Last night on TV3, Cameron Slater was once again on the News. This time, it was not because he'd outed someone in a Court case that was granted name suppression. This time it was more personal. The loss of his home following the denial of his Insurance company to keep paying out on his income protection plan.
In 2004, Cameron was diagnosed with depression and it was this therapist that suggested he start a blog.
According to Cameron's wife, the therapist said "it was just the thing." Only, as we have all come to know and learn, that therapy, that fighting other people's causes, whether you agree with them or not, has landed Cameron in some serious shit. He is due to appear in Court this August to answer to the allegations of him breeching name suppression. No doubt, he will back in the News then as well.
I will be one of the first people to admit - yes, I have hidden my scared sorry ass behind Cameron in silent support of what he's done. I do think the name suppression Laws in New Zealand need to be changed. I do think, when it comes to victims of sexual abuse, it is the victim's choice NOT the Judges who, in some cases, dish out name suppression because they don't want to add shame to the abuser. Some name suppressions are handed out purely on the basis of protecting the abuser's reputation. I am no legal expert but I'm pretty that's not the purpose of such a Law, and so yes, Cameron has become, like a lot of us, real bloody frustrated by it all, and yes, he's gone put his money where his mouth is, and yes, maybe he will have to pay for that.
Some of you who have called me a pink haired liberal, I thank you. On a more serious note, it's only those small voices that yell the hardest, the loudest, that make for Law changes in this country - not the pussy voiced people like myself to a certain extent. I admire Cameron's courage. I sympathise with his wife's frustration - seeing her husband mangled by depression and only coming for a breath of fresh air when he's been fighting what she calls "other people's fights."
But now, now that this TV3 News article has been broadcast saying (what some already knew) that Cameron suffers from a mental illness, some of the power in what he's been saying seems to have lost some of that joie de vie. Now people are saying, oh that's why Cameron went loop-da-loop, he has a mental illness. I don't think for a moment that his mental illness had anything to do with his sudden change of career, so to speak. I just think he's a passionate man who wears his heart on his sleeve, is prepared to take up the flag for causes, and does so, sometimes, in a rather "in ya face" manner, and .. oh yeah, he has a mental illness.
By the way, when the hell did someone having a mental illness warrant national TV coverage?
And what of those who say that blogging, for example, is just good old fashioned therapy that's just using the latest technology? Well, who doesn't write a blog without some personal input, some personal experience influencing what they write? You don't need a mental illness for that. Some times you just need to be real pissed off with an ex-boyfriend to realise your potential as a voodoo-doll-making-blogger expert. Allegedly.
So now we have people writing on Cameron's blog, telling him to just shut the f*ck up and get himself some help? Why can't he be both a blogger and someone with a mental illness? And, when did those two lines (therapy verses activism) become so blurred?
In writing this, I was reminded of a movie, called July 4th. Tom Cruise, never got therapy for his PTSD as a result of the war but he did alter the way people in general treated their returned service soldiers - and all that from a wheelchair. Sure he is just an actor, playing a part, but that situation and the subsequent movie was a real portrayal of life for a lot of people. He turned therapy over for activism and it worked. Pretty much like some of those submissions being sent into the ACC Clinical Pathway's Review Panel. I know most of those submissions are from people who are being refused therapy and have now decided to become activists in a cause against injustice.
Some times people, it is in spite of a mental illness that people try to do good - not because of it.