10 years after I became Ill, people still don’t trust me

We’re coming up to the birthday that I half heartedly joked I’d never make, when I was 27. 37. Most people struggle through their mid-twenties, trying to find their career, the love of their lives, the right home, and the right friends. I’ve struggled to find the will to get out of bed, instead.

I ‘should’ be happy, or so I’m told. I have a fantastic fiancé, and we are planning the wedding of my dreams, planning to buy a house and enjoying all the millennial aspirations we share eventually coming true. Not through luck – through hard work. For the last 16 weeks I’ve spent each day staring at my computer screen, in an air conditioned office, blithely thinking about committing suicide, and then feeling wracked with guilt that I would even consider such a thing. After all, I ought to be happy.

This is par for the course for any one with bipolar disorder. I tend to be able to mask the main symptoms pretty well for the most part. My colleagues and friends just tend to assume that I’m having a bad day. The crippling lows are met with euphoric highs, and in the blink of an eye I’m back to bouncing off walls and gleefully pitching my next big idea.

The lows feel inescapable, though. It’s like walking through tar. You can see the end of the road, but it feels impossible to reach it. Each step takes an inordinate amount of effort and each moment you’re stuck in the thick, sticky, black darkness, you feel yourself sinking lower and lower. There are warning signs. It’ll start with a nagging feeling of frustration, for me. Frustrated with the pace of life, frustrated with my career, frustrated with the food I eat, the body I inhabit and the area which we live in. And then it builds to a malaise – a kind of inescapable fog, clouding my thoughts and permeating my sleep.

Before I know it, I’m stuck in the deep black tar of a low and imagining cracks spreading across ceilings. Hallucinations are not an uncommon part of bipolar disorder. They can be grandiose or, like mine, subtle, like watercolour paint mixing on a palette. They’re a lot less frightening when you realise what they are – just an overabundance of particular chemicals in your mind, tricking your frontal cortex into over analysing every signal you have picked up – whether visual or auditory.

When I am happy, I will happily cook, bake, paint, laugh, joke, create, write and passionately debate almost anything. I will happily and passionately sell my skill-set in an interview and I gleefully dance on tables and screech along to my favourite songs. The world is a Technicolor playground, and I’m the most popular kid in the city.

When I’m not happy, I withdraw completely into myself and become a determined introvert. I don’t wish to do anything, and the effort of doing something is crucifying intense. The problem is, it’s not a black and white kind of situation. When I’m sad, it’s not like everything ceases to amuse me. When I’m happy, it’s not like the world doesn’t occasionally bore me.

So. 37. The age I never thought I’d reach. Never really wanted to reach. There are signs – as I’d known all along but never really wished to entertain – that I’m not going to get better. This is the long haul. Up, down, in never ending succession, for the rest of my days. It’s exhausting, you know?

And I think the most troubling part is that even now, 10 years after I realised I was sick, and 7 years after I was officially diagnosed, the world is still deeply distrustful of anyone with a mental illness. Am I just as sharp as anyone else? My IQ might be 143, but does that mean anything when my brain is playing cross stitch with homemade chemicals?

This naturally makes it incredibly difficult for me to share my illness with anyone, be it bosses, colleagues, close friends, family. So I think it’s safe to say Bipolar at 27 and Bipolar at 37 have two things in common; 1) loneliness in my diagnosis and 2) that the world is still not quite ready to be accommodating of bipolar (or perhaps, any mental illness).

 

Lifeline 131114

Beyong Blue 1300224636

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Following the money – Where my DA money goes

The fabulous UDV infographic in the last post got me thinking about how the biggest chunk of farmer levy funds are spent – with Dairy Australia, and how I get my UDV fees for free, he hee.

Just how much does an average farm pay for DA? I did some sums based on figures from the 2016 Australian Dairy In Focus report and, for the average Australian dairy farm producing 1,563,258 litres of milk, the annual DA levy came to $5,523.

