Got ‘Mad Pride’?

MadPrideLogoDesign1-300x279Got ‘Mad Pride‘?

A movement called ‘Mad Pride’ is sweeping the world.  Several news outlets, such as ABC News,  have been covering this incredible phenomenon of a world wide advocacy movement, involving grassroots organizations that openly support mental health awareness.  According to a report from ABC News, this movement is over 8,000 members strong.

ABC News and the blogosphere in general, you can make that 8,000 and one.  I, Lulu Stark, author of Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon and co-creator of A Canvas of the Minds fully support this movement.  This is exactly the type of movement that those of us cloaked in anonymity in the blogosphere have been attempting to develop over a period of years.  This is what A Canvas of the Minds was created for, to give a voice to the mental health community.  Now, it finally has a banner that we can become a worldwide collective under!

This is our time!

So what is ‘Mad Pride’?

Mad Pride is a terminology that celebrates a community of those labeled with mental health disorders.  It’s akin to Black Pride or Gay Pride in the sense that we are affirming our identities as people with mental health disorders.  We are asserting our rights under the law and advocating for awareness and acceptance, by standing up to discrimination and bullying.  It’s about challenging stereotypes and clarifying misconceptions in society about mental health.

A History of Cruelty and Injustice

Throughout history, society has stigmatized mental health disorders in a variety of ways.  Prior to the development of psychology, those with mental health disorders were often mocked, shamed, beaten, locked up, and / or executed.  Some were even accused to being witches, and were burned at the stake for crimes they did not commit.

Later in history, the affected were locked in attics or basements.  Sometimes, they were committed to insane asylums for their entire lives.  In those places, they were subjected to cruel, inhumane treatment.  They were strapped to beds, electrocuted, and lobotomized.

It has only been in recent years that those inhumane treatments were outlawed, and majority of the institutions were shut down.  However, there was no placement for the lifelong residents.  Most were cast out into the streets.  And with such a terrible stigma attached to them, they were unable to secure jobs and build new lives for themselves.  They were met with a cruel fate, because no one gave them a chance.

Popularized media has only added to the stigma.  Movies such as Psycho, Momento, The Silence of the Lambs, Single White Female, Fight Club, The Number 23, Fatal Attraction, Taxi Driver, and a variety of others depict people who experience mental health problems as violent criminals.  News media outlets were eager to report stories about violence and murder, perpetrated by “crazy people”, “psychos”, and “lunatics”.  And worse, public opinion pieces, such as the one written by Daniel Greenfield, entitled “America Doesn’t Need Gun Control, It Needs Lunatic Control”, imply that 50% of those suffering with “mental illness” are murderers and advocate that all the “lunatics” be imprisoned in institutions.

My message to you, Daniel Greenfield:  Institutions are unlawful imprisonment of innocent people who just happen to struggle with a disorder.

It has been through these media outlets that new kinds of discrimination and injustices were born. Even after psychology and psychiatry were recognized as legitimate medical practices, it has remained something that is rejected by those outside of the mental health community.

Why Pride?

We are survivors.

Some of us are trauma survivors. Some of us are substance abuse survivors.  But there is one thing we all have in common.  We are all survivors of the external and internal events that we have experienced.

We have endured ridicule.  We have been denied jobs.  We have been rejected by our peers and even our own families.  Many of us are oppressed by the isolation that hiding in the shadows creates.  We are met with opposition at every turn about the legitimacy of our mental health disorders and the symptoms we endure.  We continue on while constantly being disrespected and dismissed.

We are all survivors of our broken health system.  Many of us have suffered the awful consequences of misdiagnosis.  And some of us spent an overabundance of time needlessly suffering because we were too scared to be labeled with a disorder.  We have all played the game of medication roulette, and spent years being guinea pigs for new medications.  And worse, we all dealt with the physical, mental, and emotional consequences of inevitable side effects.  Some have been unfortunate victims of overmedicating by doctors that felt it necessary to “restrain” a person’s symptoms.

We have more than earned the right to be proud of who we are and all that we have gone through!

