Letters from the Editor:
12.01.17 - Launch
12.15.17 - Update
03.01.18 - Update
04.05.18 - Update



 


Killing the stigma, the Defective way....
(reducing mental health stigma through equalization)


You Make Me Sick

Forgotten

Turn Signals & Maps

The Good, The Bad...and those that are seen as both

 



Or look at some artwork by TAIC here.  or here.  or even here.

 

 

Letter from the Editor – 12.01.17 – Launch

Welcome to our little place here on the web...

As promised, we're launched and official...and not just talk anymore.  I know you had your doubts.  I certainly did.  It's a lot of work putting together an online magazine...and I hope you dig it.

There are a myriad of purposes for doing something like this.  The main ones are to promote connection and understanding, reduce mental health stigma, and encourage those with challenges to feel supported and that their voice matters.  It does.  I promise.

Some of the voice/angle/language used is candid/informal/real and not the nice, neat, politically correct terminology or attitudes that keep separating us from the world that actually exists.  It is not our intention to upset/offend/alienate anyone, but we're not apologizing either.  This IS a different approach, aimed at the demographic that gets lost in the shuffle - the rough'n'tumble kids, those from the wrong side of the tracks, the ones that get their mouths washed out with soap. And, this means YOU - because you and I both know you've felt this way off and on your whole life.  The dirt on you doesn't come off, and you're in good company.  We're all mad here...except some of us are actually angry, and some of us are actually crazy.

So, hopefully you'll climb in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride through this sometimes tumultuous terrain.  We're driving, and often a little faster than posted signs - but, have no fear - the car hasn't been reported stolen.  Yet.

Now that we're up and running, we're feverishly trying to get this thing in print...but, that'll take some time and dollars, so be patient with that.

The site is constantly updated, so please check back for updates.

I hope you enjoy our efforts.
We're certainly glad that you're here.

-TAIC

 

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Letter from the Editor - 12.15.17 - Update

We're just two-weeks old...

but, we seem to be picking up some momentum!  All thanks to you, of course!  We couldn't have done it without you.

So...in these two weeks, we've received some new submissions, a mention on another mental health resource website, some suggested links to add, and some interesting water-cooler conversations about little ol' us...

The submissions and links can be found in their appropriate categories to the left (the big pink buttons, yo!) and should prove to be both entertaining and enlightening.

As for me personally, I've now facilitated two talks on the concept of stigma reduction.  The first, in Seattle, went pretty well.  The second one, in Bremerton, was phenomenal.  A little practice and a lot of thinking and prep go a long way.  I'm not new to doing this, but this is a new areana and a new topic for me.  So far, so good.  Really looking forward to upcoming opportunities...

Is there something you would like to see offered as a facilitated discussion in the Seattle area?  Let's talk!

BUY the way....

The Hillman City Collaboratory is having a Holiday Bazaar.  Why is that being mentioned here?  Two reasons: Firstly, it's being put on and hosted by Jones Community Solutions - a Peer-run organization.  Secondly, we'll be there fundraising for getting this thing in print.  Only a gazillion dollars to go (give or take a few).  [Find the Blue Dog and click on it (on one of the fantastic pages on this site) for some special deals on DefMag swag!]

Come check it out.  Come say hello.  Come buy things from people in your community.

Holiday Bazaar
Dec. 23rd, 10am-5pm
Hillman City Collaboratory
5623 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
(corner of Rainier & Orcas)

Jones Community Solutions can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/dnet.jcs/

Thanks for tuning in!

-TAIC

 

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Letter From The Editor - 03/01/18 - Update

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

There.  I said it.
It's absolutely true.
We need able hands and minds to help us move to the next plateau of existence.

Firstly, let me tell you about what we've accomplished in the few months that we've been around.

We've been added to a national list of Peer resources. 

We have readers all over the globe.
It's true.

We've been invited to cover one of the largest Peer events in the country!

And...we're working towards getting this thing in print, so...

-----

Yes, it would be a volunteer position.  Unpaid, although happy to be a work reference or sign off for you to get school credit.  Any age and background.  On your schedule - aside from crunch times, when we may need some extra hours.

Depending on the projects that come our way, there may be perks...and, there may be merch...

If that appeals to you - to be part of this work of bring P/peer voices to the world, then we'd love to hear from you!

...AND SUBMISSIONS!

