I think I actually messed the metaphor up here—I’ll have to ask my dad for some coaching on baseball methodology. Suffice it to say, I’m off to a shaky start with this first pitch—which did garner a thoughtful response, but was followed up shortly with a rejection. It’s actually a little embarrassing to re-read now; such is life though, and the process of building knowledge through mistake. But I did receive some very helpful feedback which was good; so I will just take what I learned from the experience, leave the rest, and try again tomorrow.
MENTAL-ILLNESS, BULLYING & KIDS—The Link, Explained.
By Marissa K. Varcho
March 3rd, 2014
This reflection is commonplace for me, having grown up in a society which justifies stigmatic discrimination against those who are “different”:
I’m sitting at Starbucks and this very nice lady just shared with me that a 17-year-old boy killed himself last night by sitting on the train tracks, waiting for a train to come and hit him. I don’t know why she felt so compelled as to share this with me—she said it’s so sad and it is. It’s so strange having been there though, knowing what it’s like to have no hope, to have life’s circumstances bear so heavily upon me as to crush my shoulders and break my spine and leave no room for my heart and no space for my soul to fluster.
I know what this is like. Not so to the point that I’ve actually killed myself, obviously, but I know what it’s like to want to kill myself. To chronically want to kill myself. It’s so sad that America’s youth, who should be so filled with wonder of the world and carefree and bursting with opportunity, to rather be killing themselves because the future is so very bleak. Something is very wrong with this picture.
I was 27 when I wrote that; I’m 32 now. I’m still “bipolar” with “A.D.D.” and “S.A.D.” and social-anxiety, and a past chalked full of the substance abuse issues which accompany this “disease”. I’m also an attorney licensed to practice law here in my state of Ohio now; and I’m working to improve this world so children who are “different” can grow up peacefully—no longer targets of stigmatic hatred, discriminatory exclusion and bullying. It’s a tough job—but somebody’s got to do it, and last October I decided it might as well be me. I was tired of living a life bounded by closet walls—the teeny, tiny box wherein our society puts the mentally-ill. I was having it, no more. And so I broke out.
Five-months later, I’ve successfully updated my resume with “mental-health consumer legislative-advocacy” experience; having worked with the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee to improve our pending mental-health legislation in my newfound, representative capacity as our state’s mental-health consumer voice. This was a significant victory for those of us who struggle with the label and sociological consequences of “serious mental-illness”—as it is not yet common within this American society, to be heard and taken seriously as a person already adjudged “mentally-ill”.
While working as a legislative-advocate with the Senate Civil Justice Committee, our dire need to revise the mental-health “educator” role became clear. Up until last October, here in Ohio, our mental-health consumer voice had been represented by an entity plagued with conflicting interests. As a consequence, the best-interests of our mentally-ill population were slipping through the cracks—falling by the wayside. Such is not the case though, anymore.
Last October, just before I decided to break out—I, in fact, was suicidal. Living the life prescribed for me by this American society, left me hopeless—my future, at best, bleak. And so I was left with only two options—suicide, or, boldness. I chose to act boldly—fearlessly to save our children; for hope is what they need, accompanied by a miracle. I found it within the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee—where my state leaders and I made a miracle. For, therein I found the strength to persist still, one day more, boldly navigating the terrain of the unknown—remembering always, reminding myself that the space between reality and dreams is merely a case of logistics. These things can be figured—most notably, when we listen to those in need, and collaborate to overcome our differences.