Comments by Jen Constantine

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  • Thank you for your comments, Nomadic. I wanted to reply sooner, and what you say is very meaningful. I think your words capture the spirit and thoughts of many who were harmed by the “mental health” system. At the same time, I recognize that my struggle of being harmed in the name of “help” is not how everyone views their experience with that system. I must also recognize that change does not happen overnight, or at all if aggressively forced (I know that because I know the effect that force and aggression trying to change me has had, and know the stories of many others). While anger is justified and feels good to express, aggressively demanding change only further isolates those who might otherwise become allies. To say it another way, the goal is not to get people who already agree with me to listen; rather the goal is to bend the ear of those who have been taught by the industry/mainstream media that opposition to the traditional system is “crazy” and forced treatment is the way to go. If the pegs refuse to fit, we just need to pound them in harder, instead of reshaping the holes, right?

    Unfortunately, for the average person there is quite a jump in reasoning between “Lock up all the “crazies” they don’t know they are “ill”,” and “Listen to those of us who have been harmed by this broken system, we’ll tell you how you can save money, treat us with dignity and respect, fund choices that work for us, and have us back contributing positively in our communities instead of forever needing our communities resources”. Yes, we understand this. Still, getting other people there takes gentleness, time, and patience. Yes, I’d love to see the goal that the archaic and demented system we have in place now is gone for good.

    Realistically though, I know that getting there can only happen if the common majority want it. The current system really does completely oppose common sense, and people begin to see that once they begin to hear our stories. People don’t often hear us when we yell, when we get too graphic, when we vehemently demand change. They definitely tend to listen when we speak from our hearts, without malice, and share gently what we have learned. I’ve found when I listen deeply to others, even those with very different points of view, I learn and my perspective gets wider. At the same time I find I get more opportunities to be heard, really heard, in a way that can make a difference.

    In other words, what I’ve found is that creating change requires people who aren’t part of the movement to hear about these relatively new (to most) ideas- that our lives have value, our experiences have meaning, we can and do heal/recover. When I come from an aggressive place it feels good AND they don’t hear me- I have done nothing to foster change. So I try to separate my anger from what I can do to change things. I can feel the passion in your words, Nomadic. I can see the potential you have to create lasting change. In solidarity, JC.

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  • Wow, madmom. Thank you for sharing your heart and a bit of your family’s story here. Your words are powerful, and your experience has value. I am so glad to hear you are feeling less isolated and more hopeful after reading my piece.

    What I hear you saying regarding guilt I actually hear quite often when listening to family members. I feel called to tell you a couple of things- please take them with you if they resonate, and disregard them if they don’t.

    First off, it sounds like your daughter has better odds at a full recovery because you are in there fighting with her, supporting her, any way you can. If there is one thing I see, it’s that we need real human beings, who really believe in our abilities and genuinely support us in order to recover. I hear you speak of her talents, recognize her abilities. That’s huge, and so rare among family members. So often their loved one is seen as a burden, permanently ill and forever in need of “care”. She already has you recognizing her talents, hoping for her.

    Secondly, none of us can go back in time with the things that we know now. We don’t receive some magic healing from our own life difficulties when we become parents, we don’t suddenly know things we didn’t before, we don’t automatically know what to do. Just because we have so much love for our children, just because we worry about their welfare every moment, just because we want the very best for them and never want to see them hurt- none of this can protect them. There’s a world out there, there’s bad things and bad things happen. We can’t control that, can’t prepare for every situation, and we can’t fix things for them. The good news is we don’t have to. We keep loving, keep learning, keep trying, keep believing and somehow that makes the difference. As a mom, I HAVE to believe that.

    I hear your intentions, your love, your expression of the what might have been, and your exasperation at what is. All of this points to a parent who keeps loving, keeps learning, keeps trying, keeps believing. What more could you do? Sounds like you’re doing it. Would you ask more of any other parent? How could you ask more of yourself?

    Thank you, again, for sharing a bit of your personal journey. Thank you for being who you are and loving the way you love. We are all connected, what you do and who you are resonates throughout the world. That’s true for each one of us.

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  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this piece, humanbeing. My hope for sharing it is that we can start to come together more and we can reverse the course that seems so impossibly headed for complete worldly devastation. I think there are many MANY people out there that see the damage being done on a global level in a multitude of arenas.

    The trick, and again my hope, is that we can recognize how common that disgust of the status quo is and move towards coming together. What is impossible alone becomes possible together.

    I have seen solutions to complex and seemingly impossible issues spring forth quite naturally when diverse groups of people come together and deeply listen to one another in dialogue. So many of want the same things really-dignity, equality, safety, respect, opportunity; and so many of us have pieces of the solution. When we come together and deeply listen, respectfully engage one another, work together- then these pieces have the power to transform ourselves, our communities, our world. If each of us dare to hope and begin to move towards unity-then maybe we got this. It’s worth a shot, right?

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