Thanks! My Operation a Success. My Restraints. WHO Calls for Ending All Mental Health Restraints. Complex? It’s Simple: Revolution of Course!

May 15, 2017: I am OK, back at Mad Swan, what we call our home. Thanks all!

In Lithuanian, the word for “thanks” is aciu! So:

Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-chooooooooooooooooo!

Photo of bodybuilder Aaron Maddron

Aaron Maddron as a professional bodybuilder. He was one of my many great respiratory therapists this past week. I found Aaron to be especially supportive. Aaaaaaahhhhhh-chooo!!

Two folks to single out for appreciation:

Thanks of course to Debra, my amazing wife. Near the bottom of my blog entry are two very brief videos by her, just after the operation. In both videos I am mute. My being silent for a while may bring great pleasure to some beloved viewers.

Also, thanks to one of my very helpful respiratory therapists (RT) Aaron Maddron, see his photo here by Eric Jacobson, published in East Coast Muscle Magazine. I appreciate your positive support and advice, Aaron, my friend, I hope it is OK to post this public info. Some fans are wondering what happened to you after winning body building championships.

I can assure folks that Mr. Maddron is now an effective healer.

Thanks, respect and dignity for all.

Briefly, Let Us Start At the Beginning of This Past Week: 

Exactly one week ago, on Monday morning, 8 May 2017, I experienced some significant health difficulties including nausea & radiating pain in my back. My brilliant loving and amazing wife, Debra, encouraged me to consult with Dr. Hurtado, my primary care physician. Based on my health experiences this past year and a recent visit with him, he encouraged me to go to an emergency room.

I have taken ambulances to various ER’s several times and knew the drill: This meant that we phoned 911 and took an ambulance to an ER room. I did not have time to inform a lot of folks, please forgive me if you did not know. Also, because of confidentiality laws, my wonderful team of employees could not transmit info about me. Everyone has permission to share this message, and I asked the wonderful webmaster, Jeffrey Bousquet, with Aciu Instititute to add this to my personal blog. (Thanks, Jeff!)

Just after my surgery. Since I could order restraints removed, they actually were not real restraints in a way. I speak with my hands, and I do not want to pull on any of these many tubes! I agree with WHO: End mental health restraints!

After three days, I felt so much better, I sent out a message that this blog is based on. And today I am at home. Over this past week I experienced the following:

  • My sixth ambulance trip, I think, in about a year.
  • I chose this time to go back to Riverbend PeaceHealth, the site of my original ER arrival four years and five months ago when I fell in December 2012, and broke my spine.
  • My diagnosis this time: Emergency pancreatitis.
  • My fifth operation in five years.
  • A glimpse at some past trauma while chatting with great caretakers.
  • I got to play with many caretakers and friends our newest games, Wacco, free, face-to-face, question-oriented. I was able to listen and find out a bunch about what they were Nuts4, or nuts for.
  • Not eating for three days.
  • (Oops did I say briefly?)

Here are some videos from just after the operation:

By my beloved Debra, only 17 seconds, I am still unconscious:

A 25 second video by Debra after I wake up post-op, only 25 seconds, I am still mute, but my eyes are open. Note the devices that I am wearing that would normally be called restraints. Normal? Hoooowwwwl!:

Because a bunch of tubes were still in my nose and throat and gut, I did not stop the use of “restraints.” My restraints involved post-op, not mental health. The topic in general can be very complex. I admire Martin Luther King warning us about the paralysis of analysis. As a trauma survivor, I can advise River Bend on some possible improvements on this process.

After about 40 years working for human rights in mental health, there is a very simple way for you to address the issue of “restraints.” I talk with my hands & arms so there was a risk of pulling the tubes out. But do not worry, in a way they are not real restraints if I can have them removed. Complex? Or is it.

What? Oaks in Restraints? 

My main purpose here is to thank people for this past week. However, I do need to address more the topic of involuntary mental health restraints including chemical restraints.

You see, President Trump nominated an individual to a key new “mental health czar” position who very much supports involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment. The US Senate will ask her questions during the approval process, and so now is the time to reach all US Senators about this topic, because their approval of her nomination is required. Mad In America re-published my blog about this topic, and quite a lot of readers have been interested, https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/04/trump-appoints-leader-campaigned-involuntary-outpatient-drugging/

I hope everyone who reads this provides feedback via my blog or Mad In America. While I have difficulty getting all messages, I also try to keep up with feedback via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I am an First Amendment fanatic! What are your views and questions? Hey, what is this, Russia?

