Last Christmas Eve, I drove to Yale New Haven Hospital to drop off 150 hand-written cards for the psychiatric patients. The response was so effective and heartwarming, I decided to continue the tradition this year by making 57 hand-painted holiday cards, each with an inspirational quote and the words “You are loved and you are far from forgotten” written inside. I dropped the majority off at Yale and brought the rest to Newport Hospital in order to expand my positive reach, but surprisingly, my gift was not quite as well received in Newport as it was in New Haven.
The contrast made me remember why I started this tradition in the first place: people who have been labeled ‘mentally ill’ are often not treated as equals, both inside and outside of the hospital. Judgments and stigma still surround the labels, and psychiatric care is in desperate need of improvements and humanizing. I don’t believe anyone deserves to be cast aside or forgotten, especially on a day like Christmas Eve. I believe we all deserve love, hope, and a personalized reminder that we are in this life together.
When I first presented my cards to the woman at Newport Hospital’s front desk, I was greeted with a smile, but when I told her to whom I wanted them sent, her smile quickly faded. She told me that in order to have my cards delivered to the psychiatric patients, I would probably have to remove all the decorative buttons, to which I agreed. She sighed, took a closer look at the cards, and then said that I would also need to black out my name and website from the back, to which I also readily agreed. She sighed again and then, without further instruction for modification, simply asked me to consider handing out my cards to “the other patients” instead, as if the patients in the psychiatric unit didn’t matter at all.
I was shocked. A moment ago, before she knew my intended card recipients, she had been so kind, and now she almost seemed annoyed by my request. By contrast, the security guard at Yale had not only accepted my gift gratefully, but he also invited me up to the psychiatric unit to personally hand out my cards to the patients. Sad but still determined, I made all the necessary alterations and stood by my original plan. In the end, I was able to have my cards sent upstairs for approval, but not without much difficulty and pushback. I don’t believe it should be that hard to let someone in the psychiatric unit know that you care. I don’t believe patients labeled as ‘mentally ill’ should be viewed any differently than physically ill patients, but unfortunately they still are.
Luckily, I am not alone in recognizing the current mental health system’s faults and wanting to make a serious change. Because of my experience on Christmas Eve, I have started following Mad in America, a community of open-minded people devoted to breaking down barriers and pushing for a more effective mental health care system. I very much agree that our current ‘brain disease’ model is flawed in so many ways, and “needs to be replaced by a model that emphasizes our common humanity, and promotes robust, long-term recovery and wellness.”
Each obstacle I encounter on my way to making a positive difference in this world serves as added motivation, and so I view my experience this Christmas Eve as a blessing. The difficulty I had in simply providing a bit of hope to the psychiatric patients at Newport Hospital reminded me that there are still people affected by the broken mental health system. They need our help—real, human-to-human, nonjudgmental, loving help. Just because they are trapped in a system that makes it hard for them to be reached doesn’t mean they aren’t worth reaching out to. I plan to be back next Christmas Eve with even more cards and even more drive to let the psychiatric patients know that there is someone on the outside who cares and doesn’t judge. Casting aside a few decorative buttons? No problem. Casting aside a human being? Not on my watch.
That was very kind of you Melissa. Thank you for taking the time and trouble for showing love to people our culture wants to forget.
Some of the most judgmental, unloving attitudes toward the “mentally ill” come from the experts who diagnose them.
I’ll have to visit your blog. It’s a struggle to keep positive.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve felt the judgmental, unloving attitudes firsthand from the “experts” myself.
We’re all in this together. Let’s make a positive change one small step at a time!
I love this SO MUCH. Thank you!!!
That was a very kind act.
I am wondering if your buttons might have been seen as inspiration for the patients, perhaps to sew and do something productive? And lord forbid that positive influence should transpire.
Curious that you had to remove them and were still refused.
Glad to see you here, but we can be kind of leaning towards anti-psychiatry. You might hear some folks call it radical.
