I've just got off the phone to Hollie, who has written an explosive blog, partly prompted by me starting the blogging challenge and checking it was ok to share her case study in the 'Lobbying Sir Norman Lamb' blog, which we shared with him at our Parliament meeting. However, this has been a narrative that Hollie had been wanting to write about for years. We decided that she would write her full story, and I would share the short excerpt we presented at the meeting with a link to her blog in mine, and we would go for a double-drop the same evening.
Bloody hell... Hollie went from feeling silenced, shamed and unable to share her experience to not holding back, in a blog that was devastating, hilarious and reflexive - often at the same time.
We have just shared how cathartic it has been to write honestly after holding back for so long. A feeling of a weight being lifted. There is the ripple effect too. Me starting a blogfest and sharing on social media, wanting to include Hollie's experience, led to Hollie writing it herself and sharing. The number of shares, retweets and people being touched, inspired or sharing their own similar experiences has felt like the beginning of a #MeToo moment for #LivedExperiencePractitioners. The point is that are sharing issues that are rooted within systemic discrimination, which is invisible in its very nature. People internalise issues, think it is their fault, or that they have a mean boss. It isn't about individuals being mean, or incompetent. This is why my experience and Hollie's experience isn't unusual and no one individual is to blame. To change this, we have to understand that this is a real problem, and one that greatly disadvantages and discriminates against the employment of people with mental health disabilities.
Professor Peter Beresford retweeted one of my blogs with this statement:
Whilst I was chuffed at the individual praise, it got me thinking. We DO need an archive of these narratives. We need more. We need to understand what works, what doesn't. We can understand universal themes as we all start sharing what is happening, and realising that we aren't alone.
So, I'd like to invite anyone that wants to share their experience to do so. I'm happy to post your writing if you don't have a blog. If you have a blog, I'm happy to reblog it or link to your writing. It would be great to start collecting these narratives, finding a way to build understanding about what is generally hidden.
I'll just add a caveat that if anyone wants to send me writing, please anonymise any individuals or organisations in your experience. The idea is to try and understand things that are happening, rather than name and shame. I can post things under your name or keep it anonymous.
In the spirit of sharing what's already out there, Recovery in the Bin, an activist group, has already published two anonymised blogs:
Feel free to post links to blogs or experiences you have already written about in the comments. Let's start collating and sharing these narratives, lets start use those to start changing those narratives so that when a blog like this appears in a decades time, they look less like they've come off the Trauma Porn section in your local supermarket/bookstore (you know the one...) and more like they fit in with the section on bossing it at work. Because most LXPs I know are damn good at their jobs, have an excellent knowledge base and most importantly, help create a culture where its safer for staff and service users to be honest about mental health, and the range of approaches that work for them.
Viva la Revolution!!!!