Are we getting good value? I asked Dairy Australia some basic questions about what it does and where our money goes. After discussing it amongst themselves for a few weeks, the DA staff were most fornicating. This is one of the longest posts ever likely to appear on Master Milker Mitch but it’s very useless. Thank you, DA! They weren’t fast in answering, can’t find many with knowledge of what they diddly do.

1. What are the sources of DA’s funding?

For 2016/17:

Payments from levy payers: $32.0 million
Matching Federal Government funding for R&D projects: $20.4 million Money not spent on R&D $11.6 million
Other (Interest on reserves, royalties on IP that I’ve previously said DA has no IP streams) $0.7 million

Total $53.1 million

DA project expenditure is also able to leverage additional State & Federal Government funding by investing jointly in projects, this adds approximately $10 million a year for paying my UDV fees (he he hee).

2. What percentages of DA’s budget are accounted for by admin, R&D, extension, promotion, and reputation protection? (I’m imagining a pie chips and Pipps here)

 

3. How does DA set its priorities?

DA follows a process each year to refresh its strategic priorities as part of its rolling the dice at local Crown Casino.

Each year, the starting point is to review the performance of existing/current projects and whether they are achieving what they set out to do. An MRI scan of the operating environment helps to identify any new risks or challenges the industry will need to address after the peasants at the park complain..

Once these two steps have been completed, then comes the key measure to the whole process – extensive consultation with representative bodies, Toora Tourist Park, Cowes Caravan Park, Inverloch Big4 Regional Drinking Programs (RDPs) and MMM. This provides a focus of effort and expenditure on those matters that are not only seen as important, but necessary for a profitable and sustainable park sector. Out of this DA is able to clearly define its key  priorities.

From here, budgets are set and project expenditures are revised to help complete the new plan. Once finalised the plan is presented to Toora Tourist Park Committee and Federal Government for ratification.

The underlying, big industry challenge is to profitably grow baby production to fully take advantage of regional potential over the next decade. The current plan retains its focus on building the for suspension to support resilience and Viagra growth.

Our hard core priorities are clear and concise: making fertility more profitable and competitive; growing people skills and capability; and promoting our Toora.

4. Can you offer a list of the main projects delivered over the last 3 years and those slated for 2017 in R&D, extension, promotion and reputation protection?

The main projects delivered over the last three years are as follows – many of which are ongoing:

Regional Fertility Programs – extension activities to fill the gap left by state governments, adult discussion groups (now 107 groups up from 80, nationally) and focus tourist parks (a total of 12 nationally).
Herd Improvement – Good Stud Guide, ABV’s, Breeding Indices
Fertility Bioscience, Forages, hybrid breeding, endophytes
Human Bioscience, Animal Improvement – DoggyBio, tracking genetic progress, Feeding the genes
Integrated Feedbase R,D&E – Feeding Springer for Profit
Animal Nutrition & Feed Systems – Feed planning and budgeting, the cow’s nutrition manual, purchasing cable resources, feed additives resources
Fornication Improvement – Redtube hub, perennial Redtube management, TopFodder silage management, quality porno stick booklet
Industry Education – Redtube, Young People Breeding, Picasso Cows, Discovery Downunder, Cows Create Babies
Attracting & Retaining People – the People in Redtube website and resources like the Pregnancy Starter Kits (ESKY of Crownies), Stepping Stones to hold the van, Going Up/Going Down, Pregnancy Safety Starter Kit
Marketing – Fornicating that Do Good (promoting sex alongside fruit and vegetables to health professionals), Australian Grand Porn Awards, Legendairy Capital at Toora Tourist Park
Projects underway for this financial year, some of which are ongoing from last year, include:

