Tuesday, November 22, 2016

psychiatric unrest

I tried hinting at it, in my last entry, but i'm thinking maybe I should put it more explicitly.  That is, I'm aware that my politics are influenced by my state of mind.  I'm aware that I form some tenuous connections between disparate types of downtroddenness.  That it might seem especially strange to lump mental illness and racial injustice together.  Part of why I'm so angry arguably being because my own mental health issues skew me that way.  I'm a frustrated angry person, which seems to result in frustrated angry politics.

A lot of different things went wrong in my life.  Poverty was just one of them, but the sort of western poverty that I'm familiar with isn't really all that bad, in itself.  The "poverty line" being high enough that most of us can eat and afford safe secure shelter.  A whole lot of the world doesn't take that for granted, and a good case could be made for not needing much more, economically speaking, to be happy.

I've often thought that the more serious problem with this type of poverty is more indirect.  It can cripple a person's capacity to handle all the things that tend to go wrong in life.  This medical condition of mine caused me lots of problems, but maybe those problems would have been surmountable if everything else around me wasn't falling apart at the same time.  Which does have the tendency of happening a lot to poor people.  A lot of things go wrong, in a lot of people's lives.

So, I got through it, but I can't go so far as to say, unscathed.  I can put all the pieces together, to understand why I ended up as such a basketcase.  I can see how I learned a few lessons all wrong, hormones being all askew probably didn't help, and now the wiring just seems to be stuck that way.

Still, I can't help but think that in a more equal society, I might have had a much better shot, despite everything else.   Arguably, a much better shot at making some sort of recovery, even now.  That's the whole reason we band together and form groups and tribes, and all of civilization, isn't it?  To be better protected from all the shit that goes wrong in life?  If we're failing to do that for some people, in any number of ways, I think it makes sense to be kind of pissed about it.

If the collective response to an individual's misfortune is just sucks for you, then said collective is failing in a very fundamental way.

Friday, November 11, 2016

only happy when it rains

I've been seeing a lot of talk about all the vulnerable types who will be hurt by a Trump presidency.  I'm afraid to even post this to Facebook, because to even question that will outrage good people that I'd rather not antagonize, but a lot of what they're afraid of is already happening.  This country is falling apart, but this is mostly coming from people who are doing ok.

Their concern for others is admirable and all, but guess what?  It's actually me that's frighteningly close to the top of that list of vulnerable people.  I scrape by on about 10k a year, the official and arbitrarily low poverty line being almost twice that much.  While the GOP salivates at the prospect of shredding the safety net I'm clinging to.  What would that mean for me?  I could lose everything, food, shelter, medical insurance, all hanging by a thread as it is.   I know, I know, that's totally different, because it's my own fault for having crippling mental health issues.

What pisses me off about that narrative though, is that Mr. Trump isn't the real threat.  Replace him with any other Republican, and it's the same.  The real threat we all face is that the GOP now dominates all three branches of government - and that is a very grave threat, and I'm honestly scared.. but it's the threat that I voted for, by refusing to support Clinton.

I voted Stein/Baraka, but I also understand the argument that it was a vote not to stop Trump.  Technically, I live in a deep blue state, so that's not true.  Trump lost by thirty points here, so my vote honestly didn't matter - but I would have also voted Stein in a swing state.  I would have even relished the vote more, because of the protest it equated to.

So, here's the awful socially suicidal truth.  It was the outcome that I wanted.  It is the outcome that I am happy with.  Unlike much of the country, my mood actually improved dramatically, as soon as I heard the news.  I was all fired up and ready to engage with people.  What chaos!  This could be catastrophic, but it could still be a great opportunity for progress.  We're already seeing the fights play out for party leadership, now that their side fucked up so badly.  They lost to Trump, of all people!  Their political careers should be over.

This is what makes unrest so dangerous.  People whose lives are already shit stop caring if things get worse.  Anything for the chance to make things better.  For people who are doing fine, that's horrifying, but you know what?  I find it a little difficult to sympathize with the beneficiaries of a society that's screwed me over this badly.  It may not be entirely logical, but it is indisputably how I feel.

