WHO IS MAD? WHAT IS MAD PRIDE?
What is Mad Pride?
Mad Pride is a determining to be proud of our status as Mad people within a society that currently holds beliefs and attitudes that Mad people are ill, disabled, less than and non-contributing members of society. Mad people’s experiences, wisdom and giftings are at best patronised, and at worst outrightly dismissed.
Mad Pride stakes claim to the right to be who we are and celebrate the blessings that come in the face of the tremendous difficulties and hardships we may experience alongside our madness.
Who is a Mad person?
This is a big question, but in order to simplify the discussion, we consider a Mad person to be someone who would be likely to ‘receive’ a diagnosis under the DSM or the ICD. Some people’s lives may have been touched by madness at some point but may not experience it as an ongoing presence in their lives. We understand that many people who would be likely to fit this criteria find the term Mad to be problematic. We encourage people to identify however they choose. We use this term to reclaim a word as something that is not in fact derogatory, rather a title that holds for us an understanding of the rich strengths and capabilities, diverse wisdom and all round amazingness that comes from those whose lives have been touched by mad experiences.
We understand that there are many ways in which people have come to understand their experiences. Some of these include but are not limited to:
Bearers of Dangerous Gifts
High Introverts/Extra Extras
Moving through Distress
Survivors of Trauma
Many other people relate to the psychiatric/diagnostic label that has been given to them and often these understandings do not sit in isolation. Rather, a person may identify as being a big feeler of feelings and moving through distress, which has meant they experience what their doctor calls depression. They may choose also to identify as a Mad person.
Why be proud of Mad experiences?
Despite the fact that mad experiences are most often defined as bad, good can also be found alongside them, when we are given the space to be able to grow through them and make meaning from them. There is no denying the huge challenges and hardship that these experiences bring. There is often pain for the person themselves, but also for the loved ones around them. These can be inherent parts of the Mad experience themselves, but they are often exacerbated by the way in which society responds to Mad people.
Arguably the cruelest way in which society excludes Mad people is denying them the right to be proud of the wisdom that comes from having moved through or living with Mad lives. This denying of the good that can come from Mad lives is harmful to all facets of a person's being. Our efficacy, esteem, advocacy, belief, acceptance and compassion are all damaged by this ongoing denial. The very realities of our lives are rejected.
But this changes if we are able to take time to celebrate the good, the knowledge, the human growth that comes from negotiating and living with our experiences. Rich wisdom comes from making sense of our lives. If we are able to celebrate this and hold a positive space around who we are as Mad people, we gain a sense of increased faith in ourselves and in the world around us, which often times has been part of the contribution to the difficulties we have faced. We are able to see that our experiences have purpose and add meaning to our lives, rather than being told that they are deficits and diseases.