My name is Hayden Bradford. If I had a CV or resume it would read, ex-stockman, ex-military man, ex-corporate man.

Time for some honest words. Words I feel are necessary. Words which are true and serious.

I wrote this story because my head needed to laugh. Man oh man, did it need to laugh. You see, the strangest thing happened to me. The wiring and circuits carrying the pink – cheeked chemicals of happiness inside my head stopped flowing as the neurons in my brain ceased communicating with my neurotransmitters. This caused parts of my brain to become overactive or under responsive. It occurred rather suddenly and dramatically. As I said, the strangest thing.

My military service finally caught up with me. I somehow always knew there was some stuff if you do it long enough; it’s going to affect you.

The year which sometimes sneaks into my dreams and haunts me is 2009. It was some year, especially for me. I’d had the blues before; who hasn’t? They were no biggie. They would come and go, but this time they didn’t go. This time they stayed and bubbled in my blood, and scorched parts of my brain, messing with it in ways I can’t explain.

Later I would learn there was a name for what was happening to me. I had a full-blown disease called depression, major depression I was told. She’s a nasty piece of work. Whoever she touches ends up in a ‘world of hurt’. I have a name for my depression. I call her the fuck-up fairy. When she visits, I’m all fucked up for a while. On such visits, the normality of the ebb and flow of my life ceases.

But the good news is, I was told, there are medicines to repair my burnt-out brain. Medicines to make my wiring and circuits good again. These medicines would stop the depression’s black march forward; stop it dead in it tracks, give it the ‘old heave-ho, out you go.’ Then my brain would be happy and healthy and party as if there’s no tomorrow.

Lucky me, lucky me indeed.

My medical team insisted back in 2009, and still insist today, that I exercise my brain as much as possible. Write they told me, write, and do things to tax your brain cells. It’s good therapy for depression. Take the medicines, work the brain, they said, and we’ll kick this depression thing right off the planet. I dealt with specialist after specialist, all credible and highly regarded in their chosen field of medical expertise in the science of the brain. We changed medication, changed dosages, and still my brain remained confused, and messed up. My brain has been CAT scanned, MRI scanned, poked, prodded, and there are so many drugs running through it, I should be declared illegal.

Today, it is the month of May of 2014, some five years later, as I pen these last words to this story. I sit in the pleasant gardens of a private hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne is heading into its winter period, as I’m going into a course of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). This is a medical procedure done under general anaesthetic. The brain is stimulated by a series of electrical pulses which cause it to have seizures, hopefully, to reactivate the bits that don’t work anymore.

You see, the medications that were meant to repair my brain haven’t worked properly. The fuck-up fairy still comes and visits me, and my depression still bubbles in my blood. I’ve baffled the medical experts in the workings of the brain. I’m now classed as treatment resistant.

As I sit, enjoying the sun, a cat wanders over and jumps on my lap. It’s the hospital cat. Some hospitals have them hanging around in the garden areas to give its patients something to hold, to pat, to love. The cat doesn’t know me from a bar of soap, yet it trusts me. It doesn’t judge me. All the cat wants is some of my time, a scratch, a lap to sit on for a while, a friend. Such a pity the human race is not like this cat. Sadly, my illness, my depression, has cost me friends, family too. People who I once thought were good and wholesome, people who I once entertained in our house, decided that associating with people like me, people who have depression is not the done thing. In their eyes I’m not whole anymore; I have a mental illness. These people have judged me on the stigma my mental illness unfairly attracts. Another reason my head needed to laugh.

So there you have it; the reasons I wrote Travesty.

Importantly, I did not write this story to belittle, insult, or to cast doubt on any religion or any person’s religious beliefs or opinions. I fully support a person’s right to practise religion, providing such practice does not negatively affect or harm other people. But for me, for many reasons – I choose not to believe.

You see, I’ve seen Hell, and there is no Devil. There is only death and destruction. I’ve seen Heaven, and there is no God. There is only green grass, ocean breezes, close family and friends.

Finally, I hope you get a laugh or two from my book. I hope you find it a fun story. I wrote for the fun of writing and the therapeutic value to be gained from messing with words. My head needs it.

Today, I think I’m fortunate, not as fortunate as some, but more fortunate than others.

All in all, I’m doing ok, not as ok as some, but more ok than others.

Hayden Bradford

May 2014