Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thanks everyone for your support.

On August 26th, I finished my 100 days of protesting. I was 10 days behind schedule and there were other elements of my protest fell short of my expectations but overall it was a great experience and one that I hope will encourage me to continue in the survivor movement.

I think it is important to have a sustained effort to send the message to these facilities that abuses of human rights will not be tolerated silently and so I want to continue with my protest, although at a more practical scale. I am thinking once a week for a year is a more manageable goal. I also want to explore other means of activism and advocacy including participating in other protests organized by fellow activists. I am currently planning a website to collaborate with other survivors and activists to share our stories and help raise awareness of psychiatric abuse.

I hope that this is just an introduction into the world of activism and that I can devote a substantial part of my life to this important cause. 'Mental health' remains in many ways the last frontier of civil rights - largely untouched by mainstream media and the mass of public conscience. It remains up to us, who experienced the horrors of psychiatry personally, to witness our experience with the rest of the world and do what we can to tilt the scales of the system in the direction of justice and human rights. Thanks again to everyone for being a part of this experience.

- - -
I will be keeping this blog up and hope to continue with my activism efforts. If you were abused at a psychiatric facility and want to publish your experience on this blog - please email me 100dayprotest@gmail.com .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Days Missed.

Thanks to everyone who is still checking in every now and then. Thanks so much for sharing in this important experience in my life. The official end date of my protest was this past Sunday (August 16, 2009) but I missed 4 days of protesting last week that I will be making up. I also want to share some of my thoughts on the whole protest experience as well as my future activism efforts in the psychiatric survivor movement.

I was debating as to how to gracefully retire my blog (my final post) but I decided that as with my activism efforts, I should to keep this blog going past my protest period. I came to know many people and share my protest with so many of you that I do not feel right in saying goodbye so abruptly. I only hope I can be a more disciplined blogger in the weeks and months to come and actually do some writing on a regular basis. Thanks to everyone who visited, commented, encouraged, and reached out.

God Bless.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Only five days left...

Today will be day 95 of my protest. Thanks for everyone's support of my efforts. It's been a tough journey but it would have been impossible without your encouragements. I am very grateful to you all.

-g.m.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Any other psychiatric survivors thinking of protesting?

The following was a recent comment by a psychiatric survivor
Hey man I love what you're doing here, keep it up :D.

I was thinking of doing the same thing at the hospital I was abused at. Got any tips for a newbie protester? :)
I already posted a small comment in reply. Later, after the commenter emailed me, I was able to respond at length.

This is exactly the kind of interaction that keeps me going and reassures me during my darkest periods of doubts. It is a great inspiration to me and I feel very motivated in my own activism efforts because of this. Hearing from fellow psychiatric survivors and activists has been without question the greatest highlight of my protest and the biggest factor that has kept me going forward.

Are there any psychiatric abuse survivors out there that are planning on holding a peaceful protest outside the facility where they were abused? I would like to feature any such protests on a new website I am planning to raise awareness of psychiatric abuse and activism.

Please comment below or email me at 100dayprotest@gmail.com and let me know. If you just leave a comment I won't be able to get in touch with you other so remember to sent me an email also.

Thanks.

-g.m.

Days 69 to 82 of 100

Day 69: Thursday, July 16 @ 9:35 pm to 10:35 pm
Day 70: Friday, July 17 @ 1:30 am to 2:30 am
Day 71: Saturday, July 18 1:05 am to 2:05 am
Day 72: Sunday, July 19 @ 2:00 am to 3:00 am
Day 73: Monday, July 20 @ 10:35 am to 11:50 am
Day 74: Tuesday, July 21 @ 2:35 am to 3:35 am
Day 75: Wednesday, July 22 @ 3:15 am to 4:15 am
Day 76: Thursday, July 23 @ 3:25 am to 4:25 am
Day 77: Friday, July 24 @ 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Day 78: Saturday, July 25 @ 7:10 pm to 8:10 pm
Day 79: Sunday, July 26 @ 3:50 am to 4:50 am
Day 80: Monday, July 27 @ 4:15 am to 5:15 am
Day 81: Tuesday, July 28 @ 3:00 am to 4:00 am
Day 82: Wednesday, July 29 @ 4:20 am to 5:20 am

Still Protesting...

I am still protesting despite the fact that I have not been updating my protest times on the blog. I am quite exhausted by now and have not been finding the time or inspiration to blog lately. For this I apologize.

