Black Saturday - Black Dog

Black Saturday

The 5th anniversary of the tragic Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria can bring the black dog back into many lives.

173 people died, 414 were injured, and tens of thousands of Australians were affected by that devastating weekend.

Black Dog Rider Ray Pratt has penned his thoughts as they crowd his mind in the wake of the anniversary of Black Saturday.

It's been almost five years since you first made my acquaintance
This week was important to me and you certainly made it difficult
I had to do a training course for a Rigging and Dogging ticket
Sitting in a classroom trying to concentrate is hard enough without your interference

I rode my bike to the course. I used to love feeling the freedom of the open road.
I would allow my senses to soak up all the wonderful fragrances that nature had to provide
You delight in changing the very things I loved and turn them into triggers
Of the things that torment my soul

A warm summer breeze on my face used remind me of excursions to the beach
Now the hairs on the back of my neck prickle, my muscles tense,
The floodgates open, uncontrollably and without warning.
You reminded me of when we first met.

You showed me the true power nature has, and highlighted my mortality
I saw hell, fire, brimstone and fury, unleased, indiscriminate and absolute.
My youthful days of shorts and 'T' shirts have now changed to flame resistant collar to cuff.
It wasn't a conscious decision; I just don't feel comfortable exposing my flesh to the heat.

The odour of burnt flesh is forever etched, indelibly into my memory.
Why did you need to remind me of that this week?
I was meant to study each night and prepare for exam
Instead I was exhausted, physically and mentally drained

My pillow could not come soon enough
And yet you denied its relief filling my head with ghosts from the past
On Tuesday you took away my only defence
My little friend called Pristiq, and no time to get a script filled

I never expected to be so reliant on this little pill
You seemed to delight in reminding me
DT's, sweats, nausea, and a racing mind, that just won't abate
I really needed to concentrate in class.

Your distraction was not invited. You poke prodded and tormented relentlessly
I tried to avoid conversation with classmates about past experiences
You fed their curiosity and eventually I conceded.
Then their curiosity engulfed me

Friday brought some rain. A slow steady all cleansing shower.
I love the smell, fresh and rejuvenating.
You, my Black dog were silent, and I did my exam.
My course finished on a good note and now I have a long weekend to recharge the batteries.

Ray Pratt, 2014

If you are in emotional crisis please call Lifeline's 24hr crisis line on 13 11 14