About me: In Internet-land, I go by Kit. I am a “nontraditional college student” (basically meaning that I am older than 22 and still in undergrad, in my case due to having taken several years off in the past to explore my interests, work various jobs, travel a bit, and get mental health treatment). I study child development, theater, and art, with the goal of using the arts as educational and healing tools with people (though not necessarily children) with special needs. One path I am considering is going through the 30-hour training to become a Peer Support Specialist, which is a title for those with mental health diagnoses themselves who work with and support people in active treatment at a center or program.
In my spare time (ok let’s be honest here, I’m just as devoted to my hobbies as I am to my schoolwork) I enjoy making art, frolicking outdoors, doing yoga, practicing Paganism, social dancing, and activism. (My main focus for my activist work is on neurodiversity/disability rights/mad pride/radical mental health, all of which I’ll explain in a moment, and in the past I’ve done some GLBTQI rights activist work, though I’m trying to become involved in environmentalist activism as well).
My official diagnoses, if you are curious, are bipolar NOS (“not otherwise specified”, which is a really frustrating diagnosis that basically means I don’t fit neatly into the existing bipolar categories), mild autism, ADD, OCD, LD-NOS (another one of those…I have some symptoms of dyscalculia as well as dyslexia and others, but not enough of any one learning difference to be officially diagnosed as that), possible borderline personality, chronic pain, hypothyroidism, and delayed sleep phase syndrome. Although I will use these labels to describe myself when specificity is warranted, I am not personally a huge fan of diagnostic labels since they often cause more harm than good, and prefer to think of myself as simply mad, neurodivergent, and a person with disabilities. (Again, more on that later.)
A note to my readers who know me in real life: I would like to remain anonymous here, due to stigma and the personal nature of many of my posts. Please respect my confidentiality and refer to me by the name Kit and do not mention any identifying information (where I live, where I go to school, the legal names of mutual friends, etc). Also, please do not link to me on Facebook or other social networking/blogging sites, or otherwise share this blog (or my real-life identity) with mutual friends, without my explicit permission. (Reblogging on WordPress is fine, however, and appreciated!) Thanks!
Hey Kit, what are these “neurodiversity”, “disability rights”, “mad pride”, and “radical mental health” of which you speak?
Good question! 😉 These are all phrases for alternative ways of viewing mental health and brains and bodies that differ from the norm. ”Disability rights” refers to working for equal rights for people with disabilities (mainly of the physical and/or cognitive varieties), “neurodiversity” refers to the natural human diversity in ways of thinking and perceiving, “mad pride” refers to having pride in psychiatric conditions or “madness”, and “radical mental health” is a philosophy on mental health that includes both mad pride and alternative healing approaches (such as mindfulness, acupuncture, herbal supplements, lifestyle changes, etc).
The basic idea behind all of these concepts is that humans are meant to be diverse and have diverse ways of perceiving, experiencing, and acting on the world, and this actually improves society as a whole rather than hurting it. Having a brain or body that is different from the norm, though it can be challenging at times since our society at large is set up to be convenient for so-called “typical” people, does not have to be a bad thing, and can in fact be a source of pride. Mad pride parades do exist! I will admit that my depression and anxiety in particular can be quite crippling at times, but that does not in any way mean that I am inferior, or that mad or neurodivergent people or people with disabilities in general are inferior.
(image description: a cartoon drawing of a woman with blonde hair and light skin, a man with medium skin and black hair and glasses, and a man with dark skin and black hair riding in a hot air balloon. In place of the balloon, there is a large brain carrying them. On the brain there is a banner with the words “Mad Pride”)
This is a mad pride, neurodiversity, and disability rights blog: While I am bound to post on all sorts of things that interest me from time to time, I focus mostly on my experiences as a mad and neurodivergent person with disabilities. I also post, more generally, on mad pride, radical mental health, neurodiversity, and disability rights theory and activism, as well as my own opinions on these issues. (And I am very opinionated on these issues, so this can serve as a warning that this blog is a soapbox).
While some posts do approach rather complex topics, I still try my best to write in a “101” (introductory) manner, so as to be accessible both to those already familiar with and those who are new to such topics. This is also a way of aiming for accessibility for people who process best in ways other than verbal language, so who may have difficulty with reading comprehension in general. This blog is for everyone interested in it: people who identify as “mentally ill” or “disabled”, people who identify as “mad” or “neurodivergent” or “people with disabilities”, “allies” who do not have such experiences themselves but want to learn how to better support those who do (including family/friends/loved ones and special educators/helping professionals), and people who are interested in other topics that I sometimes discuss here (such as social sciences, social justice, activism, environmentalism, the arts, and Paganism and New Age spirituality).
As such, my posting style includes the following: “trigger” (potentially upsetting topic) warnings when warranted, links, definitions of (sometimes basic) terminology, images and other media, and book/website/zine/TV/movie suggestions. If you ever have any questions, or ideas for how to make this blog more accessible to and respectful of as many people as possible, by all means let me know. As hard as I try, I am obviously not aware of how it feels to be every variance of madness or neurodivergence or disability, so I may be inadvertently inaccessible at times. Likewise, I am absolutely ok with being called out if I am ever disrespectful to members of other marginalized groups. I am still learning, and being called out is a great way to learn!
Comment Policy: I appreciate respectful comments in response to my posts, including agreements or tactful disagreements, and relating my posts to your own personal experiences or other topics. However, disrespectful comments, as well as comments that may be triggering to some people but don’t include trigger warnings, will not be shown. This includes comments that demonstrate any kind of prejudice, or that encourage mad/neurodivergent/people with disabilities to do anything that would be hurtful to themselves or others, or that discourage people from trusting themselves when it comes to their own lives and identities. You need not identify as mad or neurodivergent or as a person with a disability yourself to comment here, or agree with the philosophies and approaches that I present, but I do ask for respect of people who do, and that you bear in mind the main focus and probable audience of this blog. If and when I have the time and “spoons” (emotional and physical energy) for it, I would be happy to explain specifically why your comment was blocked, and what you could potentially do to be more respectful in the future.
(Image description: rainbow pinwheel with the words: Blog for Mental Health 2014)