The following is a response by Ezra Dickinson to the LIFE:ART: Living with the Mentally Ill Speakeasy Conversation on April 14, 2013 at Velocity. The event took place alongside the world premiere of Velocity’s Made in Seattle presentation of Ezra Dickinson’s Mother for you I made this May 6-19, 2013. As an only child, I had no idea that I was being raised by a schizophrenic mother. I was loved and raised by her, but I also provided a stable base for her to live in this world. She wasn’t diagnosed until I grew older and had moved away, but looking back, I can see now that she was suffering from schizophrenia. She was a great mother to me, but she lacked the assistance from our society to properly deal with her mental illness. I’m inspired by the power of dialogue. In reaching out to my community, I felt empowered by the sense that I was emerging from a place of aloneness into a web of support. It showed me that if we can just gather the strength to reach out, we can find a pathway to help. I was shown resources that I didn’t know existed, resources that now enable me to play a part—for the first time—in the care that my mother receives, or at the very least have conversations with her healthcare providers. This raises the question: why don’t we don’t talk more about mental illness? How can we even begin to talk about mental illness? A point was made during the Speakeasy conversation that when we find out that a friend or loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, we respond with unequivocal support, even running races to raise money for the cause. But when a loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness, we may, in a sense, turn our backs, because we don’t know how to respond to mental illness. As a society, why don’t we do a better job of rallying behind the mentally ill? Why aren’t there more initiatives to raise money to support those living with mental illness? RESOURCES NAMI Washington National Alliance on Mental Illness Providing local free education, support and advocacy for children and adults affected by mental illness. Find links to local + national resources on the website. Based in Seattle. Stand Up for Mental Health Teaching stand up comedy to people with mental illness as a way of building their confidence and fighting public stigma, prejudice and discrimination. Based in British Colombia. Psychosis Sucks Fraser Health Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) Program website promotes early detection, educates about psychosis and provides direction for seeking help. The main objectives of the EPI Program are to increase understanding of psychosis, decrease stigma associated with having this disorder and provide direct treatment. EZRA DICKINSON began dancing at the age of four, going on to study at Pacific Northwest Ballet for twelve years on full scholarship. Ezra earned his BFA in Dance with an emphasis in choreography from Cornish College of The Arts. While at Cornish, Ezra was the recipient of The Merce Cunningham Scholarship, The Kreielshimer Scholarship, and The President’s Scholarship in Dance. Ezra’s work in choreography and movement installations have been on display at On the Boards’ Northwest New Works Festival, ACT Theater, Moore Inside Out, Heathrow Airport, Henry Art Gallery, 911 media arts center, Velocity’s Next Fest Northwest, Zocalo Mexico City, Spectrum Dance Theater, and The Northwest Film Forum as well as many others. Along with being co-artistic director of The Offshore Project and Actually Really, Ezra is also a member of The Maureen Whiting Company. Recently Ezra has been collaborating with composers to create micro-compositions for a collection of short stop-motion animations. Ezra is also currently working on a multimedia performance using motion censor technology blending mural painting with performance. Photo Oliver Sharp

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