Dear Opal Network supporter,
A decade ago here in Eugene, Oregon we formed an informal coalition of more than a dozen agencies that work on mental health.
Our goal: To increase the empowerment and self-determination of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors here in Lane County, Oregon.
We are planning a fun event for October 2019 for Opal Network.
We have two more planning meetings before this event and we hope you attend one or both.
For a flyer about the below information, click here:
The first planning meeting is being held as part of the next MindFreedom Oregon grassroots meeting, which can be found on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/599661783770501/
Here is the text from the flyer:
Save the Date: Free October Public Event by Opal Network
Creativity & Mental Wellness in Lane County
Music, Art, Poetry for Empowerment in Mental Health
You are invited to be a planner for this special Fall celebration!
Where: Trauma Healing Project
1100 Charnelton St., Eugene, OR
1st Planning Mtg: This Fri. 9/6/2019
2 pm – 3 pm
2nd Planning Mtg: Fri. 10/4/2019
2 pm – 3 pm
Main Event: Tues. 10/29/2019
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Hosts: Christina Peirsol & David W. Oaks
Your ideas & time are important for this fun community gathering. Help plan & join in the excitement!
All are welcome. All agencies and groups that work in mental health in Lane County are encouraged to send representatives.
We especially invite mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors to attend & speak out!
A Lane County coalition to support the self-determination, voice and empowerment of clients of mental health services. Get involved!
Started in 2007, this free public forum in Eugene is named after Opal Whiteley [1897 – 1992], a famous author with a psychiatric diagnosis who was born and raised in Lane County.
Thank you to Opal Network Sponsors:
• Aciu Institute • Center for Family Development • Direction Service • Eugene Office of Human Rights • Lane County Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Advisory Council • Lane Independent Living Alliance • Laurel Hill Center • MindFreedom Oregon • NAMI Lane County • Oregon Consumer/Survivor Coalition • Oregon Family Support Network • PeaceHealth Counseling Services • Sexual Assault Support Services • ShelterCare • Trauma Healing Project • White Bird/CAHOOTS
Sign language if 72 hours notice.Dear Opal Network planner,
Today is 15 July 2019, and we honor the birthday of the late great Leonard Roy Frank, one of the main psychiatric survivor leaders of our modern era, and a good friend (his photo is on the left). I have blogged about Leonard before, and Mad Pride Month needs to celebrate Leonard: http://davidwoaks.com/my-friend-leonard-roy-frank
Leonard supported grassroots activism wherever you are. Our local group, MindFreedom Oregon, is a state affiliate of the human rights coalition MindFreedom International. We support calling this whole month of July, Mad Pride Month!
You probably did not hear about this call for July becoming Mad Pride Month since we have only told a few folks. It’s not too late for the rest of the month! How have you celebrated this month, perhaps accidentally? Especially, what ideas do you have for next year, July 2020, to celebrate Mad Pride? Do you support making July Mad Pride Month? If so, please contact us, there are many ways to assist this, see Mad Pride Social Media Volunteers below.
Yesterday was Bastille Day, 14 July 2019. One of the reasons July should be Mad Pride Month is that for decades, leaders in the psychiatric survivor movement have used Bastille Day to celebrate the human spirit and oppose psychiatric oppression and tyranny. One of the main activities each year is a three-day camping vigil in front of the New York State mental health agency in Albany. This vigil wrapped up yesterday. For more info about their event, their Facebook link for this vigil is here.
Here are eight ways I am celebrating Mad Pride this July:
- Way to go, my good friend Rev. Phil Schulman! He was one of the keynote speakers at the annual Alternatives Conference, which has just been held in DC. Incredibly, people are searching for a video or audio recording of Phil’s speech! Accidents may happen, but I call Phil “The Movement Minister” and getting out his message is a high priority. Hopefully, someone will find a recording of Phil’s keynote. After years of leading congregations, mainly Unitarian Universalist, Phil experienced a serious head injury about a year and a half ago. His resilience, love, and leadership are so very important to our movement.
