Cross-published comic courtesy of Counterpoint.
Image Description: Black and white comic titled “Mad In Public” by Kaz DeWolfe. 8/13/2018 First Issue. First panel is captioned “Washington, DC” and contains a drawing of the logo for the 2018 Alternatives conference. Other captions read “The People’s Alternatives!” “…Without SAMHSA funding or government censorship.”
In the next panel, there is a Neurodiversity infinity symbol and Mad Pride symbol with a shouting mad person breaking free of their chains. Text within this panel reads: “I was on the planning committee for the Alternatives Conference in DC, as a cochair of a new Mad Pride and Neurodiversity Subcommittee.”
Caption reads “Traveling, staying in a college dorm, and meeting new folks was stressful.”
The next panel contains a two drawings of me in distress. I’m a white genderqueer person with glasses and spiky hair. One I’m frowning with shoulder’s slumped and hands held outward in an exasperated gesture. A speech bubble reads “The train ride was 9 hours! I’m feeling so drained.” In the next drawing I’m ducking and covering on the floor. Speech bubbles read “My room looks like an institution. It looks like the cell I was shoved into when I first got locked up for being mad.”
The next panel contains a black spiky speech bubble with large text: “Get me out!”
Caption below these panels reads “Staffing the peer support suite, I learned I wasn’t the only one stressed out by all of it.”
In the next panel there is a drawing of me, frowning, holding a phone to my ear. Speech bubble reads “Hi this is Kaz in the peer support suite.” That bubble is overlapped by a spiky bubble representing a voice on the phone. “Help! I’m calling to report someone here who is in crisis! He doesn’t want to talk to peer support, but I wouldn’t feel right about not calling. He needs help!” Text at the bottom of the panel reads “I thought maybe, at a conference with 400 “people with lived experience,” it would be safe for mad people like me. We wouldn’t have to hide if we found ourselves in an extreme state.
Caption at the bottom of the page reads “We shouldn’t have to ‘pass’ as sane in mad spaces…”
Title at the top reads “Later that day…”
Caption: “I was questioned by conference leadership…”
There is a drawing of large dead fish, with eyes shaped like the letter X, and wavy lines above it indicating a foul oder. The fish is talking to me, a white genderqueer person with glasses and messy spiky hair, wearing a button down shirt with rolled up sleeves. A speech bubble from the fish reads “Hey Kaz, is it true that peer support is refusing to help people in crisis?”
My speech bubble says “I don’t feel comfortable discussing anyone’s emotional safety without their consent.”
The fish replies “What does consent mean?”
Below is a caption “I overheard him disparaging my actions, blaming them on a philosophy my comrade and I share.”
In the next panel, the stinky dead fish is talking to a feminine white person with dark curly hair. The fish says “Listen, sweetheart, we have a very serious problem on our hands.” She responds “We do.” The fish continues, “This philosophy of yours is starting to get in the way of people’s safety.”
Below is a grey caption with large writing. “This philosophy he is referring to is Cognitive Liberty. It is the freedom to our own mental processes without threat of violence, coercion, or force.
The next panel shows three figures that look like the mad pride logo. They are holding hands and screaming upwards. Caption reads: “I just think the only real alternatives, are ones that are truly non-coercive.
The last panel contains a large word “Sanism” in a circle being crossed out. Caption reads: “Peer support isn’t better than the medical model, when it replicates the systems that have harmed us.”