Saturday, April 12, 2014

And now we kick ass

As you know we had an event this week and as you know, weird shit happened! I got good feedback with the exception of one petty (IMHO) email from someone I have helped professionally. Yes, she came and ate the $30 lunch, didn't donate, and proceeded to write an 800-word email to me and my boss bitching about everything she didn't like about the event.

Everything else aside, it was her reasoning that made me hurt and angry - and that actually inspired this post.

In the mental health advocacy world, like every other civil rights movement, there are factions of people who don't think others unlike them belong, or should have a seat at the table. And it is why, as my keynote speaker noted at the event, we're not even at the back of the bus with mental health - we're under the fucking bus. It is a civil rights battle that we are waging right now, and with the petty infighting, we are crippling ourselves.

This person said her comments were from "a peer's perspective" - a "peer" being someone who lives with mental health challenges - and among many other pointed comments, she said the event had too many family members speaking. Our emcee has nieces with PTSD; one speaker has a son with major depression; one speaker lives with multiple mental illness diagnoses and has a son who does as well.

And that is what I reacted (privately) somewhat viscerally to.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, right? Or in my case, if you don't want to use the word fuck in a work email, don't write back. So I haven't - yet.

What I wanted to tell her - and maybe one day, calmly I will - is that her attitude is the biggest thing holding us back from progress. That the us vs. them attitude gets us exactly nowhere. That so many of us are both peers and family members - and even if no one identifies as either one, we still need their help. We have to stop labeling ourselves and others if we want to fucking get anywhere.
No civil rights movement has ever accomplished anything without allies working together. Mental illness touches all of us in some way - 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children lives with it. There is no "outsider." There is no "other." There is no "them" - only us.

Only when we come together and stop worrying who is in the front row of the debate will we move forward and truly convince people that just because the illness is in your brain, it doesn't mean you should be ashamed. That it is OK to ask for help.

Only then will the super high, heartbreaking suicide rates in this country begin to plummet.

Only then will people no longer feel alone, isolated, hopeless.

I took a helpline call at work this week from a sister advocating for her adult brother. He has been shuffled around by the system, has no health coverage because of a bureaucratic SNAFU, and his mother said, literally, "I guess we are just helpless." And the sister said, "No, we aren't."

So she called my organization. And we are advocating for them. Amazingly, I have been assured that the state's insurance program will rush his application this week.

Does it matter how she identifies? Or how I identify? Or does it matter that we are fighting for this person's right to proper treatment and human dignity?

So there is my elevator speech. Next month is our biggest event and I'm raising money again. If you feel inclined, please help me kick ass. No donation is too small and everything is appreciated.

Because we are literally all in this together.


Elephant's Child said...

We are indeed all in this together - world wide. Donation made.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yeah, everyone's a critic. Frustrating and often unfair, I know. Keep fighting the good fight.

Birdie said...

Oh, RK. As someone who lives with a mental illness I get so upset by all the people who judge. As much as I am willing to tell my story (and do!) I know that some people look at me as someone who is unable to cope. They don't want to hear my cries, they only want to hear of my success after I clawed my way out. They don't want to know I am on medication or counseling, they just want to know that I am "fine" now.

Anonymous said...

Amen sister.

LL Cool Joe said...

I'm surrounded by mental illness and yet there appears to be this veil of secrecy about it all. Lets all pretend it doesn't exist, and maybe it will go away. Well it doesn't, In fact all it does is screw up future generations.

Good for you, the work you do is amazing.

Charles Gramlich said...

You are fighting the good fight, and it's never easy. There is hardly a moment one can let down. It can be exhausting, but it is brave work.

Cheryl said...

800 word email...WOW...that person really knows how to drag out being a negative nelly. Always, one of those types in the batch.

As for her criticism about people at the event that are affected by the "cause" of the event. Does she not get the disconnect of her comment.

You passion for what you do comes across very powerfully in you post. It's a great thing that people like you stand up and work toward a better world for all of us.

Abby said...

I think many people are in denial about the pervasiveness of mental illness. Yeah, it affects all of us, either directly or indirectly. I'm thinking of that kid who went on a stabbing rampage at his high school.... and there are plenty of others, not all violent, that are ignored. Glad you could get it off your chest here.

