‘Healing is in Our Stories’ by Deron Drumm

ddrummHere’s an excellent article by Deron Drumm about the importance of Stories in helping people recover and change the mental health system which appeared on Mad in America.

“It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” Iyanla Vanzant

I have spent a lot of time talking to politicians, media members and those working in the mental health system about the failings of the current method of viewing and treating emotional distress. I have come to the conversations armed with stats and outcomes about the bio-medical paradigm.

I have found that the people I speak with do not doubt the facts conveyed. They seem to agree that the current state of affairs is not good. The difference is that I think the tragic outcomes demonstrate the failure of the current system. The folks I talk to tend to think things are so bad because “mental illness is just that serious.”

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‘A Tuesday With Bob’ by Deron Drumm

ddrummI cannot emphasise enough how important grassroots activism is for creating change in the mental health and addiction fields. A clear example of a successful movement is Mad In America, started by Robert Whitaker after publishing his book of the same name.

Here’s a thoughtful and passionate blog which illustrates just how much this movement means to people on the ground.

‘Robert Whitaker’s books and website have changed my life in profound ways. Nearly two years ago, thanks to the generosity of Dorothy Dundas, I was able to have dinner with Bob and several activists.

I sat next to Bob for two hours and was only able to summon the courage to say the deeply philosophical words, “I liked your book.” It was a long ride home to Connecticut that night with that phrase repeating in my head and the knowledge that I had lost an opportunity to tell someone how they had changed my life.

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‘Dr Mark and The Village’ by Mark Ragins

Unknown-3Here is an article by one of my favourite people in the mental health field, Mark Ragins on Mad in America. Mark is the Medical Director at the MHA Village Integrated Service Agency, a model of recovery based mental health care.  His practice has been grounded in 20 years+ with some of the most underserved and difficult to engage people in our community.

‘My name is Mark Ragins.  Most people at The Village call me Dr. Mark, except those who have known me long enough to forego that pedestal and just call me Mark.  I’m a psychiatrist, a story teller, and the kid who used to drive his parents and teachers crazy asking “Why?” unendingly and then, never satisfied with their answers, looked for my own answers and returned to tell them that their answers were wrong.

When I meet someone new I usually try not to tell them I’m a psychiatrist too soon.  There are so many strange and scary ideas about psychiatrists and mental illnesses out there that I’m afraid I’ll be rejected before I even have a chance.

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Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness — from the inside

“Is it okay if I totally trash your office?” It’s a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke.

A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

‘An Open Letter to Persons Self-Identifying as Mentally Ill’ by Andrew L Yoder

ayoderA brilliant and empathic blog off Mad In America. Thank you, Andrew.

‘Hello, My name is Andrew, and like you I have experienced severe cognitive and emotional distress in my life.  This distress was sufficient that I once received a psychiatric diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, though I imagine other diagnosis could have easily been applied as well.

I know what panic attacks feel like.  I know how it feels to experience a “dissociative episode” from the inside out.  I know what it feels like to believe that you are going crazy.  I know what it feels like to convulse in sobs so intensely that you tear muscles.  I know what it feels like to want to die.

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Stamp Out Stigma

Stigma and prejudice in society are key barriers to recovery. Here is a new campaign against stigma.

‘1 in 4 of us is living with a mental illness. It’s time we stopped whispering and starting talking. Learn more at  http://www.stampoutstigma.com

‘Traditional Healing and Psychosis vs. the Promises of Modern Science’ by Jonathan Keyes

PdxJonMad in America just keeps getting better and better. I strongly recommend keeping an eye on this excellent website. Here’s a fascinating and important blog from Jonathan Keys.

‘As noted by Robert Whitaker in his book Anatomy of an Epidemic, the World Health Organization reported that the prognosis for someone experiencing psychosis is far better in developing countries than in industrialized countries

Mr. Whitaker and others posit that this is  due to the treatment models used in the developing world, as well as to debility and chronicity caused by psychiatric drugs themselves.  I think this is undoubtedly true.

A number of other reasons for the disparity in outcome have been suggested.  Some have put forward the idea that there has been a rush by consumers to apply for this disability money, leading to an increase in apparent chronicity.  While this is quite possible, I doubt that this alone explains the large gap in outcomes.

Other researchers have suggested that family and community support networks are often stronger in developing countries and that there is perhaps more tolerance and acceptance of people with psychotic tendencies.

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My Favourite Blogs: ‘Recovery and the Conspiracy of Hope’ by Pat Deegan

2007_0116walpole0154Here is a classic presentation made by Pat Deegan at “There’s a Person In Here”, The Sixth Annual Mental Health Services Conference of Australia and New Zealand. Brisbane, Australia.

Beautiful writing, a must-read. I’ll whet your appetite:

‘I love the word conspiracy. It comes from the Latin “conspirare” which means to breath the spirit together. What is the spirit we are breathing together here today?

It is a spirit of hope. Both individually and collectively we have refused to succumb to the images of despair that so often are associated with mental illness.

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‘Mental illness, addiction & most chronic physical illness is the result of childhood loss & trauma’ by Monica Cassani

UnknownI love Gabor Maté. He’s one of my favourite people working in the recovery field and you can find a number of blogs referring to his work on this website. And I’m not the only person who loves his work. Here’s the latest blog (slightly modified) from Monica at Beyond Meds.

Here, Gabor Mate tells us the medical profession are the most difficult to speak to about what he’s learned in his work because they don’t recognize that so-called mental illness and most physical chronic illness is the result of childhood loss and trauma.

We don’t need anymore research he says. We know the cause of these issues.

He points out that the barrier to the health professionals is that they’ve not cared for their own trauma. This is clearly true. Many professionals are afraid of their own darkness. This makes it impossible for them to correctly recognize issues in their patients and clients.

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Recovery and what it means

What is does it mean being in recovery? Film made by mental health recoveree and involves four people diagnosed with schizophrenia. ​ [2 clips]

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‘Recovery and the Conspiracy of Hope’ by Pat Deegan

2007_0116walpole0154Here is a classic presentation made by Pat Deegan at “There’s a Person In Here”, The Sixth Annual Mental Health Services Conference of Australia and New Zealand. Brisbane, Australia.

Beautiful writing, a must-read. I’ll wet your appetite:

‘I love the word conspiracy. It comes from the Latin “conspirare” which means to breath the spirit together. What is the spirit we are breathing together here today?

It is a spirit of hope. Both individually and collectively we have refused to succumb to the images of despair that so often are associated with mental illness.

Read More ➔