Growing up, society taught me that I should not disclose that I am an alcoholic or an addict; that my addiction is something I should be ashamed of. I heard this message every time someone described someone’s behavior to be that of a “crackhead,” every time someone talked about what a “drunk” someone was or called someone a “junkie,” and every time politicians on TV talked about the War on Drugs and promised every addict would be locked away in prisons for life.
I believed in this stigma for most of my life. I thought, as many people still do, that alcoholics were homeless people, living under bridges with nothing but a bottle in a paper bag. That drug addicts were criminals who only knew how to lie, cheat and steal. That is until I became one myself…
It’s because of this stigma that I refused to acknowledge I was…
Melinda is also the driving force behindSURVIVORS BLOG HERE, a collaborative of online mental health advocates who write and make art.
If you have questions about in joining the Survivors Blog, send a tweet to @SurvivorsBlog2.
When did you decide to start your blog?
I started my first blog, Defining Memories, in 2005 when my Granny had a stroke. Defining Memories was an outlet for the pain and frustration of caring for my grandmother.
Why did you name your blog the ‘Looking for the Light Blog’?
I wanted to find me. I have a psychiatric diagnosis, heart disease and for the last four years Chronic Lyme disease. To move beyond illness I decided to write about other topics. I am good at research and learning, so I started the ‘Looking for the Light’ blog.
Was the decision to be open about your history of abuse a difficult decision to make?
Writing about the trauma that caused my mental health problems is not painful. The response from other bloggers was amazing; I think sharing my worst moments might help someone else to hang on another day.
Do you see some of the stigma surrounding mental illness beginning to lift?
In 1941, John F. Kennedy’s sister Rosemary suffered from an agitated depression. The procedure used to control her outburst was a Prefrontal Lobotomy. The surgery went wrong. At the age of 23, Rosemary was institutionalized. Her father never acknowledged her mental illness; she was called retarded. Today the stigma continues. Too many people see the fiction in movies as the truth. I want to scream when someone refers to ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. People believe what their fed. I was scared of my first ECT treatment but not because a movie but because it was the first time. I have since had 22 ECT Treatments and can say each one was essential to my health. Am I going to cry why me, or blame or question God? No. I have to use the treatments that work and do my best.
Is there a political dimension to your blog?
The ‘Looking for the Light’ blog is about education and advocacy. I get angry when politicians make uninformed decision that hurt people.
What advice do you have for bloggers who write about mental illness and trauma?
Write about what you know and be comforting. Most of us are not professionals so don’t tell people what to do but guide them to good sources of information. The best way to help others is to work on yourself, and avoid platitudes. The Sun will come out but not every day.
Tell us a little about The Survivor’s Here.
The ‘Survivors Blog Here’ was born of frustration. I believe in consistent focus on ones mission. I decided to turn the Survivor’s Blog Here into a group effort and invited other mental health bloggers who seemed to share the sense of mission to the group.