Sunday, 11 May 2008

The Who's Crazy Now? News & Views

The Who's Crazy Now? News and Views
Published by Elly Litvak
Mental Health Coach, Consultant & Public Speaker

The Who's Crazy Now? News and Views provides information for
people recovering from a mental illness, their families, friends
and mental health professionals.


May,2008 Volume 1 Issue 8

Please forward The Who's Crazy Now? News and Views to your friends
and associates.

For subscribe or unsubscribe instructions, please go to the bottom
of this ezine.

In this issue
1. Welcome from Elly
2. Feature Article: Spirituality and YOU: The Role of Spirituality
in Recovery
3. On the Horizon: A Spiritual Poem by Janet P. Scott
4. The Loonie Awards (Not Just Another Recovery Awards Show)
5. Now Who's Crazy Now? The Play
6. About Elly
7. Coaching and Mental Health Services
8. Subscription Information

1. Welcome from Elly

The subject of spirituality has been challenging to write about
because it means something different for everyone. My intention is
to open the doors of spiritual exploration whether it's learning
about religions like Buddhism, Sufism or Judaism or experiencing
the benefits of meditation, yoga or regularly scheduled "calm,
quiet" times with yourself.

Spirituality is an important part of the recovery process but is
also very personal.

Thanks to all of you for your feedback and ideas for future
newsletters. Send your feedback to

2. Feature Article: Spirituality and YOU: The Role of Spirituality
in Recovery

In 1978 I was diagnosed bi-polar and lost custody of my two small
children. Finding myself completely alone without any support from
friends or family, my mood sank. I was agonized by the endless
cycle of pain, suffering, loneliness and manic episodes that I
thought would never end. I began thinking of suicide. I even had
a plan. But in a snap the plan to end my life was interrupted by
what I consider to be a spiritual intervention. I wrote a letter
to God asking to be let go of all the pain and suffering. It was a
poem, the first I'd ever written, but what struck me most is that I
was referring to a God that I hadnever believed in. The very act of
asking this "God" for help took some of the pressure off of me.

That was the beginning of a spiritual quest that has since evolved
into daily rituals that are a key factor in maintaining balance in
my life. Over the years I have grown to understand the important
role that spirituality plays in recovery.

Talking about spirituality is no longer a taboo in mental health.
Many mental health practitioners understand the benefits of
spirituality and provide support and resources on the subject to
their clients.

But what is spirituality and how does it help improve our lives?

Defining Spirituality

Most dictionaries have a number of definitions that usually include
religious values. Spirituality is an important part of religion
but religion is not necessarily an important part of spirituality.
The two are very separate things. Being a spiritual person doesn't
necessarily mean that you follow an organized religion. Religions
offer you faith, strength and support however it is not an
essential component of spirituality.

I think spirituality is a state of awareness and consciousness, a
connection with your deeper self. It is in maintaining a
connection with your deeper self that gives meaning to your world
and the world at large. It has had different meaning for different
people throughout history. Spirituality, described as "linking the
deeply personal with the universal", is inclusive and unifying. It
applies to everyone, including those who do not believe in God or a
'higher being'.

Practicing Spirituality

The role of spirituality in my life has evolved into daily rituals.
The daily practice of yoga and deep breathing gives me a sense of
calm and clarity of thought. My body has also benefited from daily
stretching. I feel years younger, I'm more flexible and more
energetic. When I'm feeling overwhelmed with ideas, work, or
emotional overload yoga calms me down. It gives me a sense of
inner peace, tranquility and the confidence that everything will
work out.

It's also important to take the time to be with myself on a daily
basis. Each morning I start the day by rolling out my yoga mat,
lighting a candle, and practicing. Yoga includes stretching, deep
breathing and meditation. It is a practical aid, not a religion.
It is about balance, the word 'yoga' is from the Sanskrit root
'yuj' which means "to join" or to "yoke".

But yoga and meditation isn't everyone's cup of tea. Ways of
practicing spirituality boils down to personal choice. In my way
of thinking, whatever gives you a sense of meaning and connection
with your deeper self is spiritual. Maybe it's a daily stroll,
journaling, taking time to sit quietly by water or simply being
conscious of the moment. Playing music, listening to music,
dancing, singing, drawing, painting, reading, writing, studying can
also be ways to explore yourself spiritually. And hey,
self-improvement is always a good thing.

There's a lot of arguments about the positive effects of prayer.
Here's where I weigh-in. I believe in the power of prayer. Many
years have passed since I wrote that poem 'Letter to God' and I
have developed my own notion of what God is to me. Once again it's
my belief that God is whatever you believe the entity or non-entity
to be.

