Beyond the dirty window — Leah Harris, a powerful mini-documentary

___ Leah Harris, psychiatric survivor, mother, and social justice activist tells the story of how she overcame a legacy of oppression to become a part of the global movement working for rights, dignity, and justice for people labeled with mental illness, mad people, and people living with emotional distress.

Leah Harris on Madness Radio: Survivor Spoken Word

The latest show on Madness Radio — Leah Harris was orphaned after both parents were diagnosed with schizophrenia and died from medication toxicity. Today she is a leading voice in survivor activism, and her powerful spoken word poetry, including “I Was A Teenage Mental Patient,” has been featured in publications including Word Warriors: 35 Women […]

Parallels in obstetrics and psychiatry – Leah Harris

It often strikes me as to how my experiences as a psychiatric survivor color most facets of my life, informing my perspectives and my choices in so many ways. When I became pregnant, I immediately knew that I did not wish to give birth in a hospital setting. Given my past history with involuntary hospitalization […]

Take refuge by Leah Harris

“Take Refuge,” Leah Harris’ debut spoken word album, is flavored with eclectic Middle Eastern, hip-hop, rock, go-go, reggae, and jazz influences. The album poignantly chronicles her legacy as the daughter of two people labeled with ‘severe mental illness,’ both of whom died very young as a result of toxic treatments and shattered dreams, leaving her […]

Dharma not pharma — by Leah Harris

Dharma not Pharma — Leah Harris “And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” – Raymond Carver, “Last Fragment,” *All of Us: The Collected Poems* Having spent my entire adolescence either medicated on […]

Parallels in obstetrics and psychiatry

By Leah Harris — As I got deeper into the research about childbirth options, I began to notice the commonalities between the natural birth movement and our movement of users and survivors of psychiatry. The first commonality is that we are confronting industries – the birth/obstetric and psychiatric industries, respectively. In both cases, the trend is toward the most invasive medical technologies, which also just happen to make a lot more money for these industries. When it comes to mental health – as we all know, it’s institutionalization, shock, and expensive psych drugs. … (post included information and a trailer about a new documentary too) [click on title to read the rest]

Suicide Prevention for All: Making the World a Safer Place to Be Human

By Leah Harris
Like millions, I am sitting with the fact that one of the funniest people to grace the planet has died by his own hand. Robin Williams’ death has hit people of my generation, Generation X, especially hard. After all, his face flashed often across our childhood screens. Mork and Mindy episodes were a source of solace for me as a little girl, as I bounced around between foster homes and family members’ homes, while my single mother cycled in and out of the state mental hospital, fighting to survive. I could laugh and say “nanu, nanu – shazbot” and “KO” and do the silly hand sign and forget for just a little while about living a life I didn’t ask for.

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it,” may become one of Robin Williams’ most famous quotes. I was always struck by how he moved so seamlessly between wacky comedy and the most intense dramas. He was so magnificently able to capture the human experience in all its extremes. He threw all that intensity right into our faces, undeniable, raw, frenetic. He showed us our own naked vulnerability and sparks of madness and gave us permission to laugh in the face of all that is wrong in this world. … [click on title to read and view more]

First They Ignore You: Impressions From Today’s Hearing on H.R. 3717 (Murphy’s Bill)

by Leah Harris

As I walked alone up the stairs to the Rayburn House Office Building this morning to attend the hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on H.R. 3717 – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – I thought about how I wasn’t truly alone. In spirit with me were all the people who had experienced scary, coercive, and dehumanizing interventions in the name of help. In spirit with me were all the well-intentioned family members who didn’t want to force treatment on their loved ones, but didn’t have access to or know about alternative voluntary, recovery-oriented community resources. In spirit with me was every mental health provider who went into the field hoping to really make a difference in their communities, but became cynical and discouraged in the face of so many broken systems and broken spirits. … [click on title for the rest of the post]