Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Organizing our way through mental illness.

McGill Daily has a piece up called Organizing our way through mental illness by Saima Desai.

The piece works through the links between mental illness and working in social justice/caring about social justice.

Desai quotes a Baffler article by Laurie Penny:
The isolating ideology of wellness works against this sort of social change in two important ways. First, it persuades all us that if we are sick, sad, and exhausted, the problem isn’t one of economics. There is no structural imbalance, according to this view—there is only individual maladaption, requiring an individual response. The lexis of abuse and gas-lighting is appropriate here: if you are miserable or angry because your life is a constant struggle against privation or prejudice, the problem is always and only with you. Society is not mad, or messed up: you are.
It's can be difficult to balance self-criticism with real, lived oppressions and limits. When discussing "the secret" of self-realization:
It would be nice to believe that all it takes to change your life is to repeat some affirmations and buy a planner, just as it was once comforting for many of us to trust that the hardships of this plane of existence would be rewarded by an eternity of bliss in heaven. There is a reason that the rituals of wellbeing and self-care are followed with the precision of a cult (do this and you will be saved; do this and you will be safe): It is a practice of faith. It’s worth remembering that Marx’s description of religion as the opiate of the masses is often misinterpreted—opium, at the time when Marx was writing, was not just known as an addictive drug, but as a painkiller, a solace when the work of survival became unbearable.
I find the language of it all odd. How "self-care" has been politicized, when really it existed before it was a headline. It was justing taking care of yourself. Or resting. Or taking a fucking break. I understand it as a political act, in the way in which it's used to describe consciously prioritizing taking care of yourself since the world is brutal and not kind. Penny herself ends with the Audre Lorde quote, "“is not self-indulgence—it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Laura Salaberry feminism march feminist protest

We gotta take care of our minds and bodies in order to resist.

Recommended reads:

Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless by Laurie Penny

Organizing our way through mental illness by Saima Desai

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