Thursday, January 19, 2006

There's this thing I call "mental health oppression". It's very insidious and also real obvious. And it is connected to racism big time. In fact, if we don't stop doing it to each other we won't be ending racism any time soon.

If you're a little different you're "crazy". If you have too many feelings you "need a shrink", therapy or "psychiatric medication."

I think that pretty much says it all.

That means we begin early on to tell each human being not to trust themselves. We tell each other to be careful or you'll be wierd, maybe even insane. If we can't sit still we say we're ADD. Excuse me but sitting at a desk all day being quiet was not intended to be what young people do. ADD shmaydeedee. Boring society? Messed up political leaders? Bring on the legal drugs so we all can cope with the tiny lives we've set up for ourselves. And if you aren't enjoying being a good little citizen then something is said to be wrong with YOU!

So both of those things--being different or having feelings--are great! But they've both been used by spreading misinformation to divide and control groups of people!

What I'm about to say might sound a lot like trying to say you once had a cousin who was twice removed from your step-uncles' girlfriends' roommate. But what I'm trying to say is if we don't give young people attention, let them stay close, connected, play, cry and rage when they're little--and let ourselves do it now with eachother's support--they and we are sitting ducks for the training our society brings down on us all.

My vision? Listening projects in every neighborhood will spring up as a way to untangle the ways we've been hurt and lost parts of ourselves. Listening centers where people go to confidentially, and publicly if they are ready, tell their stories. What has it been like to be black this week? How was it parenting today? When did you first remember hearing that racist comment you now end up repeating? Often those with the most "desperate" emotions are only showing what the rest of us actually are sitting on everyday--and it's getting us down. Getting it out and getting on are really the sane route. The one who needs to "breakdown" is the one who's ready to breakthrough--to their original, inherent powerful self.

If we really understand that feelings are not to be feared we wouldn't shake our babies up when they cry, we wouldn't pop the psyche meds or lean on an "expert" to tell us we're "normal". What about just slowing down and listening to each other. And when somebody cries try just listening and smiling at them. No need to fix it or give advice. The person is sorting it out with your attention. This is part of being human. If it's hard to listen take a turn yourself afterward! (Yes, I teach this process in my diversity trainings.)

Fear of being crazy, locked up, medicated, ostracized etc, will keep many of us in a state of numb cooperation. Let me tell you something, freaking out right now is an appropriate response to a messed up situation. On top of the disappointments we each got early on we're dealing with current events which beg to be confronted. And I don't really mean freaking out in a bad way--see that word is part of mental health oppression. I mean that if you're having feelings, that is healthy and necessary to get in shape to change the world.

I'm talking about creating the life you want, the world you want. I'm talking about setting things right. What are some things you can think of that need to be set right?


Blogger Ta said...

I'm very touched and somehow moved by your blog entry. It has been a great fear in me to be different and I think that has been holding me back. Thank you for writing, and I appreciate your the fact that u r fighting against racism, I have always been disturbed by it.

3:46 AM PST  

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