Saturday, December 14, 2019

Comments by Sera Davidow

Showing 100 of 1528 comments. Show all.

  • I am frankly horrified that Mad in America would choose to circulate *anything* positive about this film.

    The article above says: “But what the movie does quite brilliantly is make it clear that contrary to popular belief, anger and violence are not symptoms of any mental illness. Rather, they are normal reactions to a lifetime spent being treated like an outcast, ignored, taken advantage of, disbelieved, bullied and abused.”

    Are you kidding me?!?! Wouldn’t it be lovely were this were true. It’s not.

    Sure, people who are already familiar with trauma narratives will be able to pull this idea out of the muck. And yes, the film is well acted, and all that, bit let’s be serious here.

    You have a film where a guy talks about needing his psych drugs increased, only to be his psych services are being cut… Then he laments he won’t be able to get more psych drugs with his services cut. Then he exclaims how he’s off his ” meds” right before *murdering* someone for the first time on screen (goodness only knows why he was previously locked up), and then to top it all off, he explicitly refers to himself as “mentally ill” immediately before shooting another person to death.

    And you think the film doesn’t make connections between “mental illness” (particularly “untreated” by definition of the current mental health system) and violence?

    Forget the (somewhat) “woke” folks who will be able to recognize the trauma narrative… what do you think the average person will take away from it? And how can a site like Mad in America willingly participate in that?

    So disappointed.

  • I do see your name as attached, but yeah, it doesn’t seem to work if I were to search on your name, and I too only saw two of them. I don’t blame you for not feeling good about it. It seems like that section could use some work both for the sake of people who want to view the art, and those whose work is being viewed.

  • Thanks, Julie. Yeah, even people who focus on ‘alternatives’ often still have layers of internalized oppression (etc) to peel away… I’ve seen the ‘no graphic detail’ thing perpetuated in all sorts of communities, and few people ever seem to stop and ask ‘why?’ … And yeah, there’s still room to consider consent and environment when choosing what one will share and where, but that’s far from the overarching silencing we’ve got now in so many places.

    Sera

  • Thanks, PacificDawn. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment, even if I might not agree with everything you’ve said above. And, I do think some of what you offered above is tricky. For example, I’m not sure precisely what you mean by the Autism hoax… Many people have been forcibly diagnosed as autistic which is a huge problem.. But there are many neurodivergent people who also claim that label for themselves in quite well informed ways. They take that label with power, rather than in concession, and I do not feel it is my place to try and convince them they’re wrong. But again, I’m not sure what you were specifically reference.

    And, of course, you and I have talked about drugs before, if I’m recalling correctly. I can’t stand with the idea of ‘no drugs’ across the board. As I’ve said before, drugs have been around in one form or another since the beginning of time. They’ve never been the root of the issue. How they’ve been used by *others* to control certain groups, coerce and force different groups… That’s one of the biggest issues as I see it. I personally don’t use psych drugs, and wouldn’t argue that they’ve caused great harm to many people. That seems factual rather than debatable! But I have other drugs that I do enjoy, however, and I know many others in my life use or have used various drugs to good effect for them. What I want is to be free to choose. While I in no way see your request for ‘no drugs’ as equivalent to those who’ve previously tried to push drugs on me, I’m still not interested in replacing one dictate with another.

    Choice and power are where I believe the answers are to be found… Not abstinence.

    I also feel confused by your comment about ‘no recovery programs.’ I don’t consider where I work to be a “recovery program”… We don’t even like to use that word ‘recovery’… But I do think people sometimes really do need connection points and support, and that’s also okay.

    Anyway, I guess all this leaves me curious… What *do* you think should be available to help people who want support of some kind? And what would it look like to push back and seize reparations?

    Thanks,

    Sera

  • Thanks, Rosalee. It’s so frustratingly true that the systems bury the truth… All. The. Time. Yet, I guess what I’m really saying at the end of this piece is that the truth can set us free, *when its really aloud to be told, seen, and heard*… One of the most destructive things that power allows is the silencing and dismissal of that truth.

  • Hi Someone Else,

    Thanks for sharing so much and going piece by piece in your response… I don’t know that – until quite recently – I’d thought of the mental health system as being complicit in covering up childhood sexual abuse, but I don’t disagree at this point. I don’t know that it’s intentional on most people’s parts, but any system that helps center blame in the individual rather than on the people and/or conditions that hurt them does indeed become complicit in allowing such things to continue. Thank you for helping me get clearer on that point!

    -Sera

  • LavenderSage,

    Wow, that sounds intense… I don’t know if I could manage that level of … well… just the noise of all the pain feels like it’d be overwhelming to me. But, I feel like there are lots of people for whom that’d be powerful, and agree with you we need more space for it all. For me, the words are the key, but I know for many it is something different. Maybe I’d be better off if I could get to that level of rawness, but for now I at least don’t want anyone taking my words from me!

    Thanks for sharing this experience!

    Sera

  • Jess,

    I was at the National Council conference in Orlando when he offered his Ebola spiel. I missed out on his hazmat suit laden performance piece on the topic at AAS. :p Thanks for using those articles. It’s always good to hear when that’s happening somewhere.

