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Sometimes it’s about you

By johnboy - 10 June 2009 72

The Canberra Times brings word of the end of an era in Canberra legal matters with Michael Firestone’s epic and voluminous disability complaint against the ANU finally being dismissed.

    Mr Firestone, a former PhD linguistics student, alleged the university discriminated against him when it kicked him out for harassing students and staff and again when it refused to process a job application from him.

    The university’s decision, in April 2003, to exclude Mr Firestone was backed up a month later by Magistrate Maria Doogan, who banned him for one year from the Canberra campus and from contacting university employees.

His stated disability is depression.

It’s the curse of higher learning institutions that those they aggrieve will often turn to the law with peculiar tenacity.

Michael should thank his lucky stars that the ACT Discrimination Tribunal in dismissing his complaint saw fit to not award costs to the ANU and move on with his life.


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Sometimes it’s about you
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James Rice 2:04 am 17 Oct 10

As an epilogue to this thread, Michael Firestone passed away due to a heart-related illness in February 2010 at the age of 40 years. More information can be found here.

MXF 8:53 pm 12 Jun 09

Also, this episode of Australian Story (ABC-TV):
Australian Story – ‘The Girl Least Likely’ (15 September, 2008)
“MARK MODRA, FATHER: Hannah wrote in her diary that we need to talk about depression. It was like she was getting herself ready to tell the world about depression. She wanted to understand it. She wanted to solve the problem for herself. She wanted to then help other people. And that’s really why we’re doing this.”

peterh 11:21 am 12 Jun 09

Jakez, I have several friends who, due to disabling accidents, birth defects and mental disability, point out to me often that thay are prone to depression, considering that sometimes their lives seem pretty bleak. They draw on the resources available to them through friends and family, and stellar organisations like lifeline and beyond blue. I first came in contact with these people through my early work with the YMCA, as a leader.

The definition that they have re disability vs depression is that the disability is an obstacle to overcome, depression is an illness that has a tangible treatment and cure. Disabled people can be depressed, but they don’t see their disability as a limiting factor in their lives, just something that they have to consider is a part of them, but by no means defines who they are.

jakez 10:53 am 12 Jun 09

Peterh: Well the computer ate my reply. Just assume I made warm noises of response and then asked you to then in light of your now demonstrated understanding, justify your delineation between illness and disability and your implication that a disability is a physical thing (eg, missing limb as you used). Please refer to my thoughts on the matter above re definitions.

Sorry for being curt, having to retype something makes me very to the point.

Pommy bastard 10:24 am 12 Jun 09

I think I am right in saying, though stand to be proven wrong with no shame, that depression (as an illness) is transient, though a person may have several episodes over a life time, and that if a single episode lasts more than 18 months, then a different diagnosis (ie personality disorder/trait) would be sought.

peterh 10:11 am 12 Jun 09

jakez said :

peterh said :

Granny said :

Yes, it’s not so much ‘What do you call the thing?’ as ‘How does it affect somebody’s ability to live a normal life?’

it is an illness, not a disability. a depressed person can still articulate their feelings and wishes to others. many disabled people cannot. Depression sufferers have use of their limbs, some disabled people do not. when it would get really murky, is if the person with depression is also disabled. I am not making light of either cirumstance, but what would the doctor say or do?

I think that is a very narrow definition of disability peterh. If your wife dies and you are sad, you aren’t depressed. You go, GOD DAMN I AM MOURNING LIKE A MOFO.

Depression is different. I am unconvinced that you know anything of depression. Prove me wrong please.

And that is a true request. I’ve been dying to be proven wrong by somebody for like 3 weeks now. I don’t even care what the topic is anymore.

Ok Jakez, how about this?
In one week, my stepbrother was killed in a plane crash, my employer went bust, My rental was sold out from under me. my car was repo’d and my girlfriend left me as she couldn’t handle the dark mood I was now in.

Beyond blue wasn’t around, and i was homeless, jobless, carless and really didn’t know what i was doing. I had hit rock bottom. I remember not worrying as I crossed roads as I might end the pain I had inside – if a car had hit me, all the better.

I was convinced that my life had no value, I was worthless and I deserved to die. I had started drinking heavily, and, after running out of friends through my mooching drinks off them all, started to contemplate how best to end my life.

I had been in this dark mood previously, when my parents were divorcing, and their heated arguments were often interjected with comments that if it wasn’t for the kid, I would have been out of here years ago… I tried to cop out then, 3 times.

This time, I very nearly succeeded. Ainslie village was earlier in my life, I wasn’t prepared to go back to that hell. I went to sleep under an overpass in winter – no jacket, no gloves, frost all around, and I had been drinking heavily, from my dole money. (I was using my mother’s address as my own address) as I started to freeze, I gave up.

I remember being bundled into a van, by the salvos. They took me to the men’s shelter out near the causeway, and kept me under constant vigil – death watch. I did not care. I had nothing, and wanted nothing. All that i had, had been lost. I was there for 6-months, till the counselling broke through my fog of despair and I started to take an interest in life.

I have been back to that dark place in my mind, several times. Never as intense as before, and I have seen plenty to make me believe that there isn’t a god, or if there is, i have done something mightily bad to piss him or her off.

I now have regular counselling. I am not depressed at the moment, afaik, and I have come to terms with my limitations. I now live for my family. My life revolves around a caring and understanding wife, 3 great kids and a very small group of close friends. Not one of these friends are from my dark days. Those friends were lost, never to be regained.

Jim Jones 9:46 am 12 Jun 09

BerraBoy68 said :

What staggered me is the amount of people that approached me over the past 14 months to tell me that they too suffered a similar event(s) throughout their life. Sadly though almost all of them keep asked me to keep their secret in fear of some imagined stigma from others who possibly, just possibly, believe they are just “a complete asshole”.

It’s amazing the amount of people who’ve been touched by depression in one way or another – and yes, everyone wants to hide it for fear of the stigma.

Kudos for telling your story, it can’t be easy.

Also, another +1 for BeyondBlue, I’ve done work for them in the past, and they’re absolutely outstanding.

jakez 9:17 am 12 Jun 09

I gave the definitional discussion going on here a bit of thought in the car last night. It strikes me that some people are doing two things.

1, They are acting like illness and disability are mutually exclusive descriptions; ie, that an illness can not be a disability.
2, They are defining ‘disability’ as a physical disability. I think disability extends beyond a bung knee or a missing vagoina.

Depression is no joke. It can be completely debilitating because it completely skews your rational processing of the world and events.

Deadmandrinking 11:32 pm 11 Jun 09

Sorry, I shouldn’t have said ‘confess’, that was a poor choice of words. What I meant was a lot more to ‘A lot more to open up and share’. I am tired and a little unwell.

Deadmandrinking 11:25 pm 11 Jun 09

I’m glad you’re here to talk about it, Berraboy. It takes a lot of guts to get through something like that. A lot more to open up and confess. That makes you more of a man than many – to actually admit that you are human.

Granny 9:55 pm 11 Jun 09

It sounds like they do wonderful work, guys. I really think the way that we make little boys feel like they mustn’t cry is just so unhealthy. How are they ever supposed to let things out?

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