Greetings! Welcome to my new blog. I’ve daydreamed about starting a project of this nature for some time, but I’m finally ready to dig in.
Here’s the story: When I was growing up, I experienced significant mental health challenges. Self-injury, emotional outbursts, depression, anxiety. No one could figure out what was wrong with me for years. I tried therapy, support groups, pharmacology, and exercise, but nothing seemed to help. I always returned to feelings of overwhelming angst and despair. This all culminated in a suicide attempt and hospitalization in my early twenties, which was horrific and traumatizing.
I came out of there feeling damaged and worthless, but wanting to do everything in my power to ensure no one else would have to endure such dehumanizing treatment. I applied for social work school, which completely changed the course of my life. I learned to live (and think) independently. I surprised myself by coming off (and thriving without) medication. My peers and teachers showed me all the things that were right with me, and I graduated at the top of my class.
Now that I’m working in the field, things aren’t going according to plan. ***Spoiler alert*** Systems change is hard! My idealistic fantasies get brushed off by the apathy of “the way we’ve always done things.” It’s nearly impossible to remain hopeful and grounded when deficit-based is the norm. I try to balance the enthusiasm of my own lived experience with the learned clinical skills of my seasoned coworkers, but it’s never easy. I’ve been silenced and dismissed a lot. I’ve learned to live with disappointment. No one likes to be told they’re harming others when they’re only trying to help.
So, Tell Me About Despair will be a space in the cloud for my hopes and dreams of progressive mental health reform. It’ll be an opportunity to explore the uncomfortable two-hatted-ness of being both a survivor of psychiatry and a professional helper. There may be more than a few angry rants about our broken system. All I can promise is that my writing here will be completely honest and authentic. And, if all goes well, I may even inspire you to think critically about our flawed mental health system.
Two posts a month is all I’m agreeing to, but if we’re lucky the Muse will strike more frequently. Consider it a New Year’s resolution. Subscribe and share with anyone who might be interested!
P.S.: Thanks, Mary Oliver, for writing beautiful poems worth naming things after.