I don’t think of it as radical at all, I am simply opposed to anyone involved in the care of people, to be able to destroy the lives of those people.
It goes way beyond cards, even though it affected you…. a small window to what really happens.
I’m with you 100%. It’s hard but I think instead of fostering an “us against them” attitude, we all need to work toward a model where everyone is treated with love and respect. One small step at a time, we will make a change.
“… we all need to work toward a model where everyone is treated with love and respect.” That was, in a nutshell, the message of Christ. In addition to belief and respect for God, of course.
I agree with others, your actions were very kind, and well meaning. And bringing hope to people, is how people help people heal. Hope is imperative. Somehow our “mental health” workers decided it’d be a good idea to steal hope from people. In the hopes of making innocent others, lifetime “mentally ill” patients with their neurotoxins, because that’s profitable for the “mental health” workers. I find this just deplorable.
Thank you for attempting to remind all – especially hospital workers – that we need to live in a mutually respectful manner towards all others. That’s a message, of which too many “mental health” workers, unfortunately, really need to be reminded. Thanks for working to do such.
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” right? Those who tried, but didn’t succeed in killing me for nefarious reasons, have heard me roar, actually seen a painting of a tiger roaring. Plus a “too truthful” visual journey through the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions'” systemic child abuse covering up system. And they’re terrified of my artwork, and pissed, at me now.
Oops, the child abuse covering up “mental health” workers and religions forgot the artists have a powerful communication tool, since “a picture paints a thousand words.”
I would LOVE to see your artwork! I actually had a similar experience where I made several deep, dark, and honest music videos related to past pain and received judgment because of them. I believe all creative outlets are healthy and beautiful. If we don’t express our feelings through art and positive actions, they end up festering inside of us or exploding out in damaging ways.
Let me know where I can view your art, or if the pieces aren’t up online, feel free to send them to me. My email is on my website.
Thank you, Melissa, that was very kind and thoughtful.
Unfortunately it is an us vs. them situation. Psychiatry is charged with keeping those of us who don’t accept this system out of mind, out of sight, and certainly powerless. As you will inevitably realize if you keep up with this stuff.
Happy New Year!
A psychiatric ward is not a happy place. I dare imagine what it is like at Christmas or New Years. The smell that taints every object in those establishments can’t be overcome by the smell of a Christmas turkey dinner and the sound of bubbly. Not that that occurs. I’m sure they have candy canes.
But I can imagine the lonely patient opening one of your beautiful cards and reading the hope and trust and kindess that you send through your words.The novelty of your cards must be very appreciated. I say novelty because everything is old there – the puzzles, the magazines, the books, the crayons. I would imagine your card would be like a message in a bottle.
Can I say something that may surprise you? I agree that your name and coordinates should not appear on your cards. I’m speaking from experience. That is for your own protection (from the people who work there). Now, now, don’t exaggerate my comment here…my personal experience is that you may think twice about volonteering your services…I’ll leave it at that.
I think it’s great what you do. Cards means so much sometimes.
You are AWESOME!
What a beautiful person, with such a beautiful smile!
God bless you.
My only disagreement with you is that psychiatric care is in desperate need of improvements and humanizing. If you frequent this site often it will probably become clear to you that psychiatry is inherently rotten and dehumanizing. It is not something that can be improved. Only its abolition will prevent the kinds of atrocities that you witnessed first hand as you, from your kind heart, sought to help those in need.
Thank you for your kind deeds and for making this world a better place.
Thank you! And I believe you’re right. Psychiatry is definitely a monster of a beast (as your username suggests), but I think with enough bravery, honesty, and love, we will be able to make a difference.
Yes we will — and that difference will be to end psychiatry once and for all.
Your work with humanity is awesome. Thank you for bringing light to the planet as you do. The woman at the desk at Newport Hospital, and others who work in the system with that same attitude, are what concern me. It’s what I’d call “not allowing in light.”