- Opal Network: Here in Oregon, one of the main literary heroes was psychiatric survivor Opal Whiteley. About a decade ago, we created an informal coalition called the Opal Network which has spoken out for the empowerment of local mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. We meet every time a month has five Tuesdays, about four times a year, so that means our next public gathering will be Tuesday, 30 July 2019. Our theme will be how the arts can support mental and emotional well-being, and psychiatric survivor liberation. Psychiatric survivor Chrissy Peirsol and I plan to host a round table at the downtown Eugene Trauma Healing Project, 11th and Charnelton, at 3:30 pm. We will have a web video Zoom call, so you can participate for free wherever you live. Interested? Please email us at: email@example.com
- World’s Biggest Sneeze! A few days ago, several of us in MindFreedom Oregon gave a presentation at a stage in Community Village, as part of the celebration of the 50th Annual Oregon Country Fair (if you’re new to OCF, watch some videos of this wild hippie gathering in the woods here). During our event, we held the World’s Biggest Sneeze! Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah… CHOO! We are allergic to what is called “normality” which actually does not exist! Our household plays a simple game you can join: Whenever we hear the word “normal” on the radio, TV, or conversation, we sneeze! The first to sneeze wins. Try it!
- When society is crazy & paralyzed, who are you gonna call? The Mad Pride Movement! Because of the climate crisis, 100% of humanity is clearly part of the Mad Pride Movement. We are all traumatized by the disaster. We all confront the mystery of understanding the universe. Do not wait to understand it all, act now. Those of you in the Eugene, Oregon area, please join me at an Extinction Rebellion potluck and talk on Wednesday, 31 July 2019, 6:30 pm, at our Unitarian Universalist Church. If you are outside the Eugene area, you probably live on Earth and so can take part in this nonviolent Extinction Revolution wherever you are. The Mad Pride Movement celebrates your creative way of thinking & acting. We are the new PC: Positively Crazy!
- Mad Pride Social Media Volunteers: To connect with those of you who are curious or supportive of a Mad Pride Month, we at MindFreedom Oregon are creating several social media places. If you would like to assist, and perhaps co-moderate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Social media include: Reddit, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook.
- Remember Creative Maladjustment Week! For more than a decade, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. commented about creative maladjustment over and over. He even said the world was in dire need of an “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” MindFreedom International produced a guide to celebrate being maladjusted every July 7-14, Creative Maladjustment Week! And of course, this is near the middle of July, now Mad Pride Month.
- A State Senator in Oregon Wants to Hear from Psychiatric Survivors, Mental Health Consumers, and Our Allies. My friend, State Senator Floyd Prozanski, pushed for two mental health bills this past session in the Salem, Oregon legislature. We Oregon psychiatric survivors/mental health consumers heard about these proposals and we expressed our deep concern. Thankfully, both bills failed this past session which just ended in Mad Pride Month, July! Yay! Now, I promised Sen. Prozanski that we would provided him with civil input about human rights & choice in mental health. Please email him at: Sen.FloydProzanski@oregonlegislature.gov. Please copy your comments to: email@example.com
- Something for Everyone! I know Mad Pride may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I figured out that if a couple conceives today, their baby might be born on 15 April, tax day. This would seem to be a great Normal Shame Day, so that if anyone rejects Mad Pride Day they can always be part of that. If your baby is born on Normal Shame Day, do not worry, this is definitely not normal and your child will be a hero of the Mad Pride Movement!
Your ideas, feedback, jeers, cheers, suggestions, support, strangeness are all welcome in the comment area below, or on my Facebook page. Thanks!
You are very welcome, if you support human rights and nonviolent revolution in mental health, to our monthly grassroots meeting of MindFreedom Oregon.
If you live in the Eugene, Oregon area drop on by to our free 2 pm meeting downtown.
If you live out of this area or unable to attend in person, you can now participate for free via the web: computer video or even just phone.
This July meeting we celebrate Mad Pride Month! Folk singer David Rogers will expertly play a few tunes on his guitar, including “The Thoughts Are Free.” Psychiatric survivor activist Chrissy Peirsol and I will host you, and chat about next week’s event with Patch Adams, MD at the 50th Oregon Country Fair (July 12, 5 pm, Community Village).
I want us to start the world’s biggest sneeze with Patch! We are allergic to so-called “normality.” Let’s start a global revolution for this Mad Pride Month! Below are details about the meeting this Friday: Where to meet in Eugene, or how to pre-register for our free Zoom web call.
