Lately I’ve been thinking about Mad in Family and chewing, a little bit, on ways we can keep up to date, feed and water our community, and come together more.
We already have several ways to connect. Importantly, of course, we have MIA online parent support groups providing weekly and monthly platforms for parents and other loved ones in search of healing. But beyond those, we have various pathways to sharing info and opening up the lines of communication in all directions.
Each month I send out a Mad in the Family newsletter—you can sign up here—that highlights an assortment of articles, Around The Webs, podcasts, and other content that’s been posted on the page in the preceding weeks and routinely encourages feedback.
We also have a Facebook group with a general chat that I recently opened up. In addition, Mad in the Family resides on Twitter, although I certainly understand the urge to steer clear, these days, of that and similarly toxic platforms. But human insights and connections can occur in the strangest of places, at the oddest of times, and I’ve had my own memorable moments and epiphanies when someone in some far-flung corner of the planet reaches out through the ether to tell their story.
And as I’ve said before (and will repeat ad infinitum), everyone has one. I am constantly struck by those unexpected moments in everyday life when some random conversation takes an abrupt turn—and I learn that someone’s son was on a drug cocktail, or someone’s mom is depressed, or someone’s own backstory is filled with grief and trauma.
Occasionally these moments occur when I make some reference to my late husband or sister’s death by suicide. Or when someone asks what I do for a living, and I tell them about Mad in America.
A couple weeks ago, I was out for a walk when a young woman on a stoop asked me if I was all right (apparently I was frowning) and, after assuring her I was fine, I thanked her for noticing and caring enough to ask. This prompted an astonishing conversation about the joys of talking to strangers, the challenge of being human, the experience of being a woman, the harms of the patriarchy, the Indigenous conception of gods both male and female, and my recent podcast interview with David Edward Walker on the oppressive forces of the Euro mental health model on Native people. She then told me about her own experiences with psychiatric diagnoses and medication, and her own efforts to wean off of them.
This was a 10-minute chat with a total stranger.
What hit me then—and every single time I’ve connected with someone out of the blue—is the paradoxical universality and invisibility, most of the time, of human pain. We carry burdens around that too often remain unseen, usually because we think we’re alone in bearing them, and, well, we’re afraid to unload on people. Which makes sense. It can be terrifying to open up.
But when we do speak up? When we do share our stories? We realize we’re not alone. Maybe that sense of connection is fleeting, but it can also stick with us in ways both large and small. It can build a sense of community, and meaning, and hope.
So, please, reach out! To me, and to each other. Sign up for the newsletter. Hop on the Facebook group and chat. Check out the support groups. Zap me an email ([email protected]). Let’s unzip, unburden, tell our stories, and nurture Mad in the Family as a respite and a platform for hope.
—Amy Biancolli, Family Editor
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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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