Aug 07

Walk Completed – Cause Continued

On August 1, 2012, we arrived at Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington and completed our 100 mile walk for compassionate and empowering mental health care.

We arrived in front of West State Hospital where Cindi’s son is locked up. Cindi had spoken with the personal secretary of the CEO of Western State, Jess Jamieson, the morning before. We were seeking an audience so that we might share the concerns of so many mothers whose stories we carry. However, the secretary did not follow through with a return call as promised. We were therefore surprised when two police cars were stationed at the publicized meeting place for the final mile of our walk.

We were joined by two other moms, Rosata and Eita. As four determined mothers, each with a story, one with a walker and one whose adult daughter was not able to proceed with us upon seeing the grounds of the hospital where she herself had suffered traumatizing abuses, we proceeded to complete the last thousand steps of one hundred thousand steps together. (There are more than 1,000 steps in one mile.)

A man dressed in what appeared to be the uniform of a police officer shadowed our every turn. When the last mile was complete, we proceeded up the steps of the main building and into the front foyer to see if anybody would hear our voice. We were amazed when CEO Jess Jamieson emerged from behind closed doors.

Upon hearing that Cindi and I had walked one hundred miles as part of a group of mothers who feel our voices had been silenced, Jess Jamieson looked at his watch and said he could give us five minutes of his time.

Cindi was clear that five minutes was not be enough time and I mentioned that we had been given 30 minutes at the governor’s office. Jess Jamieson then decided he could give us twenty minutes for which we were grateful.

The noticeably embarrassed police officer asked the CEO if he could now be relieved of his assignment and, when the answer was affirmative, he said, “Thanks, boss,” quite loudly, which led us to understand that we had been followed by privately commissioned campus police whose cars and garb merely imitated the appearance of state police.

Mr. Jamieson did not object to Cindi’s request to tape our meeting. We will upload this recording along with other pictures and videos of our one-hundred mile walk in upcoming days.

We are aware there have been a number of tragic deaths within the hospital walls and that Mr. Jamieson is to retire in September. He listened to our serious concerns regarding the profit-driven mental illness industry and our personal stories about our children and the great harm that has been caused by this treatment model.

In response to our concerns, Mr. Jamieson said that our personal experiences do not match his perspective nor that of the mission statement of the hospital. I asked him to share the mission statement and, before we left, he handed me a pamphlet with a one sentence mission statement.

It is very clear to us that “people who we serve” (noted in the mission statement) primarily refers to shareholders of pharmaceutical corporations and not our children.

Later that day, Eita gave us a personal tour of the grounds formerly used the hospital when the healing model was still focused on occupational therapy. There are horse stables, an abandoned farm, a lake with many ducks, and fruit orchards. Residents helped to build beautiful stone walls that still border the current hospital grounds. All of this beauty is within the vicinity of the current building, but has not been used since 1965 when occupational therapies were replaced by the sole use of drugs. As a result, Cindi’s son has never been taken on a walk on these beautiful grounds.

The history of institutionalized existence is neither pretty nor healthy, in part because people who have one or more episodes of vulnerability are often labeled as being mentally ill and are preyed upon by those in power. However, “We the People” can choose to lift one another up and nurture neighborhoods where hearts can heal.

Although our 100 mile walk is complete, our mission is not. To learn more and to make a donation, please see our Donate Here page.

Thank you for your support!

Aleshanee and Cindi
E-Mail: info@AndSoWeWalk.com

Aug 02

100 mile walk completed!

More updates and pictures soon!
Aleshanee

 

Jul 31

Olympia – In the Capitol Building

Yesterday, Cindi and I entered the capitol building in Olympia, Washington at 10 a.m. We were met by a few others, including grassroots-organizer, Robert Whitlock. In the governor’s office, we announced that we had walked 75 miles for compassionate and empowering mental health care.

We were handed a scrap of paper and told that we could leave a note for the governor who was out. Luckily, Robert knew to inform us that we could ask to speak with the governor’s aides. We were then given audience.

For 45 minutes, we described “the web of deception and harmful practices coming out of the profit-driven mental-illness model” – fresh air and earth are a right, NOT a privilege and should not be used as a means for behavior conditioning. The routine of forced and coerced drugging must be stopped. HIPAA laws are being mis-used to separate families and isolate locked-up individuals in the name of “privacy.”

SSI is being pushed onto patients in early stages of symptomology, only to make “cash cows” out of our young adults, adding to the epidemic of “human warehousing” in the back wards of psychiatric hospitals.

We shared our personal stories concerning our own children. My daughter, never having hurt a soul, was not allowed to step outside, for over a year and Cindi’s son, given a 1,200% overdose at age 15, is still locked up and recycled in and out of a broken system – 20 years later. We also shared a few other personal stories.

Finally, we informed the governors aides of, what Cindi and I refer to as, the “black hole” of support and supportive services in our communities and our desire to see neighborhoods become places where hearts can heal.

