A person looks upwards with an explosion of colours and shapes all around them
A difficult gift

We sat down to chat with Mary O’Hagan, who’s currently the Executive Director of Lived Experience in the Department of Health in Victoria. Mary shares snippets from her memoir “Madness Made Me” and speaks about how value and meaning can be derived from experiences of madness. We ponder what it could look like if communities looked after each other and created space for people in distress.  

Come and listen with:

Lucy (She/Her) – A big fan of pickleball, ice cream and storytelling

Rachel (She/Her) – Social Worker, Dialogical Practitioner, mad footy fan and wildly passionate about transforming the culture of mental health services to be person-led and human rights informed.

Incredible artwork @sharleencu_art

Check out Mary’s Book here:

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT – A difficult gift

[00:00:01] Lucy: This podcast has conversations around different mental health experiences that may be distressing for some people. If that doesn’t feel like something you want to explore today, you might want to visit another podcast and come back to us another time.

[00:00:14] Rachel: discovery college acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to the elders, past and present. They have never ceded sovereignty.

[00:00:32] Lucy: In this podcast, we share stories that help us learn from each other, connect us and inspire growth. We want to acknowledge that this way of being, of coming together to share knowledge and stories, is a tradition that has already existed on this land for hundreds of thousands of years as a part of the culture of First Nations people.

[00:00:51] Rachel: discovery college acknowledges the views shared in this podcast are about mental health experiences, but are not a substitute for professional mental health advice and support. The views in this podcast are not the views of Alfred Health, but are the views of the individuals we’ve had conversations with.

[00:01:07] Lucy: The stories we share on this podcast aren’t just stories, but memories of the people who have bravely shared their experiences with us. Remember to take care of yourself as you listen, as well as to take care of the stories that you hear.

[00:01:33] Rachel: Extremely Human is a conversation about the profound experience of extreme states. When we speak about extreme states, we want to explore a more humanistic way to understand people’s experiences that aren’t always shared by others.

[00:01:47] Lucy: Each extreme state holds different meaning for each person, including those related to psychosis, depression, grief and addiction. As we chat with a variety of humans, we explore the important question how can we respond to distress with greater compassion and humanity?

We sat down to chat with Mary O’Hagan, who’s currently the Executive Director of Lived Experience in the Department of Health in Victoria. Mary shares snippets from her memoir, “Madness Made Me”, and speaks about how value and meaning can be derived from experiences of madness. We ponder what it could look like if communities looked after each other and created space for people in distress.

Alright, Mary, thank you for coming in, joining us, I was wondering if you could share it just a little bit about yourself, what you’re passionate about, anything that you feel like you want the listeners to hear.

[00:03:00] Mary: Yeah, so I guess the key thing listeners might want to know is that I have my own lived experience of mental distress, and that occurred at a fairly discreet time in my life between about the ages of 18 and 27.

I was pretty involved in the mental health system for most of that time, and it had a hugely disruptive impact on my life. Since then, I haven’t had any major distress, and I’ve been working in the mental health area trying to bring about the kind of change that I thought was necessary based on my experience of using services and just on my general experience of mental distress and of the way that society and people who are looking on respond to it.

[00:04:00] Lucy: Sounds like the perfect person to have on the podcast, then, because that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what it’s all about.

[00:04:07] Rachel: Mary, I think we’ve kind of let you know about this, but we try to ask all of our guests a bit of a starting question, which is a bit different to talking about extreme states, but we try to think about how different people might have disproportionate reactions to events or things that happen in their life. And we’re wondering if you’ve got a story about something like that.

[00:04:32] Mary: Yeah, well, I can flare up quite a lot.

I don’t do it that often. I probably did it more when I was younger. I flare up when things like when the computer is not working, I can start yelling at the computer.

[00:04:48] Lucy: The spinning wheel of death is the worst thing.