Celebrate Mad Pride! Win human rights and choice in mental health!
Join psychiatric survivors David Oaks & Chrissy Peirsol:
Folk singer/songwriter David Rogers will play us some tunes!
Where: Trauma Healing Project in downtown Eugene
1100 Charnelton St
When: July 5, 2019, 2:00 pm
For Oregonians outside of Eugene:
Part of the meeting will be live-streamed online via Zoom, free, starting at 2:15 pm. Please pre-register using this link:
|MindFreedom is one of the main independent coalitions working for human rights and alternatives in the mental health system.If you support our goal of a peaceful revolution in the mental health system, you are invited! For info: firstname.lastname@example.org://www.mindfreedom.org|
For several months, my Amazon movies have had a problem: About every second, there is a little hiccup in the video, a short pause of action. Movie-lovers who watch with me have noted the problem. This only has impacted the visual part of the movie, not the audio.
I informed Amazon of the problem using live chat. We provided a bunch of information. First challenge I noticed that the Amazon helpers would often repeat the questions, wish they had read what had already happened. Second, I was handed off to several helpers at Amazon. I think this stutter is complex enough to deserve expert help.
A few days ago, I noticed the problem now periodically extends to the audio. I see that once in awhile, the sound is garbled for a moment.
As I have already informed Amazon, we never have any of these problems in Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube. Also, the problem occurs in other browsers here. Everything is updated.
Well, I will now contact Amazon and show them this blog. I will post the results. After many years as a loyal Prime customer, it may be time to be an Amaznope?
David W. Oaks, community organizer with more than four decades of experience in nonprofit advocacy, is launching a for-profit consulting firm, oriented towards green accessibility and empowerment.
In 2012, David experienced a major accident, and he is “quad” (or “tetra”) in a power chair, with disabled voice and fingers. With the support of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), he prepared a business plan to launch this business, with a focus on disability. Now VR has given a green light to support this launch.
This firm, Aciu Institute, will help businesses, nonprofits and individuals make workspaces, services, and homes friendlier to and more inclusive of all people regardless of ability, with an ecological perspective, especially for disaster prep. Aciu Institute is already consulting with a human rights nonprofit, MindFreedom International, as well as World Health Organization based on in Geneva.
Aciu Institute has formed an advisory panel with many experienced leaders in disability, business, sustainability, activism, and more.
Aciu Institute is a member of GreenLane. David said, “Networking with other GreenLane members has supported my pre-launch process. Aciu!” For more information, contact David by email, email@example.com.
I’ve just gotten some very good news:
After a year-and-a-half of preparation, I am finally about to officially launch my consulting business, Aciu Institute. More about that soon.
Memorizing 112 Cards
Readers of my blog know that I have been working on my memory, in order to prepare for launching my consulting business. Rather than just memorize the order of a deck of playing cards, I have been using a double deck. My home care worker shuffles these decks, and I memorize the order.
When you open a typical Bicycle deck of playing cards, there are of course two jokers (black-and-white & color). There are also a couple of promotional cards. Now I include all of these cards. So yesterday, I memorized a total of 112 cards, and repeated the order back blindfolded & perfectly. This is the 15th time I have memorized a double deck, but the first time I have memorized so many.
I have already blogged about the card memorization and why I have used this approach to help my self-determination despite several profound disabilities.
Rebellion or Revolution?
Like me, perhaps you have been very interested in the new group started in London called Extinction Rebellion. They have used nonviolent civil disobedience to help activate the globe about the climate emergency.
Recently, this past Friday, 24 May 2019, we held a People’s Assembly for Extinction Rebellion here in Eugene, Oregon’s Kesey Square. In my small group, I focused on a theme from Extinction Rebellion: Regenerative Culture.
We in the disability and mental health activism movements have long ago promoted peer mutual support for our wellbeing despite trauma. Now, I would argue that 100% of the public are in the big tent of our movement, because of the climate crisis. Everyone is physically disabled by this emergency. Everyone is traumatized with grief, perhaps so deeply they might not even know it. Yet.