    And fair point re: AAS vs. other movement spaces… I agree that there are *tons* of issues within this world… I guess it’s just harder for me to personally take when we’re talking about a group that is always in the power position and perpetuating so many problematic things, including all that ‘safe messaging’ crap. :p

    Anyway, thanks once again for this piece! 🙂

  • Wait, you mean we shouldn’t all listen to David Covington when he compares Ebola contagion to suicide contagion? (And yes, I know his narrative around this is slightly more complex than I’m making it out to be, but really…)

    I appreciate your overall point here, and will add this article to our resource list of articles worth reading on the topic… I have an article in the queue that has a similar message (although I don’t zero in on suicide specifically) called ‘No Graphic Detail.’ It does make me wonder how you have been tolerating the AAS scene, though!

  • It will only continue to downgrade any quality and integrity of the peer role. We already know that CPS trainings are *HUGELY* problematic from states like New York. People *NEED* to gather in person and really grapple with the point of this work together. On-line simply doesn’t work.

    Failed local CPS systems is not an excuse to further the failure with a terrible on-line system.

    Also, you seem to misunderstand this national certification business. It’s only a test (that you have to pay a fair mount of money for). And if you don’t have any in-person training, you may not even qualify for it.

    This is a money making scheme that will continue to do harm to any value peer roles actually have.

    -Sera

  • Don,

    I was a little surprised by how much you said you liked the article on Facebook, and seem critical of it here, but fair enough! 🙂 I absolutely agree that the quote you pulled out is at the heart of what we are saying. Haven’t read what you linked to from Akiko (yet), but she does indeed offer many good contributions to these dialogues, and many contributions are needed as different ones will resonate with different people 🙂 !

    Thanks,

    -Sera

  • Oldhead,

    I think we are on the same page even about getting rid of the phrase altogether, as per this part of the article above!:

    “1. Check your own ‘pill shaming’ narrative contributions: Stop writing “pill shaming” pushback posts. Stop ‘liking’ them. Stop sharing them on social media. Stop creating, buying, or wearing anti-pill shaming swag. Stop using the phrase entirely. Even if there’s some piece of the message you like, you’re contributing to a larger problem, so find a different way to address that piece and leave the rest behind. At best, the underpinnings of the ‘pill shaming’ accusation are misguided. At worst, they represent a concerted effort on the part of the current power structure to use us against ourselves, and they don’t need any more help. Seriously.”

  • Anonymous2016,

    Well, I’m pretty sure the point of the article is that the two sides are *NOT* equal, and that the ‘shame’ should be reserved for those who have the power and are doing the harm, etc. so there’s that…

    And I guess you can say that ‘all drugs are bad for everyone’, but I personally don’t think it’s a useful or accurate statement… but yes, you get to make it. And no, I don’t think when you make it that makes you equal to those doing systemic harm or forcing people on drugs… But, I guess I’d ask that you consider what else is caught up in making such a blanket statement… Do you believe that we are the true experts on ourselves? Do you believe that we should get to choose whatever we feel helps us get by and make the most of our lives, provided its done freely and in fully informed ways? There’s several other questions I could add in here about disability, freedom to make choices, and all that, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just say: If yes to those things – any of them – again, I just don’t know how you can then say ‘all drugs are bad for everyone all the time’… I think that is a harmful statement…

    But in the end, the real point of this article was that the ‘pill shaming’ concept is a harmful one that is used by those in power to try and get us to undercut ourselves and each other.

    -Sera

  • Auntie Psychiatry,

    I guess we were talking about the people who go after *individuals* who have chosen to take psych drugs and not try to come off of them either because the coming off is too hard (at least for now), or because they feel the drugs help them. I *do* think there is an intent of sorts to push shame on people in those situations for making the choices that they’ve made.

    That said, while we wanted to recognize that that does happen and that it is harmful, I don’t think it’s any way equivalent to what is pushed on us by the system because it lacks power. And, frankly, I’d never actually use the term ‘pill shaming’ at all, because I do – as Oldhead said somewhere in this thread – see it as a term of the ‘enemy’ overall. That is a point we likely could have been clearer about, while still recognizing that it isn’t helpful and can be harmful to push ideas on people at the individual level or insisted that they are making the wrong choice for themselves.

    -Sera

  • Hi Annie,

    Thanks so much for sharing some of your story here. It can be *so* hard to get off these drugs, even after all the risks and truth are known. It’s not a pain I’ve personally known. (Effexor was the hardest for me to get off of, but not by any stretch as hard as what I’ve heard so many people go through.) However, even having not been through withdrawal as intense as that myself, I’ve seen so many others try to make their way through it – some successfully, and some not.. And I am so horrified by how many doctors just want to deny that it is a thing at all. (I recently had a conversation with a psych doctor who works at a hospital that was offended that I even used the word ‘withdrawal’ in connection to psych drugs, because in her mind, they simply aren’t addictive.) Of course, ‘denial’ is yet another word that the system uses on us freely, but that we’re prohibited from using back against them (at least in any widely accepted sort of way). Thanks again for sharing some of your experience.

