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Difference-makers
I want to salute your newspaper for its fine article "My crazy brother" (cover story, April 10).

I was diagnosed as bipolar with psychotic episodes (hearing voices) and put on Social Security disability in 1986. However, I was unable to find decent housing on this stipend in my native city (Philadelphia), so I went wandering around for affordable housing, first in Mexico and second in Western U.S. I had a hard time keeping track of my meds and I ran into some serious difficulties.

To make a long story short, if it weren't for significant kindness of "strangers," and also the Ithaka Land Trust of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Mental Health Center, I might be still sleeping on the streets of Mexico City or in a tin hut in the city dumps of Mazatlan or in the jails of Los Angeles. Good meds, decent housing and some kind souls have made all the difference.

Thank you for helping people become more aware of mental illness. Brien Whisman
Colorado Springs

Stuck on "stigma'
The "My crazy brother" article was extremely well-written, extremely well- and lovingly presented. Thank you.

I am, however, not in agreement with the notion that the media has a lot to do with creating the stigma around mental illness. Prejudices are not created by "the media." Though they appear prominently in the media, they are created by societies, and media reflect them.

Can media decline to present them? On rare occasions, and even more rarely, individual representatives can, yes, but like most of us, society dictates and media respond.

Your employ of the term "stigma" is one example of conditioned response. You have been conditioned by society not to associate it in print (privately is entirely another matter) with rape (there are societies where this is not so) and to associate it in print with mental illnesses.

Think Pavlov's bell. Its effect was achieved through constant repetition, that an association, a response, could be induced. Harold A. Maio, Advisory Board
American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Fort Myers, Fla.

"Stigma' in action
One thing I would like to say in regards to your article "My crazy brother" in the April 10 issue of the Independent: I have noticed, when it comes to seeking professional help, that there is a stigma attached to psychiatry.

In my life, I have seen a bone specialist when I broke three fingers on my right hand, and I saw a psychiatrist for counseling when I was having a hard time in grade school because of constant daydreaming. (My parents' marriage was coming apart at the time.)

No one treated me as if I was permanently crippled after having seen a bone specialist, but I noticed they definitely treated me differently when it became known that I had seen a psychiatrist. I suspect they thought I would spontaneously do weird and illogical things because of it.

As long as there is a stigma attached to seeking help for mental problems, people such as I will not seek psychiatric help, or someone worse off than I will do something destructive before getting such help. Name withheld
Colorado Springs

Heartless
It's a shame that a person from somewhere other than Manitou Springs (a loft owner) who has no idea about the foot traffic or tourist nature of the town he or she now lives in wishes to complain about a business they knew was going to be there ("Heart transplant," Side Dish, April 10; "Change of heart," Side Dish, p. 33).

Loft owner, as a longtime resident of Manitou and a Colorado native, I have only one thing to say to you: Go back to whatever state you came from and complain. That way, the ugly building you live in can be torn down so others of your ill-mannered ilk won't destroy what they can't comprehend: a town based on tourism, where everyone tries to help each other and live together in peace and harmony. Les Batson
Manitou Springs

Don't tell us
There is a message circulating on the Internet called "RE-ELECT NOBODY!" which makes the declaration that our 545 members of Congress are responsible for America's problems. They have the power, it says, to fix our debt or war problems, but just don't want to fix them.

Technically, that may be true. What the writer fails to mention is that if any politician described what he would do in order to fix our problems, we would not elect him. We don't want to hear that, so we elect those who tell us what we want to hear rather than tell us the truth. Jim Inman
Colorado Springs

Lamborn: E-male?
I was glad to see the letter from Sheila Wallace ("Lamborn's latest, Letters, March 20) concerning the fancy-pants mailers from Doug Lamborn's office. I have been meaning to say something about that as well. Maybe someone can introduce Lamborn to the cheap alternative: e-mail.

I signed some online petition to impeach kooky Dick Cheney that was forwarded to our representatives. Ever since then, I have received the same over-sized, full-colored postcards from Lamborn's office that are so top-end they look like they should be hand-delivered in a little mink envelope on a silver tray by some guy in tights and a top hat.

Every time I get one, I am wondering what friend does his printing. Why not use e-mail, Mr. Lamborn? Kay Johnson
Colorado Springs

Safety first
Colorado's House of Representatives is always in the process of revising and passing bills to make Colorado a safer and a better place to live. With House Bill 08-1056, people within the state of Colorado can enter emergency contact information on their driver's licenses.

The information is held online through the Division of Motor Vehicles database. If a Coloradan is in an accident, and unresponsive, the responding officer can find the emergency contact information on the database from the DMV, and the law officer can call the injured person's emergency contacts.

This will lead to faster notification of those persons who can be of assistance to the injured persons and will help to save time in such emergencies.

As of the writing of this letter, the bill is still being revised; however, the bill could be a state statute as soon as Jan. 1, 2009.

For more information on House Bill 08-1056, Colorado's legislative Web site is leg.state.co.us. Please search for House bills, and the public safety bill will be displayed. Please help Colorado become a safer and more responsive state. Julianne Reed
Littleton

Commies and fanatics
That the Independent can continually publish letters and articles by "blame-America-first" left-wing fanatics and Commie-socialists is a reminder that even liars and traitors are protected under the First Amendment.

Ironically, if these same folks had the balls to question and insult our Islamist enemies in the countries our soldiers are now fighting in (on every U.S. citizen's behalf), they'd have all been captured, tortured and executed by now. But like cowardly bullies, they only attack the governments that can't go after them under the law.

I used to admire the Independent when it was a champion for gay rights, when they were facing the Dobson-Mullahs and "Amendment 2." But since Sept. 11, 2001, your staff has increasingly lost its way by joining with those who seek to undermine and bring down our current government in a time of war.

If the Bush-haters had not chosen to divide this country in their lust for power and vengeance, we'd have already won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fritz Mann
Colorado Springs

Box cutters and BS
So I read an article that a woman was forced to remove her nipple rings as they set off the hand wand metal detector after a random check in an airport in Lubbock, Texas. The lady explained what she had, and even asked to show a female employee the rings. Male workers heckled the lady and handed her a pliers after one was "stuck" during the removal process. Embarrassed, she now only wants an apology.

Honestly, I'd be suing for sexual harassment or something. Imagine if it were in another private area and needing removal? Come on! Then again, I suppose if they allow nipple rings, one may take over the plane. It's as believable as box cutters.

Is it 2009 yet? And no more Bush and B.S. politics! Jason Wichman
Colorado Springs

Endangered
My name is Morgan Hull, and I am a first-grade student at Gold Camp Elementary. There is a problem at the Galapagos Islands.

Lots of animals there are endangered. For example, tortoises are going endangered from poachers. Also, too many tourists are coming to these islands.

This is important because the Galapagos Islands are supposed to be a place where you can see amazing creatures, and if they go extinct the Galapagos Islands will not be amazing anymore.

I propose we put more game wardens to stop poachers. Also, I propose we make a law limiting the number of tourists that can be there. Please do not travel to these islands until they do more things to help these animals.

Thank you for reading this. Morgan Hull
Colorado Springs
Editor's note: Morgan's letter is just one of a handful sent by Gold Camp Elementary students about the Galapagos Islands.

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