May 15th, 2012 is a day I’ll never forget. And the months leading up to that fateful day were anything but ordinary.
In 2011 I finished a Masters in Human Rights at UCL. This was during the Arab Spring, and upon completing grad school, Occupy Wall Street arose. Protests were everywhere, and a fresh self-imposed indoctrination of a Human Rights perspective was on my mind.
Everywhere I looked I saw human rights abuses. And I’ve always been one to put my money where my mouth is, so I acted on my beliefs. When I saw a cop doing something out of line, I called him on it. When I saw a woman get hit by her husband in public, I chastised him for it. I was always this person, but post-Masters I was particularly emblazoned on my path of pursuing justice in the world.
I was curious about Occupy Wall Street so on a quick weekend I checked it out. I sat in on some meetings and discussion groups where I would eventually meet my boss Russell Simmons. I gave an interview that’s coming out in a documentary soon, and just tried to spend as much time as possible catching the vibe of the movement.
Upon returning to Montreal I checked out the Occupy Wall Street movement in my city who were busy organizing a protest for the next day. The next day came and multiple of the people I met with the night before were arrested. The right to peaceful assembly? My fucking ass.
I was emerged in media and the state of the world. Everyday I watched as the narrative played out and saw how my life changed with it. Then there was the rise of the student protest movement in Montreal. On that one I had to get involved. I never made it to a protest, because the timing was always off. But when a law professor wrote an op-ed against the right to peaceful protest in the newspaper I had to fire back with an article in support of it. It would seem that February article would seal my fate.
The first thing that happened were the death threats. Following that, the city stopped picking up my garbage. Then shit would be moved around in my apartment when I wasn’t home. Then my six-month old puppy named Penny was kidnapped and returned to me a week later.
Someone successfully broke into my home and stole the most expensive designer piece in the closet and just eerily place it on the sidewalk outside of my apartment. When I returned home from lunch I saw that someone had been in my home, gone through my things, and deliberately placed this purse where I could find it upon returning home.
Shit had definitely hit the fan. But was what I was doing so extreme? I wasn’t trying to incite violence, I was just merely expressing the essential nature of protest in a democracy.
Sometime after the purse incident at around 3 a.m. someone tried to get into my home while I was in it, quite aggressively from the back door. I had no choice but to call the police. They showed up, guns drawn, and by the time they got there was no threat.
After that night I knew that I had to slow down with my social activism, but I didn’t know how. You see, social activism is in my bones. It’s a part of my chemical makeup. I didn’t choose to be outspoken or morally inclined, I just am.
So I continued with my blogging, tweeting, and overall YouTube thugging. Along with being an activist I am an artist, and a lover of Hip-Hop, so I would just fuck around and upload videos to YouTube of me lip-syncing to Pac, or singing along to Rihanna, or imitating what police surveillance looks like by shooting myself from odd angles. You know, like from a hole in the wall? In general I was just having fun and using social media and the internet as a medium for artistic expression.
I was basically breaking out of my shell and apparently breaking the norms of my sheltered community at the same time. I was no longer in an institutional environment. I had saved money, and I was taking time off to write my first book, while focusing on the direction I wanted to take my life. I was focused on a vision for the future and nothing could break that stride.
But then May 15th, 2012 happened.
I cannot disclose all of the details of that day. But I can give you enough so that you get the gist of it.
I was at home listening to music and smoking when the police broke in. No one rang a doorbell. If they did, I didn’t hear it. All of a sudden I just saw two police officers standing inside of my home saying “come with us” through the window connecting my bedroom to the main room of the apartment. I was locked in my bedroom, which had a heavy-duty door.
Come with us? “I know my rights” I said, “You can’t break into my home without a warrant and just tell me to come with you.”
Then I ran to the computer to tweet for help.
That’s when the axe came out. They violently, with an urgency I’ve only seen reserved for seriously emergency situations, axed through my fucking bedroom door.
Then they swarmed me in my bedroom. There was an exchange of words, and a prolonged glance from the attractive male officer at my chest as I was standing there in nothing but a bra and skirt, which I called him on, and then the fight.
I wasn’t being taken out of my home to go to some clandestine location without a fight. After a few hits in both directions, mostly evidenced in the bruises on my 115 pound body, I was subdued to the ground with my arms behind my back. Eventually they would strap me down to a board, and carry me out of my home screaming and into the back of an ambulance.
