Hope Despite Horror :: Shawn Coss, Sz Stigma, Truck Fump, and the SPLC

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During #inktober, Shawn Coss created a series of representations of mental illnesses.

I found his work on BoredPanda, and was blown away not only by the quality of the art and the awesome way in which he captured the essence of the phenomenon of ‘voices’ as experienced by sufferers of Sz ,  but also by the avalanche of comments his work generated there on BoredPanda. Comment after comment after comment from sufferers, family members, friends… the most heart-rending testimonials of Sz I have yet to come across. I was moved to reply to several of the comments. And I posted my own comment too:

Simply brilliant, this artwork. The dark chorus. In my experience of Sz, they pounce on your every thought and twist it against you. Every single thought, constantly, which is utterly fatiguing and distracting… The detail which strikes me the most here is the suffering in her face. The pain which she is emoting is difficult to put a word on. She looks like she is under siege.

I meant what I said. Grim as it is, this is as poignant of a rendition of what I experienced in psychosis as I have ever seen.

Coss did a whole series of mental disorders. I did not scope out the comments under any of the others besides Sz, but I imagine those sections are similarly fascinating. Seriously, if you would care to hear real people with real Sz talking about their delusions and hallucinations, click the ‘avalanche of comments’ link above and scroll down. And down. And down. As for Coss, here are his author page on BoredPanda and his own website.

He’s also on Facebook. When I sought him out there, I found this:

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The Ghastlytrump Tinies is an alphabet book; each letter of the old ABCs stands for something going horribly awry due to Trump. There is an audiobook version here, and the good people who made it available are giving away copies for a penny IF you donate $25 to either Hillsnoy or – get this – the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ever heard of them? Of Morris Dees? I used to give them money every year, back when I had some. They fight hate crime. Real life superheroes.

In the decades since its founding, the SPLC shut down some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups by winning crushing, multimillion-dollar jury verdicts on behalf of their victims. It dismantled vestiges of Jim Crow, reformed juvenile justice practices, shattered barriers to equality for women, children, the LGBT community and the disabled, protected low-wage immigrant workers from exploitation, and more.

At the SPLC site, there is an interactive map which, if you pick a location, will show you the known hate groups thereabouts. It is one of the creepiest gadgets I have ever used.

Well. Ahem. I seem to have gotten off topic.

Squirreling around in the twitter presence of Coss, I found this awesome drawing (though I’m not certain it’s by him):

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Do you see what I see? That drawing has been retweeted almost 12k times since Sept. 9th!

Never seen anything like it.

Speaking of twitterland, I’m a small stone’s throw from achieving 5k followers. Should reach that benchmark any day now. The reason that’s something to be happy about is because of my recent resolve to do whatever I can to fight the stigma on Sz and other mental illnesses. Even if it’s just encouraging people whose hearts are already in the right place to carry on battling stigma, it feels like a worthy use of my time and energy.

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I’m trying to be brave. Bold, even. A passage which I found in the best book I own about Sz keeps resounding in my head…

“People with schizophrenia and their families have to live with an extraordinary amount of stigma. Schizophrenia is the modern-day equivalent of leprosy, and in the general population the level of ignorance about schizophrenia is appalling… schizophrenia is associated with violent behavior in the minds of the public. .. the association between schizophrenia and violent behavior appears to be growing stronger.”

Isn’t that some just plain horrible shit?

So yeah, more contacts on my social networks means an ever-increasing chance of saying the right thing at the right time to change for the better the way that someone thinks and feels about people who suffer from mental illness.

The book I cribbed that passage from, Surviving Schizophrenia (5th ed.), also says that the stigma on Sz goes a long way toward explaining the underfunding and general neglect of experimentation and research into the disease. So it’s not just that stigma hurts, it’s that stigma is keeping a cure or at least more effective treatments from being developed.

Again, horrible horrible shit.

Wow, what a rambling post I’ve put together here. Better bring it to a close before it gets any more scattered. Let me just drop in a song lyric what jumped out at me this morning, by way of a parting shot. It’s from the song Freak Flag off the album Freak Flag by Greg Brown. It reminds me of the importance of keeping it positive – despite the horrible shit.

“Use what you got, son, to raise a hopeful cry.”

 

 
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