[00:04:50] Mary: Yeah. And when I’m on the phone to the bank and I’ve been waiting for 45 minutes and I say, I want some help with something, and they say, we can’t help you, I can get a little bit heated at those moments. So, yes, I do have disproportionate responses, and it’s one thing that I’d really like to change about myself if I could, but it’s very difficult because I find this flare up actually happens very quickly before you actually have time to think, I guess. Yeah, it’s kind of very quick and very quick to dissipate as well.

[00:05:38] Rachel: So it’s hard to interrupt when it’s..

[00:05:42] Mary: Yes, I think it is very hard to interrupt. In fact, if I took a really concerted effort at doing that, I might be able to, but it doesn’t really happen often enough to do it, and it hasn’t had a big impact on my relationships. My partner doesn’t like hearing me go on about the computer or the bank or whatever in the next room very much. But no, it hasn’t been hugely disruptive to my life, but it’s something that I’d really quite like to be able to modify, among other things, about myself.

[00:06:23] Rachel: It’s pretty human, though, don’t you?

[00:06:24] Mary: Yeah, yeah, it is.

[00:06:28] Lucy: Mary. So we’re chatting in this podcast about extreme states, and that means different things to different people. I was just wondering what it meant for you, if it had any meaning at all, what comes to mind?

[00:06:43] Mary: Well, I guess in my life you can be in extreme states when you’re dreaming.

[00:06:49] Lucy: Yeah, actually that’s a great point.

[00:06:51] Mary: And in fact, someone once said to me, well, people get psychotic every night when they’re dreaming. So I think that’s quite an interesting take on it. I think I’ve been in extreme states when I’ve been in grief or when I’ve been in a state of psychological injury. Obviously, that sends you into a state that is more extreme than your day to day reality. And then I guess the big experience of extreme states I’ve had was that those nine years when I was experiencing my existential crises, major mood swings and psychosis.

[00:07:43] Lucy: Was that something that you would want to talk about?

[00:07:46] Mary: As in, oh, yeah, talk about it. I’ve spent my life talking about it, so it’s no problem talking about it. Yeah.

[00:07:52] Lucy: What was that like? Nine years is a long time to be in an extreme state.

[00:07:57] Mary: Yeah, well, I was in and out of the extreme states. I wasn’t in them constantly for nine years.

[00:08:05] Rachel: Can I just ask, before you tell us more about that, Mary, I wonder what you think about the use of the term extreme states and as an alternative to other ways we might describe these experiences.

[00:08:17] Mary: I quite like the term extreme states. I find mental illness a problematic term.

[00:08:26] Rachel: Why is that?

[00:08:27] Mary: Because the idea that this is an illness is just one model or one way of understanding these extreme states. And I think that people really need to be able to decide for themselves what having their own explanatory framework or their own understanding of what the experience is and why it’s happening. Unfortunately, once you get into the mental health system, you’re told this is what you have, and there isn’t much opportunity often, for people to explore other ways of understanding it.

[00:09:15] Rachel: I think I heard you say at the start that you’ve been working for many years now trying to cause change in the system. Is that kind of some of the changes you’re trying to see happen?

[00:09:28] Mary: Yeah, I think really, in a way, the change in the way services and society respond to people at some level is based on how they understand the experiences that people are having or the behavior they are showing. And so I think it is quite important that we challenge the way the clinical worldview and society have viewed these experiences, because that kind of becomes the fundamental platform on which all service and societal responses are built, in the west at least, and actually in many other cultures, madness or whatever you want to call it, has been misunderstood, stigmatized, and people have experienced quite a lot of discrimination. The reason for that goes to the way people understand those experiences.

Now, for instance, in Maori culture, and you probably tell by the way I speak, I come from New Zealand. There is a term called matakite, which is really loosely translated as a difficult gift. And it’s used to describe a series of experiences which might include psychosis. And in that translation, you can see that there is something positive in that experience, in the cultural understanding of that experience.

And when you have some, but an understanding, that’s also an edgy, difficult experience. So if you have that cultural understanding, then you’re going to treat people with more respect, and the potential for stigma and discrimination really is much reduced.