    -Sera

  • Thank you, LavendarSage. I suppose it is indeed something like that, although without all the power to hurt me in the way the system has. 🙂 But it’s okay. We all misunderstand or read into each other’s words at times, and for any number of reasons. 🙂 Provided we don’t have the power to force our perspectives on each other in any substantive way (as the system does), that’s okay. 🙂

    -Sera

  • Oldhead,

    I’ve personally done away with referring to psychiatric drugs as ‘medication’ in standard practice, but the phrase that is used against is us is nonetheless “anti-medication” which is why we used it here. I agree it’s a distortion of reality and a marketing tactic, as well as one that attempts to enforce the system’s absurd differentiation between what they want to call us bad for taking (marijuana, heroin, etc.) and what they want to force on us (neuroleptics, and so on). It is – as you noted – in quotes here to suggest that it is not a term we buy into overall, but maybe you’re right that we need to be even more careful with it. I’m not sure, and will have to think about that.

    Also, I *think* we were pretty clear here that actual oppression requires power, and those stating the harms of these drugs don’t have it… So, I’d not personally use the word ‘oppressive’ in any serious manner against people who take that stance. However, as also stated above, I don’t think it is especially useful for people to claim they know all that is ‘right’ for other people. Doctors certainly don’t understand these drugs and their full scope or impact, and neither do we… I’d rather be honest about that. Which isn’t to say we can’t know for our own bodies (at least, certainly better than anyone else), or can’t and shouldn’t speak of the very real harms and lies we *are* aware of… But there is a line that gets crossed that involves individuals telling other individuals what is best for them that I simply don’t think is helpful in any regard. More over, at least some of the ‘I know what is best for you stuff’ is intertwined with privilege, ableism, and so on.

    However, none of that was the main point of this piece which is, simply(ish) put: There is no such thing as ‘pill shaming’ in the way it is described in the articles that circulate accusing people of it, because all the power lies on the other side (those who push people to *take* the drugs sometimes under threat of force or loss of liberty), and we have every right to be out there talking, yelling, and screaming about how we’ve been harmed and how the pill pushing – backed by capitalism and corporate interests and the desire to control – is full of lies.

    That we think – in offering up that message – that there needs to be nuance and effort to avoid erasure or denigration of those who (being the experts on themselves) knowingly and in well-informed ways decide that psych drugs should be a part of their lives seems to be what has tripped things up here for some, but I guess I’m okay with that.

    -Sera

  • Hi Olga,

    Good to see you pop up here. 🙂 Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment! The actions that harm us in the psychiatric system are the ones that ultimately harm us most in the moment, but the system’s ability to control the words that are used to define and explain us and all that happens around and to us are what – I believe – really stick with us over time. It’s so painful.

    -Sera

  • Diana,

    I think that’s for sure true that people with a lot of privilege are sometimes the ones that are making this argument… I think others, though, have been at the depths of having no privilege at all and it’s just to painful to think that they got where they are because they were lied to… I’ve literally had people say (in trainings where I’m offering some of this info), “Are you saying that maybe my life didn’t need to be like this?” That’s really painful. It’s a sort of grieving. Sometimes people make their way out the other side, and sometimes it is just too much pain… or too much perceived risk (especially if their whole life – housing, income, etc. – revolves around that identity)… It’s comlicated, but I appreciate you bringing up the privilege end of that, because that’s definitely a part of the story!

    -Sera

  • rasselas.redux,

    Hmmm… An interesting point you’re bringing up. I wonder if that’s truly ‘power’ or more ‘learned helplessness’ that you’re talking about, though? Or learning how to play a system and meet needs based on how the system has played us? I’ll think about it more.

    Thanks for bringing it up. 🙂

    -Sera

  • Fortunately, it’s not the majority, kindredspirit!! Just a handful here, it would seem, and given so many others have found it to be clear, it’s hard not to imagine that at least some people are just skimming and making assumptions. Fierce debate is fine. It would just be good to be debating over what was actually said. In any case, I’m not going to keep arguing on this point. People are welcome to respond how they are… It’s just frustrating.

    -Sera

  • Hi all,

    I’m writing this comment separate from response to everyone’s individual comments just to try and make a point here that I find myself repeating through a number of the comment threads:

    No one is obligated to like or support this article. However, I do feel frustrated by the apparent misunderstanding of it through a handful of the comments being made, and I want to clarify.

    This article was written with a lot of intentional nuance and balance, but the fundamental underlying point here is that we find the ‘pill shaming’ concept to be highly problematic, which I hope is clear from the bolded quotes even if you don’t read anything else. In fact, we have buttons made up with some of those quotes that we take to conferences in an effort to push back on people who would claim ‘pill shaming’ when another person simply speaks to the harms they’ve suffered at the hands of the psychiatric system, or when they speak truth about what science *actually* tells us about psych drugs and their efficacy and potential harms.