Russia, by the way, is famous for doing a lot of involuntary psychiatric drugging. It is easier somehow for us Americans to see such human rights violations in another country. Same drug, needle just as sharp, different perspective. Gee, our President Trump seems to ignore some negativity over in Russia. Same President who has recently nominated Elinore F. McCance-Katz of Rhode Island for our new “mental health czar.”

The topic of restraints, physical tie-downs after surgery versus mental health restraints including psychiatric drug injections, appears to be very complex.

Let Us Get Real Simple Here:

I agree with Michelle Funk who speaks for the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, connected to the United Nations. Thanks WHO!

May is Mental Health Month here in the USA. Here is Michelle’s May 4, 2017 tweet:

“The use of seclusion & restraint in must end. Together we can reach this goal with

If you view my retweet comment about this the same day, just a few weeks ago, to help get out this extremely important news, WHO calls for end to use of solitary confinement and restraints in mental health, you see I agree with her and the WHO.

“I really enjoyed being an ‘expert consultant’ for this set of pilot modules from the World Health Organization with the UN.”

As a consultant expert during 2016 for the World Health Organization on human rights in mental health, I was one of those with personal lived experience of real restraints. Not the tie-down types. The sharp end of the needle kind. I am a survivor of involuntary psychiatric drug injections as a college student back in the 1970’s. I graduated Harvard despite these experiences 40 years ago this year.

The topics of my psychiatric survivor story, restraints, and a lot more may seem very complex but I am trying to be brief here. Ha-ha!

Simply put, WHO calls for ending involuntary restraints in mental health now. I agree. Note that these restraints include chemical ones.

More to come, but to learn about ending restraints in mental health, here is a free PDF link to one of the new 15 WHO documents that I advised on, Strategies to end the use of seclusion, restraint and other coercive practices: Training to act, unite and empower for mental health (Pilot Version):

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254809/1/WHO-MSD-MHP-17.9-eng.pdf

Back to My Stay Last Week in the Hospital

I was mute for a few hours, I realized that my brother’s invention of a letter board that I used on the same ICU four years ago would have really, really come in handy. Laminate and sell that puppy, Tony!

During my recovery after my surgery, I asked Debra’s help in getting a chaplain and we met a couple including one from my Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene, Kimberly. Thanks Kim! Visit our Facebook group that brings together more than one hundred of us: UU Mental Health Justice.

I had time to reflect there inside Riverbend PeaceHealth Hospital in Springfield, Oregon, city of the Simpsons this past week. Time to rest with more simplicity. Thanks for helping everyone who produced this blog entry, much of it written a few days ago including this line: “Debra has provided so much support and love–she blows a kiss. Ian is typing this.”

Yes, the personal is the political.

Love Earth Revolution! Now! Now! Now! Now!

AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo!

Posted this morning, Monday, May 15, 2017:

Thanks to you who:

Spotted the problem

Wisely encouraged intervention

Transported me by ambulance

Debra thanks for being my amazing wife and true love all these decades, once more you are saving me!

Everybody who sent well wishes

All messages including phone calls were very much appreciated, thanks

Those of you who were supportive even though we were unable to inform all who would like to know such things. (May I suggest getting to my Twitter account and adding yourself as what is called “follower.” In the future I will try to tweet very significant news.)

Thanks again to Aaron!

And thanks to Patch Adams, MD, even though you were not in the room, and even though you do not go on the Internet, and even though this time I did not phone you up my dear friend, AAAAAAAHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Mental Health Revolution, or Why Humor is Necessary if You Are Really Serious About Overthrowing the Corrupt System: My Stand-up Comedy, Ghostbusters Satire, and Dead Family & Friends Such As Leonard Roy Frank

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

More than 42 Months After I Broke My Neck, I Do a Stand-Up Comedy Act this Saturday, 30 July 2016

Or perhaps I should say “sit-down comedy”? My intro for my act by the MC will be this:

“From right here in Eugene, our next sit-down comic is David Oaks, also known as PsychoQuad. That means he can slay any audience and then plead insanity!”

If you live in the Eugene-area, or know someone here, get there early to save your seat at Sam Bond’s Garbage, the bar Blair! I will bring my own seat. The monthly show, Bleepin’ Funny, is hosted by an indisputably leading comedic talent in our area, Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant. And it is a free event.