We need submissions to keep this going and interesting and up to date and cool and blahblahblah...

But, what this means is that we want to hear about your experiences, thoughts, stories and creativity from the trenches... living with mental health and SUD challenges.

For submissions, please visit our SUBMIT page.  Button is to the left.

For volunteering, please drop us a line at:
DefectiveMagazine (at) Gmail (dot) com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

-TAIC

 

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Letter From The Editor - 04/05/18 - Update

Bright Lights on the Horizon!

The magazine is at the printers! 
Picking it up tomorrow, loading the jalopy, and hitting the highway!

It will be first available to peeps at the Peerpocalypse convention.  After that, it'll be available in person at groups and events, including those at SASG (contact them or us to know which ones) and the CVAB/WaPac meeting in a couple weeks, and hopefully some future United Peers of WA events later in the year. 

We are in the process of getting it in local stores and adding it to our online store as well, but the easiest (for us) and fastest way is to contact us though email or our Facebook page to arrange payment and pickup.

So...why print an online magazine?  Because our focus is connection.  Having it available in print means continuing to spread to word of hope and recovery and offer resources to people that wouldn't already have access to them.

Most of the content was hand chosen from the submissions from the site, and a couple that are unique to the in-print version. 

It's 40-pages, in full color, and is the perfect way to share the values of our community with the friends and relatives in yours.

We also have a fresh batch of cat-eared hats for sale...and I'll get those online as soon as I can.  In the meantime, just drop us a line.

And...I heard a rumor that some new shirts might be on the way in the not-so-distant future...

Alright, kids...enjoy!

Have a truly wonderful day!

-TAIC

 

 

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Killing the stigma, the Defective way....
(reducing mental health stigma through equalization)
By TAIC, October 9th, 2017


Those with mental health issues or diagnosis feel the effects of stigma, whether real or imagined, as a member of a looked-down-upon community of misfits and defectives. It's easy to rely on this feeling of victimization to build solidarity and to blame “the others”, or “normies”, as they're often called on the inside. Current culture tells us to fight stigma, but never explains how. Without a gameplan, the concept of fighting stigma is just a concept, reduced to a bumpersticker of well-intended but nearly-meaningless words.

The first thing that our community does is blame. The media. Big pharma. The church. The government. Whatever. What has blame ever solved? Exactly. Save that shit for drunken conversations with your friends. Here, in the real world, that doesn't fly.

The second step usually taken is to tell people to stop. uh...yeah, that works. I personally like stats that reflect success and numbers above zero. Unfortunately, current culture supports the concept of telling people what to do when you disagree with them, along with the one-two punch of feeling pleased with yourself for doing good (even though you might be an asshole in the process) and feeling like your target should actually change and start upon a new and improved outlook creating a new pattern of action, despite you having no right or jurisdiction over them and not actually engaging in conversation, so there's no real method to transfer knowledge or understanding. No wonder everyone is loud these days, but change is non-existent or slow at best.

Here's the concept behind stigma reduction through equalization:

Firstly, we really need to look through the eyes of those we feel are stigmatizing us and our conditions, to see what they see and understand where they're coming from. What are they afraid of? That's an easy one. Unpredictability. Unpredictability and lack of familiarity. Basically, the fear of the unknown. This idea is so well documented, that Buddhists have a saying that goes back literally thousands of years, that puts it very simply: “Where there is 'other', there is fear.”

There's one predominant mental image of mental illness, the accidental poster child for our whole community – and, we're all familiar with this archetype: the homeless man, dirty, shouting at people that aren't there, and with jerking arm movements that are easily translated into potentially violent motions. He's the guy that you cross the street to avoid.

We are animals. Smart monkeys at best. For better or worse, and often each at different times depending on circumstances, we have these leftover traits called instincts. I like to call them the Four Fs...and these four questions are the instant judgments we make for survival:

Are you FOOD?
This should be self-explanatory for most of you....and the rest of you scare me.

Are you a FRIEND?
An ally? Someone I can trust? Someone with whom I can mutually co-exist?

Are we gonna FUCK?
Are you a potential mate? Is there attraction/chemistry?

Are we gonna FIGHT?
Are you an enemy, a rival, or posing a danger to me or my family?

When we see someone acting unpredictably, we usually rule out the FOOD and FUCK components right away. The FRIEND and FIGHT lines, however, are the lines that are blurred – and that's where the trouble comes in. We're left feeling uneasy, on-guard, and generally wary until more information comes to direct us in how we should act and how to categorize and think of this person.