    Where people seem to be getting lost – as best I can tell – is in our recognition that there *are* sometimes people who claim that no one should ever be on any kind of drug or that they know that anyone who says drugs help them is somehow misguided or “deluded”. People who push in this way are *NOT* equal to the system that pushes drugs because (as we say several times in the article) those people have no systemic power.

    However, my personal wish is that this movement will eventually get to the point where the focus *is* on power. Not on ‘recovery’… Not on what people should or shouldn’t be doing… but simply on their right to have real information, make real choices, be treated equally where their rights are concerned, and be the holder of power where their own lives are concerned. And along with that hope is one where once people’s power is restored, that we are clear to not tell them what they should do with that power, even if that means they make different choices than we would like. Because if we can’t let go of that agenda – even if we are for more right and more justified than others in what we believe – we just contribute to chipping away at that power once again… or at least don’t contribute to people really owning power for themselves.

    I’m sorry if some of my responses above have been snippy, but it is hard to put something out there and then have it not be heard for what it actually says… again, hearing does not need to mean agreeing… but it’s the lack of hearing that feels most bad. Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to truly take it in – whether you agree or not! 🙂

    -Sera

  • PacificDawn,

    You are welcome to oppose the article. That’s fine. People can speak their truth about anything, including this article, provided they are speaking to what it says. (And I guess even if they’re not, although that’s substantially more upsetting because it feels like we’re being used to make a point that’s not representative of what we worked hard to say and being misrepresented in the process.) I personally would and do feel quite denigrated by the idea that I don’t know myself well enough to know that the drugs I *do* use to numb out some time (not psych drugs, but alcohol for one), and that I’m somehow a ‘victim’ as a result of seeing the value in that for myself… It also feels hard to hear that I’m somehow also not able to do the work that I apparently need to do to process my feelings, etc, if I’m using such substances and am somehow – if I’m reading you right – lesser than for that.

    Drugs have been used since the beginning of time to bring about experiences or numb out from them. I do not think that is the issue. It’s the power that comes behind them, in a system that feels it should get to say ‘We force (or punish) you not to take this one that we’ve labeled as bad, and we force you to take this one that we’ve labeled as good and punish you if you try to resist’ while using that same power to lie about why… that’s the problem. The people who then come along and tell me that they also thing I’m bad or wrong for choosing what I do take even in the most well informed way don’t have the same power or cause the same harm in any way, but they surely don’t help.

    -Sera

  • Nijinsky,

    I didn’t accuse you of not reading. I said it was hard to tell where you were coming from, and hard to tell with most comments… But some of them – those that accuse *us* of shaming people for speaking truth – certainly indicate they didn’t read it at all. Which is – I would hope you understand – quite frustrating.

    The article doesn’t ask anyone to silence their own truth or the overall truth about psychiatric drugs or the system. Quite the opposite.

    -Sera

  • Njinsky,

    Yeah, I think that’s very true: That one can’t argue with someone on psych drugs. I’ve been incredibly frustrated many times by seeing people who are shaking, falling down, etc. and are just at least appearing to be regurgitating what they’ve been fed for so long that this is what ‘recovery’ looks like for them and they’re doing so well (because they’re not getting in trouble)… I regularly share in trainings that there is usually a small group of people that seem to do better on psych drugs longer term in most studies on psych drug efficacy, but that a) We don’t know why and if it is really all about the psych drugs or some other factor given the limited options available for alternatives and b) that small group is tiny compared to the number of people that are *told* in the US that they need to be on psych drugs… and so, if 20% do actually seem to do better, but 100% are being told that they are that 20% (if its even true about the 20%) … what do we do about that?

    Honestly, I believe wholeheartedly what we said in there about the most important thing being about people having their power back, and us not worrying so much what they then do with it. Even if we are far more “right” about what would be useful to them, taking people’s power away isn’t useful and often just results in a power struggle. I feel like when people find themselves arguing with someone about what would be right for that person for themselves we’ve lost our way. We have a job to put information out there based on our own experiences and based on science and truth and all that. We have a job to illuminate paths. But the moment we start pushing someone down a path, we are failing to do that most important thing… focus on them holding their own power. We can’t claim people know themselves best and then tack on ‘unless you’re on drugs… then we know better’ without invalidating so much of what we say (those of us who say/believe that anyway). I don’t think it’s comparable in any way to what the system does when we do choose to argue and push an individual person because we don’t have any systemic power… but I still think it means we’ve lost their way.

    I’ve seen *so* many people get mad at first when just presented with information… I’ve personally been attacked during trainings for unraveling the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory for people because – even though I’m speaking truth – it shakes their belief system about themselves too much. And while I do *NOT* owe it to them to stop sharing that… not ever… I *do* owe them the right to go through their own process with it…

    So yes, ultimately, “It’s their life”, as you said, and we’ve got to focus on illuminating life’s potential and psychiatry’s lies without getting too stuck on the idea that everyone therefore needs to come to the exact same conclusion for what that means they need or want to do.