I have been going with my loving wife, Debra, for most months to Bleepin’ Funny, for years. I have been in the audience, in fact Sam Bond’s saves a table or two for my friends and me. But this Saturday, 30 July 2016, when the show starts at 5 pm, I am slated to take the stage about the fourth slot.

I have been practicing my stand-up. Before my fall I had the disadvantage of speaking “seriously” in about a dozen countries, for a fee. But humor is better and more fulfilling than boring non-stop seriousness. Or not?

Today, 27 July 2016, above we scoped out the stage at Sam Bond's, where I am to perform this Saturday. I have two plans for getting on the stage. They involve four strong, sober volunteers with strong backs. I will bring a hold harmless clause printout so they will not worry about lawyers. But should I wear a bike helmet?

Today, 27 July 2016, above we scoped out the stage at Sam Bond’s, where I am to perform this Saturday. I have two plans for getting on the stage. They involve four strong, sober volunteers with strong backs. I will bring a hold harmless clause printout so they will not worry about lawyers. But should I wear a bike helmet?

Bleepin’ Funny always features some stand-up, plus Leigh Anne takes the stage with a crew and does some lively, fresh improv. The show ends about 7 pm. It is all-ages, so bring the kids and do not worry about blue material. Call me crazy, but, I say get there early. Heck, even if it is nearly empty you might volunteer for my chair-hoisting crew! See Ian if you want to help out.

The comic Isaac Paris drew me to this amazing possible career, if these weird people known as stand ups can tolerate a professional weirdo. Move over Josh Blue, you no longer are the king of cripple comedy.

Isaac helped arrange for me to do comedy and be on this show. He is up in his native Alaska this week, so he will miss this Bleepin’ Funny. My documentarian and good friend David Zupan plans to video my act, with permissions of course!

Last week, I rehearsed at the Lane Independent Living Alliance (LILA) Peer Support Club, and Zupan was out of town so I did not pursue the documentary. But a relative shot me with their laptop for my own edification. You would think we had somehow violated the law, because an unsmiling employee had her boss e-mail me a verbal unfriendly terse note, I guess government-funded places like that can never have documentaries? My friend Mark Roberts is the brother of the famous Ed Roberts! I guess if Ed were still alive, and tried to speak at a Center for Independent Living, he would not be able to be taped for broader distribution. Hey, protect those privacy rights, cash our taxpayer-money checks, and let us celebrate there are now several-hundred Center for Independent Living (CIL’s) in the nation today, the backbone of the USA disability movement. I love CIL’s, but it is time to start an ADAPT local chapter; I hear you ADAPT headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Humor is Necessary: Please Laugh Once Per Minute (Just Joking!)

Anyway, the good humor, at least we hope it is good humor, will be at Sam Bond’s Garage, a down-home community center with good beer, great little menu, and even great outdoor seating in the back during warm months when it is appropriate. See you there, I will get there very early to save a place or get drunk.

Some Actual Real Humorous News! Well, True Anyway, and I Think it is News-Worthy Mental Health Revolution News

During my rehab, over these more than 42 months, I have had one (1) paid gig doing my work. Incredibly, probably because of a recommendation by my good friend, psychiatric survivor New Yorker Celia Brown, of MindFreedom, my solitary paid gig during my rehab has been to be one of the many independent contractors in the mental health reform field to review and comment on drafts of several manuals, mainly about mental health peer support, by the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WHO, yes, the same global health agency that tackled some nasty viruses in recent years, has a small but active division working for global mental health. Five years ago, I had the good fortune to visit WHO headquarters in Switzerland, because a number of us psychiatric survivor activists met with and consulted for the head of WHO mental health at that time, the passionate and brilliant Italian psychiatrist, Dr. Bendetto Saraceno. The doctor now directs a psychiatric non-governmental organization in Europe, and has retired from WHO.

This year, the WHO mental health manuals have not yet been released to the public, and so the content is private. However, for my generous independent contractor fee, I tried to provide online input for all the draft manuals. I tried to provide written comments that were both practical and revolutionary.

