Happy New School Year! It’s been quite a week.
I’m back at school, teaching at Seneca College. Ten hours a week – two classes each of two courses. One, I’ve never taught. The other one, I developed last winter, and continue developing.
If you have children or you’re a student yourself, you know how stressful these days can be, for teachers, students, parents, not to mention everyone working in education.
Students face major problems, trying to arrange their timetables, not to mention arranging any special accommodations they made need.
In the comments to my last post, a lively discussion played out about accommodation and how asking for it on the job in “the real world” too often leads to being let go.
It breaks my heart because, besides the obvious injustice, these stories speak of discrimination and prejudice and ignorance.
Employers desperately need help.
They need it more than people with diagnoses of mental illnesses – or madness.
Far too many people in powerful positions will accommodate someone with a physical illness or condition – I don’t like the word “dis-ability” – yet dismiss people with mental illnesses or “mental health issues,” or more accurately, madness.
I ask you: Who’s mad here? A well-qualified human being who experiences very real stresses and anxieties or depression at work, for good reason, and asks for a bit of accommodation? Or a boss, who gives this person a few days off, and then gives them the boot – under the guise that they’re redundant or their job is redundant, or some other madness.
One anonymous reader commented that he or she was utterly offended by the name of this blog, “Coming Out Crazy.”
In 1998, Chatelaine magazine invited me to write a major first person feature about my life with my mental illness. The headline was Coming Out Crazy. I happily approved it then because it felt right. It still feels right.
“I find (the title) offensive in the extreme," Anonymous wrote. "In no way does such a stance lessen fear or avoidance. Worse, it implies that everyone, even those with occasional attacks of anxiety or depression, is somehow in the same boat as an individual with paranoid delusions and a history of bizarre behaviour. It's not the case.”
The opposite is true. The name may shock people into thinking about what's called "crazy." Think about being open and up front about it. That's the idea. A little shock is a good thing.
You know what? We’re all capable of craziness and “bizarre behaviour.” If you think otherwise, I believe you’re kidding yourself.
A Couple of Announcements...
My friend Krista MacKinnon, a wonderful and creative woman, a survivor and a dedicated, tireless worker at Toronto’s Family Outreach & Response Program (FOR) is looking for “Recovery Stories” for the organization's website.
A few weeks ago, Krista reminded me that I had promised her mine, but I haven’t had time to write it.
“I only have one so far. It's lonely. Won't you help me populate my website with more and more stories of hope? Even solicit some stories from your readers? See, it's so lonely."
Share Your Recovery Story
So, why not your story of recovery at FOR? It’s an amazing agency that “supports and educates families and friends during the recovery process.” Krista and the other staff at FOR “build on the strengths and resilience of families to enhance their lives. FOR strives to work with a diverse group of families and especially with those who cannot readily access support.”
In the meantime, I’m going to work on my Recovery Story, Krista! Promise.
Finally, one of my favourite blogs is written by a fabulous woman, a gifted New Jersey writer named Susan. On her newly redesigned blog, If you’re going through hell keep going, besides her own colourful and impassioned writing, you’ll find many links to other blogs by writers exploring important, often touching, mental health issues. I am especially impressed with Susan's section called “Suicide is not painless.”
She has included “Coming Out Crazy” on her blogroll. Here's what Susan says about her choices: "Every one of those links have been picked by me, there is something in each and every blog that has moved me, touched me, touched my soul. I don't agree with everything on them, but I admire these writers and enjoy reading what they have to say and hope you will too."
Thank you, Susan! I’m thrilled and honoured to be on your site and in such good company.
I urge you to have a look. You’ll be amazed at the world Susan opens up for you.
School Daze! Take it easy! It's a journey of new beginnings!