These are gatekeepers to the system, protecting and perpetuating its prejudices, injustices, and profound lack of compassion, as well as the social division on which the “mental health” world and system thrive. Thank GOD you are doing what you are doing, this is what we need more of in the world. Indeed, step by step. On *my* Earth, all acts of kindness are welcome, encouraged, meaningful, and healing for all concerned, the greater good. Please keep it up!
P.S.–Melissa, your article inspired me so much, that I actually had the opportunity to take action this morning. After I made this post, I went out to get a cup of coffee, and there was an older gentleman in line in front of me who discovered after ordering that he had forgotten his wallet, so without even thinking I offered to pay for him, and he accepted appreciatively. I told the barista about this artlce I had just read about acts of kindness, and this was the perfect opportunity to pay it forward. Great synchroncity! It felt good to do so, and I imagined making a difference, just with this one little thing. More and more of these in ANY arena would make a huge difference and help to restore people’s faith in humankind, and perhaps they would pay it forward, too, rippling kindness into society through selfless inspired actions. Thank you again, great start to 2020 🙂
Alex, your post just made my day! Inspiring positivity and ripples of kindness in others is always my goal! I bet you inspired that person along with many other people who read your comment to do something selfless as well. You rock!
Thanks, Melissa, and totally back atcha! Imagine if we each made an intention to do this, say, once a week, or even once or twice a month. Not to force it, but to notice opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life in a small way. I bet the universe would respond happily, and create those opportunities for us. That’s exactly how it felt when the opportunity arose from me, yesterday, as if the universe heard my heart after reading your article. When it is truly our heart’s desire to be giving, I believe the universe will provide us with plenty of opportunities to fulfill ourselves this way. Win/win. Can’t have enough of that these days!!
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Thank you from The Ghosts of the Civil Dead.
From little things, big things grow.
Thank you for your good deeds.
Over 30 years ago now, I spent Christmas in the Forensic Unit of the State Prison….
(I was being held in the State Prison Forensic Unit “pre-trial”, and had NOT been convicted of a crime….)….
The local Salvation Army visited us, bringing cards, snacks, and a large white Teddy Bear with a red Christmas ribbon…. Yes, having ANY visitors was better than the NO visitors which we would otherwise have had….
But even then, and still, I found the experience insulting, demeaning, condescending, and self-serving on the part of these liberal Christian do-gooders…. They did it MORE so they could burnish their “Christian compassion” image, than out of any genuine compassion or understanding…. It was fairly nauseating, really….
Too bad they couldn’t have gotten us a reduction in our psych meds…. That’s what we MOST needed….
Looks to me AS IF MAYBE Melissa was raised in a Salvation Army/”Christian” home….
I completely understand that feeling, the feeling of being scared, vulnerable,
dehumanized, and the guards let the glimpses of niceness come in, and we dam well better be grateful etc.
I came from a religious upbringing that had people in it that loved to fly to the needy areas to preach the gospel and convert. The needy would be given second hand clothes, and I always wondered why second hand?
I am not religious and many reasons for it.
I swallow the bitterness that you must have felt. I’m just validating your thoughts, since I feel like that often.
I think sometimes we are cursed to see a broader perspective, even though those who bring their gifts really mean well, they don’t always see how it might make the receiver feel.
So just remember Bradford that perhaps some that bring cards, also want to make themselves feel better.
Perhaps you too could give someone something.
I don’t think people realize that psychiatry and many societal constructs are demeaning and already gifts us with the imbalance of power, and that sometimes a gift is a reminder that the person gifting is having a family Christmas while you are sad, angry, dehumanized feeling.
I find the most difficult thing is to ask for love, receive and give love, it is so hard to achieve a feeling of inner power.
Feeling vulnerable is supposed to be okay, but we should never feel it’s okay for someone that has always felt vulnerable.
Sometimes Bradford the power lies in accepting the card and knowing by accepting it, you won a small battle.
I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Not being a shrink i can’t read people’s minds.
