BY Rae Unzicker
Originally posted December 2005
To be a mental patient is to be stigmatized, ostracized, socialized, patronized, psychiatrized.
To be a mental patient is to have everyone controlling your life but you. You're watched by your shrink, your social worker, your friends, your family. And then you're diagnosed as paranoid.
To be a mental patient is to live with the constant threat and possibility of being locked up at any time, for almost any reason.
To be a mental patient is to live on $82 a month in food stamps, which won't let you buy Kleenex to dry your tears. And to watch your shrink come back to his office from lunch, driving a Mercedes Benz.
To be a mental patient is to take drugs that dull your mind, deaden your senses, make you jitter and drool and then you take more drugs to lessen the "side effects."
To be a mental patient is to apply for jobs and lie about the last few months or years, because you've been in the hospital, and then you don't get the job anyway because you're a mental patient. To be a mental patient is not to matter.
To be a mental patient is never to be taken seriously.
To be a mental patient is to be a resident of a ghetto, surrounded by other mental patients who are as scared and hungry and bored and broke as you are.
To be a mental patient is to watch TV and see how violent and dangerous and dumb and incompetent and crazy you are.
To be a mental patient is to be a statistic.
To be a mental patient is to wear a label, and that label never goes away, a label that says little about what you are and even less about who you are.
To be a mental patient is to never to say what you mean, but to sound like you mean what you say.
To be a mental patient is to tell your psychiatrist he's helping you , even if he is not.
To be a mental patient is to act glad when you're sad and calm when you're mad, and to always be "appropriate."
To be a mental patient is to participate in stupid groups that call themselves therapy. Music isn't music, its therapy; volleyball isn't sport, it's therapy; sewing is therapy; washing dishes is therapy. Even the air you breathe is therapy and that's called "the milieu."
To be a mental patient is not to die, even if you want to -- and not cry, and not hurt, and not be scared, and not be angry, and not be vulnerable, and not to laugh to loud -- because, if you do, you only prove that you are a mental patient even if you are not.
And so you become a no-thing, in a no-world, and you are not.
Rae Unzicker © 1984
From The :National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, Narpa.org
Civil Rights Pioneer Passes
Rae Unzicker, 52, died on March 22nd at her home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Rae was one of the world's leading advocates for the civil rights of people with psychiatric disabilities. She was an adamant pioneer of the self-evident truth that people with psychiatric disabilities have the same rights as other people to exercise free choice about how and where they will live and how and where they will receive treatment, if any. That they must not be involuntarily imprisoned in institutions, nursing homes, group homes, back rooms, or any other places. That they must not be subjected to forced drugging or forced treatment of any kind.
Over the years Rae advocated in forty-three states and several foreign countries. She authored numerous articles and appeared on prime time national television many times. In 1995 President Clinton appointed her to the National Council Disabilities. It is my impression that she was the first -- certainly one of the first -- outspoken advocates for the civil rights of people with psychiatric disabilities ever to receive a major Presidential appointment.
Rae's crowning achievement was her promoting and editing of the National Council's landmark manifesto, From Privileges to Rights: People Labeled with Psychiatric Disabilities Speaking For Themselves. This was perhaps the first formal statement by any nation supporting the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities to exercise free choice in their all aspects of their lives.
Rae was a brilliant person and a passionate, articulate supporter of her principles. She was full of love for all with whom she came in contact. I was profoundly moved by her epic courage. The monumental accomplishments of her last several years were made in the face of continuous, excruciating pain from terminal cancer. Rae Unzicker was truly a great soldier of justice, a great American pioneer patriot.
Let us unite to honor Rae Unzicker by rededicating ourselves to the kind of passionate, courageous advocacy for justice for all that she exemplified. The above is from the Justice For All email alert network. It was posted by long-time disability rights activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Justin Dart.