[00:11:40] Lucy: Yeah, that’s so fascinating. I’ve never heard it being described as a difficult gift before.

[00:11:45] Rachel: Right. It makes me think a lot about kind of Buddhist beliefs around adversity.

[00:11:51] Mary: Yeah.

[00:11:52] Lucy: But also the power of language. I think I used to think, oh, they’re just words. They can’t really impact you. But they do. They shape the way you see someone and their experience.

[00:12:05] Rachel: And thinking about it in the explanatory models, being open, it also leaves for solutions to be open or for greater opportunity for healing or for responses.

[00:12:22] Mary: Yes, that’s true. And if we call something an illness and we put doctors in charge of it, we’re going to get a very narrow. And the doctors command most of the resources. We’re going to get a very narrow range of responses that may be somewhat helpful to some people. They won’t be everything they need. They may not make any difference to some people, and they’ll be quite harmful to others. So I think it’s very unfortunate that we have a legal service system where at the hub of that system sits the kind of psychiatry, and I’ve never been antipsychiatry at all, but we need psychiatry as one of the spokes of the system and not at the hub.

And I think when I look at systems around the world and efforts at reform, the one thing reform efforts fail to do is take psychiatry away from the hub and make them a spoke in the system.

[00:13:38] Rachel: That real decentering, that decentering of psychiatry.

[00:13:42] Mary: Is really centering of psychiatry. Yeah. Because I think psychiatry can be very useful for people.

I’m not at all an abolitionist about it, but equally useful can be stable housing, help to find meaning in your distress, cultural and spiritual support, getting a job, and being socially connected.

These are all equally important. And yet we spend probably in Victoria still maybe about 95% of the budget on pills and pillows.

[00:14:25] Rachel: Yeah, pills and pillows. It’s a great statement. It really sort of talks. What comes up for me is just the reductionist nature of what we’re investing. Yeah.

[00:14:38] Lucy: I was wondering, Mary, from your experiences of being in extreme states, whether that’s you in your own extreme state or supporting other people, what do you think is the most helpful thing that people can do for someone?

[00:14:51] Mary: Well, for me, when I was in my extreme states, the thing that helped most was kindness and acceptance. People who got agitated and fearful were not helpful, or who. People who got controlling were not helpful, but people who were just kind, who accepted me and didn’t really expect too much from me.

[00:15:16] Lucy: Yeah, I think that’s such a key, just letting someone be as they are, so simple. Why do we keep overlooking these?

[00:15:24] Mary: Yeah, I think a lot of the most effective approaches in mental health are some of the simplest ones, and I think there’s a huge place for just calm kindness that trumps a lot of the other clever tricks and interventions that people throw at people in the system.

[00:15:50] Lucy: So what went wrong? Why have we sort of lost that ability?

[00:15:58] Mary: I think that’s a complex question, and I think you have to zoom way out from psychiatry itself into our culture.

And I think there’s a cultural fear of madness. And madness is pretty scary, not just often for the people who are experiencing it, but for the people who look on. We have a.

And this is very historical, but we have a set of quite magical community expectations on psychiatry to predict risk, which they can’t do very well at all, but we still expect them to, and to respond to it in coercive ways.

Now, we’ve got several coercive sort of systems in our society, and they’re all kind of slightly, slightly interlinked, and they’re really responding to community fears, whether they’re realistically based or not, on people who behave differently or who are a threat. And of course, they cause people, particularly psychiatrists, to become very risk averse. And so what do they do?

They use the tools they’ve got available to them. That’s the Mental health Act. Medication and locked wards, and that’s what they use in order to manage the risk. Now, the risk is not even necessarily to the person themselves, but it’s to their professional reputation and to the organization. So we’ve got a pretty unhealthy dynamic operating there, and I think we’re not going to get very far until we sort of break that particular dynamic.

[00:18:11] Rachel: I am interested to hear a little bit about the memoir.