Tread with Caution

There's lots to learn and huge benefits to exploring spiritual
avenues and developing a regular spiritual practice. You need to
be careful and cognizant of negative effects from obsessing about
whatever spiritual topic you are involved with. You also need to
be aware that there are many unscrupulous individuals selling
questionable spiritual services. In these instances, common sense
rules. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

3. On the Horizon: A Spiritual Poem by Janet P. Scott

The poem below is a beautiful example how some quiet time by one's
self by a sea shore can be a deeply spiritual awakening, inspiring
creativity and significant life changes.

Here are the waves and there is the shore:
To stand on the edge of the ebbing tide;
To feel a cool rush of ocean water flow
Through invigorated toes, and retreat
Back to your claimed but small section
Of sand,
Watching forever from the shore:
The heavy sway of water,
Never forgetting your perspective
The horizon, your eyes making it
The reference point you always
Gravitate back to. Being on the edge,
The periphery of warm sand and slapping
Water, makes you the observer.

You watch the colour and form
Of the arc and tumble restlessness;
The sound ripples in the cradle
Of your ear like water brushing
Over smooth stones.

The more you feel the sensation
Of the ocean, the more you long
To try it out ...
And when you do, you become
You become part of what you once only watched from the shore:
Your horizons stretch out forever.

4. The Loonie Awards (Not Just Another Recovery Awards Show)

The Now Who's Talking Recovery Theatre project's Loonie Awards show
was a great success. A huge thank you and congratulations goes out
to the cast and crew for all their hard work and dedication to the
project. You stuck it out guys ... through thick and thin!!!

I would also like to thank the audience members who turned up on
Easter long weekend and who played along with the Red Carpet
shenanigans. No doubt they didn't expect fake paparazzi making a
big who ha, sticking microphones in their faces and snapping
pictures when they arrived. Humour really helps when you're
talking about a heavy subject like mental illness.

Another thank you goes out to the St. James Community Hall, the
surrounding businesses and community police for all their support.
It truly made for a real community endeavour, one that aims to
understand mental illness, the recovery process and ultimately stop

The DVD of the show will be completed at the end of this month and
parts of the show will be posted online. Stay tuned to this
newsletter for further info.

I'm also developing Recovery Theatre Resources for agencies and
organizations that want to start a Recover Theatre Program. These
include a Facilitator Manual, a Participant Workbook, and other
valuable recovery tools. Stay tuned to for an
official announcement.

5. 'Now Who's Crazy Now?' The Play

What is mental illness? Is it a health condition characterized by
dramatic alterations in mood, thinking and behaviour? Is it a
chemical imbalance? Or is it the common euphemisms we hear tossed
about daily like 'out of your mind' or 'nutty as a fruit cake'.
What is recovery and how do we achieve this elusive goal?

In this fast paced, one-woman play 'Now Who's Crazy Now?' I
chronicle my experience living with and recovering from a serious
mental illness. 'Now Who's Crazy Now?' is highly entertaining and
educational, with a message that there is hope for recovery for

Some audience feedback:

"...thank you for an uplifting, poignant, funny, sad, thought
provoking and above all inspiring evening."

" inspirational real life story that demonstrates Elly's
ability to turn her pain into power."

"Brilliant, fun AND, most importantly, entertaining education."

More info at

For bookings contact:

6. About Elly
Elly Litvak is a mental health coach, consultant and public
speaker. She is driven by the passion, the knowledge, and the
experience that recovery is possible for everyone. Elly is
committed to supporting people in recovery, as well as the
families, friends and mental health
professionals of those in recovery.

7. Coaching & Mental Health Services
Who's Crazy Now? Provides mental health coaching, consulting and
public speaking services to people in recovery, their families and
friends and mental health professionals.

Privacy Policy
You're privacy will always be respected. Your name and email
address will never be sold or given to anyone.

Pass It Along
Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to anyone you think may
benefit from it. Please ensure that you keep the entire issue
intact and unaltered.

8. Subscription Information
To subscribe to this ezine go to:

Copyright Elly Litvak 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Who's Crazy Now? Mental Health Services, 603-1949 Comox St., Vancouver, BC V6G 1R7, CANADA

To unsubscribe or change subscriber options visit:

New York Times on Mad Pride, MindFreedom, Mental Health Activism


Today's Sunday _New York Times_, 11 May 2008, has a "fashion" article
*below* about the MAD PRIDE MOVEMENT, MindFreedom International,
sponsor groups Bonkersfest, Icarus & Freedom Center, psychiatric
survivors, and activism to change the mental health system!

or use this link:

NY Times:

*BELOW* is the text -- please forward this news to all appropriate
places on and off the Internet, now!


