The Power of One
There are so many Certified Peer Specialists and advocates working to change the mental “illness” system and to support people who have challenges in living the ‘status quo’ life style. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the power of one advocate who inspires me to be a better and more intelligent person – and a more compassionate human being. Her name is Carmella Kudybac. She wrote a powerfully moving blog “I am Not the Next Headline in Tragedy”, May 18, 2017, https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/05/not-next-headline-tragedy/
Carmella is fiercely passionate about human rights and living with dignity in an inclusive community. I am so inspired by this first blog I have ever read of hers. I don’t know if she has written others but I am moved to share some of the main points she eloquently made.
1) The system society has created to help those who are labeled often unawarely causes us great harm, humilitation and makes our difficulty in living even more difficult. Carmela states, “I explained to my team of medical professionals that the psychosis does not subside (with medication), but instead becomes more private. Because I am too tranquilized to physically acknowledge my inner beliefs, voices and persecution, medical professionals subjectively observe me to be more “normal”, and less “disturbed” to witness”. She continues, “Since I am an avid dancer and horseback rider, these side effects are extremely disturbing. Even activities of daily living such as going up and down the stairs with a load of laundry become too painful to endure with the extra weight on my feet. The sedation also limits what I can do in my life. When I last needed 17 hours of sleep each day, I was unable to hold down a job at 10 hours a week, a job that I had maintained at 20 hours a week for the previous 8 years. This was crushing to my self esteem”.
2) That said, the system – and lets not sugar coat it – may be a very dangerous, trauma-inducing and soul-killing place. Carmela states, “I may be psychotic, and I may have upsets, but I realize that I am anything but safe”.
3) Changing the system and society for that matter means we need to stand firmly in our integrity and be courageous. Carmela stated, “While I am aware that I will most likely lose this trial by jury, I intend to take a stand for mental diversity and my right to coexist with others in mainstream reality without being medicated”. She won her historic court case.
4) Be clear about the support we need and/or specific next steps we suggest. Carmella brilliantly stated how we “… can join my fight by doing any of the following” and listed some suggestions. Beautifully model for us!!!
5) One stone can send ripples far and have an impact much greater than the thrower knows. The power of one can lift many higher. Carmela lifts me higher. I will always stand by her and support her. She has taught me a lot in the few years I have known her; we have actually agreed to be in a co-learning relationship. I just left her a phone message telling her among other things that I hope she continues to write blogs.
Thank you Carmella for showing us the power of one.
Thank you for this today, this, my 55th birthday. I have asked myself, “how old do I have to be to decide for myself if I must take medication?” If it is necessary to go to court, that is different. DLB
Happy Birthday – today and every day. I am grateful for every day I get to continue living this amazing journey. Taking or not taking any drug should be a personal choice. I trust that each of us makes the best decision we can given the information we have. Of course the challenge with psychopharmaceuticals is that the drug companies work very hard and spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually lobby and marketing to sell their product – For them it is all about profits over people. The negative effects of taking these drugs are in general very hidden from individuals including hidden from the medical establishment. The law suits that are won against the drug companies are typically done behind closed doors so the public continues to not find out about the grave danger of these drugs long-term (and some short-term) and human suffering that are the stories behind the law suits.
As someone once said, ‘We are what we eat’ and I have come to truly believe that. The invitation is to look at what we put in our bodies and understand the impact it has on us. I myself have been taking a much more intentional look at the foods I am eating and have completely changed my diet to optimize my excellent health and well-being. The 2nd invitation is to build a strong emotional support around you – as I have done over the years- so that when I need a safe space to express how I am feeling and share my thinking, I have trusts allies with which to do so. I always come out of those ‘sharing’ experiences feeling better and thinking more clearly.
I wish you many more Happy Birthdays and continued success on your life’s journey. One is never too old to make a new decision – it is your life we are talking about. Our hearts, minds and bodies have a tremendous capacity to heal – that does not mean it will be easy. Having sensitive and appropriate supports are critical. Let me know if you would like more information.