Mad Pride is about asserting our rights to be made uniquely by our illness. It’s about the social freedom to express ourselves in our own way, on our own terms.  Fitting society’s mould to escape persecution is exhausting and damaging.  I encourage all of us to break out, and claim our God given freedom!

I have the right to be me!

I am not my disorder, but it is a part of me.  I am moody.  I am temperamental and sometimes inpatient.  I am sensitive, and get my feelings hurt easily.  I feel very deeply.  I’m creative.  I think outside the box.  Sometimes, I’m hyperactive.  And sometimes, I’m gloomy.  I am the life of the party, but also the wet blanket.  I’m impulsive and adventurous.  But, I’m cautious and reserved.

I am a lot of things.  But I am me.

We are the order of disorder.  Get on board!


64 thoughts on “Got ‘Mad Pride’?

  1. I’m there, Lulu! Or rather, I’m HERE! You have me thinking about depictions of madness in literature: Heathcliff’s wife locked up in the attic; Boo Radley of To Kill a Mockingbird, afraid to venture out of his own house except at night, nearly lynched for befriending a child, tormented by the children of the town…we could, and should, write a scholarly paper about this!
    So now what do we do?

    • I’ve been sitting here all afternoon thinking the same thing! What now? Where does this all go from here?

      We could definitely write a paper! And why isn’t there movie about a beautiful woman, tormented by bipolar disorderr, who goes out and does wonderful things in the world?

      • I think there might be a movie or a TV show about a CIA agent who is bipolar and copes with it and keeps her job. I don’t own a TV but that’s what I’m told.

        • It’s come under some fire, I’ve heard. Apparently, her sister is a psychiatrist and provides her care. This is all so the character’s disorder can be kept on the down low. At the end of one season, the character ended up in the hospital when having some kind of episode. Personally, I don’t consider it to be a great example. Not yet anyway.

          I really don’t know. The woman may have stepped up, owned it, and wore it with pride. But until that all comes together, I think it’s a terrible portrayl on display for people outside the mental health community to see.

      • Hi, thought I would join in the conversation. I know a few bipolar gals that would fit the bill. And I agree, it would be nice to see a movie depicted of a more positive outlook on bipolar. I saw the most recent one, but it had a fella in it. Cannot recall the name of it.

        • Silver Linings Playbook? I haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen the commercials and I adore Jennifer Lawrence.

        • Yes, that was it, Silver Linings Playbook. I enjoyed it, at times it was a bit too real. But in many ways, it was a tip of the iceberg. I would not mind seeing it again.

          I think it was the first time seeing Jennifer Lawrence in a movie. I am not a huge movie goer.

        • Jennifer Lawrence played “Katniss” in “The Hunger Games”. For a diehard fan of the books, it was a major letdown. But, her performance was brilliant.

          I hear it’s about a man with bipolar disorder and a woman with OCD. I saw this one clip that I though was hilarious, and it hooked me. They were sitting in a diner, and she asked him, “Why did you order cereal?” He responded, “So you wouldn’t mistake this for a date.” To which she answered, “You know, it can still be a date if you order cereal.”

        • Hmm! I do not remember that part. But yes, it is funny.

        • “Don’t Call Me Crazy” is probably not what we want to give over. It’s a great portrayal of the realities of adolescent inpatient life, which I know far too well from my son’s difficult times. What I want to see is a portrait of the range of abilities and talents of people living with bipolar illness, who do not go on rampages or misbehave in public, but who struggle with their daily lives at home, raising children, having spouses who have their own struggles, trying to keep jobs through the ups and downs, dealing with medications, side effects, meltdowns, hospitalizations….in short, what we all go through. That’s what I’d like to see on the big screen. Now let’s get to work and write the screenplay.

        • I’m working on one, if only in my mind. My story is still unfolding of the littered dots of my life and how they are starting to make partial sense. I’ll be taking a stab at writing the book first; screenplay to follow. The first 5,000+ words have been written. And I believe Lulu has a jump on it as well if I recall correctly.

          Where does a person start? Is there a ‘Writing Screenplays for Dummies’ book? Personally, I really wish they had not called those book ‘for Dummies’, cause it bugs me, but you get the idea.