"...if you don't want to use the word fuck in a work email, don't write back" -- That's a keeper!

Claire said...

An 800 word email? I just...I can't even.

You're a rockstar. Thank you for all you and your colleagues do. We need you.

Lynn said...

I can't believe people sometimes - her email was awful and not appropriate at all (which you know). Hopefully she will feel free to not come to anymore events.

Ragdoll Mommy said...

I totally agree with Lynn. By the way, the "if you don't want to use the word fuck in a work email, don't write back"--that's very well true. Your blog is awesome, and I totally love your Blogger profile pic!! 😄

G. B. Miller said...

Some people are never satisfied. Keep fighting the good fight.

Father Nature's Corner

Riot Kitty said...

Thanks everyone! And thank you EC and Cheryl for your donations!

Birdie, that's why we have to keep talking, to normalize it. I just posted this column on our work's Facebook page about how women are much more likely to get depression than breast cancer, but no one gets asked about how they are doing if they have it, unlike cancer.

Granny Annie said...

You have already given this person more thought than she deserves.

A Beer For The Shower said...

We've written short stories that aren't even 800 words...

We'll save the snark and the sarcasm of our usual comments just to say that this was really, really well said and 100% true. As if it wasn't bad enough that mental illness isn't properly understood by the average person, to have divide within your own group is not just counterproductive it's plain stupid.

Furry Bottoms said...

Good going! And that picture of the kitty going off to save the world, perfect.

A lot of mental heatlh issues are inherited... not all of them, but a lot of them are. The depression gene for instance. It can run in the family. So what if there were family members speaking at your event? I would have thought that'd bring people closer, not blast them apart. That email writer totally missed the boat.

My guess your event was about helping organizations get the help people need, not about who is related to whom. It's about the assistance that everyone is going to need at one point in time or another. Oh brother.

Keep on strong, what you're doing!

CraveCute said...

Thanks for all the good work you do! We need about a zillion more people like you!

Ms. CrankyPants said...

Very well said!!

Ms. CrankyPants said...

Very well said!!

Lee said...

I know who you should invite along to be your main guest speaker for your next event, RK.

Allow yourself a cooling off period (as you are) before you reply to that know-it-all; and then ask her to be a enable her to tell all her "peers" how it's done. Tell her you don't know how the fuck you've been able to exist without her guidance.

She obviously has all the answers.

It's a shame she's presently not sharing her wisdom; imparting her limitless knowledge to all and sundry.

How remiss it is of you not to have invited her to do so before this. But you have time - you can now rectify the oversight. Just think how much you can learn from her!

Print out her email...have it laminated and framed. Present her with it at the end of her informative speech. Show your gratitude.

I'll be standing beside you as you present her with the framed award...just to make sure you don't smash it over her head.

On second thoughts, I'll be there to help your aim!

It'd be kind of like making her eat her words! ;)

Rock Chef said...

When I started blogging I realised that blogging is good therapy - you use it well!

Susan said...

Kitty, Kitty, one or nothing is stopping you, girlfriend. Keep fighting the good fight.

Riot Kitty said...

Thank you all!

My boss said, "I don't care, and neither should you."

That gave me some good perspective. But Lee, I still wanted to get a slingshot.

Lee said...

Well, I'll be your wing-woman, RK...whenever! ;)

Vanessa Morgan said...

In my experience, journalists are specialists in going somewhere for free lunch and goodies without doing anything in return.

Ms. CrankyPants said...

Er, SO well said I had to tell you twice :)

Riot Kitty said...

Lee: Sweet! Come right on over.
Vanessa: You know, that's funny - because I was a reporter and we weren't supposed to accept any freebies.
CP: I'll take it ;)

Blue Grumpster said...

She ate the $30 lunch, didn't donate, and started bitching about the event? I don't think she'll ever be my friend. Kick het buttttttt! Privately.

Under the fucking bus... Is that a fact? (See, you like swearing, don't you?)The us vs. them attitude is the result of vanity and insecurity or both. It's why there will always be wars.

Dexter Klemperer said...

"...if you don't want to use the word fuck in a work email, don't write back", words to live by indeed!

At most she deserves a simple response of "I hope you enjoyed the lunch."