Fighting for Mental Health Rights

The Catalyst newsletter is left in the laundry center. I read it for its entertainment value.

The Catholic churchgoers who write this bulletin railed against Oprah Winfrey for telling a graduating class to trust their feelings and use their feelings to make decisions.

This is news to me–that we’re not supposed to honor our feelings and that we’re wrong to have feelings. Heaven help us if we’re supposed to believe that rational thought always supersedes emotional clarity.

Bottling up our feelings, stuffing down our feelings is the foolproof way to make ourselves ill. Now I have hear it all when a major religion discounts the role feelings play in being healthy.

Apparently it’s okay to express feelings of love only towards those you deem worthy of your esteem. The Catalyst claims that only 0.3 percent of Americans are LGBTQ. That’s the newsletter writer’s excuse for asserting that our feelings don’t count.

Honestly I have not ever before heard anyone claim that it’s a mistake to trust and use your feelings to make decisions. That only allegedly 0.3 percent of Americans are LGBTQ isn’t the point. The point is that there’s no such thing as “Freedom for me and not for you.”

The fact that a minority of people undergo gender-confirmation surgery or that LGBTQ individuals are not the majority is no reason to assail their rights as human beings living on earth.

If we can’t protect the rights of “minorities” living in America, why should we only protect the rights of the majority? Jesus is going to rise from his grave any minute to smack some sense into human beings who stand around judging others.

I refuse to be silent on the things that matter to me. Only one percent of the population has SZ. Are we to discount them too because they’re in the minority?

Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t like using the term “minorities” to describe people. It’s because the root of the word–minor–appalls me.

In the slums of India Mother Teresa shouldn’t have been telling the indigent not to use condoms and birth control to prevent pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. Yes, The Catalyst fails to mention this when it attacks critics of Mother Teresa.

Now I have heard it all under the guise of “religious liberty.” Since when does one person’s religion supersede other people’s beliefs?

Since when does the majority get to determine whether the minority has any rights?

I’ve been keenly observing the trajectory of LGBTQ rights in America for one good reason: it’s been unprecedented unless you link it to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

At what point does the institutional squelching of LGBTQ rights foreshadow denying the rights of people with mental illnesses?

Yet depending on who is elected president there’s the very real chance that any laws protecting people with mental health challenges will be abolished. There’s the very real chance that any gains we’ve made like being able to set up a tax-free ABLE Account will be rolled back.

I tell you now: go out and vote on November 8 for whoever you think will protect your liberty, your rights, your access to mental health treatment.

The time is now to speak up. Rock the vote. Your vote counts.


Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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