The aides to the governor listened closely and took copious notes. The entire interview was taped and will be released on YouTube after our return from our one hundred mile walk.

We urge supporters to join Cindi and me for our last mile this Wednesday, August 1. We will meet on the sidewalks in front of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington at 1 p.m. THIS WALK IS OUR VOICE!

Thank you for your interest and support. More updates to come soon.

Jul 29

Moms cross the 50 mile mark !!!

Cindi and I arrived in Centralia on Thursday evening. A man named Richard stopped his truck to ask about our cause. We were invited to the Grace Foursquare Church where we were fed dinner and prayed over.

We enjoyed speaking with many members of this congregation and hearing yet more stories, involving a very broken and coercive mental-illness system. We shared our hope for compassionate mental health care and our wish to shine the light on the web of deceit created by the profit-driven mental illness model. Directer Tammy announced our goal for 100 stories. Our most sincere thanks goes out to the Grace Fourcorner community – truly a place where hearts can heal!

Updated Sunday, July 29, 2012: This welcoming community put us up in a motel for the night and handed us their evening’s collection for our fundraiser and “to get us a good breakfast in the morning”. Thank you!

We awoke Friday morning feeling renewed and refreshed for the 20+ mile hike which lay before us that day.The first leg of our day’s walk took us past the Crescent Grocery where we were astounded by the kindness of the grocer and possibly the owner, a delightful man named Eddie, from Korea.

We handed Eddie one of our hearts and he offered to make us egg fu young. We had to decline this offer in order to keep moving so Eddie rushed back out with milk, sweet treats and cherries for the road. We are not sure if Eddie knew what we are walking for, but we would like to thank him for his incredible compassion for two tired, sore ladies with big backpacks. This is the sort of empathy it will take to re-invent our communities!

Friday afternoon, Cindi and I celebrated crossing our 50-mile mark by laying against our backpacks on a clump of grass and elevating out feet for a good 30 minutes. Half way there – yes!

We walked until we felt we could go no further, when, to our great joy, we were joined by Maribel, who drove several hours to join us.

Maribel has a son who is being drugged against his will and kept in solitary confinement for three years after being rejected by a psychiatric hospital due to not having medical insurance.

Maribel is an amazing woman who listened to the people in her community and supported them in organizing themselves. With shared vision and hard work, they began a co-op building club. Her delightful presence and moving stories gave us the inspiration we needed to reach our destination, Tumwater, arriving around 11 PM.

We were then brought by Maribel’s husband to the Governor Hotel where we were fully sponsored to stay for the night. Exhausted and sore, we nevertheless took notice of the Project Planet Saver cards on our beds for which we applaud the management of Governor Motel. The hospitality was fabulous and we didn’t know hotel breakfasts could be that good.

Pictures of our adventures will be shared on this blog as soon as we can get them uploaded. Please continue to hold us in your prayers and look for our updates in upcoming days.

Jul 27

Update from Cindi and Aleshanee

We arrived in Chehalis late yesterday after walking 20 miles!

We are rather sore, but very determined to get our message out.

We continue to meet good people along the way and, so far, everyone with whom we have spoken has been in some way affected by the broken mental health care system. We are deeply saddened by the accounts we are hearing and the importance of our mission has been affirmed again and again.

We urge those of you who have stories to write them down and email them to us. Togther our stories have much power. There are many common themes of systemic abuses which must be identified and stopped. Please post you stories on our stories page or e-mail them to info@andsowewalk.com.

We hope to have 100 stories for 100 miles.

We are grateful to the good folks who have helped us along our way, given us a bed, discounts, ice tea, water and directions – shared stories and shed tears.

Today, we hope to reach our half-way mark, so wish us luck.

Jul 21

AndSoWeWalk.com

A one hundred mile walk for mental health rights and a fundraiser for the healing of our children…

Jul 08

Welcome to AndSoWeWalk.com

We are two mothers.
We each have a child who was  failed by the “Standard of Care”
within the current psycho-pharmaceutical treatment model.

And So We Walk…

100 Miles

for Mental Health Rights and Reinventing Communities Where Hearts Can Heal.

We are shining a light on how our systems are broken and have failed us,
catalyzing a vision for Re-Inventing Communities Where Hearts Can Heal
and fund raising.

Beginning in Portland, Oregon on July 23 and Vancouver, WA on July 24, 2012

Ending at Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington in early August 2012

For more details about our walk, please see our Schedule and Map page.

You can support us in a number of ways… 

1. Send us a story about your experience with psychiatric care in this country.

2. Join us during our daytime hikes.

3. Donate to our cause.

4. Wear a yellow headband or place a heart in the window of your car or home to show your support.

5. Visit the M.O.M.S. Movement web site at MentalHealthRightsYES.org.

M.O.M.S. is a Movement Of Mothers Standing-Up-Together.