|Toronto - 27th Aug 2011|
I've not long got back from Toronto. CCHR Canada invited me out to give a talk about my advocacy work.
It's extremely difficult to get up in front of people and talk about the reasons why I do what I do, CCHR, wherever they are based, have a unique ability to make one feel at ease. The Canadian ball busting branch of CCHR are no different.
Once again, I was made to feel very special by this kick-ass movement. Landing in Toronto on Thursday, being taken for dinner, of the sticky rib variety then off out with one of the sisterhood, Lori Farquhar-Bryenton, to sup on a few Canadian samples of light ale. We discussed many things and I just felt so 'right'. Lori is now officially my Canadian drinking buddy.
Canada holds a very special place in my heart. Regular readers of this blog will know the story of Oakville teen, Sara Carlin, who hanged herself whilst on Paxil. Sara's story really reached out to me, it was a bond that I just cannot explain but I knew one day I would get to finally pay my respects to her. That's a private moment and one that I won't share on this blog. Sufficed to say, I did what I needed to do and now feel much better for it.
The CCHR gala, an annual event, was held at Lakeshore, a former psychiatric unit, only CCHR could muster up such a genius location. The whole event was kicked off by the new Chill EB video made in collaboration with CCHR International. It was the first time this had been aired to a live audience and I have to say it gave me goose bumps and was greeted enthusiastically by the sell out audience.
Guest speakers for the night was myself and Anthony Stephan of Truehope. Anthony gave a passionate talk to the audience about his life and his work which resulted in a standing ovation. He's an accomplished speaker and much of his work has tried to be shot down by the Canadian health regulator, Health Canada - they failed.
My talk was pretty much off the cuff [no script]. I really enjoyed speaking and felt only a slight twinge of nervousness but that was soon washed away. It's surreal for me to be given such a standing, I'm just a council tenant from Birmingham who decided to write a blog back in 2006, to be plummeted into a world of folk that are pretty much all on the same page as I gives me such an adrenaline rush. To be treated like someone special is kind of difficult for me to accept too but it is accepted graciously because it means people are reading my work, more importantly they are listening to the voices of Sara Carlin, Matthew Steubing, Candice Downing, Sharise Gatchell, Toran Henry, Shane Clancy. That is the most important thing for me. These beautiful children should not have been taken from their family and friends and it is only with the great courage of their parents, family and friends that myself, and others like me, will give them what they deserve - a voice. CCHR also give the lost a voice, they also take preventative action so that loved ones are made aware of the dangers of these bullets in a pack. I am in no doubt that medication caused the aforementioned to take their own lives, no doubt at all. I wish I had never met the parents of the children above. The only reason I have is because of their loss. I would sacrifice my friendship with all of them just so they could have their babies back.
Other children are taking these meds, many are falling by the wayside and I will, along with CCHR, do my utmost to continue spreading awareness about the dangers of these drugs, the greedy bastards who make them and the limp-wristed cowards that grant them a licence. I've not changed in my stance against using psych meds on kids. I used to bang the drum loudly about Seroxat [Paxil] - hooking up with CCHR opened my eyes, they kind of fine-tuned me, if you will.
I have met so many great people in Canada, hooking up with the Carlin family was sad...yet uplifting. Paying a visit to the offices of Oakville MP, Terence Young, was also a great highlight for me.
I'm not going to let Sara Carlin's memory be forgotten. Those responsible for her death know exactly who they are, it is they that will have to live with that - I may just remind them occasionally.
Same goes for other children lost to this wanton abuse and denial of those responsible for the safety of prescribing medication to the vulnerable.
I'm in my sixth year of blogging now, my archives are full of sad stories, full of devastation...yet it is voices that are reaching out, warning others about the dangers.
I'm just a small voice...but I've hooked up with an even bigger one in CCHR.
I stand united by their side.
Here's to the next 6 years of psychopharmaceutical monopoly ass kicking!