Not unlike my passion for riding motorcycles, beekeeping has remained a constant in my life for the previous thirty years or so. With at least one Ducati motorcycle along with a beehive always on hand. Little did I know back then how these two interests would later juxtapose in such a symbiotic manner.
After surviving a near fatal motorcycle accident back in 2002, I was prescribed OXYCONTIN opiate painkillers (known on the street as “Hillbilly Heroin”) to deal with chronic pain from eight broken vertebrae and a dislocated hip. I also broke a couple of ribs, a scapula (shoulder), punctured my lung and ended up in a coma with an ABI (Acquired Brain Injury)
I was to join local ABI support group ‘BISSI’ and be elected as the group’s President, a year or so later. I also returned to my Visual Arts Degree studies at university where I realised catharsis through making art.
Initially the ‘sustained release’ pain medications worked remarkably well, relieving discomfort for up to eight hours each time I took my 3 x daily dose. I had no idea at this stage how the need for them would escalate to such unhealthy levels.
Like a junkie, my body required regular opiate use and while pain from injuries highlighted the time for my “next fix”, my mind needed the drug to remain in what I believed was a somewhat ‘normal’ state.
While undertaking the everyday duties of running the farm, I constantly referred to the clock, always eager for the pre-determined hour to take my meds and quell growing discomfort in my damaged back and hip. However, along with work in the studio, animals had to be fed, fencing maintained to keep the herd of goats in and my then dozen or so beehives regularly worked. The apiary work compelled me to carry on each day regardless of how I felt physically.
I believed then, that OxyContin allowed me to fulfill these duties. Meanwhile, my tolerance to the drug increased along with opiate strength rates needed to maintain effectiveness. Until I came to the point where I realised I must remove myself from the very dark place I had found myself in.
Being a part of the Epicormia Collective of artists based in the Northern Rivers has proven to be yet another great catalyst to break free of my dependence on these toxic drugs. After six months spent reducing the levels of opiate painkillers I was taking, the hardest work really began. Taking a further six months to rid the toxins from my body to gain back a sense of authentic “normality”.
Long term insomnia pointed me to many all nighters spent in the studio overcoming depression, dry sweats, restless leg syndrome and insomnia as I “detoxed”. Catharsis through production of artwork, this time ‘The Re-Authoring Impulse’, has played a role in liberating me from trauma once again.