“I’m someone who grew up in government care. At 15 I was shown the door with a bag of clothes, nothing else, and told ‘There’s the door now bugger off.’ I got hurt by authority figures and so I was angry, fighting with authority and lawless. I had heaps of attitude and ran amok.”
On top of being deeply wounded and angered by his time in state care, David felt he was not equipped for life on the outside. He had a succession of jobs but often clashed with employers.
“It just goes ‘round in a circle.”
David used to dress head to toe in black – a big black leather coat, black pants, heavy black boots, black sunglasses and cap...
“In black, people wouldn’t speak to me and I wouldn’t speak to them. In black all I want to do is isolate myself.”
But a year ago he started wearing some colour.
“I bought a pink t-shirt and it started from there. The colours make me feel better and the darkness goes…it’s like a cloud lifts. If you are going to whinge you have to come up with an alternative. And if you want something out of life you have to get it yourself and it’s OK to get help from other people.”
Now he dresses in nothing but colour and people treat him differently. As a Mind Ambassador he tells workshops at the Victorian Police Academy that because of their dark, authoritarian uniform they have to work hard to be respected. “It’s about treating the public, whether they have a mental illness or not, the same way they want to be treated.”
David is also on the Mind Recovery College’s Southern Campus Working Group and has taught courses. He also does public speaking for other mental health organisations.
“I try to blend in now and not make a fuss. I pick the battles I can win but I do it in a totally different way like being on this committee for the Recovery College and going to the Police Academy. I’m making a difference and making change in an appropriate way.”