July: Mad Pride Month
One of the clients Aciu Institute is supporting is the local affiliate of MindFreedom International: MindFreedom Oregon. Our regular monthly grassroots meeting will be a week from this Friday, the first Friday of June, 7 June 2019.
Local psychiatric survivor activists TC Dumas & Christina Peirsol will join me in calling for a number of activities during July 2019: Creative Maladjustment Week, speaking with Patch Adams, MD at the 50th Anniversary at the Oregon Country Fair, and finally a free public gathering for the Opal Network.
I believe I will call for us to declare every July from now on to be Mad Pride Month. Sound good? Your feedback and comments are welcome.
If you are interested in attending our MindFreedom Oregon meeting and helping to plan these fun activities, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The name of my consulting business is Aciu Institute. “Ačiū” is an ancient word in Lithuanian meaning “Thanks.” Thank you, everyone, for supporting me, my rehab, and the launch of this business. Let us have the nonviolent global revolution we need, now! If not now, then when the heck?
One of my very best friends for many years is the creative, loving, wise, funny Phil Schulman. Phil is a minister who has led several Unitarian Universalist congregations. Phil has been such a prominent, positive leader in so many movement gatherings of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors that I affectionately call him “The Mad Movement Minister”!
In November 2017, while biking from home to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (Phil has been clean and sober for many decades) a truck hit him. Phil suffered a major traumatic brain injury (TBI). He spent a long time in a coma. Since then he has devoted much of his time to recovery in a way that models values of our movement. He has shown faith, humanity, empowerment, community, humor, love, peer support, spirituality, wisdom and so much more.
Recently, I heard a sermon Phil gave about a year after his accident, speaking about commercialism during the Christmas 2018 season. His wisdom and witty love for life shine through his impaired speech. Or perhaps his disabled voice underscores his message, because he is living our values! You can access and listen to this sermon here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5vknvi3gk4018zg/Phil_Christmas_sermon18.wav
You can find Phil Schulman on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/phil.schulman.9
There is a CaringBridge website to connect and update supporters of Phil’s recovery. You can join and participate for free here: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/philschulman
Last week I had the pleasure and honor of nominating Phil as a speaker in one of the main gatherings of our movement.
Below you can read some of what I wrote:
I have been close friends with Phil for several decades. I myself have been an activist in the mental health consumer / survivor movement for more than four decades, including co-founder of MindFreedom. Since 2012, because of disabilities, I am semi-retired. In all my career, I would consider Phil to be one of the greatest treasures in our movement. I give him my very highest recommendation for your keynoter.
Phil became a minister and has served as a church leader in several congregations in several states. He is also an advocate in the peer “lived experience” consumer / survivor movement. Phil has actively participated in many Alternatives conferences, NARPA conferences, etc. In fact, I and a few others refer to Phil affectionately as “the mad movement minister.” As I noted, Phil has a lived experience with several mental distresses in his past. He has been clean and sober for many decades, regularly attending AA.
It was riding from home on his bike to an Alcoholics Anonyomous meeting in Florida back in November 2017, that Phil, as I say, “re-established his movement credentials.” A truck struck Phil as he rode his bike that night, throwing him into a coma with extreme and severe head injuries. Phil also had a large number of challenging physical impairments.
Phil has dedicated the last year-and-a-half to showing us all the value of our movement beliefs. Phil has activated a network of supportive community leaders. He has engaged in many hours of extensive rehab regularly. He has applied his extensive wisdom of spiritual growth.
Let me give one example. Last year, he was one of the speakers in the nationally-popular New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) conference. Even though because of his TBI Phil speaks differently, even though he has several other extreme physical challenges… or perhaps partly because he has all these disabilities, his speech was very popular, powerful, moving and helpful. I have personally listened to a sermon he gave not too long ago, and his wit, humor, wisdom shines through as it did before his injury, with dozens of sermons. Below is the text from his NYAPRS speech, and you will find some of his bio here:
November 6th, my bicycle and I were struck by a ½ ton Dodge Ram
truck. Thanks to a prompt emergency medical response and surgery, I
did not die. The extent of brain damage was unknown. There was
uncertainty if I would walk or talk again. Ten months later, here I am.
I am really happy to be with you. I have worked hard to regain abilities,
including my speech.
A member at the clubhouse I attend, told me that he loves my NJ accent.