Some of the non-normal written comments that I made about these drafts, as an actual official paid WHO consultant, were:

  • The world very much needs a revolution, especially because the climate crisis has been so ignored for too many years. Yes, as the Pope recommends, I also suggested revolution for our planet in my official written comments to WHO, as a contracted consultant. In fact, since another round of input is to be requested, I currently still am an WHO independent contractor. Of course, I am speaking for myself and my opinion alone here, not in any way for WHO.
  • Repeatedly, I made sure that my position was crystal clear, that one hundred percent of all people, all the time, every moment, from womb to tomb, are in a state of mind that is in extreme, life-threatening crisis. That is right, my 42 years of activism in psychiatric survivor revolution provided me with four words as my lesson: “We are all nuts!” Nothing wrong with being nuts, if that word has any meaning at all. We may always all of us be nuts, but we can choose what kind of nuts we will be. Will we be creative positive nuts? Or destructive divisive nuts? We must choose.
  • Everyone alive, everyone, has a crisis. Maybe your’s will be very short, but we all have at least one crisis. We are moral. We love. So, prepare for your crisis! Hey, all you need to do is get ready for the unexpected. May I humbly suggest building your community of friends and family?
  • We must act now! We cannot wait for perfect information, in fact science has a theme: Mystery! Whether it is quantum physics, black holes, fractals, chaos theory, string theory, dark matter, dark energy, etc.: As Socrates noted over and over, we do not know much, to this day. But we still need to act, we still need to ask questions. Just as the wing of a butterfly can later influence the course of a hurricane, we must flap our wings! Note we have enormous influence, but not control.
  • The other side of the Butterfly Effect is that as the climate crisis triggers dozens of positive feedback effects, we are entering unpredictable chaos. No way I am giving up hope! Hey, that was me lying on the floor with a broken neck 42 months ago! But my paralysis is mild next to our society’s paralysis. Everyone, all of us, get off the floor!
  • A first step is to realize that internal revolution in our hearts and minds, is not stoppable. Let us make this shared goal more visible now, to help our global morale. I am not saying we will win a quality revolution, but I am sure we can try right now! I believe in you, you all are Supreme Commanders this time! OK, not all of that went into my comments to WHO.
  • But, I made it very clear in my written comments to WHO as an official consultant, that the thing we the public have been calling “normal” does not actual exist. Yes, like some horrible nightmarish virus, “normality” has been eliminated, it does not exist. Since I know that several WHO people have a great sense of humor, it turns out they are human, then I hope they take some credit for finding their funny bone and realizing the seriousness of saying, “There is no normal!”
  • Yes, normal is not in fact, well, normal. Eliminating all traces of “normal” is not the same thing as going after a virus. Yes, some people choose to take drugs to address mental and emotional issues. That is their choice. But “normality” and mental wellness in general, is about something far deeper and more profound than any “normal” medication.
  • I encourage folks to use the easy online interface with WHO to provide resources, suggestions, feedback, important points about the mental health industry, and more important the revolution in mental well being, which uses choice/freedom as a kind of umbrella for recovery, and once shielded there are thousands and thousands of approaches! Just use your search engine to search for the following phrase and then type in your comments: World Health Organization Contact Form. Dr. Saraceno told me, that every comment made to WHO must be treated with respect, and logged. Yes, even so-called irrational comments. Please send your favorite empowering alternative, ask WHO to send this to their mental health division! At the bottom of this is a three-minute video to promote reaching out to WHO. The revolution does not apply only to us consultants, but to everyone, even non-human animals, plants and maybe every particle.
  • Hey wouldn’t it be cool if the whole universe, you included, are equals all working as one? Now that is a Revolution!

On the Birthday of My Friend Leonard Roy Frank (LRF) 15 July 2016

David W. Oaks and his wife Debra react to publicity about the debut of Ghostbusters 3 on July 15, 2016, which is also the birthday for the late and amazing Leonard Roy Frank, psychiatric survivor, editor, friend, revolutionary.

David W. Oaks and his wife Debra react to publicity about the debut of Ghostbusters 3 on July 15, 2016, which is also the birthday for the late and amazing Leonard Roy Frank, psychiatric survivor, editor, friend, revolutionary.

I first wrote this on the 8th day of Creative Maladjustment (CM) Week, which was 7 to 15 July 2016. Yes, Creative Maladjustment Week is now eight days long to end on the 7/15 birthday of this psychiatry-surviving, electroshock defying, mystic-being, beatnik-pioneering, quote-editing San Franciscan Leonard Roy Frank (who would have turned 84 this year of he were still alive).

During these three and a half years of my deep recovery I estimate that I have listened to more than 4,000 hours of National Public Radio news, tuning in every morning via our local KLCC-FM. For example, I feel as if I am personal friends with John Hockenberry, host of Takeaway, because he first got his start here in Eugene KLCC-FM, he is in a wheelchair, but he only exchanged one message before he moved to the East Coast and became a national radio star. He still seems to support revolution, and you do not have to use your imagination much to hear that.

