May 27: The Language of Extermination
“I don’t want to talk about winning the war on bi-polar, walking to end suicide, and eradicating mental illness. This language of extermination is very harmful. I see how we perpetuate this language of a fix, of curing something because we have no place for extreme emotional states in our consensus reality. Maybe we don’t want to recover into a world that we feel sick in. We actually want to actively create sustainable worlds where all of our complexities are valued.”
– Bonfire Madigan Shive
Comment: Bravo if it works for you. For me, I’m still trying to figure out how to live in the middle of the extremes, because the extremes are not happy places for me or the people around me, and the creativity that came with the extremes took a huge toll on me. The last 30 years have been not much but misery, and at last I’m finding some sort of balance in the liminal space between ‘either’ and ‘or’. If one doesn’t have children or dependents it may be easier to justify living in an extreme emotional state for the sake of some idealised sense of purpose or higher spirituality; but I have two kids and the last thing I ever wanted to do was fuck them up. They didn’t ask to be born merely as witnesses to my madness; they don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve having a mother who views suicide as a ‘transformation’, or mania as ‘an emergence of flight’. So I will seek normalcy, or some semblance of stability, thank you, for their sakes as well as mine. – V.
Reply: Hello V. I’m very sorry to hear about your 30-year struggle, but glad that you are now finding some sort of balance. As with the suicide quote below, I am aware that it’s challenging to understand these statements as intended when removed from the broader context of the film and the lived experience of the character that Whisper Rapture portrays. Madigan not only has children of her own and experiences with suicide that I will leave for the completed film to detail, she was a founding collective member of The Icarus Project, of which a core value is navigating the space *between* brilliance and madness. I respect your opinions in regards to your life, but in relationship to my film or our movement they are entirely inaccurate.
In the above quote, Madigan is not saying she doesn’t want people to end their suffering! She is inferring that our societal narrative around recovery is about quick fixes independent of exploring the deeper roots of our problems and complexities. In fact, it’s the suppression of the latter that compounds our suffering. Many years ago, I too yearned for ‘normalcy’ to offset my internalized feelings of ‘abnormality’. But as a square peg, I’ve come to realize I’m too multi-faceted to fit into our culturally mediated round hole of normalcy. And for many of us, the harder we try and shove ourselves into that hole, the greater our suffering.
Madigan is challenging us to rise up and “…actively create sustainable worlds where all our complexities are valued.” This is neither an easy nor idealized path, but a crucial one to undertake because it flies in the face of the restrictive diagnose and drug mind set of mainstream psychiatry. We all yearn for stability, but how we define that is a unique experience for each of us. There are a lot of differently shaped pegs out there!
Whisper Rapture portrays a unique and courageous visionary who transposes her madness into music and mental health advocacy. I pray that Madigan’s journey and my film will inspire your path towards wellness, however that best unfolds for you. – Ken