Dogged by the black dog

“Can I ask you about the plight of Whaleoil?”  Jim Mora asked me on our discussion on the internet on Critical Mass today.

I’d been mulling over a post about him since reading Cactus Kate’s plea to Save The Whale in response to the Herald on Sunday story in response to this post by Whaleoil and comments from his wife on Gotcha.

I came across Whaleoil on the internet when I first started blogging and treated it with caution. I admired some of the posts, especially those which broke news which influenced the mainstream media. I was moved by the way he was so open about his struggle with depression but found other posts offensive.

Since then I’ve met him a couple of times. The first was at a National Party conference last year and the second, very briefly at another conference last weekend. The next day I read the HOS story and found Cactus’s post about it when I got home late that evening.

Several pennies dropped – clinical depression explains the contrasts between the intelligent and reasoned posts and the vitriolic ones.

Those who know him well have written on this. I don’t know enough to add anything on him, but I do know a bit about depression and other mental illness.

Most of us understand physical illness and have sympathy for those who are unwell.

Mental illness is different.

Those who’ve never experienced or been exposed to it find it difficult to understand and there’s often a feeling that people just need to pull themselves together.

Anyone who has been dogged by the black dog themselves, or had to cope with it in family and friends will tell you it’s not that simple and often that it’s not just the illness which is problematic, the treatment can be too.

Medication can help some people. In others it doesn’t and may cause side effects which can be as difficult to deal with as the problems it was supposed to treat. Working your way through the mental health system can be a nightmare and finding a mental health professional who can make a positive difference is another challenge.

I know stories, which aren’t mine to tell, of people’s battles with depression. From them I have some appreciation of  how difficult it is even for those who have loving and caring family and friends to support them; the frustration which even intelligent, articulate, positive  and assertive professionals who are used to dealing with complex problems in their work face in trying to help family or friends who are depressed  and how the system which ought to help so often doesn’t.

I hope Whaleoil and his family find the help they need and wish them the strength and love to tame the black dog and send it packing.

Related posts:

Keeping Stock on Helping a Fellow Blogger.

Roarprawn on Whales Tale  and Saving the Whale.

Kiwiblog on Cactus on Whale

Stepehn Franks on Whaleoil and Insurance.

Motella on Whale Wars.

2 Responses to Dogged by the black dog

  1. Inventory2 says:

    Well said Ele. I have never met Cam personally, but we have chatted online from time to time. Other online friends know him very well, and are deeply concerned for his wellbeing just now.

    What I do believe is that he has been treated appallingly badly by his insurer, which was happy to accept his premiums during the good times, but seems to be welching on its contract to support him in the tough times. That’s the last kind of obstacle a mentally ill person needs to be dealing with. I have no doubt whatsoever that his current state has been exacerbated by his struggles with Fidelity Life..

    My thoughts and prayers are with Cam and his amazing and supportive family.


  2. pdm says:

    As a former adviser I have two quite different experiences when handling client claims with Fidelity.

    In the first case I came on the scene just as the claim was made and declined by Fidelity who were intransigent about a very marginal `non disclosure’ issue. My view was that the clients should have gone to the Banking and Insurance Ombudsman as there was full disclosure but they chose not to do so. I was able to get them full cover on standard terms with another company as they understandably refused to continue with Fidelity.

    The second case was early last year just before I sold my business. Late in 2008 my client had surgery for bowel cancer and we completed a claim for Critical Care cover. The client also had Income Protection cover but had only been off work 2 or 3 days longer than the waiting period. When I raised the question about claimng for both with Fidelity they advised he should do so. The reason being if he had a relapse of the cancer he could claim his Income Protection from day one without any waiting period if the relapse happened within a year.

    Totally different treatment in each case and in the latter situation which while a different condition and I suspect both a lesser monthly claim amount and payment period (my client was in his mid 50’s) much different treatment to what WhaleOil is experiencing.

    As an aside WO must have had an advser to support and help him with that claim – where is that person in all of this. He/she should be advocating for him.


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