An other issue that has unfortunately crept up is that I have been protesting later at night; sometimes well past midnight - thus a few hours late for those days and technically into the next day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Days 61 to 68 of 100

Day 61: Wednesday, July 8 @ 11:50 pm - 12:50 am
Day 62: Thursday, July 9 @ 1:45 pm - 12:45 am
Day 63: Friday, July 10 @ 10:20 am. - 11:20 am
Day 64: Saturday, July 11 @ 8:25 pm to 9:25 pm
Day 65: Sunday, July 12 @ 12:15 am - 1:15 am
Day 66: Monday, July 13 @ 7:15 pm - 8:15 pm
Day 67: Tuesday, July 14 @ 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm
Day 68: Wednesday, July 15 @ 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Friends Hospital = Frustrations

When I emailed the patient rep at Friends Hospital in reply to his offer to look into my allegations, I very specifically requested that all correspondence shall be done through email. The reason I did this is two fold:
1. To maintain transparency*.
2. It is emotionally much easier for me to write something down on paper than to be speaking on the phone with the representative from the facility where I was severely abused.

I had experienced nothing but frustration in my attempts from years earlier when I tried to obtain my medical records from Friends Hospital. Their claim was at first that they had no records and later that it must have been misplaced. I don't know how many weeks I had to call them up and keep asking them about my records before they finally said that they "found" them. Each time I called, my heart was pounding and my voice cracked like the crush of dry leaves under the pain and frustration of having to endure this second victimization. I still do not have a complete set of my records as far as I believe.

So why should I endure the same cycle of deception and frustration? Well, life is about compromises so I am willing [to an extent] to endure some frustrations. I finally managed the courage to call Friends Hospital rep's number yesterday and got the answering machine. I did not leave a message. I called again today and got the same voice mail. I did leave a message today:
Hi Mr.*
This is Godly Mathew. I'm the gentleman who is protesting outside. You asked me to give you a call. It's really much, much more convinient and emotionally easier for me to do this by email but I'm trying to be as reasonable as possible but give me a call back if you rather do this over the phone but I am tape recording the whole thing because I want it to be transparent. You can call me on my cell if you like [*phone number]. Thanks.

There are plenty of businesses that conduct important, mission critical correspondence by email every day. I don't think my demand is at all unreasonable but life is all about compromises right?. Well, email or not - this will be transparent and I will be posting all transcripts on my blog.

For a complete record of all correspondence, Click here.

*In the interest of being objective, a friend of mine did critique my efforts at 'transparency'. You can read his views here.

So what do you think? Questions, comments, critiques? Feel free to email me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some Days...

Some days are very inspirational. Others less so.

There are days when I look forward to the protest and have a great time. Other times I almost dread the whole experience and count down the minutes till it's done. Overall, the protest has been a very positive experience in my life. People reach out both on the street as well as on my blog and through email and I feel that I'm making at least a small difference.

The last two weeks have been the most difficult so far for reasons I cannot easily explain. The protest felt mundane and awkward most of the time and the last thing I wanted to do was write about it. Now I'm feeling a little better and so I thought I would try to write a little.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Finally got my associates in computer networking...

I have found it nearly impossible to do any writing lately. There is less than 40 days left and I must say that in some ways I am a bit relieved. Will explain more in a later post. Just happy and relieved that I finally graduated my computer networking course with an associates. I have been under a lot of stress lately. Now I can breathe [a little] easier. Hopefully I will land an entry level job in the field and be able to start saving up some money. Right now I am just grateful that I have a part time job at a gas station. I have a long road ahead of me and in many ways I am just starting my journey. I'm traveling light (few expectations) but I don't want to be completely without hope. There is just so much I'm struggling with internally and so little patience to write.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Days 51 to 60 of 100

Day 51: Sunday, June 28 @ 10:50 pm - 11:50 pm
Day 52: Monday, June 29 @ 11:25 pm - 12:25 am
Day 53: Tuesday, June 30 @ 11:00 pm - 12:00 am
Day 54: Wednesday, July 1 @ 12:00 am - 1:00 am
Day 55: Thursday, July 2 @ 9:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Day 56: Friday, July 3 @ 10:45 pm. - 11:45 pm
Day 57: Saturday, July 4 @ 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Day 58: Sunday, July 5 @ 9:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Day 59: Monday, July 6 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Day 60: Tuesday, July 7 @ 12:00 am - 1:00 am

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mindfreedom Article About My Protest

Mindfreedom is the most vocal activism group out there advocating civil and human rights for those labeled with a 'mental illness' diagnosis. Many members (including myself) are former psychiatric victims turned activists. They posted a small article on my protest on their website. Click here to read.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 50 of 100 - Thanks Everyone !!!

