Who would you ask for help if you were going to Spain? Someone who’s studied maps and guidebooks, but has never been to Spain or someone who’s been there and sketched out a map or written a guide after getting back? Me, too, I prefer a guide who’s been there.
So it is with emotional pain. Theories and book learning may help, but if you really want to know how to manage, find a guide who’s been there. Elly Litvak is such a guide and her one-woman show, Now Who’s Crazy Now? is a map and guidebook. I saw Now Who’s Crazy Now? In Toronto on March 27, 2014 at an event that was a fundraiser for the Family Outreach and Response (FOR) Program and a special farewell for departing executive director, Karyn Baker. The place was packed, and the audience loved it.
In Now Who’s Crazy Now? Elly tells of emotional pain that becomes unbearable, though perhaps understandable as she introduces us to her family and her experiences as a young person. As life becomes harder, Elly comes to believe that she is helpless in the face of the world’s demands and stigmatized by mental illness. As despair and hope spiral to extreme intensities, she searches to understand what is happening and to get better. In the direst of circumstances, she begins to realize her power to control her own reactions and her responsibility to take charge. She locates supportive professional help, finds ways to grow and flourish, and, very slowly and gradually, creates a different kind of life for herself. What’s missing from my telling of her story is Elly’s pithy, sometimes hilarious ways of conveying what happened. You have to be there.
And if you’re there, you’ll be highly entertained while learning from an experienced guide about how healing and recovery is possible. Elly has over twenty years of experience in the mental health field as a wellness and recovery specialist. She’s founded two Canadian theatre companies for people with lived experience of emotional pain, and developed Now Who’s Talking?, a writing program guiding participants through the process of writing and presenting recovery stories. She’s the Family Mental Health Recovery Navigator at the Family Outreach and Response Program. Her public performances advance a critically important undertaking that I’ve discussed before (see Transformation by Fire post), namely, strengthening public visibility and understanding of healing and recovery as a viable alternative to medical model mental health care .
I meant to write a review of Now Who’s Crazy Now? just after I saw the production last March, but someone close to me needed a lot of help, I was very busy, months passed, and I thought I’d missed my chance. But I learned recently that Elly is performing Now Who’s Crazy Now? on November 3, 2014 as a benefit fundraiser for George Herman House, a Toronto program that promotes recovery by providing holistic programming and supportive housing for women with mental and emotional health issues. Book your tickets now! Arrive early to get a good seat!