The DBSA Albuquerque website was a mess. It looked like it was designed on a Commodore 64 with a Earthlink WYSIWYG editor back when Mozilla was still called Netscape. If I didn’t know how to view browser source code, I would have never found DBSA Albuquerque on October 14, 2010.
That’s an important date. On that day, I gave myself two options:
1.) Kill myself.
2.) Try a bipolar support group.
The thing is, you couldn’t view any of the chapter details. There were scroll bars that went from the upper left corner of the browser to the lower right corner parking lot at Gatwick Airport in England, on both the vertical and horizontal access. That’s what you get for not knowing how to code HTML coupled with periodic browser updates. The point is, if I didn’t know how to view the source code, I would not have found the location and time of that DBSA Albuquerque support group on October 14, 2010.
The first thing I volunteered to do in the behavioral health advocacy world was to redesign the DBSA Albuquerque website. It needed to be done, I knew how to do it, and so when I sat down to code a new website that week, it was the proverbial snowball rolling down hill, getting larger and larger, picking stray telemarkers off the slopes, plowing through thousands of square miles of old growth conifer forests, and crashing to a small Alpine village in Tyrol, decimating the villages, so only one in ten could file civil suits against me. Joke’s on them. I’ve been broke since 2003.
It started with a website redesign. It’s snowballed a long way since then. NAMI trainings, miscellaneous assorted varieties of chairs and boards and committees, legislative peer advisory groups, public speaking, law enforcement trainings, through the early days of disco, all the way to today.
So many opportunities opened up for me, and for my friends who perhaps not so wisely placed a modicum of faith in me, that I was being pulled in all sorts of directions and getting very little accomplished along the way. Going to meeting after meeting, takes reams of notes at each meeting, and coming home trying to organize everything into a game plan was getting me nothing more than going to the next round of meetings.
At the end of last year, I sat down with my best gal and a few friends and asked them, “What should I be doing? I can’t advocate everywhere.” There was some brainstorming, there was some Trivial Pursuit, there was some who ate the whole *$%*($!%(( bag of Doritos again… and one of the folks said, “What do you like doing? What makes you happy?”
T’was the perfect question. Razzie pointed out several times how cynical I’d become about peer advocacy, even taking a hit with a bunch of goofy peers at DBSA Albuquerque unwilling to face their own demons yet perfectly willing to mob-think their worries onto me. I wasn’t having fun, and I wasn’t happy with what I was doing.
So I looked at the end of 2015, and what brought me the most joy was developing training for our Boys In Blue CIT training. And giving presentations at then KiMo. And doing mental health stand up. And training other peers… and… and… I liked to teach. I liked to educate.
I like to teach. I like to educate. All the state legislation stuff on AOT and CET and YMCAT was getting me down. Managing a support group was becoming a chore. It was public outreach that I love, and it’s what I’m good at. So Razzie said, “Do that.” And my friends said, “Who ate all the Doritos?”
So that’s what I’m doing. Education. Outreach. We’re developing our own education programs, peer programs that make sense. “Laugh It Off.” “You Can’t Always See It.” “Peers and Parents Unite!” These are projects I’ve mulled over but never moved on. Until now. Right now.
We had our first presentation of Laugh It Off at Turquoise Lodge Hospital. We rocked it. I’ve helped develop APD CIT training. I advise at MHRAC. It’s education and outreach. It’s talking to people.
It’s what I’m good at. I’ve found my niche. I found what fits me best, and I’m excited about peer advocacy once again.
By the by, I’ve been appointed to the CIT Inc. board. I’m so stoked! More on this later.