Would you like to help raise awareness by hosting your own community screening and discussion? Let’s bring the issue of how to reframe ‘madness’ and better support people who are experiencing mental health challenges into our local communities; together with united voices we can create a momentum for change…
To give you an idea of what might unfold at an #EmergingProud screening, here are some valuable personal reflections from Jeannet, who attended the screening that took place in Brighton, UK on Sunday 25th June;
I really enjoyed seeing the film again (I always hear new things in it!) and I felt exited by the energy in the room during the Q&A and discussion with Lori Morrison, Jordana Jyoti Goldstein (who both called in via video link) and Susie Moate, all of whom feature in the film.
We touched on a range of issues, such as how language and perspective (e.g. psychiatric, psychological and shamanic ways of understanding) make a huge difference in how our experiences are supported by practitioners and ‘held’ in the community. There is a huge difference between diagnosing, medicating and suppressing ‘symptoms’ to return the person to how they were before their ‘illness’, as opposed to offering a safe space to support a person’s process running its course, so that the person can find insight, meaning and purpose as a new inner balance establishes itself.
We noted the importance of not ‘demonizing’ psychiatry – there are psychiatrists with a deep respect for the mystery of our process, who are valuable allies in growing our understanding and developing a truly supportive and healing response, including through mainstream services. Equally, we didn’t want to romanticise indigenous or alternative therapy approaches, and wondered whether, although there are common elements of expressions of shamanism through the ages, the Western world (which seems to have gone furthest in losing connection with shamanic practices) may need to adapt this ancient wisdom to a form that is accessible to those shaped by the dominant Western world view.
We went on to share information about pragmatic, hands-on support being offered by organisations like Soteria (which runs a safe house using only minimal amounts of medication, only as a last resort). We noted how prescriptions for anti-psychotic medication tend to be long term and how difficult it is to come off it.
The Windhorse Project supports people going through a psychotic process in their own homes.
The Mind Freedom organisation support people to free themselves from the effects of mind conditioning.
The Hearing Voices movement and support groups offers support to people hearing voices.
RADAR is developing protocols for coming of anti-psychotic medication.
Finally, I found out that Brighton has a Spiritual Emergence Network peer support group, one of only three in the country so far, and as a result of the screening, more people will be attending in the future;
We reflected on the importance of considering writing an advance directive to record what you want to happen, if in the future you become unwell and people conclude you can’t decide for yourself what you want to happen or communicate what you want.
I was particularly struck by a line of discussion around how difficult it is to put into words what we are talking about. As one person put it – the word spiritual is not very accessible. When we talk of spirituality and think of experiences we are going through, how do we talk about that in a way that someone else is going to really know what we are going through. How do we know we are talking about the same things when we share experiences?
Personally, I have found this definition of spirituality helpful:
‘Spirituality is something that characterises the relationship of an individual to the universe and does not necessarily require a formal structure, collective ritual or mediation by a priest. […] It provides a context for personal discovery of the numinous dimensions of reality.’ — Stan and Christina Grof, The Stormy Search for Self – Understanding and living with spiritual emergency, 1991
But it only gets us so far in talking about our experiences …
A related question that emerged (in a private discussion in the programme break) is whether there might be different processes which need different responses – are all our experiences part of a spiritual emergence, of an inner movement towards healing and evolution to higher levels of functioning? Are there ever dysfunctional processes which need ‘treatment’ in a more traditionally medical way? Is a distinction even helpful?
In the wider discussion we wondered whether, whatever view you have on this, the important thing is to offer people a safe space in which they can go through whatever is happening for them, without the risk of them harming themselves. A space which allows them, when they are ready, to start to express what they need to and to make sense of their experiences. They would be supported by feeling deeply heard and seen, which would give people the opportunity to let things come into awareness that may have been to frightening to look at before. It was thought that some of that material for many of us is related to early trauma.
It was suggested we need language that allows us to deeply connect on levels we may never be able to completely define or put into words – a language we can use to connect to one another, rather than divide and separate us out. More generally, we need to create a society that supports such communication and support.
Finally, we reflected on the importance of validating everyone’s deep process and experiences, whether these are explosive, overwhelming and disruptive of a person’s life, or whether they are more subtle, gradual and ongoing over many years, but profound, deeply healing and supportive of that person’s evolution all the same. I was very glad to see there were people from right across that spectrum at the screening. However confused we can be about what exactly is going on for any of us at any time, we can all stand together in our demand for recognition of our right to live from the full height, depth and breadth of what it means to be human! 😊
The experience was a beautiful depiction of how discussing our vulnerabilities and challenges can be the very thing that unites us, whatever path brought us together…
If you can’t get to a community screening but would like to see the film, don’t forget it’s available to WATCH HERE