“Some days I wake up and I ask myself, WHY? Why do I bother to wake up at all? The answer comes from within, “because I do”. It’s pay day today. My Centerlink payment is in my bank account. It’s good to know I have some money available. The phone bill and electricity bill are on the counter, both stamped overdue and one threatening disconnection. I’m hungry from two days ago when the cupboards became uninhabited from food but not the cockroaches. I’ve been living on coffee. The last ten cups without milk. Food is so unattainable at times anything with nutritional value at least.
Scrimping and saving at the supermarket searching desperately for value. No luxuries because that chocolate bar I have in my hand could very well mean the sacrifice of washing powder to keep my sparse wardrobe of Salvation Army donations clean and therefore my pride in myself slightly intact. I think to myself, nothing seems to lasts anyway. I know from experience that I will be hungry again before the nest pay day comes around. I begin to struggle with Hopelessness. Yet I still I continue to try.
There’s always tomorrow. Perhaps it will be better? Somehow?
I begin my journey home. My shopping in my hands. It’s not far home but I feel so tired from disillusionment. I suddenly remember the script in my pocket for my medication. My medication. A daily routine for the past eight years of my life and I have been informed by well meaning psychiatrists, “for the rest of my life”. A life sentence. My life sentence. I turn the corner heading for the pharmacy.
Not much money left. As I walk I begin to think about my life. I’m 33
years old. I have no job, not through lack of trying. I have no one to return home to. To discuss how I feel, to dream with, to share with. I have tried to obtain help from various organisations. The waiting lists are so long.
So much need, not just for myself, and so little supply. Help when it does come in whatever form is so little and simply a band-aid fix to a gaping wound in the bare fabric of life and daily living. The problems of daily living begin to mount. I come across a bottle shop on my way to the pharmacy. I’m feeling quite depressed right now. Hopeless almost. Everything always seems just beyond my reach.
There’s a “Special” at the bottle shop as well. Escapism in the form of a bottle. I can drink and perhaps forget for a short time about everything. Everything I desperately want to change in my life but am unable to for many reasons. Here in this bottle is control. Control of a life I am unable to control in so many other ways. I open my wallet. I have not enough money for both the bottle of freedom and the medication I need. I must make a decision. I walk home with the brown paper bag tucked under my arm. I drink myself into oblivion. I’m tired. I need to go to bed. I fall into bed. One thought goes through my head before I pass over into sleep.
*From the transcript of a submission by Maxyne Graham, Warrawong Community Project to the Senate Committee Report on poverty and hardship. It is from a client who has a mental illness.