Don [ASOPA 1964-65] and Bernie Williams live at idyllic Taylors Beach, a small north Queensland hamlet midway between Townsville and Cairns. To the east is Ingham and to the west, across azure waters teeming with those fish that make Don’s pulse race, is Orpheus Island national park.
When Don and Bernie met in the late eighties, they were both teachers in the Northern Territory. Don soared through the NT education system to become a school principal. A couple of years before, seeking a new challenge, Bernie had thrown her car on a freight truck in Adelaide and headed north to Darwin.
They discovered Taylors Beach while on leave and by the early nineties were ready to move from the desert to the coast. They built a house at the beach and Don completed a Master’s degree in education. Both worked as school counsellors, gradually easing back on the throttle with part-time work as retirement loomed. Life was good.
Then in 1999 IT happened. Bernie calls it IT. And IT is the major depression and anxiety disorder she still battles. Depression is a subject Bernie’s come to know well – and now, after a long struggle, she’s written about it in ‘I need a bandaid for my brain’ - an honest, gritty and uplifting story of her fight against a debilitating condition that cut through her life – and Don’s life - in the most devastating way.
Bernie wrote Bandaid to share with other people who have depression, who know someone with the condition or who just want to know more about IT – from the inside. Her psychiatrist Michael Likely unhesitatingly recommends the book, and says: “Bernie is a credit to sufferers of depression. I consider it an honour to have met Bernie Williams”. And Bernie has dedicated the book to Don for “the beautiful wonder of unconditional love and support”. That is a wonderful sentiment; it is so perfectly shaped.
Bernie won’t be at the Brisbane reunion – but she’s doing OK. My old mate Don, well, he always does OK, too.
Copies of Bandaid are available at $10, which goes towards further printing costs, from Don and Bernie Williams, PO Box 29, Taylors Beach, Queensland 4850.