill off competition. The means? Gain absolute control of the market, to maintain control of the MONEY. They may have bought air time on TV and Radio - but they cannot buy your loyalty or trust. They need to earn that the old fashioned way, by walking the talk. TALK is cheap...no matter what price you paid for it!!
The definition of INSANITY?? Doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If you don't like where we're heading - then you'd better make some life changing decisions NOW. If you want to wait for the right time...wait. If you want to wait for government intervention...still waiting! If you want to wait for RETAIL and FOOD PROCESSING GIANTS to develop a social conscience...keep waiting!!
I'm done waiting. It's time for decisive action, not procrastination!! YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE :(