Sunday, October 1, 2017

Open Letter to Justin Trudeau - Ronda E. Richardson, Canada

Front page of letter
(text to left)
August 26, 2017

Dear Mr. Trudeau;

I’m not sure if you will ever read this and in that case it will be one more futile exercise in trying to make change for those still openly victimized in Canada and all with taxpayers money and government backing. I have considered leaving this country because I am ashamed of how we treat our most vulnerable. I know it still happens because it happened to me. I have a long story of getting trapped in our power heavy psychiatric system myself and it is too much to tell you here. Many of my friends have already died unheard, forgotten and right under our noses.

There would be a public outcry if we took a group of refugees and tied them to beds, injected them with tranquilizers, or locked them in prisons indefinitely against their will. All of us who seek psychiatric treatment are seeking refuge from trauma and fear but many are finding the opposite of comfort and protection. Those oppressed know the repercussions of speaking out with a psychiatric diagnosis and a mental health act requiring no more than a little future foretelling to let those in power take away your human rights. I am beginning to present internationally not having found acceptance for this painful truth within my own province. I am hoping that when I am respected and no longer simply a patient to those here in Canada that I can bring my story home and start to make change for my friends who still suffer silently.

My U.S. friends talk about how they escaped and it usually involves running out of insurance. I feel envious in many ways because in psychiatry in Canada, even if the doctor is mistaken or heavy handed, you can be treated to death. There is no recourse for our suffering. The child psychiatrist who injured me is well respected, well protected and has been well compensated while I struggle in every part of my life with flashbacks of forced treatment including electroshock. He is wrongly untouchable and I will forever pay the price for his crimes while he lives a life free of want.

Those most at risk for abuse are also those least believed in our culture. I know these victims are telling the truth in a horror so great it defies logic, because I lived it too. I am no longer on medication and my life is beginning to come back together in ways I stopped allowing myself to imagine. The very least I can do, from my new position of international backing, is speak up for those around me too in danger to have a voice. I have nothing left to lose and forced treatment of me now would result in an international media storm and perhaps the very public outcry we need to make real change for those still alone in this very real struggle.

Please hear me. This is urgent. I’ve tried multiple avenues and feel stuck in place. I was told by a politician that any change would take years, but my friends are dying now. The medication side effects alone are gruesomely disfiguring. The pain of knowing you don’t have the same human rights as those without diagnosis is paralyzing. My friends have been committing suicide, not because of illness, but because it is the only way they can see a way out of this situation. When they ask for help they are going unheard by those with the power. “It is an acceptable risk” are the words I was told, but is it really? Would you choose this purgatory Justin if you were in our position? Asking you to choose is redundant. We don’t get a choice. There is no right that cannot be revoked except for the right for my lawyer to access me. This is a cruel cruel clause. How many in lock-down can afford a good lawyer? There has to be a better way.

Those with lived experience of forced treatment need to be included equally in the making and revising of the mental health act. Maybe it is time for the government to step in and police psychiatry for a while whether or not they like it. Just because they have the money does not make psychiatrists deserving of greater protection. If you need proof secretly put cameras on the locked units and the doctor’s offices and just watch it unfold. Please help us.

Eugenics is the horror resulting from this power imbalance in psychiatry and it isn’t the past yet. It is still happening just in a more covert and silencing way. We are putting money into earlier diagnosis and treatment without considering that if you are started on a medication at 10 by 16 you have all the disfigurement of long-term use. Our government is investing in genocide. We are losing the most gifted, the most unique perspectives, and the revolutionaries to treatment. We need these voices most of all.

I’m begging you to take action even if by just listening to our stories. I don’t know who else to speak to. Please. Please. You look kind in your photos. We need your help desperately.

Ronda E. Richardson

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