People with controlled symptoms, or without mental illness altogether, that have physical ailments that cause them to have muscle spasms get targeted the same way. If I walk by so-and-so's desk, am I gonna get hit/kicked by a limb acting autonomously?

Think about this for a minute. Think about feeling unsure, unsafe, uncertain of a situation where you feel that harm could come to you. Walking down a dark street. Walking to your car at night from a friend's house or business. Dropping something off for someone in a questionable part of town. Anything that would give you cause for concern, and anyplace that could make you feel uneasy.

Now, let's go back to our original premise – People stigmatize mental health issues and their owners because of the unpredictability and lack of familiarity. Again, this is fear of the unknown.  It is natural, and instinctual.  Our job here is to make the "unknown" known in a way that it gets equalized, smoothed out, accepted as within the range of normalcy - even if only because it is now "known".

We are not going to easily make a difference with the perceptions of the outliers – the ones at the extreme edges of our mental illness bell-curve. Those that are truly perceived as dangerous will be avoided. Those that are of the highest-functioning strata will still fly under the radar. It's the rest of us – the bulk and the belly of the bell-curve – the ones that function to some degree or another within the confines of society, with standard societal expectations put upon us. Those societal expectations come with the additional societal expectation that we're “normal” too. It's when this is challenged, either by admission, by outing, or by a lapse in symptom management, that there is “other” among them, and the fear creeps in.

What they're not realizing is that mental illness, to some degree, IS the norm....and THAT is where this concept comes in. If you show someone how 'normal' it is, then the fear lessens. And, with that fear, the stigma that goes along with it. The big issue is that people don't always self-identify, and don't want to be outed, leaving them secretly suffering in hopes that the stigma doesn't befall them. Little do they realize that if everyone who self-identified as having some sort of mental illness spoke up, that we'd have the majority. We'd have a strong community. None of us would feel like we're the only ones suffering. We could empower eachother by giving hope that recovery works and that people with their same diagnosis have gone on to do great things and leap obstacles that once seemed like tall and impenetrable brick walls.

This is where this magazine excels.

Authors and artists are asked to specify their diagnosis, along with their submissions. Why? So the reader can see that people with that diagnosis are capable of this talent, this expression, and can have their works published online and in print. When someone sees this, they are empowered. Why? Because the original paradigm is rewritten. Instead of seeing someone thought negatively of, and identifying similarly, the 'they're hated; me too!' moves to that of success – 'they're talented, cherished, respected, loved, awesome; ME TOO!' That's our hope, anyways.

 

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You make me sick.
By TAIC, October 29th, 2017

You make me sick.  This time, literally.

I hate what we've turned into, as a country, as a community, as an existence of peoplehood. No colors, religions, faiths. No gender, sex, delineation of any kind. Just as people. Non-GMOs for us; GMOs for you. Organic for us; pesticides for you. Quality for us; rubbish for you. Health for us; sickness for you. Yay, me; fuck you.

But, can we blame industries that have grown from simply seeing a need and filling it to being downright opportunistic? Or...do we start blaming them once they create the need that they fill?

I don't want to demonize any industries, but...some horns are showing.

Does “Big Pharma” really want us sick?
Do the Dairy Farmers of America really want us sick?

Does any American industry really want us sick?

I say no...because I desperately want to believe that. My friends say yes, because they want to fight battles that they can't easily win. It might not matter in the end. Death at 70 doesn't sound all that worse than death at 72, or 73, or 75. I don't think so, anyways....looking down a 25-yr barrel, aimed straight at my intellect, my hopes and dreams, and that soft spot that gets warm when I spend time with my friends and family. What's 5 years, besides a Bowie song? What is our time here worth, anyways?

Do we know yet that microwaves kill us? Is anything posted in the frozen foods Aisle?  On the microwave boxes? Are pediatricians telling us the truth? Warning us? Am I one 30-second heat-up away from something irreversible?

Does the health industry pay dues to keep the evil machines in place and rolling?
It does seem awfully curious that both sides are making money.
Does that mean everything we know is wrong?
Yeah, probably.
Food pyramid. 4-food groups. Take your vitamins.
Join a gym. Personal trainer. Hot Yoga with a hotter yogini, followed by your half-caf, double fuck me a-chino, with seven squirts of this and seven pumps of that, all prepared by the smartest, but largely unaffected teenager in town. The only fucking person on the block with job security and a 401k....slowly killing us one cup at a time, with a smile and a wish for a great day.

