I had never heard the story of Piers Bolduc, but came across it yesterday over at Larry's blog. It's very much like other stories I know much better, but somehow this one hit me in just such a way that I was able to grasp at a deeper level what before I had known intellectually. I am Piers Bolduc, or would have been if my life had been just slightly different.
From the time I was 13 or 14, I was encouraged (no encouraged is not the word, it was implored, I think) by my parents to "see someone" about whatever it was that was "wrong with me". I am so very lucky, that however many ways they discounted my true nature and individuality, they did not force me physically into the car and on into the office of the psychiatrist they knew would have the right pills to make it all better.
They were not alone in thinking that something was wrong. I read a lot of books, and recognized in myself some signs I was sure were indicators of incipient schizophrenia. The odd jumbled language I used when I talked at all, my lack of typical interest in others, an all too vivid imagination which was always arranging random patterns to form meaningful, often frightening images. Of course, I had not lost touch with reality (well, no, because I wasn't schizophrenic), but I saw in the textbooks that this was scheduled to happen some eight to ten years later.
When my parents said psychiatrist, I said NO. I was allowed to say NO, though they protested I was wrong and they cried and told me how many hours of sleep they lost because I was, well, just basically, weird. I knew exactly what they wanted the doctors to do and I told them, I remember it distinctly. "You want them to make me not me anymore".
They had no answer to that, it was the truth. Probably, they felt some guilt about that, because after all, they are basically good people, loving people who wanted the best for their children. Their definition of "best" and mine were at odds. Though I was denied the rights to many decisions that should have been mine, I got to say NO this time, when it counted the most.
I know that they wouldn't be particularly pleased if they read this. It's not the kind of praise I imagine parents want from their adult children, but my gratitude today is sincere.
It is a sad state of affairs that I feel the need to say "thank you" that I was not forcibly drugged, imprisoned and otherwise abused by institutions. So many others have not been allowed the word NO. Some of what follows has been documented here and here. I want NO for everyone, adult and child, with every type of difference. NO is a most fundamental of rights and a prerequisite to a life worth saying "yes" to.