        • One good place to start is at NaNoWriMo. They have a screenplay writing event once or twice a year. I’ve done their novel writing challenge (50,000 words in 30 days) three times now and have most of two novels and a memoir well on their way. The memoir is now at 92,000 words and still going! Google them.

        • Thanks for the heads up. I will google some more.

        • I’m familiar with NaNoWriMo, and I’ve been wanting to do it for several years. I figured out the word count per day, and it’s a little steep for what I’m capable of in one sitting. It would have to be something that I did some serious prewriting for prior to the start.

        • I have had something going for like six years now. It only gets written in scenes when I’m particularly inspired. It’s been slow going these last few years. I’m still working out the early adulthood parts.

          I’d like to start with a gloss over of my childhood, and how I’m pretty convinced it was always like this in one way or another. With creative license of course. Nothing completely untrue, like any allegations of sexual abuse or things of that nature. But, a little embellishment doesn’t hurt.

          I don’t know how to go about writing my turnaround, because it happened so slowly. I guess I’ll have to pin down key points, but that’s going to take some research back into old journals.

        • LOL! I’m still waiting for the self-made woman part; one day, but in reality, I would have to share the stage with God. I’m hearing him say, “Move over gal, we’re not done yet!”

          I think I may have asked you some time ago, but have you ever read any of Francine Rivers’ books? I do not read a great deal so have not been exposed to a great number of authors. A few of her books, could read my life, although none that I read spoke of mental health issues. There might be in some of them. The few of Karen Kingsbury books have been quite good as well. I want to try, argh, to read more to get an idea of pulling novels together. Mine would be termed a biographical novel.

          I have enjoyed the comments from everyone and have given me food for fodder. I would love to take part in some of these strongly suggested actvities, but the reality is, technologically, I am challenged. 🙂 It has not been that way always.

          There is a big black box beneneath my laptop currently being used as a prop for said technology being used to type this reply. The said box has large letters in the top left corner ‘HP’. This box that possesses a printer that could be quite valuable to help ease the administrative side of my life remains cloaked due to the overwhelming sense of ‘can’t deal with details, I want to run from the frustration of triggers, and, and,… well, a toss of just shear procastination I guess’.

          And I’m on the run again.

        • I think it would probably be pretty cool to have short stories from maybe like five women. It would be a small collection, like a little hook for each author. Kind of like the “Chicken Soup” series, but for mental health. But, it would serve as a good hook for each author. Someone picks it up and sees the other authors work by association.

          I really don’t get a chance to read much anymore. I would really like to look them over.

          I couldn’t make mine autobiographical. I would have to wait about fifteen years for some people to, um, die off. And even that probably isn’t enough time. I would have to do it Mark Twain style.

          But, I could make it fictional. Everyone knows that fiction usually has a base in reality. There are some things I would have to downplay a little, just because I’d rather not cause hard feelings between people I’ve made amends to and myself. I’d probably have to put an unusual spin on some aspects of my teens especially. Either that, or I can just continue writing under my assumed name for the rest of my life…

        • You are way ahead of me on the planning. I had to laugh, “waiting for certain, um, people to die off”, And, I had never really thought about many books being rooted with a base in reality. I just think, well, that was a good book. On to my next ‘to do’ item.

          The idea of the Chicken Soup series would be wonderful. A gal I know ,a published author has had stories published for sure in a Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. It is similar to the Chicken Soup series. I just googled and Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul came close to it. And one for teens The Real Deal. Was just scanning the first chapter preview. Interesting.

          Just checked with my mom and she does not have these. Which quite frrankly surprises me.

        • It doesn’t surprise me that my mom doesn’t either. Ha!

        • I just received a call from CAMH in Toronto to take part in their women’s program. Been trying to get into it for awhile. A bed opened up for tomorrow so will be off the computer for possibly the next four weeks or maybe longer.

          Journally it might be good, but no technology permitted, and no cell phones either so back to hand writing. Yikes! Take care and will catch up upon my return. There is much to finish up to get there.

          Cheerio all!

        • I’m so happy for you! I’ll miss you sooo much! Good luck, and write all about it. You can post when you get back. I’m looking forward to reading.

