In a personal story I am currently working on for publication in Mad in America, I am starting to realize the impact of the 2015 release of my award-winning memoir: Fighting for Freedom in America: Memoir of a “Schizophrenia” and Mainstream Cultural Delusions. Six year later I am still dealing with a sense of alienation that preoccupies me. I have stopped moving forward with my next book until I have built a large enough writer platform.
Writing and editing my memoir was a very good uplifting an enabled me to heal and provide authentic therapy for eight years. I got a book contract and thought I was set, but I had to break the contract. The two editors for the book company were erotica writers and would not let me keep my issues about sex abuse, racial injustice, and insisted that they write my greatest foe into my hero.
So, I published the book and started to go through the marketing process without direction. I didn’t know what Facebook was let alone a writer’s platform.
I gave books to local colleagues in the peer and HVN movement in the hopes of getting reviews and support. I felt I had accomplished something but it was hard to get feedback. I did start to win awards but instead of getting reviews from personal contacts with names that could help me market the book, I got silence. In fact, I felt attacked, shamed, or ignored in some instances. While I am grateful that a few people did write me reviews, I primarily felt the sting of the shame and rejection of the people who did not support me. It may be irrational, but I distanced myself from the crowds that harbored the people who were unresponsive. I sent a lot of books out and didn’t hear back.
When I finally had the time and money available to make it to an Alternatives Conference only two local people turned out to attend my presentation.
In 2010, when Bruce Springsteen finally published The Promise album which was unpublished songs from the most prolific period of his career, I first heard the words that would characterize my experience publishing a book.
“It’s like when the truth has been spoken and it don’t make no difference, something in your heart grows cold . . . “
So I was not selected for the HVN-USA Board. My work never got incorporated into flow of the international movement. One person I gave a book to admitted that she has been talking about how I should not be permitted to talk about my work with special messages in concert with HVN. I have seen her talk about others in anger and I have often imagined it has done me harm. She said was not going to say sorry for talking about my work in this manner.
I have been hearing the two other authors on the board of the HVN have their books promoted or highly regarded repeatedly in front of me. Finally, I have started to talk about my book in the face of those who praise these other books. But it has been painful when people from the movement have attacked me or sanctioned me in the training. I tend to feel there is talk going around and that it is not a coincidence. Additionally, I have received critical comments on Facebook from movement leaders.
Up Coming Interview with NAMI!
I first met my interviewer on Facebook when she responded to a blog that was critical of the way NAMI supports the medical model.We had a talk and she read my book and she is actually doing something to promote my book.
Thus on March 18th I will be participating in a Webinar during which she will interview me
3/18 – Fighting for Freedom in America: Memoir of a ‘Schizophrenia’ and Mainstream Cultural Delusions
If you’ve ever wondered how Holden Caulfield turned out, you’ll want to meet our guest Timothy Dreby (pen name Clyde Dee). Six years into a clinical career, anonymous mental health worker Clyde Dee starts work in a notorious housing project in Seattle. After six months of uncanny threats and coincidences, he decides to go off a low dose of antipsychotic medication. What follows is a hero’s journey of battling injustice, corruption, and stigma – in addition to his own mental illness. Come and meet the writer of this fearless, poignant, and funny book. Registration is required for this event, which is free and open to the public: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ry-Ox5JVTKqITT8Unp_YiQ
Personally, I am against mental health factions. I think the government uses factions to keep us fighting each other. Kind of like the fighting felt like it marginalized my book, infighting keeps us from creating a system that is truly ours.
I do not agree that I have a mental illness. In my journey, had I accepted that characterization of my struggles, I would have ended up in board and care homes in Montana rather than taking a Greyhound to California. I tend to characterize these struggles a being neurodivergent or genetic, spiritual gifts that don’t get worked with in constructive manners.
Regardless, I’ve met other NAMI leaders who have helped me understand new and powerful information and am not ready to throw everyone who uses their support under the bus because the drug companies fund them and maintain medical model myths.
If there aren’t moles in the system that open up opportunities, warehousing and homelessness will abound. We don’t need a class divide and politics in our mad movement, we need people who know how create culture that give mad real opportunities in all walks of life! I hope you will join me and see how it goes.