13 Reasons Why and Teen Suicide

What is it about our society that makes so many people want to kill themselves including our children? Could it be that America is a very cruel and unforgiving place where people are too busy with surviving at work or too invested in protecting their careers to give a shit about our children? That we're a cruel nation in that many people now actually encourage bullying to 'toughen kids up' for the 'real world?' A society that gleefully goes about destroying the ability to sustain life on Earth for fun and profit? The kids who march and write on the subject aren't stupid - they know exactly what is going on. They're seeing their parents' and grandparents' generations destroying their future right in front of their eyes and feel near helpless to do anything about it.

When Rage Eclipses Hope

As a suicide attempt survivor working in suicidology and crisis support, I frequently find myself in positions where I am “supposed” to talk about hope. Good suicide attempt survivors are hopeful; hope is what saves us. When I reflect on my experience, hope isn’t really part of the equation. Hopefulness is a façade that helps non-suicidal people feel better about their suicidal loved ones. It removes all the cultural nuances that define a world that drives people to suicide. It eliminates the dialectics of justice and gives us something that feels more innocuous to pursue. No one mentions the fact that hope is much more possible for white, straight, cis, middle-aged, sane, non-suicidal man.

Personality, Identity, and Pathology

Figuring out how to write this has been incredibly difficult for me. I felt like I was on the cusp of a breakthrough but sorting through how to talk about this requires sifting through mountains of traumatic experiences and mistakes I have made. 

See, I’m someone who is active in neurodivergent activist communities but I have severe trauma related to the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. As in the concept of it is a trigger for me. I get sent into a panic when the idea of its diagnosis gets brought up. If someone even insinuated I have it I would have a meltdown. I obsessed over it to the point of it damaging my relationships as well as my own functioning. Every time I would see someone talk about the symptoms I would find myself picking it apart trying to understand how I could have been diagnosed with it. Because it doesn’t fit. 

We Have Viable Alternatives to Psychiatric Force and Coercion

I was getting burned out as a patient representative visiting the Brattleboro Retreat last winter. I found my conversations with patients to be mostly rewarding and mutually beneficial, but all of my attempts to seek accountability and positive change on the units were met with steep resistance, excuses, paternalism and so much sanist rhetoric.

On “Behavior”

If I could pick any phrase in the English language and set it on fire it would definitely be “behavioral health”. To people who haven’t been pushed into the Psych System it sounds so innocuous. It’s there to help people develop “coping skills” and “protective factors”. Please excuse the scar-quotes, it’s just that these concepts have historically been used to deny me care that I was requesting from the very system people kept claiming would help me.

The Horror of Madness: Bandersnatch

There’s a lot of talk going on about the role of mental illness in the horror genre. There’s probably even more than usual since Netflix released Bandersnatch and Bird Box over the holidays.

I am a big horror fan. I love being scared and creeped out. I even love cheesy horror movies that are so bad they are fun to watch. But as someone who has struggled with various mental health issues and faced the trauma of the psychiatric system, my relationship with this genre is volatile.

Choosing Madness

The Mad Pride community is a tiny space being carved out by activists, artists, writers, philosophers, researchers, educators, and visionaries who are finding meaningful ways to choose madness. A few months ago, we asked a group of Mad Pride and Disability Pride activists to share a time when they actively chose madness. We asked them to share the craziest/Maddest thing they’ve ever done, that they are proud of. While some of these acts may not have been “chosen” in the moment, the decision to be proud of these acts and share them in celebration was very much a choice. Without further ado, we now present some of the responses.

Polyphemus and "Nobody" —a tale of epistemic injustice

The Odyssey is the story of my life. I left the sheltered hills of Ithaca 8 years ago to go fight a war, and I've been tempest tossed, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and driven mad ever since. I'm a complicated man, polytropos

I've often found myself and others in my life perfectly embodying Homer's characters. I've been Penelope, playing host to suitors who just won't leave. I've been Telemachus, outraged at injustice but powerless to stop it. I've been Odysseus, using my cunning and guile and ability to tell stories in order to survive. I've even been Argos the aged dog, laying on pile of dung while waiting to die. 