    -Sera

  • Rachel,

    I don’t disagree with most of what people are saying in the comments section about ‘pill shaming’ (which includes pretty much anything that’s been said right up until it gets to the point where people start claiming that *every and anyone* who chooses to take them is wrong, deluded, and should be regarded as lesser than or what have you), and that was kind of why we wrote the article and have made buttons that we bring to conferences with the two of the three bolded quotes in the article (which were written by me, but inspired by conversations with Caroline). It’s just frustrating to see the finger pointed at us in these comments when there are so few articles pushing back on the ‘pill shaming’ concept and we worked pretty hard to write an article that pushed back on the silliness and harmfulness of ‘pill shaming’ in alignment with most of those comments and people aren’t taking the time to see that.

    -Sera

  • Nijinsky,

    I’ll be honest that I’m having a hell of a time figuring out whether a lot of these comments (not just yours) are misunderstanding our article and criticizing/attempting to educate us, or if they’re just riffing on their own take on things. In any case, as someone who has spent literal years, writing, training, and making films about the lack of real evidence of ‘chemical imbalance’ any any number of other elements to do with the psychiatric system, you’ll get no argument from me for most of what you say. And yet, I’m not going to argue with people who say that they want to be on psych drugs and that they’re somehow helpful to them. Pretending I know someone else’s truth – everyone else’s truth – is not something I’m willing to do. It’s a replication of the system that we fight against… I’d rather live in the ‘I don’t know’, so long as we also get to be really clear that the psychiatric system also clearly don’t know either and shouldn’t get to pretend that they do.

    -Sera

  • PacificDawn,

    I quite enjoy my altering drugs when I have them… They just aren’t psych drugs which I refuse to touch for a number of reasons. It’s hard to tell from your comment – as it is unfortunately hard to tell from many of the comments here – if you read through the entire article and saw that we very clearly took a position *against* ‘pill shaming’ being a legitimate thing. HOWEVER, at the same time, I’m not comfortable with speaking against people who take drugs (whatever drugs they choose) to numb feelings at times, as long as they do so knowingly (knowing that that’s the goal, knowing the risks of doing that, etc.). The problem isn’t that people sometimes want to numb out (frankly, I’d like to numb out after reading some of these comments that so blatantly speak to people not having read what we put quite a lot of effort into writing and fully intend to do so a bit later), it’s that those in power want to force, coerce, and trick them into doing so and in ways that come with dire consequences for those that would be numbed.

    -Sera

  • Kindred Spirit,

    Did you *actually* read the article? Your response suggests not. It’s primarily a push back *against* people who claim ‘pill shaming’ is a legitimate phenomenon. While we acknolwedge that it is largely unhelpful for people to say ‘all psych drugs are bad for all people’ and try to push people into getting off of them, I wonder how you could read lines like:

    “At best, the underpinnings of the ‘pill shaming’ accusation are misguided. At worst, they represent a concerted effort on the part of the current power structure to use us against ourselves, and they don’t need any more help. Seriously.”

    Or

    ““We’re not pill shaming you. We’re just sick of watching people fucking die.”

    Or

    “Speaking truth about bad science and psychiatric oppression does not equal ‘pill shaming.’”

    And see this article as one that is supporting the ‘pill shaming’ concept overall.

    Balance is important. So is actually reading what you seek to critique. :p

    -Sera

  • Thanks, Catalyzt.

    I do hope that you hear (and I can’t quite be sure from what you’ve written) that we ultimately really don’t want to create an environment where ‘pill shaming’ is lingo that is put upon people, or that the people who’ve been harmed, forced, etc., carry the burden of needing to worry too much about making people who do take psych drugs uncomfortable. Ultimately, we want an environment where all the truths are able to be spoken without any back pedaling… One where we stop short of blanket statements about all drugs being bad and all people who take them being bad, wrong, misguided, ignorant, etc (we need not diagnose each other any more!)… but where we speak truth and get to express our anger at all the bad science and pushing of drugs that come at us without anyone trying to undercut us by calling us ‘pill shamers’ because in the end pretty much all the force and power in this society is on the side of those who push the drugs on us. So, yeah, agendas and blanket statements and intentionally trying to tell other people they’re bad for not choosing the way you have chosen isn’t generally helpful (and, as you say, doesn’t typically move people toward where you’re actually trying to move them even if it *would* be useful to them to move in that way), but I hope you get to continue to speak your truth with all the passion and anger you hold and without needing to back pedal. 🙂

    -Sera

  • Johnnyb,

    I can appreciate what you’re saying, but I think it’s a bit more complex than that. I rarely here from people who feel they also haven’t been harmed in some ways, for example. That is actually a really interesting topic, I think, because sometimes (most of the time) when someone says ‘the hospital saved my life’ the system just says, “look what we did! hospitals are great!” But few really stop and say, “What exactly was it about your hospital experience that you feel helped, and were there other things that also hurt during that same experience that you wish hadn’t happened?” It’s weirdly all or nothing on a number of levels, and then when we offer any critique of that *we* are the ones painted in that way in an attempt to dismiss us.