NEW YORK TIMES - May 11, 2008

Fashion & Style Section

"Mad Pride" Fights a Stigma


IN the YouTube video, Liz Spikol is smiling and animated, the light
glinting off her large hoop earrings. Deadpan, she holds up a diaper.
It is not, she explains, a hygienic item for a giantess, but rather a
prop to illustrate how much control people lose when they undergo
electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, as she did 12 years ago.

In other videos and blog postings, Ms. Spikol, a 39-year-old writer
in Philadelphia who has bipolar disorder, describes a period of
psychosis so severe she jumped out of her mother's car and ran away
like a scared dog.

In lectures across the country, Elyn Saks, a law professor and
associate dean at the University of Southern California, recounts the
florid visions she has experienced during her lifelong battle with
schizophrenia -- dancing ashtrays, houses that spoke to her -- and
hospitalizations where she was strapped down with leather restraints
and force-fed medications.

Like many Americans who have severe forms of mental illness such as
schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Ms. Saks and Ms. Spikol are
speaking candidly and publicly about their demons. Their frank talk
is part of a conversation about mental illness (or as some prefer to
put it, "extreme mental states") that stretches from college campuses
to community health centers, from YouTube to online forums.

"Until now, the acceptance of mental illness has pretty much stopped
at depression," said Charles Barber, a lecturer in psychiatry at the
Yale School of Medicine. "But a newer generation, fueled by the
Internet and other sophisticated delivery systems, is saying, 'We
deserve to be heard, too.' "

About 5.7 million Americans over 18 have bipolar disorder, which is
classified as a mood disorder, according to the National Institute of
Mental Health. Another 2.4 million have schizophrenia, which is
considered a thought disorder. The small slice of this disparate
population who have chosen to share their experiences with the public
liken their efforts to those of the gay-rights and similar movements
of a generation ago.

Just as gay-rights activists reclaimed the word queer as a badge of
honor rather than a slur, these advocates proudly call themselves
mad; they say their conditions do not preclude them from productive

Mad pride events, organized by loosely connected groups in at least
seven countries including Australia, South Africa and the United
States, draw thousands of participants, said David W. Oaks, the
director of MindFreedom International, a nonprofit group in Eugene,
Ore., that tracks the events and says it has 10,000 members.

RECENT mad pride activities include a Mad Pride Cabaret in Vancouver,
British Columbia; a Mad Pride March in Accra, Ghana; and a
Bonkersfest in London that drew 3,000 participants. (A follow-up
Bonkersfest is planned next month at the site of the original Bedlam

Members of the mad pride movement do not always agree on their aims
and intentions. For some, the objective is to continue the
destigmatization of mental illness. A vocal, controversial wing
rejects the need to treat mental afflictions with psychotropic drugs
and seeks alternatives to the shifting, often inconsistent care
offered by the medical establishment. Many members of the movement
say they are publicly discussing their own struggles to help those
with similar conditions and to inform the general public.

"It used to be you were labeled with your diagnosis and that was it;
you were marginalized," said Molly Sprengelmeyer, an organizer for
the Asheville Radical Mental Health Collective, a mad pride group in
North Carolina. "If people found out, it was a death sentence,
professionally and socially."

She added, "We are hoping to change all that by talking."

The confessional mood encouraged by memoirs and blogs, as well as the
self-help advocacy movement in mental health, have deepened the
understanding of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Books such as
Kay Redfield Jamison's autobiography, "An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of
Moods and Madness," have raised awareness of bipolar disorder, and
movies like "Shine" and "A Beautiful Mind" have opened discussion on
schizophrenia and related illnesses. In recent years, groups have
started antistigma campaigns, and even the federal government
embraces the message, with an ad campaign aimed at young adults to
encourage them to support friends with mental illness.

Members of MindFreedom International, which Mr. Oaks founded in the
1980s, have protested drug companies and participated in hunger
strikes to demand proof that drugs can manage chemical imbalances in
the brain. Mr. Oaks, who was found to be schizophrenic and manic-
depressive while an undergraduate at Harvard, says he maintains his
mental health with exercise, diet, peer counseling and wilderness
trips -- strategies that are well outside the mainstream thinking of
psychiatrists and many patients.

Other support groups include the Mad Tea Party in Chicago and the
Freedom Center in Northampton, Mass., which provides education,
acupuncture, yoga and peer discussions to about 100 participants.

The Icarus Project, a New York-based online forum and support
network, says it attracts 5,000 unique visitors a month to its Web
site, and it has inspired autonomous local chapters in Portland,
Ore., St. Louis and Richmond, Va. Participants write and distribute
publications, stage community talks, trade strategies for staying
well and often share duties like cooking or shopping.

The Icarus Project says its participants are "navigating the space
between brilliance and madness." It began six years ago, after one of
its founders, Sascha Altman DuBrul, now 33, wrote about his bipolar
disorder in The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a weekly newspaper. Mr.
DuBrul, who is known as Sascha Scatter, received an overwhelming
response from readers who had experienced similar ordeals, but who
felt they had no one to discuss them with.

