madness on the web
I went to the annual NARPA conference a couple of weeks ago.
It was intense, inspiring, stimulating, disenheartening, sobering, comforting, thought-provoking,
exhausting. I was glad, ultimately, to get home. What is NARPA? Well, the acronym stands for National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy
. The rights the members of this organization endeavors to protect are the rights of mental patients. In some circles, "consumers of mental health services".
But it is more than this. The organization is determined in its stance that there should be NO FORCED TREATMENT
a point of view not generally shared
by many family members, police departments, the Treatment Advocacy Center
, insurance companies, public officials
or Dick Cheney
A goodly number of folks who attend NARPA conferences are articulate troubled souls who were horribly mistreated in in-patient settings, suffered traumatization from institutional and/or clinical abuse and their perspectives expressed reflect this. Many, though not all, are skeptical of the all too casual [and poorly monitored] use of high dosages of psychiatric meds. Many are legitimately suspicious and skeptical of clinicians and mental health system bureaucrats who often don't even bother to "talk the talk."
But ~lacking personal experience~ the best
a non-empathetic bureucrat [or clinician] can do is talk good. Personal experience is a who 'nother matter. Thus, the importance of hearing from folks who been ~ or still are ~ "there" so to speak; the "there" in this case being folks who have dealt personally with what our society disparagingly classifies as "mental illness" [as if there is only one manifestation of psychic/emotional/perceptual/spiritual distress
]. So... as promised
, here's an assortment of people whose lives are [or have been] shadowed by perceptual realities different from the mainstream.
Locks and Keys. [Joel Sax suggested this site]. As with Kangaroo Court this blog is a mix of cogent excerpts from published articles and the site author's keen insights on each of the items posted. When the Dream Becomes Real
Crazy Tracy. "Where humor meets four-point restraint". Tracy is a psychiatric nurse who has also been on the receiving end of treatment. From personal observation I know that is is a career/life link that is more prevalent than most might imagine. Her knowledge from both sides is enlightening.
Ophelia Mourne's Musings of a Dysfunctional Mind provides another first person account of dealing with madness, specifically depression. The images she chooses may, at time, be disturbing, but they help illustrate her point, no doubt about it. I also like her tagline: "Did they stick you in here 'cause you weren't working right?." That, in turn makes me think of the evil Mayoress in Anyone Can Whistle, who slaps everybody she disagrees with in the insane asylum, when it is the Mayoress alone, who probably isn't "thinking right".
Elizabeth Richter's Songs of the Captive. This is a book, not a blog. I've been corresponding with Ms. Richter for a couple of years now. We don't always agree. Then again, we often do. Her tale warrants note. Check it out.
Been Broken. "An occasional diary ~ One Man and Mental Illness" The author's profile gives his creds: "I have had mental health problems since 17 [and] have had various diagnoses including 'schizoid'; anorexic; and clinically depressed". Crisp and clear is the writing.
Otto Wahl's First Person Account Book List. Most of the books are by people who experience what psychiatry calls "depressive disorders". As I warn on other parts of my weblog, you can't find everything online. So hightail it down to the local library, independent bookstore or even Amazon.com to get a copy of the books he's listed.
Mind Freedom's Oral History Project. Vignettes about people's experiences. The Project involves "...collecting stories from psychiatric survivors, consumers, and ex-patients about their experiences in the mental health system: powerful stories of recovery, survival, resistance, and self-determination."
Psychiatrized. Fighting the clinical and institutional prejudices that underlie to social bigotry more commonly known as "Stigma".
Psychiatric Survivor Archives. From Toronto, a site devoted to documenting the grim history of how people with mentall illnesses were regarded and what was considered acceptable practice. Still in development but far enough along to get the idea.
Lunatics Liberation Front created and developed "...to promote the liberation of those of us who have been or are in danger of being labelled mentally ill: who go nuts or get too angry, too "high" or too miserable for our own and/or other people's comfort."
is another site I like visiting. An online book and filmography, you're provided a point of view that suggests that people with schizophrenia may very well be folks so attuned to the global psyche as to sense ~somewhat first hand~ the terrors that humanity has wrought upon the planet. This would place folks who live with schizophrenic realities as visionaries [albethey unintended ones] for an otherwise blind global populace. If one accepts this perspective, it would behoove us to seriously consider those terrifying visions/voices/realities that "the schizophrenic" tries to convey, rather than to swiftly and ignorantly dismiss them altogether as delusions. When one continously lives in metaphors, it is sometimes difficult to make others understand it.
Finally, one of my own personal favorite books [and one that might help in the translation of outer-worldly visions] is that written in 1953 by a woman going by the name Barbara O'Brien. The book, titled Operators and Things
provides a very well written account of her travels through a "schizophrenic experience". I first came across it in 1983 in the Bristol, CT public library. It is NOT available online. The book was reprinted some time in the 1970s and you can purchase copies online through any of a number of booksellers. I got a dog-eared paperback yellow-highlighted copy for $30 a couple of months ago.
For those in the know, obviously this is a very short list of material available on the subject. For those who know no better, wake up and look around. there are plenty of well-spoken voices among those who experience one or another variant of that plethora of diagnoses
known as mental illnesses.
good sites providing first person accounts
include Joel Sax's Pax Nortana
as well as Other
and Been Broken
by a bloke named "Broke".
Rick Giombetti publishes and writes Kangaroo Court
, which, while not always providing first person accounts, gives a healthy dose of skepticism about "the system," society's attitudes and people who try to get away with crap by calling themselves crazy [rather than acknowledging they may be irresponsible or, worse, craven and indifferent to others].
I'll be adding more to this entry later on tonight.
A meme from Pax Nortana and Other
The instruction: Type ‘random’ into Google Image Search, and then post whatever is the first image on the 11th page of results
What you see is the image that came up for me.
The challenge is now up to you.
Mike Rowe is the working host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs
. I can think of few thing more fun than to watch a man getting into working at a good clean dirty job.
At least the work shown on this program is honest. Not like that of your average politican
or top corporate CEO
See it for yourself. Join Mike as he takes on these Dirty Jobs each week, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the Discovery Channel.
The Friends of Belize has updated their website
. Makes me downright nostalgic for 100 degree [F] weather in October. A leisurly boat and bus trip from Belize City
to the haunting ruins of the Mayan temple city Altun Ha
was about the breadth of my first experience to this enchanting land. And I can't forget the first views of the glass-smooth ocean reflecting the early morning sky as though we were floating in the sky itself, our big tourist cruise ship but an island among the many trversing by.
I am honored and humbled to learn that when updating the site they added one of my watercolors, "Leaving Belize
" to their artists' galleries.
Now, all I need is to be able to return to do more such paintings.