Intolerance

Image credit: Facebook.com - whisperoftheheart
Image credit: Facebook.com – whisperoftheheart

Some people I know might not agree with what I say in this post, but then that is a risk I take every time I post.  And actually it’s okay. The beauty of this world is that we can each have our opinions, right or wrong, even left or right.  You don’t have to agree with me, and I don’t have to agree with you.  But I am going to stand up for what I believe, even if it means standing alone.  That said, I know in this case, that I am not standing alone.  I know that many people believe as I do on this one.  Let people be people.

The other day I came across some information that made me very sad.  It wasn’t sad to the point of tears this time, but sad to the point of feeling physically sick.  Earlier in the day I had read an article about gay Bishops in the Church of England needing to lie about their sexual practises, in order to be able to do the job of Bishop.  I wondered to myself whether it was worth it, but then I guess that is for each individual Bishop to decide.

The information I came across later was this, on a wonderful Facebook page Her Fearless Heart:

Image credit: Facebook.com/Her Fearless Heart (used with permission)
Image credit: Facebook.com/Her Fearless Heart (used with permission)

This is a group of young people campaigning against homophobia.  They’ve had enough and make the point that bullying, like homophobia, kills.  I accept it’s a little hard to read, so this what the placards say from left to right:

I am afraid to hold my boyfriend’s hand

My friend’s parents sent her away

I found death threats in my locker

I submitted to electroshock therapy

I lost half my friends after coming out

My grandmother sends me hate mail

My school won’t let me take my date to prom

I am not here anymore

My dad tried to beat it out of me

No one is proud of me

Each of these broke my heart in their own way as I imagined being a teen having to face each situation.   Some people might venture to suggest that this is just the norm for gay teens.  But then why should we ever accept a norm like that in our society?

The placard that really got to me?

* * *

I submitted to electroshock therapy

* * *

As I’ve written before, I have had repeated sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).  (see ECT – How It Was For Me).  The last series of about 10 treatments was eleven years ago, when I was being treated for treatment-resistant depression.  It is my intention to never accept ECT again.

I’ve heard of people being given ECT because they’re sad, and I’ve heard of people being given it because they’re shy (my favourite author, Janet Frame got it for this reason).  I’ve heard of ECT being given to old people just because they’re old, tired and lonely.

The real reason I had three series of treatments of ECT (about 25 treatments in all) across about six years was because each psychiatrist at the time couldn’t fit an appropriate diagnosis to me.  They were each concerned at aspects of my behaviour, but couldn’t decide what disorder fitted me. (One day I’ll tell you about this.)

Those behaviours weren’t harming me, or anyone else, but they were different from the norm, so apparently ‘had to be dealt with’.  And (in my words) each psychiatrist simply each decided to zap that behaviour out of me in a misguided attempt to make me ‘normal’.  Actually, it didn’t work.  They didn’t manage to kill off that part of me that I held, and still hold very dearly.  Simply a feature of who I am (that they couldn’t understand).

They wanted to kill off a part of me, and I guess that’s why I felt physically sick yesterday when I realised that even now, doctors are trying to kill off a part of this young person… her sexuality.

I don’t claim to know a lot about teens and their sexuality, but I imagine for this teen to have been prepared to consent to ECT, she must have been made to feel very bad, guilty and wrong.  I suspect she felt like she simply wasn’t acceptable as a human being as she was.  I think of my teenage nephews and ache terribly at the thought of them having to face something like this, something to destroy who they are.

Don’t worry, I know all the biblical arguments.  I heard them over and over again,  But this isn’t about the Bible, or even God.  This is about people being allowed to live their life as they are.  When there is no harm to anyone why can’t we let them be?

Why can’t we let a teen grow up proud of who they are, rather than having to deny it?   Let alone accept radical psychiatric treatment to change who she is?  I will never accept that ECT was introduced in the medical world to change who people are.  Is the next step to give it to criminals maybe?  I call this medical malpractice, and abuse of medical powers.

Maybe you think that would be a good idea to give it to the criminals.  While I accept that ECT has valid uses in psychiatric treatment for severe depression, it should not be used for any other issue.  Remember, they don’t even know how it works on the brain, and they also never know if it actually will work on an individual.