In defense of all these do-gooders most believe in the chemical imbalance myth.
My mom thought I would die without my “meds.” Seriously.
Sometimes we get too much attention. especially when it comes from
those who seem to know what it is we need.
Hi Bradford, I hear you loud and clear, but everything I do is genuine and comes straight from my heart and from the trauma I too have faced. I used to be a very angry and hurt person, but I’ve learned to take my pain and use it as fuel and motivation to do something good instead. I don’t judge you for your anger or your suspicions. I also don’t pretend to know what you’ve gone through. You are entitled to your emotions as well as your opinion, and I fully respect that.
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Bradford, Melissa doesn’t sound like those you describe. Your points are valid but try avoiding the broad brush.
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I respectfully disagree. I read the blog and see a young woman trying to spread love and light in what seems like a very dark world these days. While such efforts might seem disingenuous when not accompanied by a clear understanding of very complex sociopplitical issues, I think these fledgling efforts should still be encouraged. Nobody wins a Nobel on their first attempt at anything but criticism of a genuine effort threatens to extinguish the spark that created it.
Maybe this kind of outreach isn’t up your alley or “enough” for your expectations, but it’s a pretty good start with clearly the best of intentions. If we could all let our light shine just a little brighter, imagine the possibilities…
“If we could all let our light shine just a little brighter, imagine the possibilities…”
This bears repeating, thank you kindredspirit.
This is not to anyone in particular because it happens often, but my general question here is, when will the absolute truth that “we are all in this together” actually register as the reailty which it is? Bringing light and love to the world should not have to be an act of courage from fear of reproach but I thank GOD for brave people. I know from experience that it is so not fun to open your heart to help and inspire others and then get slammed for it in return, for any reason, that’s about as dispiriting as it gets. Do we want a better, kinder, more generally supportive world or not? EVERYONE is responsible for this!
Melissa’s work is inspiration, that’s a gift to world, by example, and we need as much of that as we can muster right about now.
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Johnchristine again. I have reported this for moderation.
Congratulations. You fooled a TBI survivor. You should not be proud of that.
Congratulations. You fooled a gas lighting survivor. Ditto.
Hi johnchristine, I hear your anger and I love it because I know from personal experience, you can turn that anger into passion. The world isn’t going to change for the better without people getting fired up and channeling that fire into real, positive ways of improving the lives of all people. You can take your anger out on people like me, who are doing their best with the resources they have to brighten a very dark world, or you can take your anger and turn it into fierce passion.
Just ignore these sorts of comments Melissa. Your reply was excellent.
Johnchristine, I also realize that my previous comment to you could have come across as condescending, and so I just want to add that by no means did I mean it to sound that way. My favorite band has always been Papa Roach (everyone is free to make fun of me for this—I’m no stranger to being judged for my taste in music) because they taught me how to channel my anger into passion. Two of my favorite songs by them are “Warriors” and “Face Everything and Rise”. If their sound isn’t for you, I suggest at least checking out the lyrics. I’d also love to know your favorite band and what music helps you.
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No, you have nothing to apologize for. Nothing you have written here is condescending. Some might consider you naive in thinking that psychiatry can be improved, but your motivation is pristine from what I can see.
I don’t want to be all over this blog but just as an aside, I can’t help but to notice that there are interesting issues surfacing here regarding giving and receiving. This is an important aspect of our collective because it is how energy flows between us. Giving is fulfilling to the giver when it comes from the heart. If it’s neither satisfying to or welcome by the receiver, a simple no thank you would communicate that directly and graciously.
I do understand the dynamic of “giving as charity” in a “do-gooder” and marginalizing way. In Kabbalah, that is called “giving bread of shame,” and it is, sadly, real in this world, and oh yes, it is felt. But aside from that sinister dynamic, I’d say that overall, to give is an act of faith, and to receive is an act of generosity. Both require kindness.
That is really generous kind of you. Thank you for your work! I had this idea that just came to me. Has anyone ever done something similar and included a resource list with the card or gift they are giving like a link to this website, specific articles here or from other sources, link to the Inner Compass Initiative, Etc.? Something along those lines?
That’s an awesome idea!! Also, thank you for mentioning the Inner Compass Initiative. I had never heard of them before. I am excited to know there are so many people working to get beyond psychiatry and get to a place of common humanity. I will continue to open others’ eyes as you all have done for me. Thank you again!
Way to go Melissa, even just talking about it to friends, etc. to people one meets is a step forward. Many talk about “mental illness” in a style of “anti-stigma”. The anti-stigma is another tool by psychiatry that in fact creates an atmosphere of apathy, similar to anti-racism chatter. It is about political correctness. It however does not remove the thinking about people, as “mentally ill”.
I think your gesture of cards has another important meaning for not just the patients, but equally, for the employees. Demonstrating that you are not unaware.
Not blindly buying into systems that keep people tied to that system is huge.
We have so many issues in this world that arose from trying to overpower some living being. I have found that trying to address them is non ending work.
In the past I protested which put me at odds with ag students and circus acts. I laugh when psychiatry calls on “insight”.
You do have insight and are using it well.
Yeah I love what you are doing Melissa! Thanks again for your work spreading positivity! I’m getting other ideas! Not that I expect anyone to do them haha. Just wanted to share in case it resonated with anyone! What if MIA or similar organizations had volunteers that did something similar? Their web address could be at the bottom of the card too! If you felt like having a resources tab on your website would make sense you could totally do something like that as well!
Sorry that was super sloppy but does that make sense? In other words the organization (whether MIA or another one) gives out cards from itself.
Awesome ideas 🙂
There is a very obvious divide here. There are people who are/were Mad but are finding acceptance in society, partly by “giving”. Then there are the Mad people who are condemned, who are not accepted back into society. This is also part of the dilemma of the “peer” movement–is it selling out?
It is pretty obvious that there is “giving bread of shame”; and that itself is shameful, in my opinion. What Alex wrote did sound like the truth on that subject.
The phrase is:
If you can’t beat them, join them.
That is what is corrupt about the peer movement; and it turns psych survivors against each other.
That is what is happening; and it happens over and over.
I notice that there is little to no mention of the dehumanizing labels in this article, which I think the author was given. It would be refreshing if the author could look at her situation from a Mad Pride perspective, instead of as an altruistic giving perspective.
Then there would be less of the stigma by the people who are left out.
She knows it’s dehumanizing.
She knows we have had enough.
There is no divide here, we are all on the same side.
And by the way, we are never on the outside, because we are here.
Even those who are on the ‘outside’, are all part of “systems”.
Everyone is just trying to get a piece of earth they were born into.
We are all on your side and I hope you are on my side.
Not perfect but better than being alone.
I agree with you about the peer movement John.
Yes but this is not about the peer movement. This is not what the anti-psychiatry movement is about. I have reported most of these posts by johnchristine for moderation
One person is golden because she recognizes humanity that is locked up and stigmatized. However, I think she is very careful not to identify too closely with those people–especially the ones who have been condemned.
She is doing a political dance. She is saying in effect: I am free now/ I got my freedom. It must be lousy to be stuck in there. She is not saying: we are all human and we all make human mistakes. At least I don’t hear that.
I’m really sorry this all came off wrong and offensive to you. Everything I do is with the best intentions. My goal always is to unite people, never divide.
One of my Mother’s favorite quotes, which she used often as a weapon against me, was, “The road to HELL is paved with good INTENTIONS”….(emphasis mine)….
Despite the weaponization of it, it’s also TRUTH….
I’m finding your replies in the comment section to be very condescending, also….
To the extent that I understand “johnchristine”, I also agree with “them”….
Maybe MiA should hire a clinical supervisor to oversee their contributor pool….
Speaking only for myself, I find nothing you’ve written here to be “wrong” or “offensive”. ….”silly” and “naive” and misguided, maybe, but not wrong or offensive.
For you to suggest that, only affirms my perspective….
As I sit here in my struggling millennial friends’ crummy one-room apartment using their computer, (I’m too poor and disabled to own my own, and the 2 public libraries are closed for the holidays….), I’m wearing a lovely handknitted scarf around my neck…. A few weeks ago, the local ladies kitting circle got together to knit hats & gloves and scarves for those “poor, poor homeless people.” OOPS!, my bad, I mean “persons EXPERIENCING homelessness”….
They put these knitted goods out where they *THINK* homeless people will find them, use them, and feel oh, so warm and grateful…. But the shelters opened WEEKS ago, and the homeless get free warm WAL-MART-style clothes there, which the homeless actually PREFER over the “hand-knitted” stuff. So these fine hand-knitted goods sit outside all winter, covered in snow and ice, and rotting away. I got tired of watching this process, so I snagged one last week while bicycling along the local bike trail….The homeless camps are largely deserted for the winter…. But the naive, ignorant, well-meaning, good-intentioned, compassionate acts of these “do-gooders” continues to be ignored by the homeless they only *think* they’re helping. But golly gee, those silly knitters sure are COMPASSIONATE!….
Please try confronting your oppressors, not those who are trying to help.
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It’s better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. ~Confucius
I am grateful for all the feedback here, so thank you to everyone! I am soaking it all in, learning from the negative, and feeling inspired by the positive. I’m also so happy to have found this community of driven people who are set on making a difference.
I really appreciate the constructive feedback on how to improve projects like these and create more effective ripples of change. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to share!
Props, Melissa, I think this was a really valuable discussion, relevant to all of humanity. I work with energy (as per my healing path) and that’s what this is all about–how we exchange energy amongst each other. One way or another, we “relate,” and it is the energy of this “relating” that defines the quality of it, and it is felt and can be subtle and hard to articulate.
I also believe this is what we’re looking to tweak, right beneath the surface of our actions, and it will make all the difference. It’s good self-exploration for us all and will help us refine our own energy and focus. It’s how we grow.
I think every voice here was heard and respected and all perspectives have come to light. I’ve certainly done a lot of self-reflecting in addition to having taken action. I like this topic and take it to heart, how we extend our light to others. You’ve shown nothing but grace and humility and openness in the process, in all authenticity, true leadership.
And your story in this blog is so revealing, you noticed the exact right thing (imo, at least), and your final words from it, “not on my watch,” are very poignant. To me that is your spirit, and it rings very true. You obviously are a visionary.
Fabulous work here, and I mean that! I look for stuff like this. I’m very moved, and grateful. We teach and learn by example! This will ripple far and wide, as per your truest intention and heart’s desire. I have no doubt.
Ignore the negativity, these people are embarrassing. Though I’m sure there are those with some actually constructive feedback. You have nothing to apologize for though, you deserve only props.
To your comment above, – which I’ve just now seen, but which had no “reply” button, – what I learned YEARS ago, is that BAD HELP is WORSE than no help at all….
Hi Melissa, who would have thought a gesture of good will would end up so misconstrued. Isn’t there an old saying… “No good deed goes unpunished”. Seriously I am glad you are staying positive as your heart is in the right place and this world needs more kind people like you! Sometimes we are not always privy to ‘all’ the reasons/details of why someone holds a different viewpoint. I can relate as a while ago when I realized how helpful MIA is to so many I encouraged people to pass the link and donate whatever they can to keep the site going, but my encouragement to support MIA was criticized by another commenter and actually linked to “social abuse”.
Let’s all strive to see the damaging reign of psychiatry toppled. Thanks for getting involved! There is strength in numbers and also the power of one. Best wishes to you.
Oh dear, supporting MIA is social abuse? Just when you thought you had heard everything…I’m sorry that person got on your back.
