Not Just a Peer Movement

People who have experienced psychiatric diagnosis, been hospitalized, or overcome other major life challenges and who now work or are connected to peer support communities often see themselves as a part of a movement. We’ve heard that movement be called everything from a ‘peer movement,’ to a ‘recovery movement’ to a ‘consumer’ or ‘c/s/x movement.’ (c/s/x stands for ‘consumer/survivor/ex-patient.’) However, all of these frames fall a little bit short.

Our work is a part of something bigger than all that. Yes, our work is about personal healing and moving toward a better life as individuals. 

But it is also about oppression, choice, rights and the interconnectedness of all of our human spirits. It is difficult to imagine personal healing without consideration of how others are being treated, or hurt or supported (or not) to have full lives. In fact, much healing has happened in our community precisely by being connected in that way and calling on each other to stop hurting one another and raise each other up.

In truth, our movement is a human rights movement.

What does this mean? It means we not only stand with others who have experienced psychiatric diagnosis, trauma and so on, but also with people who have been wounded and oppressed because of the color of their skin, their gender expression, their sexuality, income, physical abilities and so on. It means our movement seeks to move toward healing and wholeness for anyone who has struggled or been hurt for any reason, not just those who have been challenged by emotional and/or mental distress and/or received services within the mental health system. This is true whether we ourselves have felt good or bad about our experiences (or a mix thereof) in the system, and whether we see our problems as coming from within or outside of our bodies.

It means that when juries failed to indict Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we all were wounded in some way. It means that, on November 20th—the national Transgender Day of Remembrance in recognition of all those who have been killed as a result of transphobia—we all were called upon to stand together. These are just two examples of the many.Michael Brown Sketch

Our voices are loudest when we join them.
 
We are strongest together.
 
How can we cross our self-imposed lines and stand together more often?
 
In Memory of Michael Brown
May 20, 1996– August 9, 2014
 
In memory of Eric Garner
September 15, 1970—July 17, 2014