(Three links are to photographs taken at the event, posted by the photographer for sale.)
Awards are about successes and it gives me great pleasure to receive this Beers award tonight, acknowledging my contributions to the reframing of people who experience mood swings, fear, voices and visions.
You know and I know that no success is solitary, there are many who should share, many in this audience today, many whom you all know. Thanks to my nominator and supporters - Bill Compton, a genuinely good human being, Larry Fricks who retained his integrity while making change from within (and sends us smiles from Scotland), Joe Rogers who shows us all how to be heard, and Catherine Bond, whose skillful oversight organized the whole application and who is minding the store in Los Angeles. Id run out of my minutes if I began to name any more, so instead will acknowledge five you dont know my sister, Judy, a poet; my cousin Dorothea, the family glue; Jane, my friend for 60 years; Violet, mindfulness explorer; and my cyber goddaughter Claudia, ... people who shared their skills and kindness to help me shape my life and work.
My goal was and is to use the internet for support and advocacy.
Along the way that goal has morphed into other involvements and my words have become strong and clear. But in 1987, just released from yet another involuntary hospitalization with no discharge plan, drugged, I was confused, I was frightened, and I felt I had failed, not only in living, but even in trying to die. Failed.
I think most of you who are Mental Health Association leaders are good people. Think for a moment about how you got that way. To good. Saroyan said "Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure."
And so Im going to speak about failure.
Failure is not the falling down but the staying down. The more failures, the more one has fallen down, and not stayed down. The more failures, the more rebounds.
Instead of branding my decisions as impaired, my wishes not insightful, protecting me from myself, instead give me space to make mistakes and learn.
Do not help me to perceive myself as a victim. Do not continue to help me perceive myself as weak, fragile, unstable, unable. Do not aid me to stay mired in the flatness of not trying. Do not deny me dreams.
My impact that you are recognizing here has been through the internet, access to peers, access to ideas, and access to information. Access which empowers me to make my own life choices, to take pride in the results of the good choices and to learn from the unintended consequences.
Give that chance of learning from mistakes, that chance for wisdom, to all people who experience mood swings, fear, voices and visions.