"We wanted to create a new language that resonated with our actual
experiences," Mr. DuBrul said in a telephone interview.

Some Icarus Project members argue that their conditions are not
illnesses, but rather, "dangerous gifts" that require attention, care
and vigilance to contain. "I take drugs to control my superpowers,"
Mr. DuBrul said.

While psychiatrists generally support the mad pride movement's desire
to speak openly, some have cautioned that a "pro choice" attitude
toward medicine can have dire consequences.

"Would you be pro-choice with someone who has another brain disease,
Alzheimer's, who wants to walk outside in the snow without their
shoes and socks?" said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, executive director of
the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Md.

Dr. Torrey, a research psychiatrist who specializes in schizophrenia
and manic depression, said he understood the roots of the movement.
"I suspect that not an insignificant number of people involved have
had very lousy care and are still reacting to having been
involuntarily treated," he said.

Many psychiatrists now recognize that patients' candid discussions of
their experiences can help their recoveries. "Problems are created
when people don't talk to each other," said Dr. Robert W. Buchanan,
the chief of the Outpatient Research Program at the Maryland
Psychiatric Research Center. "It's critical to have an open

Ms. Spikol writes about her experiences with bipolar disorder in The
Philadelphia Weekly, and posts videos on her blog, the Trouble With
Spikol (

Thousands have watched her joke about her weight gain and loss of
libido, and her giggle-punctuated portrayal of ECT. But another video
shows her face pale and her eyes red-rimmed as she reflects on the
dark period in which she couldn't care for herself, or even shower.
"I knew I was crazy but also sane enough to know that I couldn't make
myself sane," she says in the video.

IN a telephone interview, she described one medication that made her
salivate so profusely she needed towels to mop it up. "Of course it's
heartbreaking if you let it be," she said. "But it's also inherently
funny. I'd sit there watching TV and drool so much, it would drip on
the couch."

Ms. Spikol said she has a kind doctor who treats her with respect,
and she takes her pharmaceutical drugs to stabilize her mood. "I have
asthma, and I use medications to maintain it, too," she said.

Ms. Saks, the U.S.C. professor, who recently published a memoir, "The
Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness," has come to accept
her illness. She manages her symptoms with a regimen that includes
psychoanalysis and medication. But stigma, she said, is never far away.

She said she waited until she had tenure at U.S.C. before going
public with her experience. When she was hospitalized for cancer some
years ago, she was lavished with flowers. During periods of mental
illness, though, only good friends have reached out to her.

Ms. Saks said she hopes to help others in her position, find
tolerance, especially those with fewer resources. "I have the kind of
life that anybody, mentally ill or not, would want: a good place to
live, nice friends, loved ones," she said.

"For an unlucky person," Ms. Saks said, "I'm very lucky."

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company Privacy Policy Search
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ACTION ACTION ACTION: Please forward to all appropriate places on &
off Internet, NOW! Mad pride!


MORE MAD PRIDE NEWS -- All The Fits That's News to Print!

Check out some of the Mad Pride 2008 events:

Updates and links about Mad Pride:

MindFreedom co-sponsors Mad Pride celebration of United Nations
historic disability treaty!

or here:

For other international events about changing mental health system see:


"Double your money" for new members of MindFreedom International:

Helios Foundation has a matching grant for new members of
MindFreedom, for a limited time only.

Click on the MindFreedom link here:


MindFreedom calls May "Nonviolent Revolution in Mental Health Month."

MindFreedom Journal #48 is out & mailed with campaign news.


All New Mad Market Launches!

To go directly to the all-new Mad Market, click here:


Lots more Mad Pride news:

Don't see a news item? Submit it to


Build united strength in numbers!


Now is the time!

* Win human rights campaigns in mental health.

* End abuse by the psychiatric drug industry.

* Support self-determination of psychiatric survivors.

* Promote safe, humane, effective options in mental health.

* Show your MAD PRIDE!

MindFreedom is a nonprofit human rights group that unites 100 sponsor
and affiliate groups with individual members.

MindFreedom is one of the very few totally independent activist
groups in the mental health field with no funding from governments,
drug companies, religions, corporations, or the mental health system.

All human rights supporters are invited to join MFI by donating here:

For hard-to-find books and gear go to MFI's ALL-NEW Mad Market here:

MindFreedom International Office:

454 Willamette, Suite 216 - POB 11284; Eugene, OR 97440-3484 USA

web site:
e-mail: office(at)mindfreedom(dot)org
MFI office phone: (541) 345-9106
MFI member services toll free: 1-877-MAD-PRIDe or 1-877-623-7743 fax:
(541) 345-3737

Please forward!


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