[00:18:17] Mary: Yeah so I wrote a memoir that was. It took me ten years to write, and it was called Madness made me, and it was published in 2014. So it’s a wee way.

[00:18:31] Rachel: Congratulations, by the way. Congratulations.

[00:18:35] Mary: Yeah, it was quite a job thing to do. Some ways I do like writing, and it was probably one of the most satisfying achievements of my career, finishing that memoir. The whole idea of the memoir was to show that madness is a full human experience, that meaning and value can be derived from. One of the things I wrote was about the relationship between what I called madness and sanity. I wrote this. The conventional wisdom says madness and sanity can never meet over the great wall that separates them. But I have experienced both, and they bleed into each other like water into wine. My madness and my sanity are not two parallel stories. They are one story in two dimensions.

Madness and sanity are not two different garments. They are the warp and the weft of the same fabric.

Sanity is the container madness sits in. They are made for each other, like a cup is made to hold drink.

Sanity stops madness from spilling everywhere. Madness stops sanity from confining us to the tyranny of the ordinary.

So I had a lot of reflections in it about the nature of the experiences I was having, and not just a description of the actual experiences. Yeah.

[00:20:10] Lucy: So powerful, what you’ve written.

I’ve never heard anyone write like that on that topic.

[00:20:17] Mary: One of the things I really wanted to convey is that these experiences have meaning, and you can learn an awful lot from them. I found it really difficult to use the usual tools of analysis to understand those psychotic experiences. And I sort of grappled with this quite a lot when I was trying to piece it all together. And what I found is that nobody really wanted to help me. So the professionals, they just wanted to know what my symptoms were, and they didn’t really sort of take any interest in the meaning I might derive from it. And I’ve got a piece here that describes the dilemma I was in when I was going through those experiences.

So I start off by saying that there are many stories about madness.

For mad people, the stories are of a powerful experience. For psychiatrists, it is a collection of symptoms, and for families, it’s disturbing behavior. For the public, the story of madness is enshrined in the dictionary. In everyday language. Madness is insanity, foolishness. It’s wild and uncontrollable.

Madness has been described again and again by people who’ve never experienced it. The mad person’s definition of madness has never made it into the dick, into the dictionary, or into conversation. Media stories, literature or mental health discourse, our version of madness can even elude us. We lack a validating language to make meaning from it. Our madness stands outside in the dark, knocking on the door of meaning, struggling to get in. My own stories of my madness struggled to take shape, while other people’s stories of it took instant inspiration from the dictionary diagnostic manuals and a wider culture that completely shunned it.

Most of the stories of those who look on, seeing only snatches of madness portray it as all bad. My story of my madness, though, is fuller than those who looked on. As well as being the most intricate story, it is the only unbroken one, the only story that had a witness present from start to finish and every moment in between.

That witness was me.

That’s kind of a reflection on how there are so many people, so many sort of ideas about what we’re going through. And yet, as a group of people, we were never supported to really create our own meaning about these experiences.

[00:23:32] Rachel: Were you able in those years to find a meaning making process?

[00:23:38] Mary: Yeah.

What I decided, one of the things that was different for me than for a lot of other people, is I was never clear about why I ended up with these existential crises and these mood swings and psychosis. It was never that clear to me. And a lot of people say, well, some really bad things happened to me and that’s why I ended up there in a way that if you’ve got a clear explanation, you can weave it into the story of your life a bit easier. And I had a real struggle with that.

And I’ve got another piece where I describe the way I started to be able to integrate it into my life. And it talks about the importance of my peers. At the same time, I start off by saying my madness was one of the most profound experiences I ever had. It was as intense as falling in love, a religious revelation or overwhelming grief. I didn’t want to romanticize madness, but I knew it deserved the same status and respect as any other powerful human experience. What did it mean when the world was too beautiful for me to look at? What did it mean to be inside the black box? What did it mean that I lived in such extreme zones of existence? Nobody really knew or cared, except me? Mostly it meant terrible suffering and my desperate struggle to find a valued place in the world. At first, it meant wandering around the crumbling edges of human experiences like a lost explorer.

