What is your survivor mission?

Pat Deegan who I’ve mentioned on this site before speaks in this video of her experience of being diagnosed with schizophrenia and recovering. She also talks about what all of us who have been labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis experience—the loss of identity as it’s handed over to us being our disease.

I met Pat Deegan once and listened to her speak at a conference when I was a social worker. I was heavily medicated at the time.

I listened to her all those years ago, only half-way functioning, half a sleep on drugs and never realized just how much her story applied to me. The drugs were killing me just as they had muted her life completely before she freed herself from them. Perhaps she planted some seeds that took root later in my life.

Oh wow! I had finished this post when I found another youtube video that’s really great too. Watch this too!

Her website is here. It’s also been in my sidebar a long time and will remain there.

There is also a great interview with her on Madness Radio, which I may have actually put on my blog already….not sure. Much more details about her story in this interview. It’s truly worth listening to and it’s about an hour long.

So much for being told “schizophrenics” can’t recover! We all can recover. We need to believe it though!


16 thoughts on “What is your survivor mission?

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  1. WOW and about the so-called experts being whacked. Know about that-got therapists/doctors in my family who are in left field.

    Pat said our trauma is part of our compassion.

    If only I’d known about all these others 10 years ago but I was too drugged to even know what was being done to me.

  2. katie,
    If you feel so inclined you might want to take a look at my about page sometime and my recovery stories page too.

    I truly believe we can be healthier without meds, but it takes discipline and commitment to new lifestyles…

    I’m so glad you find this a supportive place for you..

    you inspire me a lot too…your art is so stunning, I don’t know what to say most of the time when I look at it—your pieces are so beautiful there are no words.

  3. hi gianna,
    thank you for sharing the inspiring videos of pat deegan – i had never heard of her before. i felt more empowered after listening to her, all that she had gone through to get where she is. my psychiastrist is very good about listening to me and not pushing drugs on me but putting her recommendations out on the table. when i saw her a couple weeks ago, we discussed the adderall dose i’m taking which is making a big difference (positive) in my life as far as focus and attention. because i’m on an “up” swing right now (and what goes up must come down), and no longer or any antidepressants or mood stablizers, she talked to me about starting neurontin, one i haven’t tried -that it may be helpful for the depression. all i think about is how horrible i felt on previous drugs, and that i don’t want to try another. in the throws of a bad depression i may feel desperate and very differently, but for now, i’ll do what i can to try and help myself without additonal meds. the peer support i feel from your site and others makes all the difference, thank you…

  4. Oh, and survivor mission? You helped me with that one Gianna when I first started creating the pages on my own blog.

    I decided to refrain from using the word mission and replaced it with the word purpose.

    I am not on a mission. I am not sure how much change we can effect from within at this point in time. Inertia in the form of billions of Pharma dollars is strong.

    I don’t think grabbing signage and protesting in the streets would further any causes. I was on Market Street in SF during the 250,000 person strong anti war march and soon afterward we blitzed into Iraq anyway.

    I am not sure our culture has had enough pills yet. Some of us sure, but I think we are in the minority. If you ask a random stranger how to treat the mentally ill you may illicit a response along the lines of, “get them proper meds and attention”

    There is the notorious crazy girl on train youtube video and everyone is commenting like “this chick needs to be on her meds!”

    Meds for all things is in the minds of young consumers and old. I find teens and seniors bitterly defending their diagnoses and drug regimens, identifying themselves as their labels and declaring themselves finally on the road to recovery through misplaced trust in the pros.

    I can’t change that, you can’t change that Pat can’t change that. It is like sticking your fingers and toes into a dam to plug holes and more holes pop out. A lot of money has been spent to insure that consumers think like that about mental illness and it is working perfectly from what I see.

    No, I can’t stop Big Pharma and I can not stop psychiatry nor can I stop coercive psych laws from cropping up in states.

    Through no *missionary* work can I prevent people from being drugged up in submissive acceptance. I can not prevent people from misidentifying themselves with pages in the DSM. I can not prevent coercive psychiatry or psychiatric abuses.

    I can however, leave notes on how to pick up the pieces after you survived all that. That’s all I can do is leave some words behind. I specialize in how to recover from a run in with the psychiatry profession but I can not stop those run ins from occurring in the first place.

    So my mission is not actvism per se, but personal empowerment. It is my purpose to share that knowledge as opposed to my mission to do so.

    I think it sounds fractionally less grandiose too for all you symptom watchers 🙂

  5. I loved this post Gianna and I just watched both videos. I loved the first one very much, the second vid gave me a reason to post, *a post coming on* as Jazz said.

  6. I now THRIVE and so do you ! You ARE a beautiful lady because beauty is NOT about the way we look but comes from deep within! You are so strong, you care, you fight, you never give up. I wish you the very best of everthing and peace of mind and in your heart babe. Take care. SMILE always. Life can be beautiful we just have to look for it !!!!!!!

  7. Gianna–
    I finally got a chance to look at these videos. Very inspiring! I agree with Doe above, I loved the part where she said it was in the end about accepting that this is how she is. I think that’s the core of the message right there…accepting where you are at and figuring out where you need to go from there.

    A very inspiring lady, for sure!
    Thanks for posting.


  8. Hi,

    Have you heard of Rufus May, a psychologist in the UK who had a diagniosis of Schizophrenia? Google him and you will find that he is someone who stands up, advocates and campaigns on mental health while also working for the NHS. He recently stimulated debate with the film ‘The Doc who hears voices’ where a documentary was made of his self working with a young doctor who had taken time out from work as she was hearing voices (diagnosis of Bi-Polar) and was scared of losing her job-absolutely brilliant!


  9. Holy moly…that interview was SO good! It moved me to tears and made me laugh too! (Especially when she talked about how she started learning that her professional colleagues, so-called “normal” people were just as “whacked” as she was! I was laughing so hard. I love how she is both strong, so knowledgeable, and yet so, so tender and compassionate…you could just see it on her face…the gift and the strength that her troubles (I don’t even want to call it schizophrenia) have given her. Totally amazing, totally inspiring! Thanks for sharing this! I feel like it’s something I could watch when I’m feeling down and hopeless, and it would keep me going…

    Isn’t it interesting that no matter what spectrum of the severity of your problems…it all comes down to acceptance…this very simple, but very difficult thing that is a lifetime journey? It amazes me, time and time again, to hear that it all boils down to this. And she’s so right, we’re all whacked…we all have our limitations that we have to accept…maybe it’s that you got screwed by pharmaceuticals, or maybe you lost a child in a tragic way, or your paralyzed, or you struggle with other addictions…whatever it is…everybody has something. Maybe this suffering is what links us to that elusive feeling that many spiritual folks talk about, that we are all one. If we mute our suffering, we mute our oneness with each other?

    At any rate, I’m a rambling, but I really just wanted to thank you and Duane, for sharing this!

  10. So inspiring Gianna! Thank you for posting those. My inspiration tank was running pretty low. What is key to me about what Pat says is that recovery is not about returning to some mythical or ideal ‘norm’. Maybe the most important part is learning to accept oneself with all one’s failings and frailties, which often are a vital part of who we are and what also makes us great.

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