The Icarus Project is a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness. We advance social justice by fostering mutual aid practices that reconnect healing and collective liberation. We transform ourselves through transforming the world around us.
The Icarus Project seeks to overcome the limitations of a world determined to label, categorize, and sort human behavior. We envision a new culture that allows the space and freedom for exploring different states of being, and recognizes that breakdown can be the entrance to breakthrough. We aim to create a language that is so vast and rich that it expresses the infinite diversity of human experiences. We demand more options in understanding and navigating emotional distress and we want everyone to have access to these options, regardless of status, ability, or identity.
The Icarus Project helps us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness. We are members of a group that has been misunderstood and persecuted throughout history, but has also been responsible for some of the world’s most extraordinary creations. Sensitivities, visions, and inspirations are not necessarily symptoms of illness, they are gifts needing cultivation and care. When honored and nurtured, these gifts can lay the foundation for a wiser and more compassionate society. As a mutual aid community, we intertwine threads of madness and creativity to inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world.
1. Self-Determination. We honor the language people use to define their experiences and we respect how people choose to navigate their distress. We embrace diversity, harm reduction, and self-determination. Everyone is welcome, whether they support the use of psychiatric drugs or not, and whether they identify with psychiatric diagnoses or not. We center the needs of people with lived experience in our work, and, we also welcome providers and caregivers to aid in support in self-determination of their clients and loved ones by participating in programs or spaces that are not exclusively for people who experience emotional distress.
2. Respect and responsibility. Icarus is a sanctuary for people creating their own definitions of health and wellness. At the same time, we acknowledge that our mental states are not justifications to disrespect or demean others and we are at all times responsible for our actions. See our guidelines to learn more about how we create a community of mutual respect.
3. Educating ourselves and others. We educate ourselves and our communities about care options and strategies for emotional wellness. We question what we hear in the media and what we read in doctors’ office brochures. We research medical treatments, learn all we can about their risks and benefits, and respect the role that personal beliefs and intuition play in decision-making. We explore a spectrum of approaches and encourage each other to make informed choices.
4. Balancing wellness and action. We help each other stay balanced and grounded so we can use our insights to make the world we live in better, more beautiful, and way more interesting. Together we strive to create full and interdependent lives where the ultimate goal is not just to survive, but to thrive and to transform ourselves, our communities, and our society.
5. Social Justice. We recognize that we all live in a crazy world and that too many of us struggle due to ongoing legacies of abuse, colonization, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sexism, and other interlocking forms of oppression. We also know that the mental health and health care systems reproduce oppression. We use education and resource development to help support the emotional wellness of all people, and center the needs of those most marginalized by our society. We affirm that social justice is the foundation of healthy societies and foster supportive relationships free of violence and oppression.