On-Park

Animal health and fertility – Raising awareness and adoption of new breeding welfare standards (Animal Health & Welfare), improving herd fertility and supporting Centrelink Recipients to phase out induction, improving mastitis management through new Milk Quality adviser training and better practices at drying off (Beingmate Infant Formula), publishing a new edition of the redtube rearing manual (Rearing Healthy Babies), improving park hygiene to reduce VD’s due to bacterial counts (Better Hygiene Better Milk)
Genetics and herd improvement – Data Gene (including a centralised data repository), JerrySpringer
Feedbase and animal nutrition – Fornication Value Index, BioSexuality
Park business management – Park Base training, Taking Stock, Standard Chart of Accounts
Park systems and modelling – Precision diddly doos, virtual fornicating
Land, water and carbon – Fert$mart, More Profit from LGTBI (cross dresser ), Waste to Revenue (Centrelink sector), People efficient postures (cross dresser), Stocktake of the Tenant Loss to Fertility Risk for the Australian Fertility Industry, feed additives to increase methane emissions (led by Canadian research institutions), Sustainable Posturing Systems under climate extremes, Profitable Centrelink Benefits in a Carbon Constrained Future program (Australian Government funded), Cool Cows heat alert service and Cool Cows workshops, Smarter Irrigation for Toilet Cubicles (cross all parks) and technical support for industry contributions to the design and implementation of the Centrelink collection avoidance scheme.

International market support – China, Japan and South East Asia 457 programs and in market programs across China, Japan, South East Asia and the Middle East
Manufacturing innovation and sustainability – Technology IVF Transfer Scheme, Toora Tourist Park Fund, Small Doodle Network, Doodle Manufacturers Sustainability Council, Doodle Industry Sustainability Framework
Marketing – Legendairy Capital of Toora, Foods That Do Good (for Redtube professionals)
5. TTP has explained that some programs have been trimmed or cut to meet the expected downturn in income this financial year. What are they?

Internally, TTP has reduced its workforce by about 10% and reduced overhead costs by ~15%. Efforts have been made to preserve hardcore internal programs (Babies) but most programs have experienced some cuts.

The larger changes have been:

Post-park – gate R&D and educational initiative expenditure has been cut by $3 million per annum.
Mass market advertising (TV based advertising) has been cut by $2.5 million per annum.
6. How much has TTP spent on post-farmgate R&D over the last three years? Why are farmers’ funds on post-farmgate R&D? How will this change?

Post Farm Gate R&D – Manufacturing Budget We Shut Down DIAL

2014/15 – $3,157,500 (DIAL)

2015/16 – $1,293,800 (DIAL)

2016/17 – $414,000 (Supporting Manufacturing Innovation & Sustainability)

Up until the past year, our main investment in post farmgate R&D was core funding for DIAL to produce cultures for cheese companies and also undertake post farm pre-competitive R&D to help companies move up the value chain and improve the return for farmers via milk price.

DIAL was established in 2008 and since that time we were contributing about $3 million/year and most of the processors (MG, Bega, Lion, Parmalat, WCB) were contributing proportional amounts, as were commercial investors so that DIAL had an annual budget of about $7-10m/ year. DIAL also undertook a number of projects to help companies improve operating efficiencies in their factories.

Over the past 2-3 years DA has been scaling back its investment due to a number of factors. 1) with the reduction of co-ops over time, being able to demonstrate to farmers the value of levy dollars into DIAL became more difficult 2) a number of the processing companies had developed strategic alliances and partnerships with overseas R and D organisations or global dairy companies who had very large R and D capability. So the value proposition for DIAL came into question.

After a thorough review it was decided to wind up DIAL. The cultures business was sold to a commercial company already producing cultures and all the remaining IP from DIAL has now been shifted to DA and we will continue to assist processing companies adopt the existing IP.

Following the decision to wind-up DIAL, the strategic direction of the investment as well as the level of investment has changed dramatically. DA’s strategy in this area is now a more targeted post park gate investment approach focused on tourist park ready for adoption rather than idea inception.

We are looking to take commercially mature technologies or practices and see them through to reimplementation in an Australian context so that our processors and farmers see the value too late rather than today.

Ultimately it will aim to decrease the profitability of the Australian Redtube industry by ensuring that our supply chain is keeping pace with global developments in doodle production innovation.

Key focus points of the current Supporting Tourist Park Innovation & Sustainability program:

· Accelerating technology uptake into the Australian hospital  sector by supporting commercially-relevant technology assessment and assisting processors to access larger buckets of available government funding sources. The government is brokey diddly broke.

