Sense of Empowerment…

Today was a LONG day. 9am- 9pm. It was worth it. The last vestigages of energy are leaving me as I write this. But ah, I feel a second wind. It was a beautiful day. I walked with coworkers before we went for the Forum this evening. We surveyed the beautiful blooms. Observed the lovely colors. I laughed so hard today at work, several times, that I cried. I was none too serious today. Oops. Who said I was supposed to be serious at work? The last few hours were spent at TACID, Tacoma Area Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities, listening to people speak at the State Council on Independent Living. (SCIL) It was the annual forum where everyone gets together and voices their concerns about what is going on for people with disabilities. Top issues this year- Yep, you guessed it. 1)TRANSPORTATION, or the terrible lack or incredible degrading quality thereof with Para-transit 2)Housing and Homelessness 3)Carepersons/families providing care and resources and the loss thereof as well 4)ADA information on curb cuts and continued WASH-DOT work in the State 5)Continued Advocacy for Disability Awareness in the State.

A resounding YES! is that we all wish to create a day in which we can march to our city centers to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) which is this July. I even added my two cents that I truly think that the people with mental illness need to continue to educate the people they live and work with about MH in general to help fight the stigma. With the recent shootings and events having taken place, the media only gives people enough of the stories to stigmatize mental illness, giving society the impression that people who truly need medical psychological help in the first place, having not received it, are now obviously going to become violent and hurt others. I am on my soap box now. The data is there people. MacArthur findings were published in the May issue of the prestigious Archives of General Psychiatry, under the title “Violence by People Discharged from Acute Psvchiatric Inpatient Facilities and by Others in the Same Neighborhoods.” The study does admit that drugs and alcohol increase violence in people with mental illness more than they do in the general population, but it concludes that, otherwise, these people are no more violent than anyone else. But people don’t know this. They group everyone with a mental illness together in one big loop. If you have bipolar disorder, and because her lawyer got her diagnosed as such, then you are obviously related to Mary Kay Laturno and are going to go after someone’s teenage son or daughter. What is the saying? An apple, is an apple, is an apple? But there are all sorts of different types of apples though you would still call them an apple. Different colors, different tastes.
A person may still have the same diagnosis as another, but it is their choices that makes them different and whether they choose to take their medications, and choose to do right or wrong. It is the media that chooses to focus on the 3% of those people who chose the dark side. But that does not mean all people with the diagnosis are going to make that choice or are predisposed to doing the same thing. Lord, I don’t do ANY substances, so perhaps that is why I am safe. But who knows what drove these other people to their paths? Homelessness, lack of a job because of their disability, that lost their insurance to get medications, that caused the cyclical problem of having become homeless and ended up in the situation they got in. I am not making excuses for peoples behavior or choices. But there is a fatal flaw in our system. People are on the streets because they can’t get the basic needs met so they can get off the streets- that is stability. Medically, emotionally, mentally, physically. 68% of homeless individuals in Pierce Co. have disabilities. What does that say to you? Who is getting screwed?
Okay- I am off my soap box now. I think I will go take my meds, my bath, and go to bed. Hugs to you all.

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