But over the years, I met many fine people who were mad, like me. I learnt that our madness had taken us to a foreign land where only mad people could go to. Some of us stayed in this land for a long time, while others got out and kept returning to it. Mental health professionals stood at the border trying to pull people out of the mad land. Even the ones that wanted to stay. They knew the Madland was as a mad, as a bad place where people got lost, sometimes forever, but most of them had never been there .My peers helped to show me that I was not the lone lost explorer I thought I was. The Madland, for all its perils, had some of the most enchanting scenery in the world. Like a land that has mountains and ravines, rivers and caves, blinding sun and swirling storms, the Madland could be a place of beauty as well as danger. My peers helped me understand that there was a whole tribe of us who’d been there and seen many of the same things, things that other people didn’t understand.

Many people reached the border of the Madland at some time in their lives. Most manage to skirt their way around the edge of it and look on with dread at a distance. But those of us who go right into its belly come out with richer pictures of a being that has been lost and found again.

The tragedy is, no one wants these pictures like the paintings of some abstract artists. People look at these pictures and think they could have been done by a child of three.

My own pictures of madness came in the word form of words and metaphors at their most powerful. My words floated in from the blackness and passed through me onto paper.

I made meaning not in spite of my madness, but because of it. It was not the kind of meaning that answered ambitious intellectual questions, such as why, like haunting musical poetry, it was a meaning saturated with soul, an intuitive expression of meaning, of being without the labor of logic. So that’s how I kind of, in the end, came to understand it. Not from an intellectual perspective, but more from, I guess, an aesthetic or poetic or something perspective or emotional perspective.

[00:28:15] Lucy: It’s the most incredible visuals I’ve ever heard been told about madness. It’s such a gift for people who haven’t been through it, to understand it. So many people can’t articulate that experience, and to hear it spoken about in a way that you’re just amazing storyteller. It’s such a gift.

[00:28:36] Mary: For me. It’s a bit like sculpting stone.

A lot of that writings had five drafts.

You don’t just sort of spin it out in one go.

[00:28:54] Rachel: Such a gift to the world.

[00:28:57] Lucy: Yeah, I can’t wait to read it.

[00:29:00]Mary: If you want to find it, it’s called madness made me, and it’s available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon.

[00:29:09] Lucy: Awesome. We’ll put that in the show notes.

You seem to have had a lot of good things come out of your experiences.

[00:29:19] Mary: Yeah, I think that’s true. One of the things that makes me so sad is seeing people who, for whatever reason, and there’s a whole bunch of reasons why this might happen, and some of them can be laid at the feet of the system, but who stay stuck in that place, who remain socially isolated, without a contributing role in poverty, and with a very diminished sense of self and self agency. That really fills me with great sadness that there are quite a few people in our system actually encourages some of this. One of the reasons I was able to get beyond that point was probably my original privilege. And I can’t emphasize enough how being white and middle class was pretty helpful to me, and being brought up to be a questioning person was very, very helpful to me in navigating my way through and out of that system. I’ve had some pretty amazing opportunities and experiences in my career that I wouldn’t have perhaps had otherwise if this hadn’t happened to me.

And I would just like everyone else who goes through those experiences to be able to get to a point in their lives where they can see the benefit of it and move to another place where they’re not sort of. Where it’s not sort of dominating their lives.

[00:31:09] Lucy: Yeah. I think that’s the power of lived experience stories. And it’s so important to hear stories like yours because I’ve spoken to a lot of people who’ve had very extreme things happen to them, but when you speak to them, they say, I don’t regret any of it, and I wouldn’t take it back.

[00:31:25] Mary: No.

[00:31:26] Lucy: We’re so caught up in not letting it happen at all that we’re just not even letting people go through it.