I said “What are you talking about? I don’t have a NJ accent! I have a
brain injury accent.” Ok sometimes my Jersey accent comes out a little.
I am hoping that in the future I’ll be able to say “Sometimes my head
injury accent comes out a little.”
Thank you for being here today! There are times in life when we really
appreciate people showing up. Like the first time we do something,
when we become ill or injured, after the death of a loved one, … it can
mean so much to have companionship. True?
Many people reached me out to me after learning of my accident. I was
so moved to hear that communities all over the country were praying for
me. To this day, one line posts on FB lets me know that friends are still
caring and following my progress.
Support has helped me to achieve spectacular results in recovery.
Decades in wellness and recovery communities prepared me. Lessons
and tools from past trauma have helped me too!
For example, I was seventeen when a close friend killed himself. I was
thinking about doing the same. I saw so much injustice, and believed
myself to be indelibly flawed and unable to make a difference. I didn’t
see a reason to continue living. I yelled at G*d “What do you want from
me?” I instantly received an answer; 3 words “Just show up,” and a
memory of a friend listening to me compassionately. I was defeated in
my argument with G*d. I knew that if I would follow these instruction,
it would make a difference.
After a few more years of substance abuse, in another conversation with
G*d, I swore off toxins. I started swimming daily hoping that I could
heal the damage I had done. Over the next decade I found various
communities that offered gifts for recovery.
At age 25 I began seminary, and was introduced to a form of peer
counseling that helped me to understand individual trauma in a context
of societal oppression. It taught me to feel pain and allow tears in order
to release the lingering effects of trauma.
At 29 I was given a spot in a very expensive and lengthy outpatient
Codependency Treatment Program. The director said that I was manic
depressive. He told me that if I needed to take lithium or leave the
program. As soon as I completed the 8 week program, I stop taking the
lithium. I had connection with this human rights movement, with others
who were resisting coercive treatment. My peer counseling practice
became critically important to me.
I got a job as a counselor on a hospital addiction unit. My peer
counseling teacher was hired to provide training, and our staff began
practicing peer support. The head nurse began asking me to visit
patients at about the 18 th day of treatment when they were asking for
more pain medication. Patients would share with me their inner pain.
They would usually cry. Although many refer to crying as breaking
down, it consistently aided break throughs. The number of requests for
pain medication declined.
Then a new medical director put all patients on antabuse. I objected and
was “laid off” two weeks later. This is one of many times I paid a price
for how my beliefs put me in conflict with our mental health system.
My most traumatic experience of mental health oppression came at the
hands of my church. The director of the “Ministerial Fellowship
Committee” described its purpose as being gatekeeper for our
denomination, weeding out those not psychologically fit for the
ministry.” At 31, after nearly seven years of education and work, I was
the weed removed.
I have needed a lot of support to heal my alienation from institutions that
I judged as toxic. In particular I felt at odds with the psychiatric
pharmaceutical industrial complex. I believe that the mental health
system diverts attention away from social injustice, oppression and the
deeper causes of harm upon people. I rejected the labeling and
mistreatment of people as mentally ill. I saw it as enforcing social
structures that keep control of resources in the hands of the richest 1%.
In 93 I met David Oaks and began working at the “Clearinghouse for
Human rights in Psychiatry.” For 25 years David has believed in me
and challenged me to reach higher. He has referred to me as Minister to
In 98, I was hired to start and direct the “Crisis Alternatives Program” in
Essex Co NY. It was one of the first respite programs- funded to reduce
the amount of force and violence in the county’s mh crisis response. My
philosophy was very simple: 1- assume that each person asking for our
help was experiencing some degree of overwhelm and conflict regarding
something that had happened to them. 2- listen, provide people with
high quality empathy 3- Remember that people are the best experts on
what they value and want 4- Do not interfere with their choice of
support services. Let them figure out for themselves how they wanted
to address their conflicts. 5- believe in people’s capacity to recover.
These values have helped me in my recovering from the recent trauma to
my brain and body. The experience and tools I’ve gained in this
movement have been instrumental in my success. Now come with me
through that more recent journey.
My brother Michael had invited me to participate in the final kayak
expedition for his book. We planned to leave early Tuesday morning.
