I deserve to be heard

Image Description: event flyer whose background is half blue and half yellow. In the upper left corner is “The Digital Sala” icon and under a line formed into a dome are intersecting green, diagonal lines creating a pine tree forest and a sky. There are branches and leaves surrounding this dome.  On the bottom half on the left side is a photo of Lis P Sipin-Gabon in a yellow dress with deep purple, rainbow like butterfly sleeves and MT is in a yellow top with dark blue sleeves. Both Filipinx. And on the right side lower corner is a black and white photo of me a Filipina with short hair and a flowery blouse, the background is of trees in Bryant Park, staring directly into the camera. My photo by Cindy Trinh. The text which is all in the bottom yellow half reads:  “Healing Through Trauma Filipinx Artists Speak  5PM PST/ 8PM EST  Lis P. Sipin-Gabon Eileen Ramos MT Vallarta   Thursday 4/30  http://www.linktr.ee/TheDigitalSala “
“Healing Through Trauma: Filipinx Artists Speak” Panel featuring Lis P. Sipin-Gabon, Eileen Ramos, and MT Vallarta on Thursday, 4/30. For The Digital Sala, a virtual Filipinx Literature+ Festival.
http://www.linktr.ee/TheDigitalSala

I’m learning not to give energy to negative events and people, to not speak about them and vent ‘cuz that detracts your attention. To let go and concentrate on myself. BUT this incident is an exception. This is not just someone being rude, but the undermining of neurodiverse voices at the expense of their own panel. I get frustrated thinking about it and that individual’s outlook is detrimental and hurtful.

So I was invited to be a part of a mental health panel for The Digital Sala, a virtual Filipinx Literature+ Festival. I’ve always wanted to participate in an event like this, sharing the platform where I can speak candidly about my bipolar disorder, psychoses, delusions, depression, etc. Where I’m not the only one speaking and I’ll get to hear other neurodiverse folks talk about their own journeys. I’m incredibly lucky to share the screen with Lis P. Sipin-Gabon & MT Vallarta, both talented and prolific writers. We will be on zoom 5PM PST/ 8PM EST on Thursday, April 30th. You can read our bios as well as register for the event here.

A few days ago, this exchange occurred:

Screenshot of tweet, dated Apr 18, 2020 at 10:11 PM with the same flyer as above from The Digital Sala: “We’ve been having incredibly crucial convos, engaging brilliant lit & art, & building in spirits of care & possibility. Here’s another vital space coming up… Please spread the word & RSVP here: {google form link} #TheDigitalSala
Twitter Thread:
Mema Sabe (MemaSabe6) Apr 19, Replying to @thedigitalsala @TAYOLiteraryMag and @eintervital (my account):
will there be a medical professional on the panel?

Eileen (@eintervital) – Apr 20: No, there won’t be.

Mema Sabe: {inserts picture of famous narrowed eyes of Fry of the Futurama cartoon show)

Eileen – Apr 20:
I was afraid you were going to take it to this direction. We are more than qualified to speak about our experiences as neurodiverse Filipinx. Please respect it.

When I saw Mema’s initial tweet, I KNEW they were going to doubt us and want us to include a medical professional. Even though part of the title is “Filipinx Artists Speak”! Yes, I know that medical professionals can be artists as well, but it’s obvious that Filipinx Artists are at the center of this panel. And I can see the value of having a medical professional at this event, but there’s the risk of them undermining us, invalidating our experiences, talking over us, placing themselves at the forefront instead of us, gaslighting, etc.

And why can’t OUR voices be enough?? Why can’t we speak about our neurodiverse journeys without having someone from the medical field there?? Our experiences are our expertise; we know better than anyone else how our mental illnesses have manifested. Why do we even need the validation of a medical professional?!

In two words: We don’t. We are more than qualified to speak about these issues we’ve spent our whole lives struggling with. Why can’t we be trusted to speak on this?!

This is extremely frustrating and I’m worried that this point of view pervades our society. Looking at the psychiatrist to hear the diagnosis instead of even hearing the patient’s own story. Trusting a doctor’s judgement over the patient who feels that this isn’t the right treatment for them. I can see instances where it’d be necessary to look to the doctor, but we must center the patient throughout the entire process. It is their lives after all. And some psychiatrists don’t know how to properly treat their patients and can actually cause more harm than good, like white psychiatrists and patients who are people of color.

Like how can we trust you, if you believe that hearing from a psychiatrist is preferable over listening to the neurodiverse? I wouldn’t want to be close to anyone who would rather look to the expertise of a medical professional, than hear my story about my mental illness. Yes, I know “healing” is in the title and that implies the medical field, but this is about how we regained stability and lead more functioning, healthy lives. This is how we gained support and help from loved ones and find ways to work through our issues, symptoms, and ailments. There’s more than one way to recover, and medication isn’t the only treatment.

Honestly, this is one of the reasons why I don’t tweet lol. I’ve noticed how antagonistic twitter land can be. How draining it is and stressful. But I wouldn’t have discovered The Digital Sala if it wasn’t for Twitter. It can lead you to so many awesome folks and experiences. So I won’t let this one annoying experience deter me from being open.

To be frank, I actually waited a day before I replied to them, hoping someone else would lol. But I’m glad I asserted myself and did it with respect most of all. I could’ve went ignorant or really rude back to them. But I didn’t want to disappoint Jason, my fellow panelists, or TDS. Hopefully Mema understands where I’m coming from. I can only wish them well.

For my part of the panel, I will be talking about how I sensed my 2nd & 3rd psychoses, my psychoses themselves, warning signs, regaining stability and how my family helped me recover. It’ll be on PowerPoint which I haven’t done in over a decade haha. I also never presented like this on zoom, or even tried screen share. I’m really anxious but I know my heart is in it and I think I’ll be okay.

Also, if you’re free, I’d like to practice on zoom in front of a few folks for critiques on how to make my presentation stronger. It’ll be at some point Monday – Wednesday, most likely in the evenings. I could use the help and guidance. Please let me know.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you find the courage to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. You deserve to be heard and acknowledged. No matter your station.

Until next time,

eileen

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