    In any case, I think a lot of people *do* talk about shaming people who use drugs, cigarettes, etc… talk about AA/NA as very shaming at times, etc. etc… But yes, I think overall I get your point and your right that there’s a boat load of hypocrisy wrapped up in all this and how socially acceptable drugs are regarded and responded to vs those that are not socially acceptable (and socially acceptable has little to do with what is *actually* most harmful). And yes, if each person didn’t have to fight for the power (within or outside of themselves) to simply be who they are and be confident in that, so much would be better… but so much of that is wrapped up in the environmental conditions we all live within that it seems quite the challenge to get there!

    -Sera

  • Dmshanin,

    I am afraid I can’t agree with a lot of what you are saying here. I know people in my own life who are quite well informed, and hold quite a bit of power, who still choose to take some of the antidopmanergic drugs you are taking at least on an intermittent basis. I also know many many people who experience them and the reasons they ever took them in a way that aligns with what I understand to be your experience.

    Some of the point of this article is that it’s generally *not* helpful to put on other people blanket attitudes that assume everything is exactly the same for us all… including things like that psych drugs are uniformly bad and useless for everyone, or that everyone who agrees to them suffers from Stockholm syndrome. However, the larger point of the article is that even though being told something like “you take these drugs because you suffer from Stockholm syndrome” can be hurtful and lead someone to feel pressured, since *all* the real power is in the hands of those who *push* these (yes often harmful and ineffective) drugs, that it’s silly to suggest that making someone feel bad in that way is in anyway equal to actually hold all the power to force them to do anything or influence enough of society to even make the more subtle pressure consistent.

    Again, written from a treadmill so a bit more clumsy but hopefully still clarifying…

    Sera

  • Nchurch,

    Thank you so much for your comment and for putting to words so well what it can feel like to feel so powerless that you need to hide your humanity and light in order to stay some approximation of free that isn’t really very free at all. That can be so painful, and so soul crushing. I’m sorry that that is your experience, but thank you for sharing a piece of it.

    Sera

  • Eh, as we said, we have “intermittent respect” for the output of those outlets… not constant. But each of those has certainly sometimes put out useful things and I’d look there before I’d look many other places. But regardless, a critique of which media sources we each like is relatively irrelevant to this topic. Our point was simply that we are starting to see these “pill shaming”-type stories popping up from an array of sources.

    Sera

  • Auntie Psychiatry,

    Do you mean the really small group of people who do seem to actually go after the people taking the pills in pretty relentless ways or do you mean something else?

    The main point of the article was that “pill shaming” isn’t really a thing, for the most part… that it’s often about something else in the little ways it does happen, and that mostly the term is a misunderstanding of or misuse of power because the very few people who actually criticize people for taking psych drugs still don’t actually hold any power over them, and the argument that “pill shaming” is this real and frightening thing that is somehow equal to the force and coercion out there that makes people think they have to *take* drugs is just off base.

    Sorry, I’m writing clumsily from the treadmill so that’s also a clumsy synopsis, but I guess I’m just trying to understand why you are asking Caroline and I for real examples when our emphasis is on pill shaming being an over blown often manufactured sort of thing?

    That said, I think if you look around Mad in America in some of the comments sections you will occasionally see the people that absolutely do think we should be telling every single person to get off their drugs and that any person who wants to take them … not just the people who – from a big picture perspective – think they do more harm than good or that we as a society are unable to ethically handle prescribing them without resorting to force and coercion – but those who think that anyone who says they truly benefit from them is just misguided or brainwashed and tells them so. It’s not common, but it happens every now and again.

    Sera

  • Thank you for this, Mitzy. Deron has always been one of my favorite people. We drifted a bit, because – I think – he found his inner peace and actively pursued that path, and I’ve stayed more angry. But I’ve still always so appreciated his existence, and his work, and knowing he was just a (relatively) short drive away pushing for similar things, even if in different ways!

    I’m going to do my best to remember lots of moments with him… at protests and rallies, driving along the California coast and sharing the terror of being so close to the cliffs, and staying up late (for Deron!) talking about silliness and seriousness in equal measures.

    Thanks again,

    Sera

  • Hey FreeDom,

    I could have sworn I replied previously, yet my reply seems not to be here, so trying again…

    I particularly appreciate your last paragraph about just how hard it is to get people to believe any of the truths, once they’ve bought into the myths… Because giving up the myth means so much more than just believing the one truth that with which they might be presented in that moment.

    Thanks,

    Sera

  • Well, yeah, I mean, overall I agree with you.

    But, for example, the Informed Consent laws I’m aware of require:

    * Doc to inform someone of the potential risks and benefits of the proposed treatment
    * Doc to inform someone of the potential risks and benefits of any *alternative* treatments of which they are reasonably aware
    * Doc to inform someone of the potential risks and benefits of doing nothing

    So, even if they stop short of calling “bullshit” or saying “I really have no idea what I’m doing, but this is what the latest pharma rep suggested when they stopped by my office”… the above sure would be a nice change. But most doctors don’t come even close.

    -Sera

  • Alex,

    Yeah, I get what you’re saying and how my comment could be read. In my mind, I was thinking of a particular group of people including Kevin Hines who are basically just going around and telling their stories to make everyone feel good, but kind of supporting the systems way of being at the same time.