On Monday I texted him that I would arrive at his home by about 9pm.
When my housemate came home at 6, he saw my car in the driveway,
and found my cell phone inside charging. He correctly assumed I had
gone out on my bicycle and incorrectly assumed I would be back soon.
A few days later, I regained consciousness in the hospital Intensive care
unit. I woke gently as if from a night’s sleep. Looking down I saw my
badly broken body. I felt achy all over.
I didn’t remember the accident. I remembered setting out on my bike. I
knew I didn’t reach my destination. I put two and two together.
Surprisingly I felt somewhat calm. When the pain medication wore off,
I experienced dread. I was lonely and pleased when staff entered my
Something seemed strange. Was this a movie or a dream? I had the
sense of being both present and in another realm. There was silence
from me? I realized that I couldn’t speak.
I figured it was a result of the accident, and expected that it would soon
wear off. My acceptance wore off more quickly. I needed to let my
brother and others know where I was. I wanted to scream, “I’ve got
something I need to tell you!” Staff understood only that I was
Fortunately, my brother soon appeared in my room. The police have
contacted him. My relief was enormous! There were tears in both of our
eyes. The relief was short-lived. I became frustrated with my inability to
communicate and connect with him. Noise was hurting my head. I was
relieved when he left for the quiet that returned.
I started communicating with staff by using expressions, sounds and
soon some garbled words. I slept much of the time, and could tell that
my condition was improving.
My brother’s next visit went better too. He says that my first word was
Although relatively peaceful, I felt a strange disorientation. From my
room, I couldn’t see the street or the sky. I saw only another building
with a bright neon sign. I watched it become dark and light and dark
again. It was like time lapse photography. I couldn’t tell how many days
went by. I left my room only one time in ten days, a trip down
windowless hallways to an operating room. I was lost in space.
Disconnected from nature, blurry headed from my trauma and the meds,
I started seeing fantastic images. Have you started dreaming before you
fell asleep? It was something like that. I kept trying to look at these
things I was seeing. Each time I opened my eyes, the images would
disappear. I saw strange things with my eyes open too; floating
electrons, and orbs of light. Fortunately weird doesn’t faze me! I was
curious and amused by these altered states.
The noises were more troubling. Beeps, alarms and even voices hurt my
head. I was hearing doctors and nurses talking in the hall outside my
room. They seemed to be talking about me repeatedly. There were also
public service announcements and advertisement for hospital programs
being broadcast over a public address system. I wasn’t quite sure what
was real. It reminded me of a scene from Alice in Wonderland.
Again, I correctly assumed that it was a result of my accident, and would
soon be over.
A speech specialist visited me. She said that I was going to get better,
and that it would take a long time. She said that singing would help me
recover my speech. She asked if I could sing “twinkle twinkle little
star.” and “Happy Birthday.” I couldn’t believe that I could barely
remember the tune. For the next month I sung all day long.
Someone brought me a “letter board” so that I could point and spell. I
didn’t have much success. Writing on paper didn’t work much better.
The problem was that I was still thinking big words and long complex
sentences. Before I could get my thoughts out, I would forget what I
wanted to communicate.
Staff seemed to want to get in and out of the room quickly. Some times
they caused me physical pain. I couldn’t quickly find words to
The voice of childhood trauma was crying inside me: “No more! I can’t
take any more!” My actual emotional expression was cranky and
complaining. Hurting and fatigued, I feared alienating my helpers. I
knew that if I didn’t make a change, things would not go well for me.
Fortunately help was on the way. My former partner Huyen had reached
out from Texas to contact my local people in Florida. She asked the
Vegan meetup community to bring me healthy food. Joyce had attended
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) classes in my home brought me miso and other vegan meals. Her
food was manna from heaven. Her visit was an island of joy in a sea of
That night I was writhing in pain again. I was tired emotionally and
physically. “This is horrible!”, I thought. “What have I done?! I can’t
handle this!” Alone and in despair, I longed for support and imagined
there was none to be had. I felt hopelessness overtaking me.