Day 50 of 100: Saturday, June 27 @ 11:15 pm to 12:15 am. My first protest past midnight...

Today (Saturday) was day 50 of my 100 day protest. I have not been blogging much in the last few days... but I thought that I should write something today. Not sure what exactly but I want to say how surreal this feels even after 50 days. More people reached out to me and more awareness is taking place than I could have anticipated when I first walked up to the boulevard on a Saturday morning almost two months ago. I feel full of gratitude towards everyone who supported and encouraged me. I realize more than ever the difficult road that lies ahead, but I also recognize more than ever the possibility of changing this horrible system of abuse. I am too exhausted and too empty of ideas to write something inspirational but I feel I must do the best to thank everyone. Sorry for how mundane this reads but if my words were able to convey even a small portion of the happiness and gratitude I feel at this movement, it would have been very beautiful writing indeed. Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Days 38 - 49 of 100

Day 38: Monday, June 15 @ 6:00pm to 7:30 pm
Day 39: Tuesday, June 16 @ 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm
Day 40: Wednesday, June 17 @ 6:55 pm to 7:55 pm
Day 41: Thursday, June 18 @ 7:00 pm. - 8:00 pm
Day 42: Friday, June 19 @ 7:00 pm. - 8:00 pm
Day 43: Saturday, June 20 @ 8:45pm. to 9:45 pm
Day 44: Sunday, June 21 @ 6:50 pm - 7:50 pm
Day 45: Monday, June 22 @ 7:50 pm - 8:50 pm
Day 46: Tuesday, June 23 @ 8:20 pm - 9:20 pm
Day 47: Wednesday, June 24 @ 7:25 pm - 8:25 pm
Day 48: Thursday, June 25 @ 5:15 pm - 8:15 pm
Day 49: Friday, June 26 @ 9:25 pm to 11:25 pm.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Phillygrrl Article. Part 2

Part 2 of Phillygrrl article on my protest is up.

This part describes the abuse that I experienced at Friends Hospital. Thanks for reading. Please read the article by clicking the link above and leave a comment of support if you get the chance.

Thanks
- g.m.

Update: Part 3 of the article is now up. It covers what happened after the Friends Hospital incident, including my current activism efforts. Click here to read.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

                      l o v e

love is the eye that sought the light
and restlessly fought the weary nignt
and through the darkness while the world slept
the eye that believed and the eye that wept

love is the flame that burned anew
past the storm and winds that blew
past the anger, despair, and pain
and made my broken heart whole again

love is the distance i cannot gaze
the deep seas i cannot sail
the forgiveness and mercy even when i fail
love is God and his Grace.

Without my faith, I could not have forgave. I forgive ...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Phillygrrl Article on My Protest. Part 1

After 30 some days of my solo protest, often filled with the extremes of hopes and doubts, I am ecstatic and humbled that Phillygrrl has picked up my story. It is a three part series. Part 3 is still pending. I will post the link up as soon as it is up.

Part 1.   Part 2.

Unfortunately, mainstream media stays away from these kinds of stories. It took a grassroots journalist to find interest in my story. If you saw me protesting and wanted to voice your support, please leave a positive comment at the bottom of the phillygrrl article. I will be much appreciative. Thanks.

-gm.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 35: Friday, June 12 @ 8:20 pm to 10:00 pm

Day 36: Saturday, June 13 @ 9:15pm to 10:15 pm

Day 37: Sunday, June 14 @ 8:00pm to 9:00 pm

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Facebook Group: Stop Psychiatric Abuse

If you are on Facebook, please consider joining this group that I started to transform the mental health landscape through social activism.
Click Here To Join.

Here is the group's description as it appears on Facebook:
Help stop psychiatric abuse through grassroots activism. For too long, the mental health profession has spoken on behalf of the so called "mentally ill'' and they did not often have the patient's interests at heart. This needs to change; the voice of psychiatric survivors needs to be heard! The public conscience needs to be roused from the decades of inertia and indifference perpetuated by a self serving mental health system.

