At the beginning of my depressive episode, I had this distinct memory right of surrender. Of feeling this tug that drew me down into my bed and of feeling this mental shift of, disaster, defeat and general disappointment. A sort of hopelessness slipped in. An illusion of control broke down and any confidence I felt in my ability to control my body, my mind and the ways of which the world to saw me, vanished.
I tried for a while to pinpoint what it was exactly that triggered this moment. I think over the span of life, mental illness and the general demands of life have gotten harder for me to do. For awhile I largely blamed myself and my lack of ability.
I reconciled that between the natural progression of expectations in life, the disability and illness that manifested in my body, and perhaps something more social or cultural something might have triggered it. I still believe these things, but now I also think a lot of it had to do with what I and other people demanded from of my body and the pressure I was under.
After that moment of surrender things became harder. I began to hit days where I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to be here, and didn’t want to breathe, but I did anyway and I continue to do so, but I found that’s all I could get myself to do. I simply just stopped. With these feelings came a lot of anger, some fear and an overwhelming amount of shame, as things continued to go down hill.
There are a lot of reasons that could cause a person to just stop like that. Some people hit a point in there lives where they find themselves in positions where it is a fight to accomplish basic functioning while others find themselves in that position their whole lives.. This is typically the case for a lot of people with disabilities.. A physical disability or physical pain could limit your movement. Illness could strike and incapacitate you. Perhaps your bed bound, chronically ill or paralyzed. On the mental side people who struggle with cognitive disabilities, mental health issues and in crisis may find themselves struggling or stopping more. All of these things can get in the way of being, of doing in the ways of which it is expected of them. There are also times where simply as humans we need to take breaks. There are times that people hit burn out, where we just don’t want to do anything, where we need to take time to ourselves to breathe, to do very little to, ‘do nothing’. There are times when people just simply want to be left to just be.
There’s an ever immense pressure of ‘to do’ in the undercurrent of society. ‘To do’ turns into ‘to be,’ and peoples’ value begins to be defined by how much they achieve in a day, a month a year, a lifetime. Pressure to do, to learn, to create, to work, to have kids, to produce, to meet norms builds as we progress in life. ‘To do’ turns into ‘to be,’ to dance is to be a ‘dancer,’ to have kids is to be a parent, to be married is to be a spouse, to make worth is to be worth something. The things we do define us and our worth. This is highlighted by our ego, our sense of self, our sense of pride, and our sense of self worth. This is how we separate the worthwhile and the worthless, the important and the unimportant. This is how people are taught to affirm self-satisfaction and self-hate, to draw the line between those who are to be loved and those who are to be left behind. This is how we define who shouldn’t get to be here, who’s a waste of space, whose a waste of air; who shouldn’t get to breathe. Underlying these statements and sentiments is capitalism and ableism.
Much of what I’ve experienced as the violence of capitalism, of our current social and economic landscape has to do with the worth capitalism assigns to the different bodies that are affected by it and the lies about worth it allows us to project onto ourselves and others. The worth and value correlate with with how much money or productivity a person can create. Worth and value come at extremes with those who are able to be more productive, harbor more money, and be of more value, both to capitalism and to society, while those who aren’t able to be productive or harbor money are held at the bottom. This creates huge stratifications.
The biggest lie capitalism ever told is that the lack of value we assign to people, the people who become homeless, the people in extreme poverty, those who are forgotten in the violence of oppression is a necessary evil of modern society that this evil is normal. That there are bodies that have value and bodies that simply don’t and are to be ignored. That in capitalism, in our jobs, in the actions and things we are able to contribute is where we should find a sense of worth that translates into belonging. When in reality there is no belonging or personal worth in capitalism. At the end of the day a job is just a place to receive wages in compensation for labor; what we do and produce in the world comes with limited rewards. Neither define us, define our belonging, or validate us permanently as people. By defining ourselves and others by in a standard of what we can do and produce, we limit ourselves and others’ potential for self-fillment.
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There are times for some when it’s harder than it is for others. In speaking to a friend about my own struggles doing things I considered basic while depressed, they revealed that at their lowest point, the biggest commitment they could make to themselves was to brush their teeth at least once a day, and even that was a triumph for her. I’ve talked to people who are currently so physically weak they ended up primarily bed bound with their greatest triumph being able to get out of the bed and go to the bathroom on their own, For me currently, if I can tackle my own basic care and challenge myself to do something on my to do list outside my routine it’s a good day. But sometimes there are bad days. There are days when we don’t brush our teeth, can’t get to the bathroom on our own or seem to take good care of ourselves. These days happen too, and loving ourselves means accepting them. In their own way they are still accomplishments. Regardless of what you can and can not do, have and have not done, you still deserve to be here, you are here, you’re still breathing, and that alone is okay.
[Featured Image: A photo of four hands clasped. Source: pexels.com]