Article contributed by Altmentalities

Damn, I’m inspired.

David Oaks, co-founder and former executive director of MindFreedom International, is a leader and a visionary. After experiencing forced drugging and solitary confinement in the mental health system as a young man, he’s devoted his life to fighting against stigmatizing psychiatric labels, forced drugging, and human rights abuses. He led the 2003 MindFreedom Hunger Strike/Fast For Freedom where 6 psychiatric survivors fasted for weeks, challenging the American Psychiatric Association to provide solid evidence for the biological basis of mental/emotional distress. Despite an unbelievably COLD initial response from the APA, the strikers did not give up, and the APA was ultimately forced to admit that it had no scientific evidence that mental distress was a “neurobiological illness.”

He’s spearheaded numerous MindFreedom Shield campaigns to stop the forced drugging/electroshock of human beings who had NOT given their consent. This includes an extremely public campaign on behalf of Ray Sanford, which significantly increased public awareness of the unfortunately very real phenomenon of forced electroshock.

David Oaks: Psychiatric survivor, activist, and HUMAN BEING!
David Oaks: Psychiatric survivor, activist, and HUMAN BEING!

David has never held back – he’s told his story of psychiatric survival, activism, and EMPOWERMENT on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, on YouTube, and in numerous articles and publications (I especially recommend this one). I know I’m not alone in looking to him as an INSPIRATION, and a leader in the struggle for human rights in mental health care.

Which is why I was so saddened to hear of David’s terrible accident back in December of 2012 – a break of the C7 bone in his neck. He’s now paralyzed, a quadriplegic.

But as Saturday’s MindFreedom Radio broadcast shows, he’s still the same David. Still an activist, still a SPIRTUAL GIANT!

Here are some of the amazing things he had to say…

On being a quadriplegic:

We all have a disaster or catastrophe in our lives; we all die. So, how do you prepare for that? For many decades, I have been in this movement, a social change movement, lead by survivors of the psychiatric system. So I have been preparing a long time…

When this happened, I heard from people all over the world who were very supportive. So, I feel those values of empowerment and support and activism have helped me. How do we react? How do we react? My way of reacting – I tried, from the start, to put a positive light on the resistance. Martin Luther King talked about creative maladjustment. So obviously it’s no fun to be paralyzed. But, how do we be creative about that?

—David Oaks, in this interview

On the importance of activism and living in the moment:

You watch DVDs for adventure. LIVE your adventure! Get in front of these monstrosities. Be peaceful – IT’S HARD – and speak up! There’s nothing like it. Live. LIVE.

Like when I swam in a mountain lake. Ice cold. I was ALIVE, right? So, you can be alive; speak up! Speak up! Write your letter to the editor. Now. Speak up to Congress. Protest….

Hey, guess what, everybody? 100 years from now we are ALL very disabled. Because, guess what? We’re MORTAL. We will all die. So, get your body geared NOW to speak up. Tell people you love that you love them! Speak up about injustice. NOW. TODAY.

—David Oaks

Watch the full interview here:

AND, let’s get busy people. Let’s do exactly what he said – speak up. Now; TODAY!

[Also – I understand that David and his family are currently in need of support as they try to establish the means for David to live independently. Learn more about how you can help at: www.supportdavidoaks.org]