This will be an "Awareness to Activism" campaign. We will begin by first raising awareness of psychiatric abuse through the first hand accounts of psychiatric victims (including myself). For the personal stories of psychiatric survivors, please visit mindfreedom.org. The focus will be on getting psychiatric survivors and activists to come forward with their perspective on mental health issues. The awareness needs to happen first. Later we will channel that awareness into meaningful activism through non violent means.

Network with survivors, activists, and their supporters in the quest to bring humane alternatives to the mental health landscape. Show your support for patient autonomy and civil rights by joining against the inhumane practices of institutional psychiatry.

Thanks,

Godly Mathew

Days 29 -34 of 100

Day 29: Saturday, June 6 @ 1:12pm to 2:12pm

Day 30: Sunday, June 7 @ 7:45 pm to 8:45 pm

Day 31: Monday, June 8 @ 7:45 pm to 8:45 pm

Day 32: Tuesday, June 9 @ 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Day 33: Wednesday, June 10 @ 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Nothing like grassroots journalism to complement grassroots activism. Thanks pg (for giving the small guy a voice). The story is still pending but if anyone wants to check out her blog: phillygrrl.com

Day 34: Thursday, June 11 @ 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Monday, June 8, 2009

Me to Friends Hospital. Email no. 2

Note: Anyone wishing to see the thread of emails in their chronological order may do so at fhabuse.org

Friends Hospital sent me an email on Tue, Jun 2, 2009. The following is my reply. It was sent a few minutes ago (Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 6:53 AM). Thanks to everyone who advised me on the best way to proceed.



If you want to meet face to face at a neutral location, that is fine. Please be advised that I will bring a voice recorder and that the entire conversation will be recorded. The recording will be transcribed and all relevant excerpts will be posted on my blog for public viewing. I will also have a witness present with me.

In the mean time, please obtain all my medical records, the names of all staff (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) who were present at the CRC during my admission period, and any other information you can gather such as the account of any staff that witnessed the incident(s). Although I believe I have most of my medical records, I would like a complete copy of this as well so that we are both referencing the same information.

I was involuntarily committed to the facility on December 5-6 of 2004. I was at the CRC waiting room (Larkspur Crisis Response Center) the entire time and the abuse occurred on December 6, but both days are relevant. I will forgo a description of the psychological abuse for now, but the physical abuse consisted of:

1. Not being provided with any water for the duration of the second day's stay at the facility (from 7:00 am to past 1:00 pm).

2. Being shaken vigorously while sleeping (a female employee).

3. Being dropped on the floor (a male employee) such that my head first hit the wall on the way down (several staff were present in the room when this happened and no one intervened).

4. Unnecessary medical procedures performed on route to Frankford Hospital: I was transported via ambulance to Frankford Hospital and I had tubes placed in my mouth, nose, and urinary tract. Two of the staff (both female) from Friends Hospital accompanied me in the ambulance and were present as this happened.

5. In addition, I was coerced into signing several sheets of papers. I had no idea what I was signing because the staff (a female employee; same as in 2.) had a piece of paper placed above the signature line each time and kept yelling at me to sign the papers.

I believe this is all the information you need to commence the document gathering. If you need a release form for my medical records, please email me the form as an attachment and I will fax it back to you.

Let me know if there is anything more that you need.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Godly Mathew

Sunday, June 7, 2009

s a t y a g r a h a

Hatred only destroys; with Love one can conquer.

After 4 years of anger and bitterness, I find myself 'blessed' to have gone through that most horrible experience. It's a strange choice for a word, but I know of no other word that can summarize the responsibility and privilege I feel in considering myself an advocate for fellow psychiatric survivors.

What ever I do in this world, however much or little, I hope I do with love. I don't want to 'fight' against anyone, neither individuals nor entities. I want to believe again in the goodness of humanity; that people, institutions, and even systems can be transformed through love, truth and justice. This is not a fight against anyone as much as it is a fight for psychiatric victims.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

To her

To all the patients that were with me at Friends Hospital CRC, especially her...

i can no more forget thee
than i can forget hope
therefore i shall always remember thee

(December 5-6, 2004) always in my heart, always in my prayers
                                                                               - hope you are alright.

Day 28 of 100

Day 28: Friday, June 5 @ 7:30pm to 8:30pm.

