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Editor at Large: As I See It

Columns by Marvin Spieler

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Marvin Spieler is a well-known advocate who has been associated with local AMI organizations and the Mental Health Association in New York City. He has run a Speaker's Bureau, offering consumers and family members as speakers before different groups. Spieler himself speaks regularly to social work and other college students on the subject of mental illness.


March/April 1998
"We must accept ourselves as good human beings. Yes, we have mental illness. However, that in itself doesn't make us good or bad people. We are human beings first. Our disease is secondary ... We did not bring it on ourselves. Evil spirits, etc, etc, etc are not the cause. Above all else, don't blame yourself!"

May/June/July 1998
"Most people consider Bellevue a dump. I always hear complaints about the place but to me, it was a place I use to call home when I got sick."

August/September 1998
"Where are these ER personnel and doctors in general coming from!? Didn't they learn about mental illness in their training? We are human beings. Our disease is secondary."

January/February 1999
"Medication compliance by coercion and forced hospitalizations are antithetical for recovery from mental illness."

May/June 1999
"Shame on the state! It isn't appropriating sufficient money to remedy this problem. The legislators are guilty of business-as-usual."

July/August 1999
"Mental illness I've learned to live with. However, I can't forget the court rooms, prison transport vans, holding tanks, nor the cell blocks most of all. I was in hell for a year. ... I take my ... lithium carbonate to maintain my sanity. For I know without [it] the gates of Riker's Island or worse will open for me."

September/October 1999
"Lately the media has singled us out once again! This time a schizophrenic has done this; another schizophrenic has done that. How does it make you feel? It makes me mad. I'm labeled! A nut. I'm violent. I'm feared!"

March/April 2000
"The police have always had special duty units ... why not an Emergency Service Unit for people in mental distress of one sort or another?"

May/June 2000
"Have you ever heard of a mental illness Walk-A-Thon ... But why not? Stigma is the reason. We feel the shame, the fear of disclosure if mental illness would become known."

September/October 2000
"We can't be kept from voting because of mental illness. We can vote for politicians who understand our needs."

January/February/March 2001
"The elements of my illness, quitting, getting fired, then hospitalized, blended into a pattern I really didn't understand nor could I control."

April/May 2001
"If Julius Green, so vitally alive and productive, could succumb to suicide, what about me? What about other peers? He seemed to have everything in the world going for him. Depression can be a  killer. We all know"

Jan/Mar 2002
"For more than a week my menu was spaghetti and ketchup. I was so depressed it didn't faze me."

June/August 2002
"Is incest a psychological problem? No. Is the resulting trauma a cause for psychological problems? Yes."

Sept/Oct 2002
"I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and incest perpetrated by my mother."

January/March 2004
"While I counted my thirty-some days in prison, I consider myself lucky compared to today's criminalized mentally ill and the problems they must face."

Fall 2004
"[I am saddened that in my life] I went with the flow of a rudderless ship. I was not a captain at the helm.[yet] after twenty years of non-compliance and twenty-one years of taking pills, I can [still] realize my dream to some degree."

Winter 2005
".sitting in a class almost two hours twice a week and doing homework isn't easy. I plan to obtain a two-year degree at a rate of a course a term. Will I make it? I'll give it my best shot."

Spring 2005
"At times, thoughts couldn't be verbalized so I took pen to paper to further the therapy process along."


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