Conspiracy theorists are upset that their views are dismissed and they thesmelves are marginalized. I say this is an excellent dynamic and I’ll tell you why, as a mental health peer advocate.

When I first started this peer advocacy thing – ten years ago – and began attending community behavioral health meetings in New Mexico, I was continuously “complimented” by others for “being so articulate… for a peer.” Yes, this is incredibly ignorant, biased, discriminatory, and just plain mean, and I could have gotten upset and demanded peers be treated with professional and basic human respect.

But I didn’t.

Why? Because as long as these minimizing well-wishers underestimate peers, we can get through all sorts of necessary change with little bureaucratic pushback. Being seen as intellectually deficient and less capable is a stigma worth capitalizing upon. So I did and I encourage fellow peer advocates to do the same.

The point is:

Let the world underestimate you for as long as they allow. Being called a conspiracy theorist is a gift to your ambitions and goals.

Now, my conspiracy theorist friends, a number or your ideas seem absolutely whack to me, but that’s a good thing. I take you seriously AND I think you’re nuts (at times). Folks like me are primed to accept your conclusions when we’re shown otherwise.

Being tagged as a conspiracy theorist is a gift, not an insult. Let it ride.

And, you can perpetuate their self-constructed myth even further with prime chosen words.

Mental health community stakeholder: “Steve, you’re so articulate FOR A PEER.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what half of those words mean.”

Just know going in, invariably the gift is rescinded when they figure you out. This gift to peers hasn’t been available to me for years. In fact, I’m seen as “too functional,” and because of this, mental health colleagues either didn’t recognize or simply ignored that I was falling into a seriously dangerous suicidal episode by volunteering to help the Albuquerque Police Department. The one email I received after reaching out for help was “We’re sorry you’re having a hard time. We voted you out of MHRAC using the bylaws.” You bet, I kept ALL of these communications as a cautionary tome for fledgling peer advocates. But that’s a different tale for another time (self-care, self-care, self-care).