Comments by Jim Probert

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  • I first met Dorothy at Alternatives 2011 in Orlando and immediately she took me under her wing. While I am one of those dreaded mental health professionals (and trust me, I do understand where that comes from), I am also a psychiatric survivor. I “came out” about my recovery to my colleagues in 2006, when I discovered Dan Fisher, the NEC and the C/S/X movement. Many of my colleagues have taken time to hear and try to understand my experience–as professionals and as people. (And I thank them for that, if any are reading this–because I sent a great many this link, to Dorothy’s story.) But I did not truly open up about my once-closeted life until I sat around the pool in Orlando in 2011 talking to Dorothy and Judene Shelley.

    They asked me to tell my story. And in the warm, trustworthy embrace of their empathy and lived experience, I said more about what I went through–going mad, being taken down by a police officer, Haldol, isolation and restraint, and on and on–than I ever have, before or since. Dorothy told me some of her own experience in person (what an honoring experience). And I heard more the next morning when I listened to her Voices of Hope and Recovery story.

    But never for one moment did she allow me to feel what any reasonable person might have felt (there are certainly some advantages to not having to be reasonable, at least at Alternatives). I did not for one moment feel ashamed or think, as I probably should have, “What in the name of God am I doing talking about what I went through, to this woman, given what she went through.”

    I know that is what is amazing about our movement, in general–that we are all welcome and supported as equals, regardless of where we may be in our own journeys of recovery, healing, living and advocacy. But Dorothy really lives this intentionally. (Just look at the responses she has taken time to write to each and every person who has commented on this page!)

    – – –

    Dorothy, you are an amazing human being. As others on this page have also testified, you have forever changed my life, taking me under your wings and continuing to mentor and support my work, my life and my healing.

    No one can give me back the years of painful inner isolation I experienced before I discovered the C/S/X movement–even after I was recovered and living an otherwise full life. (Here I am doing it again, being unreasonable, speaking about that pain on the same page as you have described yours. But you are the living embodiment of what Elie Wiesel has said–that when we compare suffering, we all lose.)

    Yet as much as anyone, you have come close to giving me back those years, especially those lonely, agonized years in the 1980s. NIMH may have shut down Soteria 10 years before I went mad. But I also know that, five years before, you published that article in the Miami Herald, touching everyone you could reach with your story of outrage, courage and perseverance and hope.

    I may not have had the MPLF here in Gainesville, Florida in 1983. But through you, I have. Through you, we have ALL been there with you and Dan Fisher and David Oaks and Judi Chamberlin! (My God, what a gift.)

    You are a true hero, Dorothy. And you have helped so many of us realize what is heroic in our own journeys. This is a beautiful, spectacular, harrowing and hope-filled narrative. I am moved beyond words–and plan to share this with many, many more people in the future.

    With all the others who have been touched by your life, I am grateful.

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