And, usher in the new wave of household killers. The fear industry expands, taking up residence in your fertile psyche. Purell. Better use harsh chemicals to kill the germs that a benign soap can alleviate. Do you have your water bottle with you? You might die if you leave the house without it.

Seedless grapes and watermelon are technically GMOs...but, damn is that convenient. Make sure you buy those Little Cuties by the bagfull. That's three or five pounds of deliciousness that nature never intended. Let's be scared and make all these pop-up industries wealthy, okay? Okay. Well...that was easy.

I'm not bitter. I just question who is making money when the new fad hits.
Who benefits?
What problem does this solve?
Did the old paradigm truly fail...or is it just that someone can make some money off of a shift in focus?

For example...The cult of coffee, of which I'm a proud member, has its dark facets as well. What's the difference between a Starbucks and a bar or a cigar lounge? The drug ingested. That's about it. Maybe that, and the group that it's marketed to. And the accouterments for sale. And how quickly they can populate the landscape. Still, there's marketing to kids. Why does a kid need to ingest any drug like caffeine? I don't know. What I do know, is that the coffee industry is the new cigarette industry. People are creating tiers and hierarchies. Quality, knowledge, process. 9 out of 10 doctors recommend a medium roast Arabica... The 10th one simply prefers tea. With a scone. On his yacht.
Me too, asshole....me too.

Buyer and biter beware.

Are you making us sick just to make us well?
But, not well-well. Not all-the-way well. Just well enough to appreciate the maintenance your sister industries sell to us. More pills, please.

More pillllllllsssssssszzzzz.

But, should we demonize any industry that gives us jobs?
Should we demonize the people that take those jobs?
Here's a question:
What would it take for you to call an elderly widow to demand an overdue payment on a credit card?  $10/hr? $15/hr? Benefits for your children? What's your asshole price? What does it take for you to turn a blind eye to what you're doing in order for you to act against your fellow man?

Repo man. Debt collector. Chemist. Marketing professional at Monsanto's headquarters. Order setter at a liposuction clinic. Person who catches strays to sell to a cosmetic company's animal experimentation laboratory.

Even the receptionist at a company that hurts people must know it, right?
So...good for them, they're working paying their share of taxes, etc...?
Or...fuck them for being a cog in the machine? The killing machine...

What if we refused to fight? Would there be fewer wars?
What if we refused to be assholes to eachother, would the industries change?
Change of outlook? Change of policies? Change of procedure?

Could we band together strongly enough to make that happen?
Could we support eachother through the rough times enough so that way we could hold out for jobs that atleast “caused no harm”?

What's your asshole price? What would it take for you to turn against your fellow human? How much would they have to pay you for you to knowingly make us sick? Or to pretend to fix us?  Or to over-medicate us?

Do we need to ask ourselves, our neighbors, our doctors, and our politicians...
What did they give you to turn your back?
What would get you to choose to make us sick?

 

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Forgotten
By TAIC, November 2nd, 2017

I recently read an article that touched along the lines of something that I've been wanting to write for a long time – the way the mental health industry fails people that don't act symptomatic enough to get the care they need. I was told that I should write my version of this anyways. So, if you feel inundated by this subject matter, please send a letter to my friends. All of them, you know...just to be sure.

I worked so hard towards what I was told was the right thing to do that I was forgotten by the people I needed help from the most.

You don't know me. You might. If you live in Seattle, we probably atleast have friends in common. If you live in Seattle, you know that Mental Health is a strong subject here, and is taken seriously by the industries that live here to serve us. Here's what you might not know: If you act too “normal”, you can be denied care. Sounds unreal, but I've got nearly a lifetime’s worth of experience to prove it.

I'm defective. I'm damaged. I've got a long laundry list of diagnoses and a longer list of symptoms that color (putting it lightly) my everyday existence. I wake up in physical, mental and emotional pain every day. Every single day, as far back as I can remember...as far back as early childhood.

