Mental Health Art Exhibition
The Last Drop - anxiety and climate change
Diane stared at the animals’ feed which was running out. Feeding the animals had become a luxury—like a treat you give every now and then. The priority of the feeding order had somewhat changed in her house since the drought: kids, animals, husband and then herself. Eating now carried a lot of guilt with it, she no longer found delight in it as she watched her animals starve.
Diane walked back in the house and started washing her vegetables with the trickling water. She watched her husband Jacko in the bare dry land that had once been prosperous and green. She could no longer see the shimmering of the sun reflecting off the dam water; the dam had dried up a long time ago. She wiped the carrots with a clean damp cloth—every drop was precious. She listened to the news from her TV in the background as she cut the carrots. The meteorologist spoke in a happy and lively manner about beautiful sunny days in Brisbane and Sydney; city folks loved hot and sunny days at the beach or in the backyard pool as their lush green palms and Jacaranda trees provided them with the much-needed shade from the sweltering heat, but for the Jacko family, there was nothing beautiful about hot and sunny days anymore. Her kids could no longer find respite in the cool water of their dam. Her toddler had never seen the rain. His world was not made up of the many colours of the rainbow. Only two colours were present in Archie’s colour palette: brown, that he associated with his dusty dry land; and blue that he associated with a cloudless and rainless sky. He had never seen the shades of the therapeutic green. Archie had never heard the rain on his tin roof, nor had he ever felt it on his skin. He had been born in that unforgiving and hostile part of Australia—that part that the rest of the country counted on to feed their families.
Diane’s daughter’s school fees were also drying up. Diane would have to home school Jessica and purchase water with the school fees. She was hopeful one day she would save that money up again and send her daughter to school, but Jacko had lost that hope a long time ago. He had lost all hope when he saw the toughest of Australian native birds, animals and indigenous trees start to die. Everything and everyone had a breaking point. His surrounding wildlife and animals had reached that breaking point already. Every time he had to remove a dead cow or sheep, or another dead bird fell from the sky a piece of him died with them. Waking up to find that Kangaroo droves and feral animals had cleared out the little feed they had left for their animals was one of the reasons sleep had become a luxury for him.
Jacko’s anxiety was creeping up on him and now the coping skills he had had at the beginning of the drought had left him; hopelessness and apprehension had taken over. Every night as he closed his eyes, he tried to control his shortness of breath as depicted the worst possible scenario.
Di touched his hand as he walked inside, but he was mentally unresponsive, as he had been
for many months now.
“Honey let’s leave the kids with your mum and go into town. You need to see a doctor. I can’t bear to see you like this anymore; the kids need their dad back.”
“You’re not ok. We are not ok.”
“A doctor isn’t going to solve my problems. We need water, we need feed. We live in the middle of nowhere, I’m not going to drive six hours to see a doctor who just wants to chat and I’m certainly not going to spend that money on myself instead of feeding the animals or my family.”
Jacko walked to their bedroom and closed the door. He knelt beside the bed and sobbed like a child. He brought his hands together and prayed for the first time in his life. He didn’t believe in God but now he prayed asking the universe for help to give him not water from the sky but to give him one last drop of hope. Diane seeing her husband praying realized he had reached the breaking point, just like his land and animals. She knelt next to him and put her arms around him. Jacko stood still for a second then hugged her.
“How about we go into town tomorrow, just the two of us?”
Jacko didn’t reply but just nodded and wiped his eyes from the tears he should’ve shed a long time ago.