So, for better or worse, I have had more time to think, with my brains, heart, great support folks. Leonard, you showed us that after incredible torture the human spirit can still come back and help humanity. Every time I spoke privately with Leonard, we laughed and laughed. What a keen and at times wicked sense of humor, informed of course that near-biblical personal moral code.

A bunch of my friends in our movement are now dead, or as some of us joked very, very disabled: Rae, Judi, Howie, so many more, and now Pat Risser. If we remember to reform the corrupt mental health group, NAMI, even half as much as Pat wanted, always keeping our sense of humor and outrage, think of all the loving parents who we can support, now being tricked by this drug company front group!

More info about Leonard can be found all over the web, or go to any major bookstore and ask for their huge book Quotationary. Leonard lovingly edited this book of thousands of quotes, and subversively inserted dozens of great quotes very critical of the mental health industry, psychology, psychiatry, electroshock, etc. While he did not hide his identity as a psychiatric survivor during his work as one of the world’s experts on quotes, the fact is that he ended up gathering quotes as part of his strategy to re-create his incredible mind after psychiatry tried to destroy his loving spirit, unsuccessfully.

Sounds like LRF got the last laugh on the mental health industry torture machine. Since this apparatus apparently lacks a spirit of humor, getting the last laugh may be very winnable! I know that so many people have been cheering me on and sending support in so many ways, thanks! My Mom used to send out personal thanks with hand-written cards. As Mom got into her late 90’s she stopped sending cards. Her death last year really put a crimp in her card writing!

But do MindFreedom members really know that this shy Mom of mine worked for years as a volunteer in the main office, sometimes three days a week! Truly, Violet Oaks, my Mom, was MindFreedom’s top volunteer. So far.

For those of you who have read this long post, despite my many severe disabilities, or perhaps because of my creative maladjustment to these extreme challenges, I am talking with board members about coming back in some way, perhaps as a consultant. If I can crawl back to the work place, with extreme accommodations, so can anyone!

So a MindFreedom folks, do you want me back helping on our ship after these 42 months? If you can work together with other members, and ask me to come back, maybe I will, in some way. Before I fell, during my 25 years at MindFreedom’s helm, I raised about one million dollars for this grassroots human rights coalition.

We always prided ourselves about being independent of government money, and working for donations, often from very poor folks. Now, your feedback is appreciate, here, or via Facebook, or with your hearts. And the Oddsquad Advisory Team, and others, I need your advice right now. I must find the tight rope between recovery and revolution.

You may also refer to MindFreedom’s portal about Leonard.

Breaking your neck is never a good idea but if you must break your neck, I would recommend Eugene, Oregon, USA. I have so very many of you to thank! Surprisingly, the absolute winners in the “Support David W. Oaks During His Recovery,” is the Fair Family connected to Oregon Country Fair.

This message is to you all: The rest of my life could be weeping tears of joy thanking you all, every moment! How do I know? I can’t wait, I must act now and thank you! Thanks, thanks, thanks. The word for thanks in Lithuanian, origin for all my grandparents, sounds like a sneeze:

Ah-h-h-h-h Ch-o-o-o-o-o! That word is spelled “aciu,” with some pronunciation marks. Sorry, no time for that, just thanks thanks thanks!

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to homecare worker Sara and my admin for taking my raw notes and fashioning that into the blog, though I take full responsibility and finished my final edit today 27 July 2016. Because of the coincidence of Ghostbusters 3 debuting on 15 July 2016, I was eager to get something out that day. Thanks everyone, especially my darling wife Debra, when I fell, I know that we fell. I hope people give you, Debra, support that is even better than the amazing support so many have given me this past 42 plus months!

 

OK, Here is a Three-Minute Free Video Encouraging You to Contact the World Health Organization, Now!

It is easy, you can suggest your favorite humane alternative to the inherently flawed, corrupted-beyond-comment mental health industry to our World Health Organization, just direct your search engine to their Contact Form:  http://www.who.int/about/contact_form/en/

 

Above entry was a originally posted on my personal blog, which can be found here: 

www.davidwoaks.com

Protected by Creative Commons, only for non-commercial use with attribution. 

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World Health Organization Publishes Blog About My 40 Years in The Mad Movement

World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

The World Health Organization (WHO), based in Switzerland, has a project Mental Health Innovation Network that is publishing brief online blog entries to promote “dignity” of mental health system users and psychiatric survivors.

