in recovery – #AgainstStigma the face of addiction/”mental illness”*: one month in

One month into my ‪#‎AgainstStigma‬ project and I have had 10 participants, with three more in the wings – more than I could have dreamt of! To my participants: I am beyond grateful for your incredible courage to stand up and be the face of addiction and/or mental illness, especially in the face of the very real stigma. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys are the modern day heroes. You guys are the ones fighting the battle, day by day, and living to tell the tale.

And please, if anyone has any queries, reservations or debates to offer up about this project, please contact me. This is a project under constant revision and re-creation. Let’s discuss and create what we live with together, instead of having the medical and psychiatric industry define it for us.*/**

And let’s keep speaking out against stigma, for the sake of those still struggling with addiction, mental illness and the stigma that prevents them from realising they’re not alone and from getting the support they so desperately need. Please share. Please participate.

Click for: The participants thus far.

* A note on what I mean by mental illness. The word ‘illness’ is something I use for the sake of clarity, to make sure that everyone knows what I am speaking about. So I use the psychiatric term. So whatever your definition and whether you see it as a burden or a gift, what I mean here by ‘mental illness’ is the same thing you mean. I have huge issues with the psychiatric institution and see it as very fraught, and I am not a big fan of the DSM whatever version we’re on now. I don’t believe in ‘diagnosis’ and hate how it labels and limits one. I see my ‘mental illness’ as part of my personality, not a pathology, something that makes me more sensitive and creative than most, which is both beautiful and difficult. Whether you align yourself to addiction as an illness or something that is not pathological, this project is for you, because I would like to put a face on those living outside the boundaries of what most people consider ‘normal’, and making a success of the daily struggles.

** recovery / active recovery / clean time / active recovery from mental illness / clean time from mental illness‘Recovery’ is not easily definable. I use the terms ‘recovery’ and ‘mental illness’ in the way that they are defined by the very, very fraught psychiatric institution. What I mean by ‘in recovery’ as opposed to ‘active addiction’ is that the former has taken the steps needed to live with their mental illness/addiction. They are aware that it is a day-to-day struggle and not something that is ever cured. An active addict or someone who is a victim to their mental illness is someone who is waiting to be saved; someone who does not take responsibility for what they are dealing with. And certainly, reaching out for help is taking responsibility. It’s the difference between between active, an agent in one’s own recovery, and being passive and waiting for a pill/professional/sobriety to save one. What it means for me is the last time my life was completely unmanageable, when I was not functioning, when the depression controlled me instead of the other way around; when I was a victim to it instead of a survivor living with and dealing with it daily. But having said that, it is not all smooth sailing. And not just because I’m an addict and living with mental illness, but because I’m alive ;) There are ups and downs and I have bad days and even relapse in some of my addictions. Or if I don’t relapse in my addictions, then I relapse in my addictive thinking and do impulsive, self-destructive and general ‘addict’ things. This clarification is under constant revision and has not been expressed very well here. Comments, queries and suggestions are very, very welcome. Let’s keep redefining what we live with, by ourselves, for ourselves, instead of having a psychiatric institution tell us what we live with. 

why monsanto is evil (it’s not science-fiction)

agent orange

HERE is an article discussing some of the non-“woo” (pseudo-scientific hippie freak-out) reasons why companies like Monsanto pushing genetically modified products are doing evil: the corporate imperatives and corruption surrounding the development of GMOs, how their use disempowers farmers (especially small farmers in non-first world contexts, although this article only talks about the USA) and what we can do about this deception being perpetrated against the world.

Apart from being economically unsustainable, there are also other compelling health-related reasons why GMOs are a bad idea, which don’t involve a non-specific, irrational fear of genetic mutations being dangerous to consume per se. For example, the seeds are engineered to be resistant to pesticides so that crops can be sprayed and only the weeds growing among the GM plants die. Studies have shown that GM food (or the meat of animals that ate GM food) can be contaminated by traces of the pesticides used during the plants’ growth, pesticides that are teratogenic (causing birth defects) and carcinogenic (causing cancer)  to humans. These modifications also lead to resistance in plants and insect pests – “superweeds” and “superbugs” that make sustainable farming more difficult.

If you are South African, please GO HERE to sign a petition as part of the formal public participation process against an application by multinational agricultural company Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, to import GM cottonseed products to South Africa, for use as food, animal feed and in processing. 

chhoun vanna – toa thea youm chlong (birds are singing but my lover won’t return)

“The birds are chirping, to and fro
My love, have you forgotten me?
As water can’t cut through the sand
I can’t cut you from my memories
The bridge (between you and I) has broken
The pathway is gone, and the water is so very deep
How am I to find you on the other side, so far away?”

Chhoun Vanna was a Cambodian singer between the 1950s and ’70s. She and her sister Chhoun Malai survived the Khmer Rouge genocide.

ros sereysothea – who’ll stop the rain?

Cambodian cover by Ros Sereysothea and Sinn Sisamouth of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain?”. They died under unknown circumstances during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror,  as did countless other artists and intellectuals murdered in Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, and this recording only survived on tapes smuggled out of the country.

“Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down.
Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, tryin’ to find the sun;
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain.”

Read more of their story HERE.

ros sereysothea – i will starve myself to death/ shave your beard

I hardly ever put on a cd or listen to an LP these days (last is prolly due to the fact,that I killed my speakers/amplifier). In fact i am totally addicted to the net when it comes to music. I also am an avid KCRW listener. I often tune in to Henry Rollins’s radio show on KCRW. Henry does all the searching, comes up with all the cool tunes from every genre all over the place and all I have to do is listen. It was due to his radio show that i started listening to Sinn Sisamouth. This led me to Ros Sereysothea. I am 100% fascinated with her singing and music.

For the last days, I keep playing over and over this on Spotify:’ ‘Dengue Fever Presents Electric Cambodia”. Sounds amazing,and wished that i could understand the language. All performers on this compilation are dead,or ”vanished”. Killed/died during the communist Khmer Rouge regime.

”Electric Cambodia may be one of the saddest and most enraging compilations released this year—not for the music, but for the history. The performers are dead, all dead, or “vanished” into the Killing Fields—murdered, presumably, although the how is a mystery. Did they die quickly or slowly? ” – read more of this review HERE.

Ros Sereysothea – Shave your Beard