[00:31:33] Rachel: And make meaning of it or defining it in such a limited way.

[00:31:37] Mary: Yeah.

[00:31:39] Lucy: If you don’t actually hear people who have been through these stories, you make your own assumptions about what that’s like and you miss all the magical parts.

[00:31:48] Mary And there were some incredible. I had some incredible experiences, some terribly scary, awful experiences, but I had some amazing experiences. And in some ways I live in the sort of normal zone. I haven’t had a mood swing for years, and sometimes I miss it a bit.

Sometimes I think, oh, they were such powerful experiences.

[00:32:15] Lucy: Yeah.

[00:32:16] Rachel: What advice would you give to the outsider of the foreign land standing on the edge, trying to pull people back?

[00:32:28] Mary: I would probably say, get inside people’s souls instead of just looking at their symptoms.

[00:32:38] Rachel: Okay, how do you do that?

[00:32:40] Mary: Well, you listen to people.

One of the things people can do, instead of reading those awful papers they read, they could read more accounts of people’s accounts of their experiences.

One approach that we’re exploring at the moment in the department of Health is some sort of deep dialogue where people with different perspectives come together and talk about these things. And one kind of area of dialogue could be the different experiences of the same phenomenon. Like someone has a psychosis, there’s the person’s own experience, there’s the people who love them, who look on and think fuck.

And then there’s the professionals who, for slightly different reasons, think fuck.

[00:33:35] Rachel: Yeah.

[00:33:38] Mary: And how you can mediate those different realities to come to a point where the experience itself is just honored a bit more. One of the things about it is when you’re in those states, there’s only room for one.

It’s very hard to share.

So it’s very isolating and very hard to describe too, my descriptions, and I’m not actually describing being inside the experience, I’ve just been reading reflections on it. I worked quite hard at describing those experiences, and I can understand why people find that really, really difficult. And the open dialogue approach should open the way for these kinds of discussions where people can feel safe and appreciated enough to talk about what it’s like for them, while everyone.

[00:34:47] Rachel: Yeah. Where people’s experiences can met with curiosity and respect and time. I think just being with.

[00:34:59] Mary: Yeah. I think one of the problems with the mental health system, and more so than when I was using it, is just how overrun it is and how it seems to me that the job of the day is to keep as many people out as possible because people are. There’s so much demand.

But I think there’s a cultural issue behind that. I think if we invested more in communities, much more down the prevention and promotion end, and we equipped communities to look out for each other and look after each other, I think we could do something about the demand. Because I think people, as soon as they feel, oh, I’m not coping, they just go off to a GP. What does a GP do? Give them a pill or try and refer them to a psychiatrist. And if they’re feeling really shit, they go to Ed.

And that’s a very dehumanizing experience for a lot of people.

I don’t think it’s just.

We should just understand it as, oh, a whole lot of people are getting mental illness and they have to go and see a professional. I think we need to think why is our culture structured in such a way that we can’t take care of each other, we can’t sometimes take care of ourselves. And as soon as things get a bit rough we resort to the medical professionals.

[00:36:46] Rachel: Yeah, it’s so true. When we think about the role of social determinant and the community would meet those needs in many ways and when there was problems or difficulties, the community would respond. But now it’s service provision.

[00:37:03] Mary: Yeah. And I think what’s happened now, I don’t want to glorify the role of communities historically either, because,

Rachel: No, there was other bad things.

Mary: They’ve been a bit cruel at times. But what’s happened in the last couple of hundred years is that the service system has actually taken over the role that was taken over by aunties and grannies and neighbors and communities and actually disabled those skills that people had.

And I think that’s really unfortunate.

[00:37:44] Rachel: Which has also contributed, I think, to the pathologization because this is no longer a human experience. There’s something going wrong and then it requires an expert.

[00:37:57]Mary: It requires an expert

Lucy: of someone who doesn’t know you.

Mary: Yeah. And someone who doesn’t know you is paid to be there. Yeah.

