Sunday, August 17, 2008

Introducing the SISD Award

Dear Fellow Members of the Human Race,

Based on the "if you don't laugh, you cry" adage, I have introduced an award for Addressed2Occupant. It's called the Stupid Is, Stupid Does Award.

This award is reserved for those people who have a strong desire to make the world a miserable place, and will be given to deserving people who have a strong focus on promoting social inequality and injustice for those living with problems of mental health.

Why anyone would want to promote inequality and injustice, no one knows. Perhaps for the same reasons people of African descent were at one time considered sub-human, for the same reasons women weren't allowed to vote, for the same reasons people wanted to kill off those of Jewish descent, and so on, ad. infinitum.

*sigh, sniff* (Allow me a moment to collect myself.) The impacts of inequality and injustice are frustrating and depressing, but are mostly heinous in their capacity to destroy lives. So in an effort to fight this, or at least highlight incidences of injustice, the SISD Award was developed.

Drumroll please, perhaps even cue the theme song from Star Wars:

*ta dah*

So please, when sharing your opinions, make sure to take your foot out of your mouth so you aren't forced to speak from your ass. Otherwise, the Fruit will find you. They will hunt you down, and they will mess you up. (Don't fuck with the Fruit!)

Keeping our streets clean one mess at a time,
O. + the SISD Fruit

Dear Robert Quinn from Japan,

robert quinn from Japan writes: Well, I see Emma's posted, so I feel duty-bound to kick sand all over her comments, and every other certain-to-be-offended sufferer. You, the hordes of mentally ill (20% of the population, according to Michael Kirby...why is it old soldiers fade away but old Liberals end up with lucrative government sinecures? And when you factor in the multitudes with cancer, spina bifida, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, heroin addiction, existential ennui, etc., it's a wonder there's anyone capable of showing up for work), who spend their days feeling misunderstood, picked on, ignored or suicidal, may be missing the big picture. A nurse with many years of experience once told me such is what happens when one-pound babies survive. For whatever reason--bad luck, bad genes--there's something wrong with your wiring. Sorry. But it could be no amount of money, drugs or professional bafflegab will help. Long ago, a lion would have spotted you lagging behind, distraught, and...culled you. All things considered, that might not have been the worst thing to happen, in a circle-of-life sense. Maybe you really would be happier dead. The question should be: Could I feel worse than I do right now if I top myself? And if you're dead, and an atheist, the answer has to There are organizations other than the Mental Health Commission that can satisfy your sincere longing for an EXIT from emotional hell. No pain, no shame. / (excerpted from the comments section of the Globe and Mail.)

Dear Robert,
While you do reserve the right to have an opinion in all matters, sometimes you just shouldn't voice those opinions. Why? Because they can fall under the legal classification of "Hate Crime."

Hate Crimes are defined as abusive/aggressive/aggravating/victimizing behaviours that are directed towards individuals (or groups) based on their cultural or religious backgrounds, their sexual orientation, their disability, age, gender, identity, or political affiliation.

So, my dear Robert, in your lovely comment, you have not so subtly told a rather large group of people who fall under the umbrella of "disability" that they simply do not deserve to live among the rest of the members of the planet. Furthermore, you also suggested that said group of people engage in what pretty much amounts to mass suicide.

Legally, this constitutes verbal harrassment.

So fuck you very much for your abrasive, unwanted, and ignorant opinions. Since I can't track you down to bring you to justice for your crimes, I would like to impose upon you the most serious of curses that I have recently learned of: May the flies of a thousand camels infest your nether regions.

Sincerely yours,

PS. robert quinn from Japan is the first ever winner of the SISD award. The Stupid Is, Stupid Does Award goes out to those wonderful people who have a bizarre desire to make the world a crappy place for all.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Globe and Mail Series: Breakdown

Dear Readers of Newspapers and Other Things,

I tried to post this from work the other day, but the text seems not to have made it, although, oddly enough, the title did.

Anyways, this post was referring to a recent series done by the Globe and Mail of Canada about the mental health crisis.

It is a fairly comprehensive series that outlines many of the issues that relate to problems of mental health.

Unfortunately, the publications of the Globe fell victim to the same tendencies of many other publications of this nature: It outline the problems, but it doesn't explain what is currently being done. Also, the Globe tended to combine very different forms of health problems under one umbrella of "mental illness," often using those words in their headlines, despite the fact that the article spoke about only one specific condition.

Everyone with a "mental illness" understands that problems of mental health a pretty specific and don't fit neatly under one catch-all umbrella. Depression is not schizophrenia, is not bi-polar, is not anxiety, and so on. Every condition has its own profile, its own precipitating factors, its own treatment, its own course for recovery, each has its own outcome, and sadly each has its own brand of stigma/discrimination.

Frankly in all of that great reporting, I had serious problems with the glomming together of the variety of mental health conditions. Throwing all of these health conditions into the same pot doesn't allow us to tease out the idiosyncratic issues related to the them. For example, we are unlikely to think that someone with depression is capable of murder, but we easily make this kind of association when we hear that a person has a diagnosis of schizophrenia (even though these associations aren't correct). I think we need to differentiate in our writing, so that we

Anyways, here is the link to the Globe series: Breakdown: Canada's Mental Health Crisis.

Keep up the good work, Globe!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Things To Make Us Laugh

Dear People Who Now Feel Sad Because of My Previous Posts,

Sorry about the last few depressing posts.

