I am burnt out. I feel like crying, cutting, screaming, sleeping, and walking into traffic. I need to do something about this so I am going to be taking a break from blogging, Facebook and Twitter until Friday. Before I do this I need to share something that I have been thinking about this past week or 2.
I would like to reintroduce myself and hope that many of you will still support me and see value in what I have to offer.
Since beginning this blog over a year ago I have come to realize that I am not being entirely true to myself. I am still saying what I feel is expected of me because I do not want to upset anyone. I have experienced a live of invalidation and I did not want experience that here. But, I need to break this cycle of fear and first validate myself.
My name is Kristen.
I am a Mad woman.
Mad is my identity and my politics.
I know that my intense sadness, self hatred and rage are apart of being human.
I know that I live in a world that does not appreciate emotional and mental differences.
I know that I am not sick but that I experience great pain caused by the experiences, violence and discrimination I have lived through.
I know that not allowing myself to be labelled as “sick” does not make my pain any less important or tolerable.
I know that being labelled “sick” only made me sicker and my true healing began when I abandoned the medical approach to my mind.
I know that I sometimes fall back into the mindset of being sick because that is what I have been told since I was a 13 and I will continue to be told by others what I am. I need to stop listening to them.
I know that psychiatry is too powerful and needs to be changed because I do think there can be a place for it, just not how it is currently.
I know that I will use mental health services when I need to but always on my terms.
I know that regardless of how I view my own mental well-being that discrimination, stigma, and violence are unacceptable events to occur towards those in the mental health, Mad, psychiatric survivor, antipsychiatry, consumer and ex-patient/inmate communities. I will speak out against human rights violations and support people in the ways they need to be supported.
I know that I have a lot of positive things to share with others if they are only willing to listen and open their minds.
I know there is a lot of be afraid of but that if we can stay together it doesn’t need to be so scary.
I know that I am just one voice but that I am important.
I know that I do not have all the answers but that I am onto something.
I know that many of you will judge me but as many of you know, the longer I ignore myself and keep it inside the worse I will feel. I am still like you.
I had a meeting with SlutWalk organizers last Friday. We had amazing conversations and Heather introduced me to a new acronym for the different sexualities!
I first was introduced to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender). Second was LGBTTIQA2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Questioning, Allied, Two Spirited). It became extremely confusing saying the acronym in class because it was so long and confusing! To shorten it is to not acknowledge the other sexualities!
Heather, when speaking to a group of trans youth (she identifies as Queer) she came across QUILTBAG!
Q-Queer and Questioning
Although I can’t imagine using the acronym in conversation that way I do in LGBT (the Quiltbag population doesn’t sound very good), it is easier to remember since it makes a memorable phrase.
I am experiencing something very strange. I have gotten myself so worked up that I feel detached from my body. My chest hurts, I’m so fuzzy and this is just horrible! I’m going to attempt to distract myself!
In Canada it is Mental Health Week! There has been some discussion already on what to call people who have a mental illness. Some prefer to be called mentally ill and other’s want absolutely no associations with medical definitions!
I think it’s great that we have so many words that we can use to describe ourselves! How we label ourselves in regards to mental health is just as personal as the language we use to describe other parts of our self!
This does lead to confusion because I may be okay with calling myself one thing and you may hate it! How do we solve that? By asking! What do you like to be called? That’s the language you should use and it will change depending on who you talk too.
I have my own preferred terms/labels that I will use to talk about myself.
- Mental Health Issue
- Emotionally different
It doesn’t bother me to identify as the actual disorder in the sense of I should not deny an aspect of myself. I call myself a singer because I sing. So I should be free to call myself borderline if that is what I am.
Also how you use these terms/labels makes a huge difference. I prefer to use “with” or “experiencing”.
- “I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.”
- “I am experiencing a mental health issue.”
I am a huge fan of reclaiming language which is why I don’t even mind describing myself as “crazy”, “freak” or “fucked up”. Embracing these terms is a slippery slope since they can easy be used against you.
I try to remember that words only have power over as for as long as we let them. Call me a “chair” enough and I may begin to think “chair” is a degrading word. Directly identifying with the illness we’re usually told is dangerous but I feel what makes it so dangerous is everyone hating that you’ve been diagnosed with it. Identify as “crazy” is bad because we’re told that being “crazy” is undesirable.
It’s stigma’s fault, not mine. I will always be who I want to be regardless of what everyone else thinks. It’s easier that way. It may be painful but I can’t continue to try to be what others want me to be but that is way more painful. It just doesn’t work that way.
I’m seeing from a different perspective the damage of having a victim mentality/identity. It is where all the blackness comes from when you have mental health issues. It’s just this hopeless, damning, oppressive identity and way of thinking that I can’t see a way for anyone to recover or manage while embracing the victim so willingly.
I may piss people off by saying that they willingly embrace being so damn unhappy but how can I say otherwise when I went from victim to in control? I can’t! Part of my point for writing this blog is to show people, “sane” and “insane”, that change is possible and actually, not just possible, 100% achievable.
We are victims of one thing that I know for sure and that is living in a society and being apart of a system that sees us as victims, as weak, as doomed and as predominantly stuck. We in turn believe this bullshit and embrace the victim identity and mentality because no one is giving us anything else! I believe this is why we need to go outside of our current mental health system and find those groups and people who see our true potential. We need to get positive thinking into mental health. There’s no point in having all these suicide awareness campaigns and pumping money into suicide prevention if the message is still “without my medication, without professional help for the rest of my life I will become nothing.”
It hurt me to hear “I can’t be happy” and even worse “this is how I am”. I do ascribe to the believe of neurodiversity that I have spoken about in a past blog (http://prideinmadness.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/neurodiversity-stigma/) but I do NOT believe that human beings are unchanging, unable to improve and not in control of their minds. Those beliefs create a victim. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!
We can almost literally change everything about us deemed to be controlled by genetics. I can dye my hair, I can change my eye colour, my skin colour, my voice, my height, my weight, for fuck sakes we live in a beautiful world where we can change our biological sex! Why should anyone believe that we are at the mercy of our emotions and behaivours? What is so concrete about our emotions and behaviours that they should be excluded from this list?! There is no reason!
I cannot sit by and let people think and be slaves to their illness! If people with other illnesses did this it would be a disaster and people would think that they are being silly! If you have difficulty walking or do not have any use of your legs what do you do? Not ever walk? NO! You get a wheelchair, a walker, crutches, a cane, a service animal! You get something that makes it easier for you to live! You DO NOT sit there and think that you will never be able to walk when there are resources out there for you to use to get you moving!
I try every day. It’s not like I decided to be happy and functional one day and I’ve been in that state since that moment. NO ONE STAYS HAPPY AND NO ONE STAYS FUNCTIONAL! I expect to get upset, I expect to get really upset but I also expect to be happy but I decide when that is or at the least decide how to deal with those emotions and behaviours if there is a slip.
I have friends who do the exact same as me! I have friends who have experienced things that I don’t want to imagine (although I do not like to compare pain) and have come out on top or are climbing to the top! They inspire me and I inspire them! Let yourself be inspired!
If you think you’re hopeless you will get no where and that is not fair to you! Don’t do that to yourself! If I had done that….well….let’s just say I’m happier here. I don’t care that it was hard, that’s not an excuse. It was worth everything for me to get to where I am now.