Okay, break over…no maybe a little longer.

I was inspired by the support I received when I wrote about quitting advocacy.  So, I went ahead and made one more attempt at getting through to Con. Murphy’s office.  When I did my usual week later check up email to the scheduler (I only do this when I haven’t heard anything for a week), instead of an email back from her I received a call (about an hour after the email was sent) from his chief legislative aide.  I knew this was my brush off phone call.  He informed me that DR. Murphy (and he emphasized Dr. like I didn’t already know this) had received my info and did speak with the committee.  (Not sure how much of that I believe.)  He then proceeded to stress the fact that Con. Murphy has over 700,000 constituents and that I would not be granted a phone meeting with him.  He assured me that Murphy had spoken to a spectrum of people that would be affected by HR 3717.  I could tell this aide was annoyed the I dare attempt to speak with the congressman.  However, I have spoken with several other congressmen/women (even ones not in my state).  They managed to find time.  What makes Murphy so special?  Isn’t it his job to speak with people?  He is paid quite well.  If you’re going to write a bill that effects millions of people, you need to be prepared to speak to some of them!

Someone in one of my groups made the statement that the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender movement began much like ours…yet it has gained momentum and is finally being heard (rightfully so!).  So why is it that those of us living with mental illness seem to be either unwilling or unable to unite?  I’ve made several attempts at trying to spark some kind of unification, but nothing came of it.  I’m either going about it all wrong or people just don’t want to get involved.  There very well be other reasons.  Just blogging about it isn’t going to cut it.  Just sitting back and complaining about it isn’t going to cut it.  What is it going to take?  I just don’t know.

When congressional representatives are unwilling to talk, there’s a HUGE problem.  Yes, Murphy may actually be a Dr. of Psychology, but does he really know the full effects of treatment?  I’m not certain he does, otherwise parts of his bill wouldn’t be so glaringly against the Mental Health Community.  Yes, I know parts of the bill are good.  I’ve never denied that, but taking away our right to advocate on our own behalf…WRONG!

I know this post may seem like I’m attacking Murphy, maybe I am…a little.  I’m sure he’s quite good as a congressman.  I just can’t stand the fact that I get pawned off on people in his office that are quite rude.  Before you start saying it’s because of posts like this one, I have a very different way of communicating with members of Congress.  I know how to be respectful.  I know how to word my emails and letters so they come across as if I’m a bumbling, ranting idiot.  I’ve often said advocacy is an art form.

When is it our  time?  What will it take to unite us as one voice and be heard?  Okay, I sound like I’m whining.  It’s time to end this post.  I hope I have at least given you something to think about.

7 thoughts on “Okay, break over…no maybe a little longer.

  1. I think there are a lot of reasons it’s hard for us to unite as a single community.

    First off, there are a lot of different ideas of what better mental health care would look like. I lean pretty far toward the anti-psychiatry/critical psychiatry, but I get frustrated when people in those groups say that no one should ever take meds or go to therapy because the whole entire system is broken. I’d like to see a lot less emphasis on medication and hospitalization and see us shift more toward client-directed and talking-oriented treatment, along the lines of the open dialogue approach out of Finland. I’d like to see us creating intentional communities where people don’t just disappear through the cracks, but I’d like it to be done with force or coercion. Mainstream psychiatric treatment providers tend to shy away from that stuff because it’s harder. There’s no formula, there are no guarantees, and they have to learn a new way of being with clients. Also, because it’s not “evidence based,” insurance won’t cover it, which puts it automatically out of most people’s reach. So there’s a lot of division–I don’t think there is a cohesive mental illness/mental health community. It’s more like cobbling together a coalition. Not everyone is going to agree about everything, but maybe enough people can agree on enough stuff and utilize enough of their unique resources to accomplish something.

    I also think there’s a lot of hopelessness around trying to change our approaches to mental illness. I think Americans in general feel hopeless about a lot of things because we feel like there’s no way to make our voices heard. Not everyone is as tenacious as you are, to get back up over and over. For a lot of people, the pain of staying silent is more bearable than the pain of screaming and being ignored.

    There’s also stigma. Generally, for activism to be effective, you have to be willing to attach your own name to it, and for some people, the cost is too high. I walk that tightrope frequently. I’m a political organizer, and the candidate I’m currently working for has made improving mental health care a major part of her platform…but I still hesitate to share my lived experience because organizing is a surprisingly small world, and I’m afraid that information could come back and bite me in the butt later. I don’t want a field director looking at my resume two years down the line, saying, “Ohhhh, that’s that crazy girl,” and tossing mine in the reject pile. (I know bias is usually not that obvious, and I’m sure that’s not what they’d say out loud or even be aware of as their reason for rejecting me, but once someone knows that, it plays into all their perceptions of you.)

    That being said, if there’s something I can do to help with your campaign, I’d be happy to. I’m not in Murphy’s district, and I’ve made sure none of my Congressmen are supporting his bill. But if there’s anything else I can do to help, let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love what you said. It’s very true that we wouldn’t be able to get everyone on the same band wagon. You made some very valid points. As an educator (and in general), I’m very open about my mental illness, but that openness didn’t happen overnight. It took me several years before I began sharing my story. I find that many of the students I come across tend to ask me questions about it and then they begin to open up because they’ve found someone who’s been there.

      As far as the bill, I, unfortunately, have 2 members of Congress backing it. I think I’ve managed to get to through to one. Well at least they are having meetings about the points I brought up. I call that some progress. One is better than none.

      Thank you for responding to my post. I really do appreciate the feedback. It helps me keep things in perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

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