        • Quite frankly, I am rather scared. Previous hospital admissions have not always gone well, and am afraid of repeats, but I need to get past where I am at and am convinced they can help. I need to understand my past and how it has shaped who I am today, tease out this that or whatever, get a clear diagnosis if all this is trauma related, bipolar, brain injury, etc.

          They are huge into education, and have been taking groups here, but my brain is blowing out all the time. So yeah, I want to run again at this thing called life and live it to the fullest, to figure out who God made me to be and all that jazz. I like some of the intensity of being me, Agh! Later. The clock is ticking.

        • I think it’s really brave of you to want to face this head on. You’re dedicating a part of your life to intensely work on you. These great strides toward wellness are commendable.

          Good luck! I hope this can be your catalyst for change.

        • Well, we all know what it’s like to be young women with this disorder. I know we have all made some less than fantastic choices that had really terrible consequences. But, in the end, we survived and really became self-made women.

          My husband is actually a fantastic editor, so that would probably help.

  2. Where do I sign up?

  3. Thank you for this powerful and inspirational post. I have a son with OCD and the same can be said for that condition. Keep up the great work!

    • I’m so happy that you think so. Mad Pride isn’t exclusive to bipolar disorder, although I do relate the two. It’s just my own personal experience. But, I’d encourage anyone with any mental health disorder to have “Mad Pride”. It’s for all of us that have suffered resulting from the faulty health system and societies negative attitudes that create such a horrible stigma.

      I wish all of the best to you and your son!

  4. It’s big in the UK as well, a recent 3 part documentary time show called “Don’t call me crazy” was recently shown which was interviews and showing daily life in an adolescent inpatient facility. Now Graham over at The Bipolar place ( mentioned a documentary called Diaries of a broken mind. He has links to youtube videos of Don’t call me crazy as well as the first episode of broken minds.

    • Unfortunately, it’s not as big in the US. But, we’re pretty much always the last ones to embrace any social change. It’s sad really, because we consider ourselves to be leaders in this world. Puh.

  5. Reblogged this on Mm172001's Blog and commented:
    I have mixed feelings about participating in Mad Pride other than as a somewhat anonymous blogger. The stigma is still there and not only can it limit your opportunities if you are sensitive as I am, they get you thinking and sometimes believing horrible things about yourself. I applaud the people strong enough to be public advocates for mad pride, I’m just not there yet personally. I feel the same way towards gay pride as well.

    • I agree with you in a lot of ways. It would be so difficult for me to kind of “step out of the wardrobe” so to speak (instead of “out of the closet. Kind of Narnia thing). I would really be putting myself in some serious danger of certain repercussions due to the ongoing social stigma.

      What about jobs opportunities and career? I live in a small town, so if anyone saw it, I would definitely become the topic of conversation. What would Beast’s teachers think? Would I become a target and have child services mess around in my life? And what about my husband’s career? Would he be pitied? Would he start being excluded from things?

      I don’t know. I’ve discussed this very lightly with him lately, and he doesn’t seem to be too for it. I decided that I would like to get my feet firmly planted before I out myself.

      But, here’s something. My face, my real face, exists on this site and “Lulu’s” Facebook. Lulu’s Facebook is public. It even comes up on the friend suggestions on my real Facebook. I’m reality, I’m hiding in plain sight!

      All I have to do is stick my real name on it. And I know once that link is made, it can never be severed. But, I know at some point, I’m going to have to do it. I want to be groundbreaking. It’s something I’m so passionate about. So, soon, at any cost to myself, I’m going to make that link.

      • I worked in childcare and was hospitalized multiple times during my couple years working there, eventually I was forced to tell my boss why. I just said mental illness, I don’t know what he would think of if I said I have issues with self-harm and voices. I am sure some of the parents of the children would not like a person with mental illness taking care of their child, no matter the illness. I don’t have kids of my own but I do relate to your fear of CPS or being judged on your parenting abilities because of an illness.

        My blog has my real picture on it (in a couple random posts. thought I have over 1300 posts) and uses my real first name. I use my gravatar name that is connected to a personal e-mail I have had since high school; people could connect the dots if they were determined to. I do not link it to my personal face book or have a facebook for the blog.