I was surprised to see this here but I do hear you and thanks for speaking your truth, Rosalee. In honor of the giving and receiving theme of this blog, I’d say forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can offer to ourselves and to other human beings, to humanity in general. I think it’s most practical, too, given that we are trying to bring more loving kindness, support, and safety to the planet, and that is not easy in a rough world, to maintain that.
No one is perfect and we all have growth potential here that at least will start to provide this planet with a bit more light, which is what we’re all trying to bring in our own way, so people will NOT suffer so readily, the world can become less stressful. Forgiveness is an energy that is one way to bring light and uplift the collective.
It is not to excuse or allow abuse, not in the slightest and that should be a given as far as I’m concerned, and indeed things do need to change. We’re all part of that process, it’s a collective issue, the whole world is involved in this.
But forgiveness does acknowledge that we are all human and in a process of healing, growth and evolution. Permission to make mistakes should be allowed if they are corrected and not repeated. How else do we learn and grow?
I love the title of this blog, Cast Aside No One. I’d love to see that vision manifest in the entire world, if at all possible. Call me crazy, sure wouldn’t be the first time. And if that’s crazy, then I am happy to be. I know I’m not alone, not by a long shot!
“Alex, This blog was about trying to do something helpful and positive, i.e. giving, but unfortunately Melissa was criticized by some for it and that struck a nerve with me. I wanted to support Melissa and let her know I relate to how it feels to try be positive/helpful but get criticized. I wanted to explain we can’t always know what is behind someone’s criticism and not to take it personal.
Yes I believe in forgiveness but it is easier if a correction IS actually made.”
I just don’t think it’s a comparable situtation. Other than that, not sure what a “correction” would look like in this case. Regardless, as always I appreciate hearing your truth. It’s not the same as mine, and I think that’s ok. I believe we can disagree peaceably and move on from all this, and that is for the greater good because no one’s truth is cast aside. It’s why I love the title of this blog, which, in and of itself, is a powerful truth to live by and practice.
Alex, your first comment (to me) on this blog certainly tied giving, receiving and “forgiveness” altogether. Yes “cast no one aside” is “a powerful truth” and no one should be shamed or silenced for their “truth” or their support for Robert and MIA. (or have a comment to defend their position reported) Too much negative energy has gone on here and that is a real shame as energy should be used for the good of everyone – which is what MIA is all about. Yes I am moving on. I wish you well and will not respond any further.
Ok, well, this whole thing makes me sad but it is what it is. Truth isn’t always easy, but it does shine a light. I believe that IS for the greater good, regardless of anything. My best to you.
You both have said your pieces, and I’m asking that this be the last comment along these lines. We have gotten way off the point of the article now.
When you talk about forgiveness, I think about restorative justice. It is beneficial for everyone and strengthens the whole community. Obviously, we have a long way to go to make restorative justice the preferred method of justice; but I think it IS the future.
Letting people speak who have been shut down in the past can have a profound healing effect. I feel better just thinking about the possibilities of open dialogue.
I understand the frustration many here feel. Like others I share a small living space as the only alternative to homelessness and am still too messed up for a regular job. Autoimmune diseases and trouble concentrating, remembering or organizing.
Plus the MI System strongly discouraged me from finding work–partly by requiring long hours in “day treatment” and “clubhouse.” So my work history is very poor.
Others of you are worse off. Living under a bridge or abandoned warehouse. Maybe forced into AOT or locked up or forced to live with abusers. Maybe you don’t even get disability to live off.
Melissa’s cards are not a solution to problems like homelessness. Houses of cards are for shrinks to construct. 😉 Nor do they free the imprisoned nor end the pharmacological torture. But these problems are things even the greatest medical and legal experts struggle with. Dr. Goezhe, Dr. Breggin, Jim Gottstein….
At least Melissa is trying to bring the teeniest ray of comfort into the lives of those who exist just to serve as scapegoats for all that’s wrong with humanity today. Letting them know that someone still sees them as Human Beings instead of monsters or garbage.