    And yeah, I think you could rightly accuse me of being invalidating of that specific group of people, I suppose. But I frankly had a *huge* reaction to hearing Kevin for the first time in person… His story no longer sounded like his story. It sounded dramatized, like a one-person show… and a one-person show that supported many of the things that so many of us are trying to rail against. And I don’t know if I’ve *EVER* received so many e-mails as I received in promotion of his film (which, in fairness, I have not yet seen).

    So, I suppose you could say I’m being unfair to him, and maybe I am. I’ll just have to accept that as one of my many flaws. But it just feels so very far away from genuine sharing to me, and he has such a big platform.

    -Sera

  • Hi CatNight,

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve seen. Ah, truth in advertising laws… Unfortunately, of course, there *are* some laws (e.g., Informed Consent laws) that *do* suggest there should be ‘truth in advertising’ (at least a lot more truth than there is now), and yet those laws are wholeheartedly ignored without any negative consequence (for the folks responsible for upholding them, yet who are not). So many broken systems complicit with one another in making things what they are these days.

    -Sera

  • rasselas.redux,

    As Steve already pointed out, what I’ve written is about the way stories are handled, restricted, and used and often *not* about the stories themselves. In the case of AAS, I’m not referring to the specific stories at all. I haven’t read most of them. And I don’t think of the authors as “victims”, even if I wish they wouldn’t have participated. For example, I know Leah Harris reasonably well, and I certainly don’t think of her as a hapless victim fallen into a system’s trap. And I’m sure some – maybe even all – of the “winning” stories have value. I do personally take issue with some of the folks who’ve kind of made their careers off this struggle, and go around endlessly telling their stories *without* being clear about what needs to change, or having much experiencing in supporting others to move toward that change because I do feel like I see them getting used. And, I did get pretty uncomfortable with Des’rae’s partner commenting that they’re riding her “suicide star” to fame (I don’t remember quite exactly how it was phrased, but it was something like that) in the ‘S’ word, but all of those things are at least somewhat different topics, even if overlapping.

    So, yeah, I am speaking about the contest itself. What it calls upon people to do. How it uses competition between people for these limited amount of funds, yet fails ENTIRELY to actually value their voice beyond the perceived value (often *entertainment* value, in my experience) of their story by not making the conference ITSELF accessible, and so on. As I already said in the article.

    As to the Legislative Breakfast, that’s a whole ‘nother example of this phenomenon where they tend to take people who have very little experience sharing their stories and (as I’ve heard with my own ears) sometimes give *very specific* instructions about not saying anything too negative about any mental health service, and then stick them up there to succeed or flounder (often the latter) and ultimately ask for no real change. It’s PAINFUL to watch. And different than the AAS contest. But under the same umbrella.

    In any case, I stand by everything I’ve said in the article above.

    -Sera

  • Mecarlym,

    Thanks for reading and for your comment. And yes, you’re right. It is so hard to figure out how to navigate challenging the way this works, when we are ultimately talking about people’s personal stories and sharing. Yet, it is indeed often fairly apparent when people are being used or shoved in one direction or the other as to how they tell it… And when that story becomes something else other than entirely theirs.

    Thanks,

    Sera

  • Fiachra,

    Well, I don’t know if I’d go quite as far as saying it only exists outside of the “medical” system, because I think there are few absolutes and I don’t want to rule out anyone’s valid stories… But, I will say that both research and my own experience resonate with what you have to say in that the medical system sure does seem to do a LOT of *getting in the way* of people actually moving forward and beyond such struggle.

    Thanks,

    Sera

  • Thank you, Rosalee! I’m going to be headed to a “Legislative Breakfast” at the end of this week that is inevitably going to include stories that fit the format you, I, and so many others are pushing back against. I wonder if I might ever reach a point where the screaming in my head while I’m attending will start to come out of my mouth. :p

    -Sera

  • Icagee,

    Thanks so much for what you shared. How the legal system functions and intersects with the psychiatric system is so infuriating. I see horrific examples of it all the time, and most people don’t bat an eye because they – once again – think it’s all “for our own good”. It’s really terrible. I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through.

    Sera

  • Thanks, Anonymous2016!

    Can you just clarify… I’m not sure what you mean here:

    But here’s the thing. How do you you learn anything from it if it’s not the truth and the bare and brutal truth. The fact is, we will never learn by sugar coating anything. It’s just not done that way and we’ll never change anything. The truth is uncomfortable and so is making change, one cannot be done without the other.