You might ask if I've “done the work”, and yes – I've not only done the work...but, I've done it so well, along with more behavior modification coaching than most people can stand, that I can talk about almost anything with a cool, detached demeanor. Intellectually. Thoughtfully. Open. Seemingly unaffected. I don't cry. I shouldn't say that...it's not entirely true. But, it's rare, and largely unseen and unheard. I get better at not crying everyday. Not from trying, but from simply being out of practice.  It takes almost nothing to get me close. Teary. A puppy on the ASPCA commercial. Anything heartfelt anywhere. I'm an open wound. I just can't get all the way there.

I force myself out of the house, because I'm always just a few minutes of sitting down away from a depressive spiral that could last all day, or three days. My manic cycles are strong and obvious. To me.

When doctors, therapists, counselors, etc...listen to my words, they conclude the same things over and over as it's been for years – my long laundry list of diagnoses. When they look for the signs, they're disappointed. And confused. And then they wonder what they're seeing. And what they're NOT seeing. And in the meantime, I'm not getting the care that I need.

Imagine not being taken seriously at all.

There's no x-ray to be taken, no bloodtest that will serve as proof. Every clinician has their own education and experience, both professional and personal, to use as a guide for their diagnostic conclusions. They can easily differ from person to person. But...how do you PROVE to someone that you're experiencing something that they can't detect? I'm not of the “squeaky wheel” personality type anyways, so to put on some fucking song and dance to play up my challenges goes against all I am as a person.

And, despite all this inner turmoil...if you saw me in person, you might never know that I'm experiencing what they now call “alternate realities”, unmedicated no less.

What can we do?
Well, the first thing we CAN'T do is blame them.

People have been faking all kinds of ailments since disability became a way to make a living. Being skeptical comes with that vetting process. In the mental health arena, you have the additional liability of misprescribing drugs. Even at its easiest and best, that can be a tough process to finetune the benefits and side-effects to make treatment manageable along with living a productive life. And, of course, there's those that suffer with hypochondria and similar disorders that create issues that may not exist medically.

So, again...what is there to be done?

All I can think of is to explain my experiences and circumstances and try to communicate with the provider my concerns as someone that may not exhibit symptoms in a way that they're used to seeing.
Beyond that...is luck.

Any ideas?

Yours truly,

In Pain and Unmedicated.

 

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Turn Signals and Maps
By TAIC, December 7th, 2017

We've all been there - behind a driver who makes an abrupt lane change. They may have been planning that course and course of action the whole trip, we have no way of knowing. It makes us slam on our brakes. It makes us call them names. It makes us question their intentions. We fear for our safety and theirs. And, after yelling, “Hey, asshole – use your fucking turn signals!” - we think about how much better the whole situation could have been if only they'd use those little blinky things, the indicator and warning of what was to come next.

Turn indicators are nothing new, and most driving tests include their usage because they're not optional safety equipment – they're standard equipment. All motorized vehicles have them for public road use.
Why? Because we value safety, even if you're questioning that concept as you drive away from being brake-checked by a fucking college kid with his headphones on and his head up his ass.

So, now consider this: What if the mental health world had the equivalent of turn signals?

If crisis is the moment of collision, then a turn signal showing status and intent would be extremely useful. There isn't one of course...but there IS a map to follow, showing where the turns are.

Welcome to big, wide world of Crisis Prevention Methods.

First, there's WRAP - Wellness Recovery Action Plan.
That's a popular program for which many Peers obtain certification in order to facilitate workshops and classes. It's the most well-known and is a copywritten and trademarked course, based on a book published by the Copeland Institute. I think it's a great program, but for our purposes here, we're discussing anything at all like it – because, in real life, any Crisis Prevention Method is valuable. What CPM you use doesn't matter, as long as you actually use it. Many others are based on that ubiquitous WRAP methodology, but offered for free. I personally believe in supporting those that support us, so I bought the book...and took the classes. For the cost of a cheap lunch, you can save your life or that of someone close to you. Whatever, cheapskate. Just get it, free or paid, doesn't matter. Here's the brief version of how it all works:

Plan the Trip.

You're gonna take the trip. You're already on the path. Your destination is The Future, right? You've seen the billboards and heard the commercials and you thought, “Hey! That kinda sounds like fun!” and wanted to visit there. Besides, going to Florida again to see your Aunt Shirley is real drag, and the house smells a little funny in that way you can't really describe accurately. Somewhere on the continuum between ass and burnt toast. That, and because you want to be around a little while longer, since the life you've been working towards is starting to come to fruition.

