Tony Zizza

“Speaking Up To The Challenge”

Like many mental health reform advocates, I was thrown into the fire via a deeply personal life experience.When I carefully “weaned/tapered” a child off 20mg of the powerful antidepressant Paxil, little did I know that the personal can be quite political. Families in this great country of ours, if not throughout the entire world, are much safer and happier as children live their lives again without antidepressants and psychotropic drugs.

However, I cannot rest on individual laurels. Nor should anyone for that matter. I just can’t say, “Hey – I probably saved a child’s life, but my job is now done.” It’s just not good enough given the extensive damage the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists have done to both our families and culture.

With this in mind, I had to make a decision. I needed to make a decision I felt would enable me to make an impact personally, professionally, and politically.

What to do? What to do? What to do?

I decided to join Toastmasters.

I couldn’t be happier. Toastmasters has given me the opportunity to speak in front of an audience of any size without the frequent fear of failing that so many people face. Toastmasters has been around for 80 years. You can find out what Toastmasters has to offer you by visiting this very helpful web site:http://www.toastmasters.org

I have earned my Competent Toastmaster distinction, (CTM), and completely understand the journey in Toastmasters, much like the battle against Big Pharma -never really ends. I am working on my Advanced Toastmaster distinction, (ATM), and the ride is a wild one. It’s crucial to be very prepared for speeches at professional and civic clubs. The reception so far has been excellent. Nothing will stop me from making my dreams come true.

At present, I am a member of the Parkwood Toastmasters club. One of the great things about Toastmasters is one’s freedom to visit other clubs and complete speeches, fill meeting roles, and always get to know new people. As an associate of the Hartford-Omni insurance company, having membership along with being an Officer in the Parkwood Toastmasters club is really good because we meet twice a month on site.

Needless to say, I’ve given a lot of speeches concerning the dangers of drugging our children. The speeches have been a tremendous success. With a prepared approach and a good attitude, I have found that even strangers are receptive to a controversial message when it sounds like good common sense. It’s also thrilling to see people change their minds when they hear the truth about the way “mental health” is practiced in this country.

By speaking in public on a regular basis, sometimes you never know what to expect from yourself and others. I always inject some humor into my speeches and presentations, though of course there is nothing amusing about the horrible results that come from drugging children as young as one years old to treat subjective/emotional conditions.

If I were to bottom line it, my message at heart is this: Speak up to the challenge! Consider joining a Toastmasters club in your area. Speak up at Board of Education meetings, meetings at your local church, public forums. Call radio shows.

The opportunities to speak up to the challenge are out there. Will you be there to stand and be counted? To live life, instead of simply standing on the sidelines?

Remember, perfect conditions don’t exist. Go after your goals with gusto and grace. You will never make a difference if you don’t open your mouth to do more than just eat. Children are depending on us. They are depending on us to – speak up to the challenge.

Tony Zizza, State of Georgia

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