Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Deja vu

I was 14 years old when I was first institutionalized. I had no way of knowing that five years of my life would be lost behind those doors, and in an instant, my entire future was forfeit. Now, I'm sitting here at my computer because my daughter is being institutionalized today. She's fourteen. She was already on the way when I spoke to her, and it felt like deja vu. I told her I loved her, and I gave her the only advice I could... Don't fight them. It will be worse if you do. Be amiable. Play the part they want you to play long enough to get out. And I feel just like that fourteen year old again, standing naked in the center of a crowded room, while the staff members make accusations and laugh at my expense and strip me of everything I believed about myself, and I want to kick and claw and refuse. I want to protect myself, and now, I sit here wanting to protect her, but I can't.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I wanted to open with a racial slur. You see, I wanted to shock you into listening. The thing is, I don't use those words. I found it repugnant to consider having them, in black and white, associated with my name forever and ever. They are words you won't hear on primetime, as the punchline on your favorite tv show, or on the evening news.
Logically, words are only signifiers. They should hold no more power than a person allows them to. But we know that isn't true. Words can define us. They can be used to restrict us, and they can shape the way we see others. Their power is long lasting and long reaching.
How often have you heard someone describe their ex as bipolar, psycho, schizo, or just crazy? Because these terms are considered socially acceptable, most people don't even notice. They news media, tv shows, movies, casual quips, political exchanges... It wasn't very long ago that racial remarks were also considered socially acceptable. I'm fact, they are the same thing... Generalizations based on misinformation that create stigma. Stigma ruins lives. It changes the way we see others, and more importantly, it changes the way we see ourselves. It creates hostility and fear and an unwillingness to seek legitimate, and the answer is so much simpler than gun control or expensive mental health bills. All you have to do is choose a different word.