I remind myself daily that the anger, insult, indignation, and defensiveness I receive from people as they react to what I have to say about Psychiatry and all things “mental health” are, in fact, evidence that I’m doing something right, that my message is being heard. Indeed, movement only happens with friction. Change must follow tension of some kind. If we are to transform the way the world understands and addresses suffering and other socially deemed “abnormal” and “unacceptable” human experiences, we must be ready to face continual conflict, rage, and pushback. In fact, we must expect it, and welcome it, for it’s a necessary part of revolution.
I remind myself daily that I must not take an ounce of it personally—it’s hard as hell not to, of course—for at the root of the cruel words and slammed doors and closed minds is fear. Yes, there’s the obvious selfish fear of the “Mental Health” Industry, itself—its fear of the loss of power and control and influence and livelihood and income and professional identity. But deeper than this is the fear that rests in the heart of the people, themselves. It is the fear of who we are beyond “mental illness” and “mental health”; of what our suffering and perceived “abnormalities” mean beyond DSM diagnoses and prescription pads, beyond locked wards and outpatient clinics and psychiatrists’ offices and emergency rooms and the entire infrastructure of “mental health”, beyond the story we’ve been told about who we are by the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex itself. This is a fear I can relate to, for letting go of my “Bipolar” narrative and forging a new path towards the unknown—my Self, free from labels—has been the scariest, most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. And indeed, my journey began with resistance, refusal, and denial. When I first heard the message I now carry daily, I simply couldn’t believe that the “mental illness” I’d “had” for thirteen years was nothing more than a social construct—that my ceaseless suffering and sleepless nights and racing thoughts and scars on my arms and self-destructive behaviors were not, in fact, “symptomatic” of a “life-long condition”. I simply couldn’t accept that the “treatment” I’d turned to through all those years was in fact leading me further and further away from a life of health, connection, and purpose, and closer to my death. I shook my head and said NO! to all of this, but I’d heard it… the seed of psychiatric liberation had been planted… and in time, I began to wake up.
And so, when people call me names and tell me how “invalidating” I am to those who are “mentally ill” and insist that I stop spreading lies, I can’t help but feel reassured that what I’m doing is right, because perhaps within these people are now the very same seeds of awakening that were implanted within me only four years ago. And perhaps, in time, they’ll be fighting this fight by our side as comrades, and standing with us as we watch the fortress of the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industry begin its collapse to the ground, into a dark chapter of human history.