New Freedom Center Support Group Facilitator

Submitted by admin on Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:29

Hello everyone! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be the new support group facilitator. As a FC organizer and previous member of support group, I know what a special community resource the support group is, as a safe place for emotional support and unique alternative to the mainstream mental health system; an invaluable source of updated information about psychiatric medications and alternative options available to people in extreme emotional states and/or dealing with current or past trauma; an opportunity to learn about and become involved in the exciting psychiatric rights community; and much more.

By way of introduction, I'm excited to be able to use my background in psychology, social justice education, social activism and my own experience in mental health as both consumer and counselor in taking on this role, following others' amazing work, including Will, Oryx, Vikki, Dave, Caty, Dan, Dick, Marc, Linda, Lisa, Chaya, Dianne, Aby, Mollie, and others who have stepped in when needed, all of whose shoes will be hard to fill. I see our support group not as "therapy" or a "political action group," but as a cooperative space for giving and receiving support on a level playing field, which is indirectly profoundly political. In working against institutional and internalized ableism by supporting members' rights to full informed consent (i.e. no forced "treatment"), self-determination, and choice and by refuting stereotypes of those with "mental illness" as dangerous, helpless, and unable to recover from painful situations, we are part of the movement for civil rights in mental health, paving the way for important personal, institutional and societal change.

I hope to get feedback (and help) as the new facilitator and am grateful to have this chance to do something so personally meaningful, while hopefully giving something back to Freedom Center, which has already given me so much -- from educating me about the psych rights movement; to introducing me to invaluable sources of information; and now encouraging me to take on this new role. From my observations, FC Support Group changes and remains the same, but is always shaped by who shows up on any given night and I look forward to being part of that, with support group "regulars" and new folks who show up, all contributing to the evenings' confidential discussions, by actively participating or through a quiet presence, whichever feels comfortable and helpful.

Thanks so much to everyone there last week for warmly and supportively welcoming me on my first (nervous) night of returning as facilitator to support group, a safe space where, unlike many other venues, we're all respected for who we are and where we are, on our own paths; where our experience and knowledge are respected, appreciated, valued, and shared instructively among us; and where, most importantly to me, we celebrate diversity and unlearn unhelpful, perhaps harmful previous messages, not about what's wrong with an ableist society, but about what's "wrong" with us. FC Support Group provides a safe place through which to gain insight about what happened to us that has led us to seek help and through mutual support, its a place to discover or rediscover what's "right" with us and how we can individually and as a group, change WHAT WE DECIDE needs changing, in ourselves and in society.
See you at support group,
p.s. OK, Will, I "put it on the web-site" -- are you happy now!?!