mental health issues
if i'm going to be totally honest.
i'm melodramatic. my life seems disastrous in a really superficial sort of way. i take on too much. i forget that i have a mental illness. i forget to take my pills because i refuse to acknowledge that my brain can be fixed by medication. because i struggle with the idea that people can be "fixed"; that what used to be just personality traits have now been pathologized to the point where we medicate every personality trait that seems even remotely deviant from the ideal [a masculinist, able-bodied, sober, upper middle class ideal]. you're a woman who deals with emotions rather than science? take a pill. you're a person of colour who has panic attacks because of your daily dealings with racism? take a pill. you are anal retentive about cleanliness because you fear illness? take a pill. we don't try to fix the institutions, we just try to fix individuals. with chemicals.
so i don't take my pills.
but then i'm psychotic for ten days of every month and i cry at work and take apart a shaving razor to cut myself with while my girlfriend is in the kitchen trying to make me food so that i'll calm down. when A, the girlfriend, forgets to take her pills, it's even worse. she gets violent, she says vile things that spew out of her mouth, a toxic verbal pollution.
is anyone not medicated anymore? what i wonder sometimes is whether or not medication makes us into better people or if it just masks our flaws. are we attempting to use medication to mold society into some kind of placid, well-behaved ideal? is psychology a refusal to allow people to be themselves, a need for people to only fit a social idea of "normal"? do we do it for ourselves, or do we do it so that we are not socially punished? do we only feel shitty about our instability because it comes with social consequences?
if we could be our angry, unforgiving, judicial selves without any fear of being socially reprimanded for being that way, i don't think either of us would be half as anxious and depressed as we are without medication. if we had been born upper class, with money and power at our disposal, we would have channeled our anger towards changing the world around us through philanthropy and political involvement. we would have been able to afford to do that, we would have had the time to get involved because we wouldn't be focussed on working just to be able to live. but being lower class and women, we have been forced to repress our anger in order to commodify ourselves for the job market. because our rage at the world order is not seen as desirable in the service industry - it means we are less malleable.
if we worked towards changing hegemonic and systemic oppression, worked towards more equitable divisions of privilege, would there be significant decreases in the rates of mental health and the use of psychiatric medication and other psychological resources? if we solved the broader social issues and made the quality of life better globally and equally, would the study of psychology fall apart all together? would we stop needing to pathologize difference? could we allow people to be who they are without medicating them? would people need to be medicated if the oppressions we deal with daily were lifted from our shoulders? are psychological disorders really just our ways of dealing with the ways in which the structure of social systems keeps us from freely expressing personality, despite how the facade of individualism leads us to believe we are already all being ourselves? do we need medication only to deal with the conflicting messages of "BE YOURSELF" and "if you are not happy, seek therapy"?
maybe we need to stop using therapy to be happy and start using political participation to change the systems that make us feel like we're fucked up. maybe happiness comes from reshaping the world to suit our need for freedom. i think social activism has the potential to be therapeutic when it is effective, when it actually instigates change.
perhaps we're looking at it entirely the wrong way - we act like happiness is the goal, the be all end all o human existence - but when is happiness ever a tool for being actively present in life? if anything, happiness is the opiate of the masses, allowing us to become complacent because those who believe they are happy enough are no longer willing to fight. maybe we need to stop pathologizing anger and acknowledge the benefit it has as a tool for a better world. if we are never angry or dissatisfied, how can we ever expect to improve? and if you are not dissatisfied with the world around you, are you looking at it closely enough?