Speaking Out as a Form of Self-Care

I like this Martin Luther King, Jr. quote:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

It matters to me that I champion what “pro-choice” really means in its various manifestations:

The right to choose how we want to live. The right to choose love not hate. (Or the right yes indeed to choose hate if that’s how we want to live.)

It matters to me how people treat each other.

It matters to me that I speak out against hate and yes oppression.

In a way, people with mental health challenges have been repressed from speaking out and oppressed from having power.

I’ve talked in here before about my analogy to slices of the pie in how people compete with each other.

It comes down to self-care. When no one else seems to care about you it’s imperative that you care about yourself.

Refrain from internalizing the message that there’s something wrong about you. That there’s no hope for what you can do.

In 1988 I had to fight to be taken seriously. I rebelled the role of mental patient. Which is ultimately why I wrote about other things in Left of the Dial. I wrote about how I used fashion and music to heal. It was revolutionary because I didn’t focus on symptoms.

It matters to me–it has mattered to me from Day 1 of my recovery–that none of us are identified by our symptoms or our illness or our lack.

As an Author and a Dilettante/Lover I’ll continue to champion treating other people with dignity. I’ll continue to take my message of hope and healing wherever I go: on the street; on the stage; on the pages of the blog.

It’s 2017. We can’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. We can’t be afraid to challenge the haters. It’s time to rise up and use our voices to tell our stories.

Recovery is a human rights issue. I might be the only one who is so blunt to state it like this. I want to cry when I hear that a person has been institutionalized for 12 years or longer. The greatest thing is that they got out.

Everyone has the right to be supported and cheered on in their pursuit of having a full and robust life living in recovery. Now “full and robust” will look and be defined differently for each of us.

 

Say Yes to Mental Health Treatment

The Republicans are set to vote into law today the gutting of mental health services enacted under the Affordable Care Act while President Obama was in office.

The Republicans are set to roll back progress by eliminating mental health treatment and charging higher premiums for fewer kinds of mental health service.

The Republicans are set to deny mental health constituents coverage for addiction treatment.

It will become illegal to have an abortion. Yet when your fetus turns 18 and develops schizophrenia or another mental illness or a drug addiction there will now be no treatment available for them. Write your elected officials and thank them for this.

Makes sense right? Makes sense to have voted into power the people who are voting today to eliminate funding for mental health services for the very people who need it.

Cue the sarcasm. Is there an emoji for sarcasm? You know where I stand.

If you live in New York State here are the telephone numbers of the elected officials you can call to tell them to vote NO for the MacArthur Amendment that denies citizens treatment for mental health.

Rep. Lee Zeldin Long Island 202-225-3826
Rep. Peter King Long Island 202-225-7896
Rep. Dan Donovan Staten Island 202-225-3371
Rep. John Faso Upper Hudson Vally 202-225-5614
Rep. Elise Stefanik North Country 202-225-4611
Rep. Claudia Tenney Binghamton 202-225-3665
Rep. Tom Reed Finger Lakes Region 202-225-3161
Rep. John Katko Syracuse 202-225-3701
Rep. Chris Collins Western NY 202-225-5265
Tell your congressperson that:
  • The American Health Care Act would leave millions of Americans without mental health coverage and strip Medicaid funding.
  • The recently-introduced “MacArthur Amendment” would let states get waivers allowing health insurance plans to¬†not cover mental health and substance use treatment and charge people with mental illness more.
  • It’s outrageous to even suggest that mental health coverage is optional and to charge people more because they have a mental health condition.
  • Medicaid coverage is also under threat. It covers important mental health services that help people with mental illness get better and stay better.
  • Please tell Representative_______ to keep what works for mental health and REJECT the American Health Care Act and the MacArthur Amendment. Thank you.

I telephoned my guy in Washington. The line was busy. I’ll call again to try to get through.

I’m posting this same blog entry in the Flourish blog.

 

Sparking Love Kindness and Joy

love-mugkindess-mugjoy-mug-ellen

(Lineup of Ellen mugs that tell it like it is.)

We need to spark love kindness and joy for ourselves and others.

Now I think of how Ellen Degeneres “came out” in the 1990s on her TV sitcom.

Since then she’s had a remarkable career. Ellen doesn’t seem unkind or hurtful–she appears to be a genuinely compassionate person.

We need in the mental health community to have our own “Ellen” who can take on the bigotry against people with SZ and BP and other MH conditions.

The more members of our tribe earn our success alongside people without diagnoses we’ll hopefully have the clout to obtain the equality and excellence in relationships that we’ve demanded for years now.

Yet I don’t think only successful people should get this free pass. Those of us who are doing well should fight for the rights, opportunities, and dignity for peers whose faces aren’t in the news or in blogs and who struggle in the shadows.

We’re at a point in the history of the world where speaking out is imperative. We must start telling our stories first to each other and then to the people we meet.

We need to make it known that we’re not going away; we won’t take anyone’s bull crap; we’re here to stay.

This starts when we accept the diagnosis and get comfortable with it–because then we can be casual about it with the people we meet–slip it into dialogue as if it’s a natural thing.

If you ask me we haven’t often gotten anywhere because we’ve been spooked about having a diagnosis and this rubbed off on and spooked other people.

So: Be Kind to Your Mind. Love Yourself. Love-bomb the haters.

I would like to be the Ellen Degeneres of mental health.

That’s a tall order. Yet I’ve been a mental health activist for 15 years now and there’s so much more I want to do.

I want to stomp on stigma with my Missoni Converse.

I want to get people talking about mental health on the front porches of America.

I want to show peers that we have choices and lifestyle options.

No longer do we have to be relegated to collecting SSI forever and living in dangerous low-income housing on the edge of town.

Are you in?