Okay, so I could have been out partying. But no, I have promised that I will not shut up when it comes to stigma, hatred, and prejudice. It’s one thing when it happens to me. But when I see it happening to others, I refuse to sit on my butt and do nothing.
As a writer, it’s my OBLIGATION to do something. It’s my duty to write. No, I have signed no papers, no oath saying, “I will write. I will not shut up.” Doctors sign the Hippocratic Oath saying they will be good doctors. I have an oath in my heart saying, “I will not shut up.”
My pen is powerful. Even on New Year’s Eve when the rest of the world is out partying and drinking. Oh boy yes it is.
So I wrote a letter and I’m positive it went to the right authority. I received a bounceback saying the person was not in the office due to the holiday and would respond January 2nd, so I know my e-mail arrived.
Are you wondering what I am talking about? And why I took action New Year’s Eve, of all times? Yesterday I received in my e-mail a newsletter, an actual statement sent out publicly to hundreds of people stating that this particular community organization was not going to be welcoming to folks who were mentally ill. No, not in those words. But what I have been seeing over time was a whole string of incidents within that organization that added up very clearly to EXCLUSION of those labeled mentally ill. The newsletter…it was now too much and I was not going to tolerate this.
Tuning out or dropping out…these were no longer options. Remaining silent was no longer an option. I’m sure not going to take drugs all day and live my life in a cloud of smoke, which is what many do once they have been turned away. Turning the other cheek was something I did in the past and I no longer do. I’m not going to sit around praying that God forgives people for doing these terrible things so that I can live with their deeds. Hell, no! I’d much rather take action and DO SOMETHING to stop it! Why sit around praying or saying “Om” and doing nothing all day, thereby allowing discrimination to continue and doing nothing to stop it?
Sure, I’d seen stuff happen. I saw others being excluded. I heard statements made publicly. Not outright statements…no one is going to say in the exact words, “No mentally ill people allowed.” Of course they won’t cuz that’s darned stupid…it’s 2013 and everyday people won’t stand for what’s obviously not right. But when exclusion is subtle, it works. Those that aren’t wanted get quietly shut out.
I myself was among the unwanted. I was excluded. I knew there were others, but I also knew that I needed to be tactful and there was a time and place for everything. I told myself I would quietly walk out and not say anything. Not yet. But when I saw that a public written statement had been made, this was too much.
I looked online at what policies existed within the organization. There are some. I asked myself if I should communicate with others I know about in the organization that I know have a “diagnosis,” and I told myself that since my relationships with these folks isn’t that strong, I won’t. It isn’t like I’m best buddies with these folks. We are scattered.
Funny, too, I made an attempt a while back to get those of us labeled “mentally ill” within the organization together and organize some sort of coalition…this was rapidly turned down by the leadership. No organizing. We with this dx didn’t have a voice…but my argument was that maybe we needed one. There were many that agreed…but this went nowhere. Excuses were made. Red tape cited. Apparently, now that we’ve gotten a direct offensive hit as of yesterday, I was right. I don’t have a mailing list or a way to communicate with those folks.
My pen is powerful. I didn’t write to just any ole person. I wrote to the top. A higher-up. I wrote an e-mail detailing what I saw and heard and felt in my heart. I wrote it in terms of my own individual experience and refrained from exaggeration or use of wild adjectives. The only speculation I did was quite reasonable. I explained my reasoning. Sometimes, when you aren’t in the room, you can only take a guess at what happened. You might be wrong. Yes, I acknowledge this and I know my claims might be denied. But hey, I think when something’s darned obvious and it’s been heard enough times and enough people have heard it, we all know what the patterns are.
You guys know how I am. I believe in speaking out but I cannot post the letter here as there are several individuals mentioned besides myself, and I believe the information is too sensitive involving those other people. If I can figure out how to post it leaving out the sensitive parts, I will.
I’m wondering if I should contact anyone. I’m sure wondering how others feel right now. Or maybe I should just sit tight.
My pen is mighty. I did something good, something to change the world yesterday. I hope my letter does what it intended to do, make a footprint on the world and wake people up at least. You don’t act with such hatred toward people like me. It’s not okay, and I refuse to stand by and watch it happen.