Then one thought caused a shift in me. I remembered Joyce telling me
how Huyen had reached her through the internet to advocate and care for
me. Recalling this, I remembered that I was loved. I felt warmth, relief
and ease in my body. Although still in pain, I could be still. Sleep came
Huyen and I had been a couple for 7 years. I recent years I have seen
her Facebook posts; pictures of good times with her boyfriend Mark.
That she still cared and acted boldly was powerful.
Huyen is a physician. She was able to inform, guide and advocate for me
effectively. She has been a star player on the incredible support team
In the beginning I perceived myself as alone in facing terrible pain and
loss. My perception yielded to a sweeter reality. Love began pouring
in, cards, prayers and emails from far and wide. Eventually there were
calls, meals, rides, generous gifts to support my medical costs.
Love lifted my spirit. I began thinking, acting and responding more
positively and effectively. I became determined to recover. Staff
responded and treated me with warmth. Resources fell in my lap.
The support and the love I received helped me to keep on keeping on
through months of pain. With spirits lifted, I found the stamina to do
about 4 hours of therapeutic activity most days; physical therapy, weight lifting,
swimming, gentle stretching. I’ve received cranial sacral and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapies. I’ve participated in a fitness program for people with mental
and physical disabilities.
Although I have worked hard, I didn’t make my bones heal. Something
larger than me did that. We understand and call it differently; the
Universe, life, spirit, energy, nature, G*d. I thank G*d for the doctors,
nurses, physical therapists, agencies, advocates, friends and family that
have helped create miracles for me. I stand in humility and awe before
the web or life of which we are part, the Great Mystery of unfolding
existence. I send out love to all my relations, my ancestors and
generations to come. I step into this moment, alive, awake and grateful
for new opportunities.
Those of you in the Eugene, Oregon area can be in for a treat:
John Bola, PhD, will be at our free monthly meeting of MindFreedom Oregon, our local affiliate. Please spread the word to folks you know in Eugene!
This will be an informal chance to chat with one of the main champions of researching change in the mental health system. As a young person, John experienced human rights violations in the mental health system, including electroshock.
He lived here in Eugene for a few years, but mainly has been working and studying in California and even China. He got his PhD and has co-authored many peer-reviewed scientific articles to improve mental health care.
When: Friday, 1 March 2019, 2 PM – 3:30 PM
Where: Trauma Healing Project, 1100 Charnelton Street, Eugene, Oregon. Space is limited, arrive early.
Parking: If spots beyond building are full, there are meters on 11th, and free parking on 12th going west.
We will start the meeting with John, and then have a chance to chat about MindFreedom Oregon activities. Activist Chrissy Peirsol will join me for sure.
More information about John Bola:
UPDATE 2/27/19: Looks like we won! The latest word from a staffperson at the State of Washington legislature, is that the proposed bill for easier involuntary electroshock is dead this session, and that no other bills have been amended to include this idea.
Some activists were concerned that the concept would simply be added as an amendment to another bill. However, loosening restrictions on forced shock are dead this session. This is the “understanding” of Kevin Black, staff coordinator/counsel for Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long-Term Care Committee, Senate Human Services. The next session will start in January 2020.
UPDATE 2/17/19: The public hearing was canceled 2/15, apparently because of opposition. Please continue speaking out against this bill! According to a committee staffperson, Carly, if there is no hearing by 2/22, the bill is dead.
Incredibly, there is a proposed bill in the State of Washington right now that would make it easier to give involuntary electroshock (also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT), over and against the expressed wishes of the subject.
I just phoned the committee that is looking at this bill, and you can email your opposition at any time. There is no time limit, though the sooner, the better.
Today, 15 February 2019, there was supposed to be a public hearing about this Senate bill 5842, but this hearing was cancelled.
You can email to stop this bill at any time, and since this bill may pass it is urgent that you speak out.
Below is an alert that I have created about this bill. (Thanks to Laura Van Tosh for this information.)
At the bottom is my brief initial email in opposition:
CALL FOR EMAIL TO STOP FORCED SHOCK
IN STATE OF WASHINGTON
SB 5842 Involuntary Electroconvulsive Therapy
Calls for involuntary electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to be added to the Washington State RCW (Revised Code of Washington), 71.05.153.
Emergency detention of persons with mental disorders or substance use disorders. This is the involuntary treatment procedure used for commitment procedures. Today psychiatric medication is used.