A--single--link--     -     --is--all--it--takes--to--break--a--long--chain--of--abuse.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Days 24 - 27 of 100

Day 24: Monday, June 1 @ 7:50pm to 9:00pm

Day 25: Tuesday, June 2 @ 7:45pm to 9:00pm

Day 26: Wednesday, June 3 @ 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Day 27: Thursday, June 4 @ 7:20pm to 8:20pm
There is nothing like shivering in the cold rain to remind me why I am doing this.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Friends Email No. 2

Friends Email No.2
Time: Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 2:49 PM.
I did not include here the contact information of the sender.

Mr Mathew,



Please give me a call at the number below and we can chat or schedule face to face.



Thanks for responding!


I had specified that all correspondence shall be conducted via email. I hope this is just a misunderstanding on their part and not an indication that they are choosing not to comply with my demand for an open and transparent investigation. We will see.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Days 21 - 23 of 100

Day 21/100: Friday, May 29 @ 7:15pm to 8:15pm.

Day 22/100: Saturday, May 30 @ 7:45pm to 8:45pm

Day 23/100: Sunday, May 31 @ 7:45pm to 8:45pm

A voice that speaks out is to the silence what a candle is to the darkness.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Reply to Friends Hospital

Friends Hospital sent me an email three days ago (May 26) offering to investigate into my allegations of abuse. The following is my reply. It was sent via email just a few minutes ago (Fri, May 29, 2009 at 4:38 PM).



Hello,

Thanks for contacting me and offering to perform an inquiry into my allegations of abuse. I only wish that your organization would have taken these steps sooner and on their own initiative rather than as a response to 17 days of sustained protesting outside your facility. It has now been more than four years since the abuse occurred, and not every victim of psychiatric abuse is going to want to endure the pain and embarrassment of broadcasting their victimization in such a public and apparently effective way. An organization like yours should not wait for a victim to go to such great lengths of seeking justice before getting involved. It should do a better job of self policing so that when a suspicious incident (such as the questionable sequence of events that transpired in my case) occurs, they will follow up with a thorough and immediate investigation. Better yet, they should have the mechanisms and procedural safeguards to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the first place. More than two years ago I tried to bring a civil suit (as a pro se plaintiff) against Friends Hospital and they hired an attorney who successfully had the case dismissed on legal shortcomings. If the high level administration \ board who hired the attorney wanted to, they could have initiated an inquiry into the allegations of abuse I described in my pleadings. Were these individuals interested in protecting the rights of abuse victims or merely in avoiding the monetary consequences of a civil proceeding? Your actions or lack thereof speak much louder than my words. I hope there is more motivating your current actions than merely PR considerations. As a facility that purports to be in the business of 'healing the mind', the welfare of your patients should have been the first and highest consideration, not a mere afterthought.

The second day of my protest, Friends Hospital did make an effort at responding. They sent out a security guard who after 20 minutes of observing me from his van came out yelling, trying to get me to leave my protest post. I was doing my best to ignore him, but then he threatened to call the police (even though I was on public property) and took out his cell. He succeeded in getting me to leave that day but I returned the next day and every day since and will be doing so for the remainder of my protest period. Why an organization would resort to such uncivil tactics to deal with abuse victims who speak out is beyond me, but please let anyone at the facility that thinks otherwise know that contrary to what happens within the closed doors of your facility, this is still a country that upholds civil rights and civil liberties, and that freedom of speech and the right to express dissent are fundamental aspects of those rights. Other forms of freedom, such as the right to be free from physical and psychological abuse are also rights that I hope your hospital staff can eventually be persuaded to recognize.

I apologize that my tone in this letter is less than cordial and I want to assure you that the coldness is not directed towards you personally. However, I can never be 'friends' with an institution that violates the most sacred and intrinsic rights that all human beings are entitled to. As far as the investigation, I want it to be rigorous and fully transparent. The 'closed door' type inquiry will not do. This is not an internal matter that concerns only you, but one that concerns the rights and welfare of psychiatric patients everywhere. I deserve to know the full details of the investigation (every step of the way) and the findings that result (every step of the way). I am not merely interested in the conclusion but I want to be kept up to date on all developments throughout the entire investigation process. Your patients deserve to know and so does the public. This is not going to be a one sided investigation conducted entirely at your discretion, but a collaborative one where the public and I will be fully active participants. We will conduct all correspondence via email so that there is a 'paper trail' and I will be posting the relevant content on the blog as it becomes available, so that this will indeed be a transparent and open process. For too long justice has been thwarted and the voice of abuse victims silenced and obscured by institutions such as yours. I will do my humanly best to see to it that it is no longer the case. If you wanted to do this investigation 'your way', you already had 4 years to do so. This investigation is not yours; it belongs to psychiatric survivors everywhere and it belongs to the public. I will be putting considerable time and effort into this process to see that it is properly carried out and meets all the objectives of rigor, transparency, and effectiveness, and I expect no less from you. Thanks in advance for your full and unconditional cooperation. I look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Godly Mathew

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Days 19, 20 of 100

Day 20/100: Thursday, May 28 @ 7:30pm to 8:30pm
Still working on the reply to Friends Hospital...

