On this birthday morning in my bedroom in San Francisco with the sun shining in so strong on my face I need to duck out of it, after a day of the strongest winds, still in my layered pajamas, and after many prayers, some tears roll down my face. I have no idea what I’m about to write, but it’s like that sometimes. I’m glad I’m crying, that something can make me cry and I don’t know how to put words to what it is. This has been one of the strangest years of my life; I’ve been a stranger in a strange land over and over. Over and over being stripped of comforts and grounds, to be blessed with new ones.
The loss of friends and family and colleagues and the finding of new ones has happened more times than I care to count. Home after home after home after home. The coldest Winter of daily snow in Brooklyn in February. A hot summer like Spring in Portland Oregon in May. A half a year of sunny weatherlessness in San Francisco. Friends lost, reconnected with, composted, recycled. People moving through my life like a stream or cyclone, ocean waves crashing and a still quiet pond.
This morning I woke up and gave thanks for everything I have, out loud, to whoever God is, and I asked them that everyone have at least what I have. At least this much of everything: friendship, love, health, good food, kindness, family, money, home, because right now I have all of these things to varying degrees. I’m not extremely close with most of my family, I often feel lonely, I worry about money, my health is not perfect, I will need to find a new home soon, yet again, but right now I have what I need , and far more than many.
Our world is so very full of lonely people, severely unhealthy people, and those who have no family or friends, some without a home that feels good, or without a home at all and most without access to or knowledge of good real food. For these folks, the “safety net” is a mental health care system that has abundant drugs on offer with the promise of making lives happier and easier somehow.
I listened to these folks one after another after another working on a warm line this year for 40 hours a week. I heard their stories about their lives and often heard along with it a diagnosis and medication as a side note, such as, “and I’m bipolar and I take Lamictal.”
I feel hopeful only because the sun shines on my face, warming an otherwise cold December morning, and because writing this is curing my own down in the dump lonely feelings, which can come even when we have everything.
I can’t “have everything” if others out there “have nothing.” I can’t dream of a future for myself without wanting healing for every being on earth, and without crying at the impossibility this strikes me with. No one “has everything” if they don’t sit down some mornings and cry at how disconnected our world is for so many.
The sadness in me salutes the sadness in you. We are real, we care, we are NOT broken machines that need chemicals to run more efficiently, to be faster on the assembly line. We may as well give up now-and by give up I mean give up the idea we are isolated entities with some kind of objective mental health status. We’re a bit more like a stroke in a huge, messy, sometimes beautiful painting, inter-meshed with trillions of other strokes of life, never as alone as we may think.
As a birthday gift, please consider donating $5 to our Indiegogo book fund campaign where we are raising funds to write a book called Breaking Free From Psychiatric Drugs, which I hope will help inspire and liberate those who have been told their sadness, disconnection and lack of access to resources is an illness that required lifelong medication.