Like any planned trip, you look at the various ways of getting there, and where the attractions are, in relation to your destination. Side trips, like stopping in for a drink at the Don't You Remember What Happened Last Time bar, where they always know your name – even after you've long forgotten theirs...or going to see the games and fun (or lack thereof) at the Depressive Carnival and taking a ride on the Downward Spiral. Just remember that while sitting in that familiar seat, the bar comes down to lock you in, but your safety is never a sure thing. Ever.

The Map.

The CPMs all do essentially two things: make you think about what you know about yourself, and use that knowledge to keep you true to your path. When you start signaling that you are headed for a side trip, you can come back to the map and read, in your own words, what it takes for you to get back to the trip and onward to your destination...which is the rest of your life.

I wasn't gonna get too heavy into explaining these programs, because I want you to research them and discover for yourself what a fucking brilliant idea they are – simple to create, easy to change, and we're ultimately listening to ourselves and not some other asshole with priceless advice, wasting our time with ideas that may or may not work. No, instead, we're getting the info directly from the author of the manual on us, and not on how we once were or have been, but how we are now.

The punchline is this:
You see symptoms that things aren't going right. They're mild at first, and then get more severe.  We know what this looks like and how this feels....so, we counter this at the earliest stage possible with elements and actions that get us back on our paths. All of this to avoid going into crisis, because we know that's when we often do irreparable damage to ourselves and the people we care about most.
Fucking genius, right? You wish you had thought of it...but you didn't. Thankfully, they did - and the guides are out there to get you started on the right track.

Turn signals and maps, bitches...turn signals and maps.

Now go do your research and put a Crisis Prevention Method in place, and urge everyone you know and love to do the same. You might save a life...maybe even your own.

 

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The Good, The Bad...and those that are sometimes seen as both.
By TAIC

In the mental health community, we see all kinds of resources pop up and naturally question their integrity. Why? Because so many of us have been burned in the past by doctors and other practitioners, and we've seen the greed of large corporations that would rather make us lifelong consumers of their pharmacological wares than to truly treat or cure us. Here's a slightly different perspective.

I'm just as skeptical as you are. I've been burned by professionals that I could only assume receive a kickback from drug manufacturers. I've been given false hope by people claiming to have insight, methods, or treatments that “will definitely work”... So, please read what's below with that in mind. I'm on your side. But, being on your side means giving you resources and helping out where I can. That also means being objective when my previous experience wants to make a judgment about what's on the surface.

What started the recent need to write this was an email from an “outreach representative” from a website, asking to be listed as a resource on our magazine's link page. I'm happy to add to that page, because I think the more resources, the better. I said yes, and then got overwhelmed with doing other things. Living, trainings, meetings, and getting the first issue of the magazine in print. (Yay!)
What I didn't do was include the link. A couple weeks went by.

Then, I received the follow up email. It was nice, apologetic for bothering me, and curious about the state of our agreement. I said I'd include it on the next update, and would get back to her to confirm.
Then...I followed the link I was sent – an article about suicide prevention.

Firstly, you may not agree with me, but I'm a little tired of suicide prevention being the poster cause for mental illness. And, now that gun violence is being mentioned as a symptom of mental illness, there's that to contend with. Yes, both of these things are tragic. No question. They need to be addressed and should be addressed at every opportunity. But, they're still extreme acts and not representative of the lives that millions of people living with mental health challenges really look like.

My focus is on the bell curve. I wanna strike that thing with a ten-ton mallet and hear that fucker ring forever at deafening volume. I see the outliers. I own a TV. I have a couple friends on the interweb book of faces. I see the news and the memes and the bumpersticker statements that condemn and justify every thought, view, and belief under the sun and moon. I know that “crazy” presents differently for everyone, and the examples that make the news are the extreme. And, then there's the rest of us.

I'm saying all of that to say...the link that she sent was targeted marketing.
I'd be an asshole to not post a link to an article about suicide prevention on a site focused on these types of challenges, right? Maybe.

So, I scoured the site. Of course, I did. I wanted to understand who I was getting into business-bed with, and what I was promoting. What did I find? A lot of semi-interesting articles about mental health, addiction, and co-occurring disorders....two phone numbers...and all of this provided by a company that runs treatment centers. I thought that was kinda fishy...