Imagine the poor gay teen who submits to ECT for her sexuality, and nothing changes after treatment.  How does that poor young woman feel then?  What does it do to her mental health?  This is called bullying, and it’s wrong.  I hope she fought back.  Considering she is holding the placard in her hand in the picture, I suspect she did, and bravo to her.

Let’s let people be as we want to be ourselves.  Enabled, and even encouraged, to be who we really are, regardless of sexuality.

Nothing Wrong With You Lyrics – The Finn Brothers

It’s a slow parade
Down a dusty road
We’ve learned to take abuse
From devils we don’t know

People who have lost all heart
Look for someone else to blame
You just keep on walking
When they call you a dirty name

All the mud in this town
All the dirt in this world
None of it sticks on you
(You shake it off)
Cause you’re better than that
And you don’t need it
There’s nothing wrong with you

The moment that we dread
It comes all too soon
Voices in your head
Still carry on the tune

Let the sound come in
From the world outside
You just keep on singing
When they tell you filthy lies

All the mud in this town
All the dirt in this world
None of it sticks on you
(You shake it off)
Cause you’re better than that
And you don’t need it
There’s nothing wrong with you

Remember how it made you hurt
Even as you fight to go on
Turn it into something else
Turn it into something else

All the mud in this town
All the dirt in this world
None of it sticks on you
(You shake it off)
Cause you’re better than that
And you don’t need it
No, you don’t believe it

All the mud in this town
All the dirt in this world
None of it sticks on you
(You shake it off)
Cause you’re better than that
And you don’t need it
There’s nothing wrong with you
There’s nothing wrong with you
No

I walk along with you

There’s nothing wrong with you
There’s nothing wrong with you   (1.)

“It is not for me to judge another man’s life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.” 

―    Hermann Hesse,    Siddhartha
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11 thoughts on “Intolerance

  1. I would (and have) gone farther than to call it malpractice. It is abuse. Worse yet, abuse by persons in a position of trust.

    They did actually report recently that they’ve discovered the method by which ECT works. It targets ‘overactive’ connections in the brain, in theory those that cause depression and mania.

    Problem is, it isn’t like surgery. You can’t just go in and cut out the bad, not can you pick which connections you target. Which is why it destroys so much healthy functioning, in some cases – points to self – major functioning, and forever.

    I honestly don’t believe there is one case in one hundred thousand where it is appropriate to use. But I also don’t believe it’s my right to take that slim “hope” away from someone who is suffering.

    You know how I feel, anyway. A little.

  2. John Richardson

    I believe that one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind is free will. Given that Christ calls us not to judge lest we be judged one has to wonder why we can’t, in more instqnces, allow people to live their own lives in a way that seems fitting to them. As for me, I believe that the fact that some folks seem to be designed from birth to be gay is a challenge to those folks who insist on applying Old Testament criminal statutes to the world today. In particular, the song “Born this Way” lays out the argument pretty well that if being gay is wrong why did God design some folks that way. I also believe that Christ tells us to love each other and I think that is exactly the way he feels towards gays. Thanks for the post Cate!

  3. That’s too sad, I’m familiar with it, ECT scares me, in the past it was something that was a possibility to me, I would have consented without wanting it, I know people from the LGBT and autistic community that were forced to do ECT, they have PTSD from it and the rest of the psychiatric treatment, ECT and psychiatric meds are abused in different people, I know too many people that were forced to it because they weren’t normal, I am strongly against ECT for anything but severe depression with informed consent and against it’s use on many groups like GLBT people and autistic people that are the ones I’m most familiar with the constant abuse stories today, it’s abusive and it should be criminal, it really scares me and many think it’s okay to use it in some people because of their prejudice.
    Psychiatry and society can be cruel with minority groups and different people.

    1. I quite agree with you and one of the difficulties I see in it is even those who consent (including myself) are unlikely to be in a fit enough state to consent clearly. I believe it’s a real problem, and especiallt when it is being used for issues other than severe depression. And yes, psychiatry and society can be so cruel. I hate that they do this to people who actually just need our support and acceptance.

  4. Pingback: Disturbing | Infinite Sadness… or hope?

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