Dedicated to my beautiful friend who is dealing with the crunchy stuff right now
It’s nice to get feedback. No, it’s nice to get good feedback. I’ve had two responses to my last blog (you guys know who you are) and it was positive both times, in fact both described it as powerful, so yeah.
I had a really good day today. I had some new clothes on, which was kind of cool. But more importantly, I was at a reThink workshop. The rethink is about madness. You may recognise this more readily as ‘mental illness’ but those who know me will be familiar with this korero. I’m not one to hold back from expressing my thoughts on the subject, and usually don’t care who’s listening. Or rather, I do care whether people ARE listening. More to say, I’m not bothered about WHO is listening. I’ll say it far and wide.
This is one of the approaches I use in my quest. That sounds more noble than it feels most of the time but it is the only thing I know how to do, and I feel driven to do it so there.
My quest is around expanding common societal consciousness to see experiences of madness for what they are, valuable and natural responses to life events. How they happen and what they look like is quite unique to each individual and the communities they belong to. However, there are some recognisable characteristics of both madness and the discovery that follows. Discovery is my preferred term for ‘recovery’. I didn’t want to ‘recover’ to where I was before I had the breakdown. The whole point of it was to breakthrough to something more. Or someone more.
A key aspect of this, for change at both individual/personal and family/whanau/community/society levels is by addressing the way we talk about it. Using the language of the Cartesian-based medical model only reinforces the message that we are biological beings that can be tweaked with medication as required (supported by the ‘mental illness is an illness like any other, such as diabetes’ myth). Plus, someone reminded me today, ‘illness’ only covers one small aspect of the whole experience, and madness is a ‘whole’ experience. There is not one part of me/my life, that is unaffected by my madness.
And I am slowly coming out. Because I deal with this every day. In fact, it is who I am. It is how I think about the world (some crazy shit going on all around me, all the time, which I don’t like), how I feel in the world, (I don’t get ‘people’–individuals, maybe; I feel different), and what I do in the world (act on my intuition as often as I can; consume ethical, local products as much as possible; work for something meaningful on terms that suit my needs).
I am coming out with my whole ‘being’, because of the fact that I only really feel alive when I am surrounded by my mad peers talking about real shit. It’s not all train wrecks and carnage. In fact very little of the general conversation is ever about the bloody and inconvenient chaos of our madness. Unless someone is in the state of rawness, needing to talk in an attempt to settle the painful memories to rest somewhere, in which case they’ll more than likely experience empathy for possibly the first time ever. But more often than not, the conversations are on topics that we seem to collectively agree are important and we care about.
Back to the original point, I had a good day today because I was immersed with my peers, fellow ‘mad’ people. And I love them, my tribe. Of course there are individuals within the tribe, as with any tribe, and some are arseholes (I know I can be, surprise to you I know), but the collective conversation about the experience of madness, a.k.a., life, is one I love to have and get a lot from.
Despite feeling quite weary in my bones from what feels like a massive year, I am pleased to be taking each step in front of me (including some down time, in both ways. I continue to learn something from each visit to the depression abyss) and seeing stuff get done: moving, assignments, work projects, socialising, and getting into my favourite forest! I am really seeing some positive ‘recovery’ practice being put in place.
There are many things on the other side of this (I’ll always be a work in progress) but I also have the capacity to hold multiple truths and perspectives and that is a beautiful thing. The discovery continues.