I’m trying to do more of that myself. Maybe volunteer for a warmline for survivors.
There are other contributors here far worthier of our ire. One of them is a mainstream psychiatrist who posted a mocking comment on a young man’s memorial page a while back. It makes more sense to get angry at people like him.
Thank you for that, Rachel! That was a wonderfully sensitive post!
Rachel is far more tolerant than I. So far my responses have not appeared.
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That was essentially my take, too, Rachel. You did a wonderful job of explaining it.
My take as well. I personally really appreciate stuff like this and it inspired some ideas of my own that I just may give a try so thanks Melissa for letting me dove tail off of you and for listening! I also really appreciate the commenters and this website, including the different perspectives! I want to preserve my anonymity so this is going to be super vague but I am currently stuck in a bad situation with people who are mental health shaming (abusing) me. (Mental health shaming is ableist and includes shaming based on perceived mental heath labels) I cannot leave and it is nice to be able to visit a website where people “get it” even if I don’t engage directly very often. Thanks everyone! This will be my last comment for a bit. <3
Nicely expressed Rachel
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This is a very naive article; because thousands and thousands of people are being cast aside.
Melissa this brought a smile to my face. I think you are doing valuable work especially in that you hopefully made the person who would not let you in think a bit more about how ridiculous their policies are. If we had more people like you doing the same thing then it would maybe send a message that people outside the ward are paying attention. I don’t think that can hurt.
I’d call the problem here ‘the long reach of those “mental patient” gloves’. The looney bin is, quite literally, where they stash trash people.
Thanks for trying to do something constructive about the situation. Xmas, on the wards, can sure be a bummer.
Do you consider yourself a “trash” person? Let me answer that for you. No; so can we move forward and talk about social justice and restorative justice? Cards to me are like the bread of shame that Alex was talking about. It is intentionally marginalizing; and people on both sides know it.
johnchristine, I do not believe that Melissa’s gesture falls into this category, she is being inclusive, she makes these cards for everyone. The marginalizer in this story is the nurse at the desk who is not allowing light to get into the psych unit, she is intentionally blocking positive energy from getting to “certain people.”
I’d call her a gatekeeper to the system, she is protecting and supporting it at the front lines, doing the shaming. It’s covert and where the problem is most obviously visible, especially because it is her job, she gets paid for this and it is supported by her colleagues and work culture. Makes it systemic.
This is exactly why I think this article is brilliant: it’s an example of sharing love from one’s heart, and exactly how that gets cut off from some people, based purely on prejudice, which leads to dismissiveness, which in turn leads to non-deservedness along with feelings of lack and unworthiness. Obviously, that’s incredibly and profoundly harmful for people! It’s totally dehumanizing and despiriting, the essence of these.
And I agree that restorative justice is exactly what we seek and should tolerate nothing less. When I talk about forgiveness, I’m talking more on a personal level, heart to heart. When it comes to corrupt institutions and social abuse, “forgiveness” would be on a different scale (like forgiving a debt), and is an option for people. But it won’t be everyone’s choice, and that seems reasonable to me.
When it is institutional, it is about our society and humanity on the whole, how we are being influenced, by what social model? Obviously, we need repair here–even radical change–but where to begin?
What this article highlights is a good place to start, to realize and become aware of where truth and light are being blocked, and break through or dissolve those blocks, somehow. Melissa is calling this out, which I applaud because that’s where we begin, the light is now shining on the most visible aspect of the problem, it is unmistakable here.
These blocks are stubborn because gatekeepers will become irrational and deceitful to protect their turf, but it is where I would put my focus if we want truth to come to light, once and for all. I believe justice would follow, it would certainly be my hope. And it stands to reason that once truth comes to light, justice can be served. When the light shines brightly, it exposes the hidden shadows. Can’t help it, that’s the nature of light.
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The whole reason for psychiatry in the first place was specifically to cast aside people who bothered others.
Let’s start talking about the truth regarding psychiatry. Then we must talk about restorative justice.
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