        I have friends who know I have “issues” but only one or two know the true extent. My family doesn’t even know the reality of my issues and I live with them. I also think certain family members are some what ashamed of my illness and for a long time considered it just “phase.”

        One of my biggest issues is people being judgmental, with my illnesses (BPD and schizoaffective) there are A LOT of negative stereotypes many of which I do not meet. I would hate to have a person think something of me just because “that is what those people are like.” I may hear voices, but I’m not violent or dangerous. I used to self harm but not for attention. I am able to semi function a lot better than most people with my diagnosis.

        I also would like to eventually be an advocate for mental illness but with my current state of sensitivity and fears about judgment, I am not strong enough to do so right now. There would be a lot of explaining, convincing and proving to do and I don’t have the energy or confidence at this point in my life.

        • You are a lot braver than me by telling your boss. Your medical disorders are none of their business. It’s protected under the law. When employers have inquired as to why I had so many doctors appointments, I always told them that I have a lifelong disorder that requires regular checkups. They don’t need to know it’s not physical. And the only way they would guess that it isn’t is if they were familiar with the world of mental health.

          When I was first diagnosed, I made the mistake of telling my boss. I was only trying to explain to her that while I was in the process of having medication adjustments, I would likely have good days and bad days. It got around, although under law it is confidential information between boss and employee. Everyone talked. Some people pitied me. Other people targeted me. And I was often passed over for additional hours and responsibilities, because the management team “didn’t want to put any additional stress” on me.

          I learned my lesson. The general public is not educated enough to understand or handle it appropriately.

          Although there is a lot of talk equating people with bipolar disorder to murderers, BPD and schizophrenia get the worst of it in the media. Movies, books, articles, and on and on. The worst thing I ever saw regarding BPD was an article written about “How to Date a woman with BPD”. In short, it said don’t. And then it proceeded to give instructions on how to escape from the relationship with as little damage as possible.

          I don’t blame you for not being ready to come out. I feel much the same as you. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to face that battle. And I know once I’m out, I’m out. There is no going back in. I will have created a lifelong battle against stigma and ignorance.

          Is that something I can take on right now? Not with my life being unstable. Once I can get settled into a job and establish connections with major organizations, I’ll do it. But believe me, I work everyday toward that goal.

        • With regards to my boss I was off work for a week, with no notice after being inpatient. It’s hard to explain 5 days off with no notice. He’s very understanding but when I first started working there I would be vague about mental health issues since I was afraid of being “let go” especially for the first 3 months on probation. I also had a couple coworkers who knew, I told them the things they knew not the boss, and I got missed reactions. Some supportive and others condescending.

        • Oh, I get your situation. I worked in a pretty toxic atmosphere, so it was probably very different from your experience. The people I worked with were far less than professional. And the fear of being let go in those first 90 days is huge. I usually end working myself into the ground during that time.

          I’m glad there were people that were supportive for you. I had a long time friend that was also my co-worker, and she was really supportive. Her best friend in her younger years has bipolar disorder as well. Unfortunately, most of the other reactions were pretty negative.

          I’m pretty sure I have a new job coming up. And I’m not sure what I am going to end up telling them. It seems like a wonderful atmosphere, but I know right off the bat that I’m up for a promotion when the position becomes available. I’m torn.

        • I had an okay environment when my boss was there. He had brain tumor, had brain surgery and was out on leave for about a year– and things were hell then. Toxic doesn’t begin to cover it.

          Upper management didn’t like me missing so much work and I’m not sure what they knew but were always curt and disrespectful to me. At times trying to get me to quit by threatening transfers and such.

          This was my first and only job so I was very naive in coworker gossip and such. There were only 5 staff at our center, I had one that asked me every day “Are you OKAY” in a very condescending way; she didn’t care but just wanted to get my riled up. I had other coworkers ask if I was capable of working there and I’m sure some gossiped to others in the company since I know some people I for surely didn’t say anything to knew some information.

          I was lucky that I trusted my boss and he was supportive and also that no parents found out my condition.

        • I could never stand the politics of the workplace. Lately, whenever I enter a job, I attempt to make a connection with each co-worker, but still remain removed enough.