Below is the blog by me that MHIN distributed, in which I looked back on four decades in The Mad Movement:

Psychiatric Survivor Story: 40 Years Witnessing Mental Health User Dignity

By: David Oaks Posted: 29th October 2015
Credit: Valentina Iemmi/MHIN

Credit: Valentina Iemmi/MHIN

To mark this year’s WMHD, the Mental Health Innovation Network is running a month long series (#WMHD2015 Blog Series) highlighting dignity in four areas of global mental health where dignity is most often compromised and/or redeemed. This week’s subtheme is “Service User Advocacy”. 

Share this blog on social media using the hashtag #WMHD2015 and our Twitter handle (@mhinnovation), and join the conversation by commenting below.


David Oaks is a service user advocate with over 40 years of experience in the field of mental health human rights. He is also the former Director of MindFreedom International. Contact him through Twitter or visit his website: http://138.68.254.83

 

Last month I turned 60-years-old. Thankfully about 16 good friends, including my loving amazing wife Debra, made this transition fun. We gathered around a big table in a Sushi bar, drank Sake and ate chocolate cake.

This little party was very different from when I was 20, forty years ago, back in college. That is the year that I began to experience difficulties in my life that led to five stays in psychiatric institutions. About a dozen psychiatrists would diagnose me as psychotic, schizophrenic, clinically depressed, and bipolar (then called manic depression). More than once I would find myself in a solitary confinement room with just a bare mattress on the floor for a few days. More than once, about five staff would hold me down and forcibly inject me with a powerful psychiatric drug.

In my senior year, a college volunteer agency placed me as an intern for a mental health service user advocacy group. I wrote about this work for school, and this internship became my career for the next four decades. I have had the unique honor of watching thousands of other psychiatric survivors go through extreme and overwhelming states of mind, supporting one another as loving and equal peers, and thriving through the power of their human spirits.

Because of what many of us call “The Mad Movement” I have met with mental health consumer/user leaders in nine countries, poor and rich, who with allies in the mental health and legal communities, have reached out over and over again to anyone who would listen. While the details and exact perspectives of these service users are very diverse, I have heard some of these themes during my 40-year story:

1. Never giving up on reaching out for dialogue with mental health professionals.

In my own country, the USA, as well as many other countries, and internationally, I have seen psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers/users pull together and ask to have reasonable discussions with organizations representing psychiatrists and psychologists. Despite extreme human rights violations, including atrocities such as forced electroshock, unfair lock-ups for years, four-point and five-point restraints for days, etc., survivors have shown incredible self-discipline and resilience by successfully reaching out for dialogue with professionals.

Unfortunately, with some heartening exceptions, I have seen this outreach by consumers/users flatly ignored by national and global mental health professional organizations. Of course, only a percentage of mental health professionals engage in human rights violations. However, every single mental health professional has personal responsibility to make sure that groups representing them address human rights issues. I have had the pleasure of making friends with dozens of psychiatrists and psychologists who are concerned about our empowerment. But groups representing mental health professionals have been almost universally silent, from regional leaders to the top leaders.

2. Questioning the language that is used about us.

After attending hundreds of meetings of people who have personally experienced mental health care, it seems that many of our gatherings begin with a discussion about language. Some people might get a little frustrated because there does not seem to be any perfect words to describe us. However, this is not about “political correctness.” Instead, imperfect though this effort to redefine ourselves may be, our people are seeking their own empowerment and a first step is to address word issues.

People might accept or reject psychiatric diagnoses about themselves. People might accept or reject words the public assigns us. But we can have influence over the words we use for ourselves.

Are we psychiatric survivors? Mental health consumers? Service users? That is up to us to decide. In the meantime, how about we stop calling each other things like “normal” or “mentally ill.” Describing each other with unscientific, vague, disparaging labels can hurt our mental wellbeing.

3. We are the 100%!

One of the most effective ways to rob a group of their dignity is to segregate them and treat them unequally. As other advocates have shown, it is wonderful to celebrate differences between people in terms of color, culture, gender, background, etc. However, when differences are exaggerated irrationally and become walls, oppression can win.

The most difficult and the most valuable insight I have gotten from my four decades in The Mad Movement is that every human being, from womb to tomb, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, always wrestles with overwhelming, life-threatening mental and emotional challenges. Yes, we are all different. However, as the climate crisis is showing us all more each day, to be human is to deal with recovery from the mysterious, unknown difficulties of our minds.

Image courtesy of Valentina Iemmi

Originally published by MHIN.

 

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