Day 19/100: Wednesday, May 27 @ 7:20am to 8:20am

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 18 of 100

Day 18/100: Tuesday, May 26 @ 7:40pm to 8:40pm

Friends Hospital finally offers to investigate; more than four years after the abuse took place...

I received an email today from Friends Hospital (Tue, May 26, 2009 at 8:40 AM). The following are the relevant excerpts:

... I am the Patient Representative at Friends Hospital and my job is to investigate all patient complaints. I became aware of your presence out front of the hospital recently and I have been wanting to speak with you to see if I could hear about your issue and see what I can do to investigate it. However, I have managed to miss you each time when I have walked out to the Boulevard. I came across your blog yesterday and the email address thus I am reaching out this way.

I’d like to invite you to come in and speak with me as soon as possible if that is agreeable with you. I take all complaints and concerns seriously and anytime there is an allegation of abuse, it is imperative that I look into it. Let me know and we can make arrangements.

Better late than never I suppose. I only hope this is not merely PR posturing but packs a substantive punch as well. Of course I intend to proceed in good faith and have high hopes of a fruitful investigation. I have not finished writing up my reply yet as I am still considering the best way to respond. I will post it on the blog as soon as it is emailed. Thanks everyone for checking!

Thanks especially to every individual who went out of their way to reach out to me with words of encouragement and support.

Days 16, 17 of 100

Day 16/100: Sunday, May 24 @ 7:40pm to 8:40pm

Day 17/100: Monday, May 25 @ 4:40pm to 5:40pm

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Days 14, 15 of 100

Day 14/100: Friday, May 22 @ 6am to 7am

Day 15/100: Saturday, May 23 @ 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Please check out the following article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Phila., Delaware County restrict Friends Hospital

This is not enough. Merely ceasing from sending future 302 (involuntary commitment) patients to the facility is not sufficient. The city needs to do more and the citizens need to mount the pressure on the hospital and public officials to act. I know it's going to be an uphill battle but I am going to push for a thorough investigation into all allegations of abuse by former patients. There should be a rigorous and transparent inquiry into the entire operations of the facility and all allegations of abuse by former patients such as myself should be fully investigated. Criminal proceedings should take place where they are warranted. Anyone with information about psychiatric abuse should bring forth all relevant information so we can see some amount of justice. If you are aware of any specific instances of abuse or professional misconduct at Friends Hospital, please email me at 100dayprotest@gmail.com. Whether you were a former patient, know someone who was abused, or have worked at Friends Hospital and witnessed coworkers participate in the abusive conduct, you need to speak out. Your voice really does count and can make the difference. Abuse is NOT 'treatment' and the deliberate infliction of mental and physical pain is not 'healing the mind'. Please speak out for the rights of those who do not otherwise have a voice.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 13 of 100

Thursday, May 21 @ 7:20 pm to 8:40 pm

A time to be silent and a time to speak

Sometimes it is difficult to mark the divide between speaking out as a survivor and merely reaffirming my victim hood. It is a delicate line, and sometimes my balance is less than perfect. However, to not approach that divide, to merely stay away so that I can avoid the complications of the past, would mean continuing on as a victim forever. There is an incredible power in finding one's voice and purpose, in rediscovering one's identity. By admitting that I was abused, there is an empowerment that far surpasses the powerlessness of my victimization and the pain inflicted by my psychiatric oppressors.

I was a victim. I am a survivor.



Four years ...
            of silence
                 of fear
                     of pain

            of selfishness
                 of abandoning
                     of forgetting

A 100 days ...
            of speaking out
                 of hope
                     of healing

            of activism
                 of returning
                     of remembering

Friday's protest at 6 am to 7 am.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Days 11, 12 of 100

Day 11/100: Tuesday, May 19 @ 7:20 pm to 8:20 pm

Day 12/100: Wednesday, May 20 @ 7:20 pm to 8:20 pm

I am still gathering the strength to thoroughly document the abuse that happened to me at Friends...