          People are so interested in talking about themselves. Most of the time, I take interest in their lives and prod them for more information. By the time they realize that they know nothing about me, it’s too late for them to make any attempts to stab me in the back. I already know everything about them, and I’ve conquered the social structure. I don’t gossip. But these people are well aware that I could if I wanted to.

          It’s manipulative, I know. But, if I want to be a player, I better know the game.

  6. I really think a few of us should do a Youtube series, just to start getting the word out that we are real, actual, NORMAL people who have certain specific challenges, just like people with visible disabilities.

  7. And here you have found what I am all about! My mental health research group presented at last years Mad Pride Toronto and this year I was finally able to attend an event and get myself a Mad Pride tshirt too! It’s amazing to sit with such amazing people who really understand who you are and want to change the mental health system for the better!

  8. This is a really good post. If anything gets up off the ground & people agree to do video posts, I’d be happy to join in.

    • OK guys, let’s brainstorm this one. There’s a web thing called Go To Meeting that might have the right tools for doing a group presentation; or if anyone has video editing skills to make a short movie we could do a Youtube.

    • I’d be glad to count you in. It’s possible that sometime this week, I’ll put some feelers out there to see if anyone was interested in doing a video short about their disorder and daily life.

      • That’s a great idea. We could do a montage, especially if your husband would be into editing it. I’m going to be in Israel for the next two months, so if we each did our own vignette that would simplify things because of the time difference (+7 from EST). I wonder if we could do something like, each do a vignette, then maybe react to each others’ vignettes, which would be more like a group thing…or would that get too out of hand?

        • What do you think? At first, I was thinking mini-series. One episode per person. But, we could do it reality show style. It could follow us over a period of time. Or, we could do it documentary style where we each weigh in on a topic.

  9. Reblogged this on Bipolar For Life and commented:
    The amazing Lulu Stark’s thoughts on the “Mad Pride” movement, which seeks to educate the world regarding mental health issues, and essentially to normalize “mental illness” and bring it out from behind the cloak of fear and misinformation that currently surrounds it. I am fully in agreement with Mad Pride. I acknowledge that it is not easy and at times crashingly painful to live with a mental illness, but I am proud of who I am and proud to be part of the Mad Pride movement. Read Lulu’s marvelous inspiring piece!

    • I read your post (as you must have seen), and it is just beautiful, and kind of sad at the same time. I’ve been there. As bad as our disorders make us feel sometimes, we don’t need to let others make us feel worse. I intend to stand up, provide educational resources, and wellness articles to hopefully combat the wealth of misinformation that appears on the internet.

      • I’m lucky, in that, serotonin does it for me. But the dark places are not ones to be forgotten easily. Totally misunderstood by so many. Although, I am finding that when I speak of it more people are prepared to ‘own up’ to it, which is sad. Great that you are doing so much to redress the balance. Each of us can do something in our ways.x

  10. If you’re 8,001 then I’m 8,002. I know everyone has their own path, but I’m more than happy to stick my hand out there and say “Yoo Hoo, I have mental health problems!” I think the fact that I had to come out as a gay man many years ago, made it easier to come out of the mental health closet. In fact, I was the guest speaker at our church yesterday (our minister is on vacation) and my sermon was about mental health and my own personal story. A lot of people left the church in tears so I know I hit home for a lot of them. Thank you for sharing about Mad Pride.

    • Thanks! I joked that having Mad Pride is “coming out of the wardrobe” (a little Narnia reference, LOL)! I know that so much prejudice still exists in society toward the gay community. You are such a brave man for being so open. And you really set an example for others. Coming out comes with a lot of risks. But, if we (the MH community at large) ever expect any respect, then we have to be bold enough to go out there and demand it. Hiding only serves to prove that all of the stereotypes are right, and that we are deserving of shame.

      I plan on coming out, but I need a little advice on how to go about doing it. And maybe for the wizard to lend me a little more courage, you know?

  11. really interesting am definitely going look into this

    • It’s definitely a social movement to watch closely. I’m hoping that we can change social attitudes enough so that we can eliminate the discrimination. True, under the law mental health disorder is protected under the ADA, but who really enforces that?

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