I wrote this poem in April of 2016. I think this is a good time to repost it.
When we join to march on Washington to end Stigma against the Mentally Ill
The turn out will probably be small
I will be there, my mother and hopefully a friend or two.
But CNN, NBC and ABC will probably have better things to do
As I said, the turn out will be small
Maybe a local paper or a blogger
But it won’t make international news,
No BBC World for this strut.
Because in their eyes and closed minds
There is “NO” story.
As for the Marchers,
None of us will have guns or planes or buses to crash into building and mountains
None of us will have shot up a school or post office within the past few days
Many of us will have medication and a water bottle to take them with,
Oh yeah and sunscreen, because some meds make you sensitive to sunlight
You can get dehydrated.
If we get a hundred of us to show up
I would be quite surprised.
It’s not because our numbers are few, oh no
We number in the millions.
If you look to your left
If you look to your right and smile
We are there, the mentally ill don’t wear a Scarlet MI on our foreheads
But we are present.
When the March on Washington to help end Stigma against the Mentally Ill happens
The turn out will be small,
Not because of the numbers,
Rather, because the backlash the next day, will be fierce
For the one Television Station that does show up will broadcast our faces and
Bob from accounting.
And the next day, he will return to work and he will no longer just be Bob
No longer the guy they chat up at the water cooler and play fantasy football with,
No longer the Aerosmith fan in the next cubical, or the one who makes office lunch runs on Wednesday
No longer the cute guy from accounting, with the daughter on the honor roll.
He won’t be Bob anymore…
Bob will become, the ticking bomb
In the eyes of his co-workers and employer
The nut job next door, to his neighbors who use to admire his lawn tending skills
The crazy used to carpool with the other guys, until the March on Washington
And they all saw his face with the sign, “I am Mentally Ill… Let’s do lunch”
For each Mentally Ill person who makes the headlines
There are tens of thousands, who never will.
We fear losing our jobs
We fear losing our friends and our families
We fear losing our lives we have worked on so hard,
Day after day too keep together
like anyone else, with one slight difference.
The therapy, the meds, the coping mechanisms
The private break downs and possible inpatient stays.
All designed to keep it together, and we do.
So, when we all join to battle Stigma
The few of us who have come
I guess we will be there for the Bob’s and Jane’s,
Who can’t attend, because of what they are afraid they will loose.
The Stigma is that strong, the prejudice, the persecution.
Like Blacks and Gays, who have had to fight for years to be seen, heard and counted
I wonder if we will ever get our March, or Stonewall Inn.
We have always been the family secret to me hidden away somewhere since the days of Ancient Rome.
And here it is, here we are today and no one is willing to march with us or for us.
To identify our struggle,
We fight everyday, just to have a life and bring home a paycheck
We seek out treatment and help, when sometimes no help is offered or available.
When we can’t afford our medication and we have to ration out what we have left, if any.
No March on Washington will take place
Because we fear that the love and admiration we may have now,
will turns to fear from our family and friends
Once the mask is taken off and we are labeled.
So the mentally ill won’t come.
The media will pass, Bob’s job is safe
And we will continue day to day
We survive and we do it damn well.
Because we are strong and because we can.