Surprisingly, I find it fairly easy to talk about the incident (to the right people of course) but writing requires a different sort of strength - perhaps a more inner, solitary type that I do not possess. Each day of protesting is giving me the strength to confront the many memories I once buried away to survive. But I never cast those memories completely away. I knew their personal importance to me and always suspected their relevance to other victims of psych abuse. So I buried them deep in my heart for a time when I would be sufficient to bear them. Four years since it all happened, that time is finally dawning.

Hopefully, towards the end of the protest period, I will have my story written up and posted. Until then, my writing will probably dwell more on the generalities of psychiatric abuse and less on the specifics of what happened to me. I might also try a piecemeal approach where I focus on specific aspects of my story that I can later collect together to provide a full account.

As part of the '100 Day Protest', I am also planning on contacting the higher level administration at Friends Hospital to see if they will do a thorough investigation into the allegations of abuse that I bring forward. Thankfully I have obtained most of my hospital documents which will go a long way in confirming my account of the incident.

If anyone wants to read about first hand accounts of what psychiatric abuse victims go through, please read the personal stories of survivors at Mind Freedom's website. Someday I hope to have my own story published there. Especially check out Leonard Frank's story whose family and personal dynamics that led to his involuntary commitment were somewhat similar to mine, although his abuse was much, much worse than anything I endured. After reading their incredibly powerful and moving stories, I feel very humbled to consider myself a fellow psychiatric survivor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Days 9, 10 of 100

Day 9/100: Sunday, May 17 @ 6:45 pm to 7:45 pm

Day 10/100: Monday, May 18 @ 4 pm to 5:30 pm

Two rather chilly days. The flow of traffic on both sides of me generates a lot of wind and I felt very cold even though I was wearing a jacket. Of course there is more to feeling cold than merely the wind and weather...

Protesting, despite the public aspect of it, can be a very solitary affair. When one feels alone, the surrounding masses only heighten the sense of loneliness. There is the occasional interaction with people where someone honks or gives a thumbs up and those moments are what sustain me - the moments that uphold me. Certain days are richer than others in this respect. There are also times when it is very silent. Cars pass quietly and people make their way past this strange aberration in their routine commute. I yearn desperately for some interaction - for some confirmation that what I'm doing will make a difference. Doubt and loneliness are never far away.

Even on these days, there are moments that reaffirm my hopes. In the distance, I see a face looking towards me, their eyes fixed on my sign. With no words said, there is somehow a sense of understanding and empathy. The depth and power of the human gaze... there is nothing like it. I hold my sign up a little higher.

There is no turning back for me. The mind may have its doubts and moments of insecurity but my heart is already made up. One of the many frequent glances at my watch confirms that it has been an hour already. Somewhat relieved, I make my way back home. The walk home feels strange and awkward. Did I accomplish something - or was it just a waste of time? Doubts and fears flood my mind, but my heart already knows. Tomorrow is an other day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 8 of 100: Saturday, May 16 @ 6:45 pm to 7:45 pm

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
Mahatma Gandhi

The change we wish to see in the world is not something external to us. Change happens through us. It is in us. Within each of us is the desire to bring about that change and within us also the ability to do so. When we allow ourselves to become the medium for the change, we become the change. Our minds and bodies become a channel for that change. Like the modest springs that quietly flow till they become streams and rivers, we too become the beginning of something greater than us. When truth and the desire for justice flows from our hearts, no action, however little, is ever insignificant. Something as trivial as holding up a sign suddenly has meaning and significance that transcends the 'then and there' of the moment. When we see a societal evil that appears to be ignored by the masses, rather than lament the fact, we must start to do something about it. The change should begin with us.

The First Week: Days 1-7 of 100.

Day 1/100: Saturday, May 9 @ 10:30 am to 1:00 pm

I started my 100 day protest on Saturday, May 9, 2009 in front of Friends Hospital. I'm on the north bound median on the Roosevelt Blvd. and I will be here an hour or more each day for the next 99 days.