When life brings you down, you need an lolcat. I swear, this website is what keeps me going:

With Love and Humor,

What do they see when they start on their path?

Dear People With "Lived Experience,"

Little hypothetical story here to clarify the nature of this post:

Okay, so say you're 20ish or something. And you've been dealing with some problems of hearing voices, and thinking that people are out to get you. And maybe you've been hiding away from people and neglecting your hygiene.

Somebody says, let's get you to a doctor to see what's up.

So you go. You do some tests. Some of them are pencil and paper tests. Some of them are verbal tests. Some of them are performance tests. Maybe others are medical tests.

Tests come back, everyone's suspicions are confirmed: you are now diagnosed with a condition you've only heard about in the movies. Schizophrenia or maybe even Bi-polar if you have some cycling going on.


So you look at your life. What do you see?

Based on the media, it's not a rosy picture.

Based on public perceptions, it doesn't seem to be any rosier of a picture.

Based on the statistical likelihood of being gainfully employed, well, the picture is just nosediving now.

Based on discriminatory laws across the world the picture just sinks to unfathomable proportions. (limitations of travel, limitations on insurance, limitations on housing, limitations on employment, limitations on serving your country or your community, limitations imposed by the way the legal system is organized... limitations, limitations, limitations... )

So with a diagnosis, I see a lot of limitations. Funny thing is, I only see these limitations after living with my diagnosis for 11 years. I'm no longer a child living under anyone's protective wing. I'm an adult, trying to carve out a life for myself. When I was younger and living with my diagnosis, these things just didn't affect me, since I didn't really have to move outside of my comfort zone too much.

To be honest my diagnosis is fucking hard to deal with in the real world... The real world being the world that dictates that I need to find a job because I have bills to pay, and I need to feed myself and my ravenous furkids. The real world that makes me crave the companionship, friendship, and intimacy of a lover. The real world that tells me that one day I may want to have children, and god forbid, achievable dreams! (The real world that tells me that all of these things are "healthy" and are "milestones of recovery.") And now that I'm starting out in my adult life, I'm seeing exactly how profound my limitations are. And I'm seeing the barriers that life forces me to hurdle just to reach those milestones... achievements that seem relatively effortless for people standing on the other side of the fence.

And the paradox in all of this is that I've tried to find the best place for me in this world. I shaped my life consciously from the time I was diagnosed to find a place where I would have the greatest likelihood for personal and economic success for someone of my education and experience. And so I thought I found my "place." And I'm looking at that place, I'm standing on the threshold watching everyone move around and interact in that place, and I still don't fit in. I'm beginning to think I just don't fit in anywhere.

Too sick for the "real" world. Too healthy for the services and amenities provided to people who live with a diagnosis like mine. Too different ideologically from the people who are trying to build a new, supposedly inclusive, system... a "new" system that paradoxically believes that by labelling me and "outing" me, it is setting me free.

I'm not trying to get anyone down. I'm not trying to make anyone feel helpless, even though I'm feeling a little helpless at the moment.

I think what I'm asking is: What can we do about it?

How do we fix this?

Why do I, after living with this disease for 12 years... after spending nearly 12 years learning how to cope and make sure that I am the healthiest person I can be... why do I have to deal with THESE particular issues now?

These "particular issues" being issues that relate exclusively to social injustice and discrimination.

If the disease itself doesn't kill you, the injustices that come along with it certainly will.

When we talk about suicide and the despair of mental illness; the despair isn't having to live with the disease. The despair isn't really about having to wrestle with symptoms or deal with medications.

The despair is about the social injustices we confront. The social injustices that affect us on a day to day basis. The social injustices that tell me that I'm not equal to every other person in the country I live in.

This is what kills us off when we stare down that long tunnel of life.

What do WE do? This issue is bigger than me. This issue feels stronger than me. I'm at a loss. I really am.

My instinct is to fight. But what does that mean? What am I fighting? Who am I fighting? How long is the fight going to be? What will it cost me, and what will it achieve?

I keep telling myself before I go to bed that when I wake up, tomorrow will be a better, brighter day. Tomorrow I will wake up, and I won't have to worry about my safety, my comfort, or my security.

I think the only thing that keeps me going is my hope for the future, since my present is a very grim place.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a brighter day (and sorry if I killed your buzz!),

*tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow wil be a better day... *

Dear Cruel World

Dear Fellow Sufferers,

Yes, folks, the world is a cruel place.

I hate to post after such a long time and be so cryptic, but life is such at the moment that every place I turn to I have nowhere to rest my weary soul.

I'm tired.

I want stability.
I want to know that I will be able to have a roof over my head.
I want to know that I will have food in my mouth.
I want to know that I can have the life I dream of having, and have the life that is promised to every person who "plans" and "does the right thing." (Whatever that is!)

I'm not asking for big things here. I just want to have some shelter, and some food, and someone to keep me warm at night. I want to be able to dream about the things that other folks get to dream about... like having kids, maybe going for a trip somewhere, maybe I'd even dare to dream of the things I'd like to accomplish before I kick the bucket.

I want to know that people can love me and be in my life without sacrificing their own lives and security.

I just want to know that it's going to work out, for all involved.

If this were only about me, I really wouldn't care. But there're others involved. And it bothers me that everyone who touches me needs to think twice before they can do anything with their lives.

I've done the best I can. Really I have. Now it's your turn to hold up YOUR end of the bargain.

Please. Just do the right thing. All of you.