Dangerous Compassions

why I like radical mental health people best

why I like radical mental health people best

Good morning.  I want to tell you why I like radical mental health people best.  The question has been intriguing me for some time.

It’s no coincidence that most of my closest friends and the people I fall in love with or otherwise share my life with are radical mental health people.  So I wanted to explain what makes us so great and why I consistently go back to radical mental health people.


People who are crazy such as myself, and who reject the mainstream model and look for a new way of seeing themselves and doing life, are my people.  We were born into a world that wasn’t made for us, so we have to customize it!  Reframing our struggles as valid is crucial to our survival.

We were handed values like get a good job, make as much money as possible, be conventionally respectable and attractive, perform gender in these certain ways, have kids, buy stuff, be normal–but succeeding at doing those values is mostly not possible for us.  So we have to do something different, which is creative.

The world tells me I’m bad for not working a paying job, not having a family that looks like other families, not driving a car or owning a house or whatever.  For my own well-being, I have to laugh at all that, and do another way that works well for me.  I frame it as good, even superior, to do life like this.

It’s fun to live a diy life, even though it can hurt, not to have the options that other people have.  People who are less crazy have more choices.  I don’t have much safety net.  People who are crazy such as myself are mostly forced out of conventional options.

So it’s fun to band together with others who are in a similar predicament, and learn how other people who can’t do it regular style are making life work.  These are wonderful people to form community with.

romanticizing ourselves

Long ago I had a best friend who I’d met through the Icarus Project.  I asked them, “Is it ok, that we romanticize our mental illness?”  The question was troubling me.  I noticed we were doing that, and noticed that we weren’t talking about doing that, so I was curious.

My differences are ok, including the voices I hear and the mood swings I experience.  I love myself unconditionally.  If I cross the line from “my differences are valid” to “my differences are part of how I’m a badass,” that’s ok with me.  I think it’s true!

But if that’s romanticizing, that’s fine too.  Whatever gets us through the night.

Now I understand that non-crazy people romanticize themselves also!  They are romanticizing their non-craziness all day.  So why can’t I romanticize my craziness?  There’s nothing superior about being able to succeed conventionally.  Their lives might be easier in a way, but I didn’t come to earth for an easy life.

A lot of conventional success is based on commerce and capitalism, including destroying Mother Earth.  Normal is killing us.  I’m glad to see other options, reject normal, make art, have a new way of being, and vision a better world.

open and non-judgmental

I can be scathingly judgmental about some things.  When people choose selfishness and hurt others who are less powerful than they are, I seethe with anger.  Anyone exploitative, I hate that.  Anyone who makes their living off the misfortune of others.  People who harm the common good, even just littering.  I have strong opinions about responsibility, accountability, consent, what we owe to one another socially, and what we owe to Mother Earth.

But in other ways, I am super open and non-judgmental.  Sometimes to the point that I can get into trouble.  Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “It’s good to have an open mind, but not so open that you brain falls out.”  Sometimes my brain does fall out.

too much faith

I’m trying to think of a good example.  Having faith in people long after everyone else has given up on them is a good example.  Believing in someone to my detriment.

There was a man I loved who I thought had an amazing grasp of the pleasures of life and lived in an unconventional way.  I really admired him–he seemed magical.  He spent a lot of his time reading, and I loved that he read out loud to me.  No one else did that.  We would make simple, delicious foods, he would read books to me, and we spent hours and hours this way.

Then he could be mean or scary, more and more as the months passed.  Part of me knew that was not ok, but by then I believed in him more than I believed in myself.  If he did or said something that seemed creepy, I would think, “Wow, that seems really bad.  But I know he’s a good person, so I must not be understanding the situation properly.”

I trusted him more than I trusted myself.  If he hurt me and I brought it up to him, our arguments were horrible.  He would attack me like no one else ever had in my life–he had to be 100% good, which made me 100% bad.  It was confusing–that year of my life that I was really close to him I mark as a time of deep confusion.  I felt lost in fog, much of that year.

domestic violence

I got out of that relationship before serious harm was done to me.  You could say that was just a common domestic violence situation.  I was painted into a smaller and smaller corner.  He criticized my friends and wanted to control too much of my life–he expected a lot from me, but had set up our relationship so I was allowed to expect almost nothing from him.

I could tell you more terrible things he did, but my point is that he was a radical mental health person.  I’d suspended my disbelief, and my trust was too huge.  I was dazzled by how he’d built an unconventional life for himself, and he took advantage of my trust and curiosity to walk all over me.  I had almost no power in the relationship.  Somehow it evolved into me living in service of him and being like a disciple.  He was like a cult leader, though I was the only cult member so far.

That’s when I learned that abusers are a real problem in radical mental health.  Probably in any support space.  Some crazy people with strong personalities will find who’s vulnerable and harm us skillfully, using us in whatever ways they can.  That’s why I made the zine to love: abusers in radical spaces.

Forming a radical mental health collective, I realized I’d created a space where vulnerable people gather.  We speak our deepest truths, admit vulnerabilities, cry sometimes, form intimacy, and trust one another.  It makes sense that friendships form, and sometimes a wolf appears and wants to single out a sheep or two, to satisfy his appetite.  By intentionally gathering vulnerable people, I needed to create safeguards and stay alert.  I had to accept the responsibility of that.

why I like radical mental health people best

The people who helped me climb out of that bad situation were radical mental health people.  That’s why I like radical mental health people the best.  We can be the most awesome, and we can be the most wretched.

In a witchhunt / cancel culture fashion, some Las Vegas activists turned their backs on me because this man I loved was accused of doing horrible things to other people also.  They turned their backs on me because I was “supporting” him.  It was confusing because the activists wouldn’t tell me that–they would just drop out of my life.  People wouldn’t have a conversation with me about what really happened.  It was easier just to stop speaking to me.

But one friend realized that if everyone turned their back on me, I’d be doomed.  I needed friends who were really there for me and stuck around despite the poor choice I was making.  This friend knew I needed decent friends who would help me leave my abuser.  Thank goodness they were right.

It was an intense process.  “I’ll never make that mistake again,” I said.  Of course I’ve made new mistakes since then.

getting it

Maybe the biggest reason why I like radical mental health people best is that they’re the only people who get me.  We have enough common ground.

Being crazy, and being radical–what a cool intersection.  A lot of crazy people are striving so hard to “get well” and go back to work, back to normal.  I can’t relate to these people.  I can’t go back to work–I’ve never been able to work gainfully in my life.  To “get well” means exploiting other people and Mother Earth–I’m not doing that.

Crazy is where I live now.  I want to be kind, helpful, healed, and happy.  But crazy can be all of that.

Then radical people can be hard ass, straight laced, and just as rigid, oppressive, and fundamentalist as non-radical people.  A lot of radical people have the same kind of controlling spirit as non-radical people, just wearing a different style of clothes.  A geeky, awkward, heartbroken man clings onto communism or anarchy instead of tea party conservatism–so what.  He’s still an asshole–just an anarchist asshole.  His ideas might be more interesting, but I still don’t want to hang out with him.

The crazy radicals are more fun than that.  We have a clue about joy, and most of us can see beyond the veil a little better.  A sense of humor helps.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

One reply on “why I like radical mental health people best”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.