Breaking the silence on centuries of abuse and mistreatment

www.thebrattlebororetreat.com

This anonymously published site attempts to break the silence on centuries of abuse of mad people committed by the Brattleboro Retreat, formerly the Brattleboro Asylum. The page contains a .pdf of a brochure detailing the history of slave labor and brutal treatment resulting in hundreds of deaths, the vast majority of whom have no record of a final resting place. 

Also on the page is a .pdf of findings of misuse of forced drugging, seclusion, and restraint of an elder with a life threatening medical condition. 

Mad people will not silenced.

Forced treatment is torture.

Confinement is violence. 

All Gods Are Bastards

Lessons from various extreme states over the last few years, and from various migraine visions over the last year: 

1) The laws of thermodynamics apply to literally everything, including oppressive systems and social change. 
2) Insects are better than people.
3) Mushrooms are better than people and will save the planet.
4) The state is trying to killing us.
5a) All social constructs are gods 
5b) All gods are bastards

Bootstraps Baby

What happens when your therapist takes the side of people who traumatized you?

Therapy sessions can be a blur of words and reactions. Many times, I’ll be conscious of the clock and try to fit in everything I want to discuss within the 50 minutes allotted.

With my mind and memory being somewhat faulty, I can miss things said in the moment that only sink in later.

This is one of those times and now I have lost any desire to see this therapist anymore.

"Delusions" of Grandeur and Persecution: Power and Marginalization

I have this very rich and fantastical reality in which I (whoever or whatever I am) sometimes reside. I am a super hero. I am god-slayer. I have the power to destroy whole worlds and tear apart the very fabric of reality. I have a dragon that eats fascists alive. If I were to share too much of my internal reality with a psychiatrist, I would likely be labeled as having "delusions of grandeur." People have been thus psychiatrized for less.

My Inner Dragon Celebrates the 4th of July

Dear United States of America,
I love you so much I just want to eat you up.
I want to snack on your drones like potato chips. They’re so crunchy.
I want to slurp up your pipelines like spaghetti. 
I want to rip up your border fence, fold it up, and swallow it whole like it’s an oyster. 
It’s good with Tabasco sauce. 
I want to nibble on all your detention center walls and cages. 
I think they will crumble just like crackers.

"The Angry Consumer": Embracing Difficult Conversations

Nev Jones, PhD and Emily S. Cutler

Nearly all of us who have been involved with mental health policy, practice, or research for any length of time have participated in multi-stakeholder meetings, collaborations, or relationships of one kind or another gone awry. And while there are many reasons that interpersonal dynamics can (and do) deteriorate, when it comes to mental health, by far the most common scenario is an interpersonal break-down across clear identarian lines. And these divisions occur both in terms of the issues—of what is being discussed, proposed, or reviewed—and the emotions involved (and, by extension, the style or mode of interaction).

Pride. Together.

Summer is Pride time for me. LGBTQIA in June, Disability in July. Banners and t-shirts, flags and beads. These celebrations often focus on pride as a celebration of those characteristics in ourselves that, though worthy of celebration, are often presented by dominant groups as shameful. And these joyous festivals have their place.  

But they are, at the same time, somewhat alien to me. They are at the end of a range of expressions, and my place is some distance away.

To me, Pride is celebrated at 4 am, walking friends who are likelier bashing targets, women in pearls and five o'clock shadow, men in heels and gowns, young couples too in love to pretend they are just friends, home from the clubs, miles put of your way, tired and laughing and keeping a wary eye on the straights you pass and still more than a little drunk.

The Killing Machine

I started hearing it several months ago, just once in a while, always late at night. There were strange loud noises at night. The chug chug of a diesel engine accompanied with strange whirring and grinding, electric humming and buzzing. Clanging, creaking.

What was odd was just how close it sounded. Like there was machinery running right outside the building, maybe even in the building somehow. My building is right near a commercial area. I just assumed one of these businesses was using trucks and heavy machinery at night, and that it sounded closer than it actually was. I had no idea how close to home, and how sinister and evil these sounds actually were until recently.