From there I would be transported to a French hospital, where I would meet with a female doctor who’s name escapes me but who’s face is scathed into my mind. After a twenty-minute meeting where we went over the events of the day, and some of the last few months, the bitch looked me straight in the face and said, “You are bipolar.” I don’t care what degree you have, you cannot diagnose a person with a mental disorder within twenty minutes of meeting with them. Period.
What was it that led the police to break in you might ask? Someone tipped them off that I was supposedly suicidal. The story is a little more sadistic than I am letting on but I am trying to reveal as much as I possibly can at this time. So the claim that I was suicidal was based on two things: 1. A six-second video I put up of me putting on lipstick and 2. A Facebook status.
The first, the video, was a response to Beyonce’s “Ring The Alarm” where she puts on lipstick, so I did the same thing in the video, said “this is for parents” and cut the scene. Ain’t nothin’ suicidal about that. It was an art piece reflecting my children’s rights agenda. And second, the Facebook status. Well, supposedly the police were told that I had created a Facebook status that said that I would be dead within two hours. What’s interesting about this supposed status is that no one has ever seen it. Of my 1000 Facebook friends at the time, not one ever mentioned having seen this fucking thing.
But there you have it, one ridiculous interpretation of an innocent six-second video and a bullshit Facebook status update and bam, I was to spend three and a half weeks confined against my will in a psych ward.
This ordeal led to five confinements, two forced medical treatment orders that force me to take medication against my will, multiple human rights abuses, and here we are today. I was silenced for a long time about my situation, for a lot of different reasons but I can’t keep silent about this.
I talk about it openly in a lot of my online articles, which actually got me thrown into a psych ward at the beginning of this summer for 48 days. For me, writing is dangerous as it threatens my freedom. But at the same time, I am a writer who writes about my life, so I can’t be anyone but myself. I can’t do anything other than what is in my heart to do, and I know for a fact that talking about what has happened to me can help other people, so I am fucking doing that.
I had a judge look me dead in the face after I was the only person who produced any concrete evidence, and tell me that “the facts don’t need to matter.” My life was quite literally on the line and this guy had me testify to my situation for over three hours. Finally he says to me, “You are too intelligent.” And then, “I believe you are not bipolar, but I also believe that life will be hell for you if you are not on medication.” And there you have it. I am now sentenced to three years of the most painful injections for a mental illness not even the judge who delivered the sentence believes I have.
This shit happened in Canada. Not a developing nation but a supposedly “First world one.” The Human Rights scholar in me is disgusted, the inner girl in me is traumatized, and the woman I am today is pissed off.
Tomorrow I go for my injection. Tomorrow I wake up knowing I am going to be in pain for another three days physically while spending another month fighting off the negative cycle of thoughts these types of injections impose in your mind.
I am trying to fix my situation but the system has me in a chokehold cutting off my pathways to ultimate freedom. I may be writing this from the comfort of my home, but the sad part is I never know for how long. I have been betrayed by too many people to count, and never know when the next “Facebook status” is going to be made-up.
Well I don’t have Facebook anymore. So that avenue has been cut off, but I’m still out there, in some ways more than ever and I refuse to hide myself for any longer. For better or worse I have to be myself and that is a writer who discusses social justice issues. You got a problem with it?
Then like I told the judge “You’re on the wrong side of history.” I am trying to further a vision of the world with less pain, if you’re looking to have me locked up, you’re fucking with that vision, and that’s when the mother in me comes out. And trust me, you don’t want to fuck with that woman. She’s the baddest bitch around.
Despite all of the systemic harassment, despite my physical pain from the injections, and despite the abuses I experienced in the psych ward, I am still me. I still have my spirit and my soul in tact. At this point I’ve seen and experienced a lot of shit, and what kills me is knowing this happens to other people too. Even children. So that’s why I write.
I write because it helps me, and I write because depending on your situation, maybe hearing this type of story can help you. One person’s pain is all of our pain and as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If this type of shit is happening in a place like Canada in 2015, then imagine what is happening elsewhere. My heart bleeds at that thought, but the spirit in me says, “boss up and be you.”
Psych wards are a form of obedience school for the systemically unfit, and I am a proud failure of that obedience school. I have been labeled dangerous, and yeah, I guess with a pen I am.