As long as I'm on the fringes, it doesn't matter though.  If I get too desperate and pose a threat, they can just lock me up, but other than that, they don't give a fuck.  What this election made me realize though, is that I'm not on the fringes.  A whole lot of this country is suffering and outraged, and ready to risk burning it all down for the chance to make things better.

When I thought Clinton was going to win, I was despondent.  I've been miserable for months, thinking it was a foregone conclusion, because our lying propagandist media said that was the case.  I had my doubts, I knew Trump had a chance.  I knew turnout on the left was going to be awful.. but I thought Clinton would probably pull ahead anyhow.  The country would be saved from imminent disaster, but the status quo would be reinforced, the left wing of the Democratic Party again soundly vanquished, as Bill Clinton did before her.

For me, that was, and still is, the greater concern.  We need a progressive movement in this country.  We need it to succeed, and neoliberalism is keeping that from happening.  If we can't win this, I think we're heading for dark times that will make being scared of Trump look like a bad joke.  Clinton was the more serious threat, and I celebrate her defeat, fully aware that we're still in serious danger.

Friday, November 4, 2016

against the grain

Why do we argue?  I'm not so sure we all do it for the same reasons.  There's an element of happenstance, people merely expressing themselves, in earshot of someone trying to express something contrary.  Next thing you know, they're butting horns, right?

This is not why I argue.  Something I've done quite a lot of in my life.  I basically seek it out, although I prefer arguing with people who are somewhat similarly aligned to myself, in some way.  I have no interest in trolling stormfront, or anything like that.  When I feel we're just butting horns though, I tend to just drop it.  That's not what I'm going for.

I'll often attempt to express myself in different ways, trying to come at the disagreement from different angles, but it rarely matters.  I think in most arguments, there is a core fundamental point of disagreement, that we should be able to reconcile.  Not that we'd agree, but that we'd understand why we disagree.  My ideal outcome isn't to change anyone's mind, or to club them over the head with my superior wit and vernacular prowess, but to get to a point where we can both say that we understand why we hold different opinions.  So much so, that we can no longer condemn each other for it.

Often disagreements seem to go something like this:  Two people are concerned about two different threats.  They might even tacitly acknowledge that both concerns are entirely valid.  They just disagree on which should be the the priority.  Look at their lives, their worldview, what they believe matters in life, what's made them happy, and what's made them suffer.. and maybe I can see why they might have different priorities than I do.  If only they'd be honest about it, instead of trying to undermine opposing views with rhetorical flourishes and childish bravado.

Not that I'm above it all, but I try to be, I think, with some occasional success.  I want to understand people.  I want them to understand me.  That seems to largely be a lost cause, though.  Fucking crazy bastards.

Damn straight their nonsense scares me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

fear of the marketplace

When I was sixteen and a therapist suggested social anxiety disorder, I was skeptical.  It never occurred to me that I was afraid of people, exactly.  In part, because it's difficult to face the possibility that my entire life has been shaped by irrational fear.  What a shameful coward I must be!

On the other hand though, "anxiety" doesn't really cover it.  Much as I hate admitting it, even to this day.  It's full blown phobia.  I'm not afraid of people, per say.  I'm ok with being around people.  From the dense crowds of Manhattan to the occasional shadowed figure I might cross paths with walking around Winooski after midnight, I'm fine.  As long as no one tries saying hello to me.  I'm not afraid of people, but my life is paralyzed by the fear of interacting with people.

That distinction is important, because it really highlights the strangeness of the problem.  It's not a fear for personal safety, in any clear way.  The sort of fears people understand intuitively.  The sort of fears that have fairly straight-forward mechanics and what to do about them.  It's much more convoluted and ubiquitous.  I can't not deal with people.  If I had the resources, I might try to live as a hermit on a mountain top, but I don't, and even if I did, I wouldn't be at all happy about it.  It would be a massive relief, but then again, so is the way I live now.

It's just that it's a seriously fucking lonely existence.  It also utterly hamstrings my ability to do much of anything in life.  I can't even remotely get a handle on my fears, but nor am I ok with just avoiding the whole mess.

I don't know if it's psychological possible for most of us to live happily without human relationships and interactions.  It's a near constant drain on my mental health.  I've gone round and round like this, falling apart, scraping the pieces back together, only to fall apart again.  It's as if my whole life has revolved around repairing a house on the beach, as the sand it's built on is periodically washed out to sea.