I looked up the parent company. They have a handful of treatment centers spread all throughout the country. It's no secret that many treatment places are for-profit. Some are good, some are shams, and it's sometimes difficult to tell one from the other. No judgment on this chain – I didn't find anything to support a review of any kind, good or bad...and that was also fishy...but didn't really matter to me.

The two numbers presented are very different – different toll-free exchanges, one presented as a “get your recovery started now, ask us how” kind of thing, and the other was presented as a 24/7 helpline.
I googled the helpline...and found it on a couple internet hotline repositories. I figured it was possibly new, and didn't think much of it. I called the other number.

The guy who answered struggled with my questions. I asked if they steer all callers to their own facilities, if the hotline number was in fact a standard talk-based hotline, and a few others to suss out legitimacy. I was polite and respectful and was simply asking for information. He hung up on me without really answering anything.

I thought “fuck that”, and called back. I wasn't leaving without some information. As the line rang, I dreampt of the excruciating, finger-pointing email I was gonna send this “outreach rep” when I was met with the same response. I even thought that it was possible they wouldn't answer, since my number's unblocked and they could see it was the same caller. Technology is a double-edged sword and protects and hurts in equal measure. I thought it was possible that my brief “poking the bear” could've shit-listed me, and I'd have to turn away like a disgruntled customer, without any satisfaction.

I was wrong.

The call was answered by a woman who was in a good mood and eager to help me discover my path to recovery. Then I told her the whole story. Who I was, and why I was calling and what information I wanted – asking the same questions that lead to the previous hangup.
This is what I found out:

That's not a hotline. Both numbers go to the same place. I thought that was pretty misleading...

There is no talk-therapy/comfort/help in the traditional hotline sense.
They head straight to getting treatment for the caller.

When someone is seeking resources, they first check to see if they can refer the caller to their own treatment centers, but...if not, they are prepared to offer them information on resources that will better suit them, based on need, financial situation, location, etc... I thanked the rep, and hung up. And thought about what just happened.

So, they DO help people find treatment beyond the scope of what they offer...
They do have a website filled with articles and information of varying interest and depth, but none that I saw that were distasteful or provided bad information. I looked over a few more articles and thought about whether anyone could benefit from them. I decided they could. Then I thought about how this was going to be received by you....and was reminded of the NAMI conundrum.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is national in scope and considers themselves a grass-roots organization. They're a force here in the PacNW, and have proponents for and against them with varying impressions of whether they are good for our community or not. Here's the debate: They apparently have funding provided by “big pharma” which is seen as against the community rules of decency and integrity and truth. I disagree...and here's why...

NAMI offers lots (lots!) of programming and support for our community. I have never heard from even one person that anyone or any event that was NAMI-related was guilty of advertising or promoting the use of pharmaceuticals of any type or brand. Only an active list of support groups and events that feature information and culture that is pro-recovery. But, what do I know? Maybe there's a past here that created a big dark cloud that still exists in the minds of some. What I've seen is the opposite.

That raises the question...

If the devil sticks his hand up a cherub's ass and operates it like a puppet, but still maintains the actions and demeanor of the cherub...is it the devil or the cherub you're doing business with, if you're benefiting from the relationship?

I don't have that answer. What I do know is this:

Our community is super-critical, and seeks integrity. I support that.
I also support a larger view.

We often receive services without asking for the history and financial dealings of the organization to be presented to us for our scrutiny and decision-making. We criticize the government, but are glad for paved roads and food stamps. Our parents spanked us, but also taught us courage and values and life skills. (Okay, that last one might've been a grey area...I get that.) What I'm saying is that we often look at someone's good side and negate their bad side to some degree, and I'm not even proposing you do that in this case. I'm just asking you to see the value for what is, and not jump to demonize the organizations that could provide benefit to our community.

Do your research and see who and what you're dealing with.
Question it all.
Understand it for what it is.
Identify the pitfalls and the benefits.
Take responsibility for your own actions and decisions.

You NOT doing your research or asking pertinent questions of providers does NOT constitute trickery and deceit on their part – it constitutes negligence on your part! If you feel unequipped, please seek out someone to help you with this, personal or professional.

And, it's with that spirit that the links page will be updated.
It's meant to be a resource for our community, but nobody can determine suitability or benefit for you.
(Or identifying exactly where the Devil's hand is...)

With love, care, respect, and all the good things...TAIC.

 

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