This proposed bill adds ECT as an option to be utilized against the will of a person during initial commitment procedures under above RCW.
ACTION: Please email your opposition to SB 5842 now, give some good reasons against involuntary electroshock!
Carly is a staff person at the Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care, J.A. Cherberg Building, Olympia, WA.
Sponsors: Reuven.Carlyle@leg.wa.gov email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care is where the bill is being heard.
Below is my initial brief email, which you can use as a model, but please write this in your own words:
14 February 2019
To: Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care, J.A. Cherberg Building, Olympia, WA
From: David W. Oaks, Aciu Institute, Eugene, OR
Please halt the bill SB 5842, which would make it easier to give involuntary electroshock (also called ECT) to citizens of the State of Washington.
I have worked for human rights in mental health for more than 40 years.
- The World Health Organization in Geneva is the main world body on health issues. The WHO has opposed all forced shock, and has had this official position for years. Please inquire with WHO about this bill immediately.
- A few years ago, when I directed MindFreedom International, we had a major campaign to stop the forced shock of a Minnesota citizen. Please google this phrase: Ray Sandford electroshock
- Shock has never been formally approved by the FDA for safety and efficacy. So forced shock would be a violation by compulsory experiment.
David W. Oaks
Please consider copying your opposition to my comment area below, to inspire others to speak out.
Spread the word!
Let us act like it now, and help lead a world-wide revolution.
Sound crazy? Well, the odds are indeed against us. However, this is not a question of what can be done, this is a question of what must be done.
Here are three reasons I feel we must pour our souls into this endeavor, now:
1. Creative Disorder
We in the disability movement are extremely diverse. Some of us reject our diagnoses. Some of us embrace our labels. But all of us have been diagnosed as “disordered.”
When society by any definition seems paralyzed, who you gonna call?
The disability movement! The current individual who occupies the White House identifies himself as a “very stable genius.”
But we need instability right now. And not any kind of instability.
We need creative instability.
Creative Disorder! This is a modernization of a phrase that Martin Luther King used over and over for over a decade. MLK repeatedly said he was proud to be “maladjusted.”
In fact, MLK said the world was in dire need of a new organization, the “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment” (IAACM).
2. Never Again!
Over and over and over again many of us have vowed, “Never Again!” We will never have another Holocaust.
But now scientific experts overwhelmingly warn us that the ecological crisis may wipe out a heartbreaking amount of life and civilization. Humanity keeps heading toward trigger points for positive feedback loops. Dozens of them.
Most recently, scientific studies show that the warming of the oceans may be 40% worse than originally thought. As methane is released from the floor of the ocean, for example, this can lead to more warming, which means more methane, which means more warming, etc.
We are headed toward a wall of cascading chaos. We cannot predict the future exactly, but let us glance at a worst case scenario.
I have made a very rough, unscientific estimate of just the number of human lives at stake.
The life of a species is about one million years. We humans are only through part of that cycle. Basing my estimates on the “carrying capacity” that many have estimated, along with the number of generations yet to come, etc.
Adding this all up, just focusing on human life, I get an incredibly large number.
By coincidence, this number is six million squared. In other words, for each person lost in this six million estimate, there is another six million.
This is the Holocaust Squared. That is the human cost that I estimate is at risk. Not even addressing all the animal and plant life at risk.
3. Extinction Rebellion
My hats off to you for being a leader in the coming global revolution.
There are a couple of organizations that I have only recently found out about, are very promising for a global revolution. Everything that I have seen so far is positive.
First, there is a group that started recently in London with non-violent civil disobedience that shut down several bridges, and is going international, Extinction Rebellion.
Second, today, 15 January 2019, is a kickoff date for a national Earth Strike. There are several more dates over the next few months, leading up to 27 September 2019, Earth Strike! Check it out.
Disability Leadership Needed Now!
In the comments below, I would love to hear your reactions and suggestions. I know revolution is difficult. The first question I often hear is “what kind of revolution?” But even talking about the topic is helpful.
And I feel, that no matter what the odds are, hearing that folks are positive Revolutionaries may help us maladjust to our collective trauma, creatively.
And we are all, 100%, traumatized today. All of us, 100%, are now the Creative Disabled!