With Mayor Keller’s program to retask mental health crisis calls to better suited first responders – namely, first responders without guns – a series of articles written over the last four years are automated-scheduled for publication here on Thoughtcrimes and affiliated peer advocacy sites.
The articles are commentary, satire, and some very personal, including my suicide letter detailing the failure of the City of Albuquerque to adequately protect the safety of peer volunteers, the failure of provider members of MHRAC to recognize peer colleagues in mental health crisis, the failure of national health non-profits to place peer volunteers before national legislative policy, and, by far of greatest culpability, my personal failure for sacrificing my mental and physical health for a volunteer position.
The central question is:
“Why now? What changed? And why four years of silence?”
The answer is simple:
The mayor’s new first responder program.
Call it an extension of the same wayward chivalry that allowed me to push myself to suicide, my true fear was if I said anything critical of APD, CIT training, and MHRAC, this would adversely affect peers in crisis, that the four years of work I accomplished (starting with Dr. Rodgers) training law enforcement how to deescalate peers in crisis would be for naught. Peers would continue to be shot by APD. And this misplaced chivalry (arrogance) kept me silent and in tormented crisis.
And in a happily ironic twist, this same artificial chivalry is what kept me from killing myself, for the same precise reason. Killing myself discredits CIT and would harm peers in crisis.
So there’s that.
To begin, there are four articles. Then another four. And a final four. Over the past four years.
Three years ago I presented a tortuously restrained podcast where I attempted to express these same ideas, insights, and narratives. I held back. To the point of nearly killing myself.
So one more question is:
What do I hope to accomplish?
For me … freedom from my own destructive choices.
For peers … a true voice. Not mine. Theirs.
For peer advocacy … a cautionary tale.
There’s a good probability I’ll end up in legal conflict over these publications, both civil and criminal, as direct consequence of what I strongly believe is in the community’s best interest . I’ve heard rumblings. And I understand this blog has been picked apart with selective detail intended to discredit. Fair enough. Thoughtcrimes is the unfiltered experience of a peer with bipolar and CPTSD, including articles written when I was experiencing significant symptoms. That is the intent and goal of Thoughtcrimes, to illustrate through my experience what it’s like to have bipolar and CPTSD. Even the ugly stuff.
Of concern to me is how will these articles affect Stand Up To Stigma peer support groups. If everyone can put peers first, it won’t affect our peer support groups at all. We have traditionally had the support of the City of Albuquerque providing our Friday evening venue for no fee, and I trust this can continue. Still, being responsible I have a team of peers trained to take over the management of our groups. It’d be a shame because our groups bring me great joy and community.
My hope is these publications aren’t mistaken for “whistleblowing.” Again, I sacrificed my own health to benefit the integrity of the Albuquerque Police Department. It is because of Mayor Keller’s new mental health crisis response project that I finally feel confident peers will not be harmed by what I share.
Consequences are consequences, and publishing these articles is for my health. And that’s ultimately my motivation. I want to be healthy.