The Nature of Survival, Doug

‘I’m Country and I’m a bloke, whose written about overcoming struggles with mental illness and grief. Not many blokes write about this sort of thing but there is a need. My book ‘The Nature of Survival’ has been really well received.’ Doug Lang was on ABC Landline on the 8th October 2017, it was their Mental Health Week episode. He spoke recently at the Belmont Library. He is inspiring thousands.


‘I’ll never forget the day I was in the Innamincka Hotel. I’d taken to the Strzelecki Desert with my swag to focus on writing. They told me there was a Police Bulletin out for me. I’m thinking, ‘must be a broken pipe on my property or something’ but I was devastated to hear that Rebecca, my daughter, was undergoing surgery in Melbourne for a brain tumour. I was 6 days drive at least from Melbourne. They’d only known me 5 minutes and they had me on the next mining jet out of there and had organised for my ute to go on a road train down south. The kindness and generosity of people never amazes me. I still keep in touch with them.

‘We only had Rebecca, 27, with us for 6 more months after that. It took me awhile to get back to the book but Cheryl, my wife insisted. I found writing therapeutic and a good way of working through the grief.

‘I’d battled with mental illness all my life and found that planting trees on my farm just out of Colac helped me immensely. When I was made redundant from my job with the Commonwealth Health Service unexpectedly, I was inspired to write about my experiences. The book started out as being a self-help book but after the loss of Rebecca it became a book about how I coped with the gruelling grief of the loss of a child.

‘I’ve had so many handwritten letters. Here are some examples:

  • A Year 12 kid who was doing a project on Mental Health
  • Someone saying thanks, now I know I’m not alone
  • Someone who’d seen me on Landline, whose husband went to his GP the next day to get a referral to see a psychologist
  • Very sadly, a wife saying, I wish I knew about your book 3 weeks ago before I husband took his life

‘I’ve been honest and have described what it’s like to hit rock bottom. It was about 20 years ago that I lost my licence for drink driving. Not much good when your work is driving a mobile library. The loss of job led to a spiral of events including separating from Cheryl and taking an overdose. I was airlifted to Melbourne and thankfully after 3 years at Alcoholics Anonymous, I turned things round. I started planning trees on our 50 acre property and now I’m still planting. Working hard in the environment helped my mental health. The more trees I planted the better I felt. I wrote grants to allow me to plant trees and they told me they could feel my passion. That was for a $60,000 Biodiversity grant. We are still linked with Greening Australia and hold 2-3 field days a year.

‘My highlight has been seeing native grasses, shrubs, wildflowers and fauna spring up in the revegetate areas that we’ve fenced off. I’m also pleased to know my book is helping others.

‘My advice would be, the most important thing is, to get help as quickly as possible.

‘I’m grateful to ABC Landline, the episode had over 145,000 views and left us selling up to 60 books a day. The exposure was phenomenal. I wanted to keep the money local so self-published and the Colac Herald printed the book for us. You can order it through our website.

Story: Jacqui Bennett. Photo: Supplied by Doug Lang

The #humansingeelongexpo2018 is the uplifting opening of Mental Health Week on Sunday 7th October at Deakin Waterfront. SAVE THE DATE!