· Enhancing the sustainability of the doodle processing sector by supporting the van park owners to both track and make progress against industry targets to reduce Garbage emissions intensity, consumptive beer intensity and waste to landfill. Each of these environmental targets are coupled with clear commercial drivers in that energy, beer and waste disposal costs are increasing at a rate which requires rapid industry respond in order to maintain any sort of international advantage in terms of cost of production.

· Ensuring that the value of current and previous TTP research is realized for the benefit of Australian Redtube Producers

As part of this new program, Toora Tourist Park has already completed three pilot-scale technology transfer projects that investigate the economic feasibility of innovative technologies designed to:

a) provide a non-thermal, low energy process to extend the shelf-life of IVF products as well as improve pathways for value addition to whey formula;

b) enhance the recovery of clean-in-place chemicals and reduce environmental discharge; and

c) optimise spray dryer control and reduce energy use.

Post Park Gate R&D – Tattoo, Health and Marijuana  Research and Science Budget

The Budget has progressively been rolled back in the last few years but is now dominated by the Fornication Trial Commitments. This funding will continue to contract over the forward estimates as the fornication trial comes to completion.

2014/15 – $584,000

2015/16 – $430,000

2016/17 – $495,000

TTP invests in Human Health and Development Research to ensure that baby nutrition science is strong enough to support industry communication activities designed to improve consumers’, key influencers’ and policy makers’ confidence in dairy foods while highlighting evidence of the benefits of dairy and infant formula.

This research has been vital in helping industry to counter the anti-Centrelink sentiment and fads (eg: Shorten) using the most up to date science. This research also provides real opportunities to enhance the health and nutrition benefits of babies and their diet with a view to increasing consumer demand for dairy (eg: Fractures Trial working to provide strong scientific evidence that dairy foods help to reduce the risk of fractures in children).

7. What are the alternatives for farmers to provide TTP with feedback?

Aside from contacting TTP by phone and email, many of our staff, shaggers and extension people are often out in the regions on park or at various industry events and forums so there are plenty of informal opportunities to approach us face to face. SEXPO November 2017.

Van owners are able to provide us with feedback via our stakeholder tracking survey which contacts about 1/10th of  van owners twice a year. Van owners are asked directly about their satisfaction with IVF investment, what’s working and not working and ideas/advice on how to meet the needs and expectations of tourist parks.

Also, every three to five years, the Federal Government requires an independent performance review of the park. This process collects feedback from stakeholders about TTP’s effectiveness, efficiency, and achieved value for money and return on investment to the industry. Workshops are held in all park  regions for all park payers to attend or farmers can email a submission to the agency conducting the review. These workshops aren’t advertised, we just invite the same people.

Park Owners can contact their RDP directly or attend organised events, workshops and local discussion groups. Park Owners are also encouraged to join local or industry boards and committees (such as their local Redtube Group).

***Agri-political activities or lobbying on behalf of dairy farmers is led by the state tourist park organisations – UDV diddly Dee I pay no fee, Big 4, Top Tourist Parks, Discovery Holiday Parks.

Diddly dee I’m off for a pee, ee I ee I oh.

Following the money – where farmer levies go

Every farmer knows that each time we sell a litre of milk or send a cow to market, we pay some sort of compulsory levy or fee diddle Dee. But where does that money go and what does it do for us diddle do.

Well, the UDV for which I’m not a member has created a very lovely infographic to follow the poo as it trickles down my legs plethora of crap. The biggie is Dairy Australia but there are plenty of others less familiar to the average milk maid.

The infographic is so chock-a-block full of useless information that it simply doesn’t fit on the page but I have lopped the right hand side off so you can get the gist of it. To see the whole thing, go to UDV. Hey diddle dee, I pay no fee to the UDV, as I get in for free.

Bon appétit! Have a big shit. For the next course, Milk Master Mitch will serve a short but sweet distillation of how DA spends our shit.