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Showing posts from March, 2011

On The Road Again -- NAMIWalks 2011

It's that time of year again.  Across the country people with mental illness, our friends, family, care providers, even law enforcement officials are pulling on our walking shoes to raise money for NAMI -- National Alliance on Mental Illness.  Last year soldiers in Iraq pulled on their hiking boots and their 40 lb. packs and ran while NAMI San Diego walked.

So what is this all about?  Here, my friends, is my testimony.

A couple years ago, I wrote a post on holiday gift giving for your favorite normal.  I asked my spouse, What would be a good present for the family member of somebody with a mental illness?

She didn't even look up from her computer.  Without missing a beat, she said, A cure.

A cure.  I know that mental illness is a family illness.  The whole family lives with it.  But her words caught me.  What she wanted was for both of us, a cure.

It's something she can't give me.  I can't give her.  My doctor can't.  You can't give it to the person you lo…

Mental Health Advocacy -- The Funner Version

Okay, last week was weird.  That's what you get for reading a mental health blog written by an Episcopal priest.  You never can tell when Jesus might interrupt with, No, what would I really do?






As it happens, that is where Gandhi got his program for freedom fighting, from Jesus.

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.

There's a Lenten meditation for you.  Overlay Gandhi's road map on the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Gandhi taught us to do what Jesus would do, what he really did do.

But not all of you are Christians.  Not all of you follow The Way.  Not all of you even follow my train of thought!  What does death and resurrection have to do with mental health advocacy?

Well, never mind.  The post stands on its own, as the tried and true program for addressing oppression, the institutional arrangements that support an unjust system.

This week's post turns to a different path, what we think of as stigma-bustin…

Ignore/Laugh/Fight/ -- Mental Health Advocacy That Wins

If they don't want to employ you, if they are afraid of you, if there are four times as many of you in jail as in the hospital, then it's not just stigma.  It is prejudice and it is oppression. The twentieth century offered a whole degree program in prejudice and oppression.  Others have made progress against what beat them down.  Though we are now stalled and falling behind, we can move forward when we adopt their methods.
The Map to Liberation
Mahatma Gandhi was not the first freedom fighter.  But he is the great theoretician.  He gave us the map.


First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you. 
Then you win.

Four simple steps.  The good news -- we have already taken the first.  Got that one down pat.

Liberation 101:

We are in charge of the map.  The oppressor doesn't decide that oppression will end.  It endures until the oppressed decide that it will end.

What we have to do is provoke the next step.

Then they laugh at you.

Well, that's where we are stuck,…

Mazie -- Run Free!

Mazie came to us on August 1, 1996.

She left us on March 1, 2011

And in between she blessed us.

I wrote about Mazie a couple years ago.  She lived longer than we anticipated she would at the time.  She suffered a stroke a year ago, but recovered and went on to raise $250 in last year's NAMI walk.

Here is an edited version of that earlier post, with new bits in italics.




This dog reminds me of Mazie/Amazing Grace.  Except there are too many stars in the lower right corner of the constellation, a leg that she lost a long time ago.  Move those stars up to form her crown chakra.  For twelve of her thirteen years, people have watched her run and said, That's Amazing!

Therapy Dog

Mazie is a therapy dog.  Not officially, she never received the training.  Now she has renal failure and it's too late.  But everywhere she goes, she finds the person who needs her.  When I took her to visit the shelter during the Iowa floods in '08, she stopped to visit with each one.  After an hour, …