[00:38:07] Lucy: So we’ve spoken a little bit about what the mental health world doesn’t do so well, but we’re wondering if you could think of a time where you’ve seen someone handle distress.

[00:38:18] Mary: Oh yes. Well, yes, look. Yes, and I think it’s really good to focus because I get into critique a lot.

[00:38:27] Lucy: We all can. Yeah.

[00:38:28] Mary: And I think it’s good to focus on some of the things that work. Well, I remember when I was in the hospital I used to go into almost sort of catatonic depression, I guess you’d call it, where I’d just be mute and be in bed all day doing.

And I remember this nurse used to come every afternoon and sort of unfold me out of the bed and stand me up very gently.

She wouldn’t say a word to me and she’d just take me for a little very slow walk around the grounds and put me back into bed. And it’s such a simple thing, but I just remember her acceptance and her not trying to make me do anything, not trying to curry me up because I was incredibly slowed down.

But just the kindness of that. I think it’s quite hard to be with people who are in extreme states. I’ve had my experience with friends and my partner and it’s pretty challenging. So I think we need to acknowledge that for people who are sort of looking on. But yeah, I think there are a lot of very humane approaches that have been built up.

The problem is they’re on the outer edges of the system and they don’t get sort of built into the fabric of the system. They’re just little outliers. And one of the things that worries me about the growth of peer support and I’ve been going around visiting mainstream clinical mental health services and it’s very, very hard to maintain your identity and integrity in such a clinically dominated system.

And so there have been times when I’ve thought, oh, the peer support workers are kind of starting to think a bit like clinicians, and I think we really need to give people the education, the supervision and the support themselves, but also for the services to understand that their dominance is actually killing off a very precious kind of emerging approach that could be very helpful to the way they do things.

And I don’t think people mean to do that.

I often reflect on my life as a white person in New Zealand, and you just go around, you’re the dominant culture, you just go around doing things the way you’re used to and you don’t always realize that what you’re doing is suppressing the other cultures around you. And I think that’s what’s think. I think there’s a lot of work to be done in the lived experience, workforce development, on that organizational readiness, but also on supporting that workforce to hold true to their identity and values.

[00:42:15] Rachel: Thank you so much, Mary.

[00:42:17] Lucy: Yeah, this has been a very powerful conversation. I’ve been so drawn into your words and, yeah, you’ve given such a unique but very important perspective. So thank you.

[00:42:27] Mary: Oh, it’s a pleasure.

[00:42:33] Rachel: A difficult gift.

[00:42:35] Lucy: A difficult gift. What a name.

[00:42:37] Rachel: It is a really appropriate name, isn’t it?

[00:42:39] Lucy: Yeah, it’s a beautiful reframe.

[00:42:41] Mary: Yeah. You know, the kind of things that can happen or what’s possible through suffering.

 [00:42:49] Lucy: That came out a lot, didn’t it?

She was speaking about how she actually missed those experiences as well. That’s not something that people generally talk about. I feel like a lot of people might be shocked if you heard someone say that they miss being in that realm. How amazing were Mary’s descriptions of madness.

[00:43:09] Rachel: There were so many metaphors in there, wasn’t there? And images.

that listening to her speak, I could have these pictures in my mind that were so powerful, so vivid. Yeah. Where I landed at the end of it all was just this really sitting with this confirmation, I guess, of the belief in love and healing, love and compassion and kindness and the healing power of that.

[00:43:39] Lucy: Yeah.

It keeps coming up, doesn’t it?

[00:43:42] Rachel: It really does. I feel like we’re so lucky to have Mary working in our mental health system and doing the job she’s doing now, but also all the things that she’s done.

It’s a life really committed to the benefit of others, and I find her incredibly inspiring.

[00:44:07] Lucy: Absolutely.

[00:44:07] Rachel: It’s a real honor to have been able to talk with her today.

[00:44:24] Lucy: Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you wanted to stay in touch or learn more about discovery college, please head to our website,

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