    You write that as if I had said things should be watered down… I can’t tell if I’m misunderstanding you, or you misunderstood me? But, regardless, I’ll just say nothing I wrote above was meant to suggest we should have to water ourselves down, although I did talk about how people often ask us to do that either “for our own good” or to prevent them from feeling uncomfortable… Neither of which I agree with…

    Anyway, thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂

    -Sera

  • Wishing I’d read the WHOLE “participant guide” for the AAS story contest before finishing this story…

    Some highlights include:

    * There’s a $10 fee to submit your story to the competition
    * There’s a “guide” on “safe” writing about suicide
    * There’s a warning that writers’ submissions will be evaluated by judges who are mental health professionals, and that they may be “contacted” if they are believed to be at imminent risk

    Oy.

    https://www.suicidology.org/Portals/14/docs/Writing%20Contest/2017/ParticipantGuidelines%202018%20contest%20year.pdf?ver=2017-08-29-210039-963

  • Thanks, Bricew. It’s always interesting to me how important language is, and how we hear words differently. I do often challenge people re: “Committed suicide” when I’m in training environments. I do *not* ever tell people they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” use it, but just offer food for thought which is this: “Committed suicide” comes from a time when suicide was being painted overtly as illegal (as in “committed a crime”). Based on that, I personally try not to use that frame… but nor am I fond of “completed suicide” or ever telling people *what* precisely they need to say.

    In my experience, telling others (and especially others who have first-hand experience with something) precisely what words they’re supposed to use comes from a special brand of ignorance and insensitivity.

    Thanks for sharing some of your mother’s story as it intersects with your own. I too struggle with this idea that we should get to put our own priorities of people living as long as possible on other people who may genuinely just not want to be here. I’ve heard there are other countries where there are supports set up for people who want to die… Even heard at one point of a place of that nature where people could go to get support in killing themselves that supposedly ended up not having people actually go through with it, because it provided such a valuable space for people to talk openly about their struggles and death and everything else. I actually don’t know if that place actually fully exists as it was described to be… But it sounds really interesting if it does.

    -Sera

  • Thanks, Catnight! The taboo you speak of … the reality that a lot of this comes from a fear of talking about death at all… is definitely one of the things we try to address and bring to the surface with our Alternatives to Suicide work. And it was so weird to watch the ASIST folks twist themselves around the idea that we should be able to talk about suicide, while still sending such a strong message that it should also be really hard and upsetting whenever we talk about death. And yes, it definitely doesn’t have to be like this. There are certainly cultures where talking about death in all its forms is so much more normalized. The issues – being able to talk about death at all and being able to talk about suicide – are absolutely intertwined.

    -Sera

  • Thanks so much, Richard. And you’re absolutely right.. I shouldn’t have gone alone (from any other than a financial standpoint). Even before some of the worst things happened, it was still painful to be the lone voice in a sea of providers who were all on the same page with the terrible things they were saying. And it made my credibility much lower in a lot of ways.

    And good question… Massachusetts doesn’t seem to do much with ASIST right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it moved in that direction. We’ll certainly be watching for it 🙂

    -Sera

  • Thanks, Alex. Yes, mandated reporter is a serious issue, *especially* since so many people claim that it has anything to do with the topic of suicide which it most assuredly does not. But in general as well… It is a real issue. And what I think many people don’t realize is that once DCF is called in, it’s kind of like getting a diagnosis… I was thinking about my house after DCF was called on me. My kids aren’t getting abused. They’ve got pretty well supported, good lives… but how would DCF interpret my house not being so clean a lot of the time, and all sorts of other things that are just fine when you don’t have DCF looking at you through a particular lens…. Oy.

    -Sera

  • Fiachra,

    I think the drugs – and their largely unacknowledged contributions to *increasing* emotional ups and downs, disconnections, etc. – definitely have a role. However, I hesitate to say they’re all to blame. The hopelessness that comes with being given some of these diagnoses, the “prognosis” people are given, the hospital environments and how powerless people can feel… All of it also has a role.

    Iatrogenic effects are bit… and with more than just the psych drugs.

    -Sera

  • Oldhead,

    Yes, I know you’re largely right, and I can’t help but try. And no, not a word… although I e-mailed them *ALL* (Office of Mental Health and Northern Rivers leadership and Board members) again yesterday with a link to this article, and telling them that I am *formally* asking for information on how to file a complaint which I believe they should be legally compelled to provide to me… But nope, nothing.

    -Sera

  • Hey The_cat,

    Yeah, I’ve been in similar situations, too and had to make some really difficult situations. Ultimately, I so appreciate where you landed. It’s where I’ve landed, too. People *need* to be able to say some of those things to other humans and not get locked up for it. That said, there have been occasions when I’ve also said to people, “Hey, it was super unfair when you said that and then disappeared, and I’m feeling angry about that right now.” That (treating them as not so fragile that they can’t handle hearing how what they did impacted me) also turned out to be good for our relationship, though.

    Thanks,

    Sera

  • Hi Rachel,

    Yes, during and following hospitalization is when suicide “risk” is actually the highest according to research, and hospitalization seems to have long-term impact on suicide rates even for people who were hospitalized for reasons other than wanting to kill themselves. It’s pretty staggering and largely ignored data.

    -Sera

  • Julie,

    I hear you, and you’re not the person to suggest I make it about someone else. However, it loses a lot of power when I can’t say “that was me”. Being able to say “that was me” is a huge chunk of the power of sharing these sorts of stories at all. It’s where we get to challenge people’s assumptions in how they might conjure up an image of the person about whom that story is true… I know it’s a risk to me. But in spite of all this, it’s a risk I continue to be willing to take … most of the time. 🙂

    -Sera