This week for Throwback Thursday I’m dredging up an old post from when I was the Icarus representative at a SAMHSA meeting in Washington DC and we made a bunch of new movement friends. This was around the time of our 5th anniversary and we were in the midst of a lot of interesting organizing on college campuses, working out of the office at Fountain House in New York City, and using the language of Mad Ones and Mad Pride a whole lot. Icarus has always managed to stay on the outside of the government money non-profit world, trading some amount of legitimacy and exposure for keeping our messages radical. This is an interesting post because it documents the confluence of a bunch of activists who have yet to end up in the same room again. I wonder what the future holds? http://www.theicarusproject.net/herding-mad-cats%20
Dissociation: Trapped in Your BodyImagine you are standing with your head poking out of a little tent, alone in an enormous open clearing, in the middle of a raging hurricane. There’s almost no space to hear yourself think over the wind. At the edge of the clearing, far away, the wind knocks down trees and power lines. The storm is so vast and loud you can’t hear your own voice over the pummeling noise, because the wind whips the words out of your mouth before you utter them.
Being “crazy” makes parenthood a uniquely dangerous thing, add on being queer, or a person of color, or poor, or too young, or in any way marginalized and being a “crazy” parent ups the danger significantly. This pressure, judgment, and extreme scrutiny only piles on more stress which in turn creates greater emotional trauma, which in turn affects our ability to not only function in this world and parent effectively, but it also makes it difficult to safely seek help when we need it. And sometimes we really need it.
There are not many people talking about what it means to be a mad parent, what those defining identities mean for them or how those roles play out in their lives. Struggling with staying well and a life wrought with experiences that can sometimes, for example, make it difficult to leave the house have the capacity to make modern parenting a huge challenge. For people who are sensitive to the amount of sleep they get or who have a hard time with loud noises and shifts in body chemistry, mad motherhood in particular can be a massive undertaking, requiring unprecedented strength and determination.
Sins Invalid is a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse. Jacks McNamara interviewed Patty Berne, Leroy Moore, Lateef McLeod, and Kiyaan from the Sins Invalid crew at Patti’s home in Berkeley on June 26, 2013.
For many years I, and so many others I know, have resisted identifying as disabled for very good reasons. If you believe your distress is largely a result of family trauma and/or capitalism, racism, and other forms of structural violence, why would you identify as disabled? If you frame your distress as a form of spiritual or existential crisis, why would you use the word disabled? If you believe we all have the capacity for full recovery, or nothing was ever wrong in the first place, why would you identify as disabled?
For me, the reason is to be part of an amazing and supportive community with revolutionary politics that include an emphasis on creating communities of care. To be part of a group with a long history of organizing for liberation and human rights. Identifying as disabled also allows me to acknowledge the recurrent and sometimes severe nature of my struggles, and to seek structural changes that wouldn’t make it so hard to be in this world. Instead of trying to assimilate and “pass” as normal, it is so much more helpful for me to think about how to get support and get access needs met.