July in Toronto 2014 – reflections by a friend from Taiwan


 psychosis2.0 end photo2

Back row:  Kevin Healey, Carmen Carrasco, Leslie Morris, Karyn Baker, John Read, Heinz Klein.
Front row: Dave Umbongo, Rufus May, Will Hall, Michael , Keris Myrick, Eleanor Longden.
Photo: Ling.

Some say – and it is much disputed – that “Toronto” means “place where people become to meet”-  on this occasion its was certainly true. Toronto is just where we are located, our readers and friends are all round the world…

Ling travelled from Taiwan to attend the Psychosis 2.0 conference and Living With Voices and Understanding our Sensitivity workshops in Toronto, July 2014. Ling stayed for 44days; visiting with survivors, families and organizations round Toronto; attending Pride, MadPride, many other events and even squeezed in a WRAP programme as well [likely setting the all time record for furthest distance travelled to attend a group]  as well as making many friends here.

We were pleased to support and get to know Ling as she explored what’s happening in  Toronto and invited her to reflect and share something of what she found and observed in our city.

Here is Ling’s piece, we hope you find it as enlightening as we do.

By Ling

Before I came to Toronto, I imagined that Toronto would have all the answers to my questions, just like some miracle pill, that I will become a whole new me, that I will find some new way out to the limitations of my working situation.

I work as an organizer in Non-Profit Association for Psychiatric Survivor Rights.Working with survivors in an alternative Association, the desire to resist dehumanization in the rapid world bridges me with them, we both long to become a person not hiding behind a diagnosis or maladjustment label.

During my years 28 to 30, I “suddenly” felt lost and not so sure where I belong. Frustration, unworthy feeling, seeking to the physical pain and suicidal ideas dominated most of me. Spending time worried about other’s judgment, living in here and now was hard to reach.

The sudden feeling of lost does not just show up, it comes from places where break people into fragments. Under the culture of “economic-benefit-priority” in the main stream, people with mental health challenges, families and workers are all suffering.

The world changes too fast – to label a person is always a quick way to rationalize our fear of unknown but leaves people with mental health challenges and their families living in an isolated situation, eliminated from society. Workers are oppressed by the efficiency required from the funders, government and the value of money-first. People with mental health challenges and families become numbers, workers become robots – what a sad story.

After visiting different organizations and having conversations with survivors, workers and organizers in Toronto, one thing I realize is that there is no quick model to make perfect fit to everything.

Learning to see things in 3D, knowing the difference and uniqueness in history, social context, culture, population and geography is giving me a strong base to review things, not flatten them into problems. To appreciate what we’ve been through and deepen our living experiences into practical and local knowledge is the thing worth to do.

I would like to thank all the survivors, voice hearers and family members I’ve communicated with in Toronto. You all are the most sincere artists I’ve ever met in the world. You all are also the representatives of beauty and all your efforts to survive and your humbleness encourage me tremendously.

Specially thanks to KH who lead me to a whole new universe and gave me opportunity to write in Toronto Recovery Network.

Ling Lee
from Taiwan, August 2014.

About recoverynetwork:Toronto

We believe people can and do recover from "mental illness" - because we are living it. We believe in the power of supporting each other: learning from and with each other. You are welcome to join us..
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