My hands were almost shaking as I first held up my protest sign. It was not so much fear but the angst of anticipation. I have no misgivings and there is no question that this is the right thing to do. My only regret is that I waited so long to speak out - four years of selfishness and fear. How would others perceive my action? Will I be arrested, or taken back to Friends, or ridiculed. Will I be misunderstood? These are all fears I still have. That is one of the reasons I waited so long. I waited while I got a job and an education. I also worked on developing those social skills that were so lacking during my high school years. I had to empower myself before I felt confident enough to do this. There are things in life that are greater than our fears and there are moments when our hearts propel us forth into action, in spite of our doubts and fears. This is one of those.

Two of my former coworkers (Brandon and Walt) came to see me. That gave me a lot of courage. They left after a few minutes but now I know that I am not alone. Sometimes a driver honks or someone gives a thumbs up - and those moments also sustain me. By 12 pm, the combination of standing still and holding a plywood sign was starting to hurt my back. I wanted to stay until evening but decided to wrap things up at 1 pm.


Day 2/100: Sunday May 10, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Today a security guard from the hospital drove up in a van and observed me for 20 minutes or so. He then got out and walked towards me until he was several yards away. He shouted at me "What do you think you're doing man?". He was obviously yelling in a very angry tone and I did not want to get into a interaction with him so my intention was to simply ignore him. He then threatened to call the police and took his cell phone out. At that point, I yelled back "You're calling the police?" and took my cell out and pretended to call the police myself. Of course I did not call the police and I doubt that he did either. Anyway, I felt quite shaken by the incident and I left the protest site soon.

Day 3/100: Monday May 11 @ 9:30 am to 11:00 am.
I spoke with a police officer who assured me that as long as I am on public property and not breaking any laws, I cannot be arrested for protesting.

Day 4/100: Tuesday May 12 @ 7:00 am to 8:00 am.

Day 5/100: Wednesday, May 13 @ 7:40am to 9:40 am.
Met an other psychiatric survivor. He was drugged against his will at Friends Hospital. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Every individual I meet, from supporters to fellow survivors, is part of that journey. Thanks for walking with me.

Day 6/100: Thursday, May 14 @ 9:15 am to 10:15 am. There was a slight drizzle today. I did not want my plywood sign to warp from the moisture so I covered it with a plastic film.

Day 7/100: Friday, May 15 @ 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Silence is a Prison.

Context for the protest.
This is my very first blog and it is dedicated to an other first in my life - the series of protests I am doing outside Friends Psychiatric Hospital (near Adams Ave. and Roosevelt Blvd.) I am protesting the physical and psychological abuse that I was subjected to more than four years ago by Friends Hospital staff (including nurses and doctors). The abuse was not the behavior of one or two rogue staff members, but it was a systematic and methodological abuse carried out in collusion and with deliberate intent. The abuse started out psychological (such as the staff yelling unnecessarily and being kept in the waiting room for close to 20 hours) and progressed to the very physical; culminating in having tubes down my throat, up my nose, and in my urinary tract. As a result, I ended up in Frankford Hospital E.R. and had to be hospitalized for four days while I recovered. I will not go any further into the details of the abuse presently, as it is very lengthy to go into and painfully difficult to write about, but I am currently working on documenting the incident as well as I can and I will ultimately provide a hyperlink for my readers to fully read about the incident. This blog is directed more to the purpose of documenting my protest.

Protest Goals and Procedure.
I will say foremost that my protest does not include any scenarios of public disturbance. At no point do I plan on trespassing onto F.H. (Friends Hospital) property or engaging in conflict oriented behavior, and will ask all supporters to follow the same standard of conduct. So what then will my protest consist of? It is more of a 100 day observance; both a remembrance of the abuse that once took place and a reminder of the abuse that many others are still experiencing - it is an opportunity for me to begin speaking out (after four years of silence) to the world at large. For a hundred consecutive days (an hour or more per day), I plan on carrying out my protest. Like I mentioned, I will not be on F.H. property or physically interfere with their operations in any way. There is a time and context for civil disobedience, but this is not it. I make that point especially clear precisely because I am a most ardent believer in civil disobedience, when carried out intelligently and responsibly. Society could not have made the progress it did if it were not for those who challenged the inertia of countless brutal customs through the deliberate and reflective practice of civil disobedience. However, my protest will consist simply of standing with my sign that reads 'I Was Abused At Friends Hospital'. I will be on the North bound median on the Roosevelt Blvd. in front of the F.H. premises. I have no intention (for now) to organize a public protest. If any one wants to stop by for a few minutes and show their support, that's fine. There is a time for everything of course and hopefully there will come a time when the public conscience is roused to action and demands change.

Thanks for reading.