Miriam Feldman is an artist and writer who splits her time between Los Angeles and rural Washington State. She is the mother of three daughters and a son with schizophrenia. She has written a memoir chronicling her journey with her son, who is also an artist. Miriam now works in advocacy for the mental health community. It is her fundamental belief that through telling our stories we create a path for others to understanding. It is on that path that she makes her art, writes and will stay there until stigma and fear are eliminated
Why do I blog?
I have found that along with the challenges and pain of mental illness there is a tremendous amount of beauty. By chronicling and sharing my experiences I hope to bring understanding and acceptance to those who don’t get a chance to see it. In being honest about the details my experiences, I have found that it helps others who are dealing with it as well. I want them to know that they are not alone, we can talk about it, and the more we do the better things will become.
I found BC2M…
When my son first got sick I spent (still do!) endless hours on the internet, looking, looking, looking. For answers, for resources, for a way to navigate this scary new world in which I found myself. I came across BC2M late one night, years ago, when I was feeling particularly hopeless and lost. Watching the PSA of Grand Central Terminal I was profoundly moved. This was before people were talking about stigma very much. I looked at Glenn, and her sister, and her nephew and the beauty of those simple t-shirts packed a wallop which lit up that dark night for me.
What Stigma Means to Me:
I put stigma in the category where I keep bigotry, ignorance and hate. The things that erode our humanness, build walls between ideas and people, and destroy lives. I will not participate in stigma. I will not allow a mark of disgrace to be placed on my son, or anyone, because of a disease. It is incumbent on me as a mother, and society as a whole, to fight for this vast population that has been marginalized and ignored. We are all in this together.
The Way I Find Wellness:
I am a daily meditator and yoga practitioner. For me these things have been life-saving. Of course, making art is the mainstay of my well-being and always has been. Since schizophrenia became part of my life, I have also found that wellness is achieved and maintained through openness and interaction with others. That feeds my soul and allows me to feel part of something important, fighting stigma and sharing goodness. That is my honor.
If I Had a Magic Wand:
Oh, where to go with this one? Do I go with world peace or just cure my son? Every time there is an occasion for a wish, I have to admit I just ask for him to be cured. But with this mighty wand finally in my hand, I’m unsure. I can’t really say that I would eliminate mental illness from this world. That would carry the implied belief that people with mental health issues are defective. I don’t believe that. There is so much brilliance and wonder among the mentally ill the loss to humanity would be immeasurable. So, I’ll just take this wand and put an end to suffering and let the chips fall where they may.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Stones. That song about sums it up for me.
Favorite (Mental Health) Book:
I’ve got two. The Center Cannot Hold by the brilliant Elyn R. Saks, who with truth gives us hope. Surviving Schizophrenia by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, the book that saved my life with information and compassion when this all first began.
If I were a Superhero, I would be/ have powers to…
I’m not well-versed in superheros, but ever since I was a child I’ve dreamed of flying, so for self- indulgent fun I’d go with that. More seriously, I’ll have to pick Superman because he’s old school. He just helps people, saves people. And he can fly.
Words to Live By:
My kids would say it’s “rub some dirt on it and walk it off’ but I’d like to go a little more highbrow with Thoreau.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”