Bijgewerkt: feb 10
In the summer of 2014, a small miracle took place in The Netherlands. At least that’s how I see it. My name is Sean Blackwell, and I’ve been teaching people about the spiritual dimension and healing potential of bipolar disorder through my YouTube channel, bipolarORwakingUP, since 2007, (mostly from my apartment in Sao Paulo, Brazil). However, that particular summer, I was preparing for something special.
For the previous decade, my wife, psychologist Ligia Splendore, and I had been in the process of developing a healing retreat for people labeled with bipolar disorder. As my online work had gathered quite a following, I posted a video letting my viewers know that I’d be traveling to Europe to work with clients in a series of private, one-on-one retreats. While I already had a few clients lined up in Romania, Germany and Finland, I needed a couple more to make the trip worthwhile.
To my surprise, a woman from Belgium contacted me, Griet Daemen, asking if I would be interested in holding a small conference while I was in Europe. She offered to organize it. Knowing that I wasn’t such a well-known name, I politely declined. I didn’t want to put her through the headaches of organizing such an event. It’s a lot of work!
A few weeks later, I got another call, this time from Ruud van Rijsingen, a Dutch therapist. Ruud lived near Rotterdam, which was only an hour from Griet in Belgium. He was also interested in organizing an event centered around my work. Ruud was very connected to the mental health community in The Netherlands, and had a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish regarding a conference. He had this idea that we would invite both mental health care professionals and people who had been diagnosed with a disorder to the conference – an unusual thing to do at the time.
Inspired by his energy, as well as the synchronicity of him living so close to Griet, I agreed to Ruud’s proposal, introducing him to Griet soon after. A few weeks went by and another person contacted me, Annemarie Slee, asking if I’d be interested in holding a conference in Rotterdam. Then there was one more after that, Maudy Apon.
I introduced Maudy and Annemarie to Ruud and Griet right away. By adding one more colleague of Ruud’s, Han den Dekker, we had a team of 5 people arranging a conference in Rotterdam in no time. Other than the four divine contacts from the Rotterdam area, I didn’t have a single invitation to speak anywhere else in Europe. Rotterdam was it!
Thinking about additional speakers for the conference, the first name that popped into my head was Phil Borges, the director of the film CRAZYWISE, which was still in the making. Phil and I had been talking for the previous few months. We’d already planned to meet in Amsterdam while I was in Europe, as he would be there working on his film. We decided pretty quickly to invite Phil to speak at the conference. His participation gave the event an added boost. Plus, seeing that the title of my work, bipolarORwakingUP, wasn’t a great conference name, together we coined it the CRAZYWISE Conference.
Along with Phil and myself, the team in Rotterdam invited a handful of other speakers to participate, most of them from the alternative movement in The Netherlands. The conference quickly sold out and we had people from seven countries in attendance. On a personal note, the energy of the event was overwhelming. It was clear that people were desperate for alternatives to what mainstream psychiatry had to offer. That first CRAZYWISE Conference was provocative and alive.
Now in it’s sixth year, the CRAZYWISE Conference continues to bring together some of the world’s most visionary thinkers regarding solutions to our global mental health epidemic. I’m honored to say that acclaimed mental health advocates like Will Hall, Jim Van Os, Catherine G. Lucas, Katie Mottram have all participated in CRAZYWISE over the years.
Looking back, I’m also happy that I invested my energy in The Netherlands. Getting to know many of the mental health advocates there, as well as the Dutch culture, I believe it will be in The Netherlands where the first great strides in effective mental health reform will take place.
So, if you are considering attending, know that CRAZYWISE is more than just a conference. It’s history in the making.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Author of “Am I Bipolar or Waking Up?”