Posts tagged mental health
I critique radical self-care rhetoric a lot but one of the main reasons I don’t like it is that it conflates work for social change with work to heal yourself, in ways that can really bog down political projects by bringing them down to the scope of the individual. so it’s bad for movements. but it’s also bad for individuals: if you’re going to be happy you need to develop the capacity to ameliorate your problems within the society we live in, not just the capacity to identify the systemic factors causing your problems. you can fight them as much as you want but they’re not gonna disappear in your lifetime and even if they do you’ll still have to deal with the scars. systemic oppression and personal suffering are obviously linked, but they are different things we need to deal with in different ways. it’s prevention and cure.
that’s one reason why an end to self-care by B Loewe — the principal claim of which is that “movement work is healing work” — is…not a good critique of self-care rhetoric. it’s the exact same idea, that social movements and self-care are the same thing, it’s just kind of callous about it.
you should read for badass disability justice, working-class and poor lead models of sustainable hustling for liberation, a more in-depth response to Loewe’s article by leah-lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha.
I don’t understand why you expect me to care about you doing stuff purely for yourself.
like sometimes that’s fine of course but why would you tell me that self-care is your ethos? the sole organising principle of your life? if that’s really the case, why wouldn’t you just do it and not care what I think?
it’s almost like this individualistic self-care stuff actually relies implicitly upon the tolerance and work of others.
Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved.
sort of re: this thread.
I dunno man, I don’t like these assertions that if you fixed your mental health problems with effort and discipline and medical advice then they must not have been very serious to begin with, that if you were truly crazy you would not be able to take any steps to improve your situation, only to ameliorate it around the edges.
it’s true that I’ve had few non-mental-illness-related problems that I didn’t bring upon myself, like I don’t know shit about direct experience of trauma and can’t speak to that. but I transitioned from “pretty nonfunctional” as a teen to “pretty functional” now through years and years of really constant effort and discipline and work. like, just because that is not always possible or not immediately possible doesn’t mean it’s not also the only thing that works.
the only mindset that has ever helped me is thinking “how can I be useful?” and taking steps to increase my long-term usefulness. if my only goal is just to feel better then I will never feel better. it’s a hedonist’s paradox situation.
and like, it sucks when people think that I’m being avoidant when actually I’m just prioritising more important things, or don’t see the amount of discipline it takes just for me to not have a nervous breakdown, or don’t understand the difference between that discipline and OCD-type behaviour, or want me to be “fixed” where “fixed” means not having to think about this stuff all the time.
but I swear to god I can’t hear the phrase “self-care” anymore without locking up with anger and frustration and nausea, it’s so misused. maybe my self-care is rolling my eyes at the concept of self-care, it’s no less useful or more toxic than some of the stuff I’ve seen labelled as self-care.
I think this is also why I can’t deal with anarchist critiques of the concepts of “work” and “productivity”. like being passive-aggressively bitched out for saying “I didn’t do anything productive today”, fuck that. a related thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is that I don’t find many archetypally “fun” activities that fun and never have. I can take or leave theme parks, rides, picnics, changing outfits with your friends for three hours, music festivals. it’s often this self-conscious performance of frivolity, LOOK HOW MUCH FUN WE ARE HAVING, that I find stressful and a bit empty.
and like, what is more capitalist than a rigid divide between work and joy? than a concept of “free time” which is all about frivolity and consumption? having said that, I find parts of DIY culture strange. I don’t find fulfillment in making my own rope or expending thirty minutes of effort in order to not have to buy an eight dollar new bike part.
I would like to be able to talk about hard work and discipline in a way that moves beyond a critique of the protestant work ethic as the spiritual justification for worker’s exploitation. I want to talk about work a way that’s not purely reactive and bratty. but then, what’s the point of putting so much energy into another reactive discourse? probably I just need to BE A GROWNUP and expect that of others and hang out with people who take that expectation for granted.
Actual Forms of “Self Care:”
Exercising regularly, paying your bills on time, staying informed, cultivating meaningful friendships, brushing and flossing regularly, having healthy adult relationships with your parents (and siblings) in whatever capacity you can, reading more, setting short- and long-term goals, working towards short- and long-term goals, going to sleep instead of passing out, owning your bullshit, sitting with good posture, not taking everything personally, letting things go, eating well, expressing your feelings like an adult, becoming aware of your self-destructive behaviors, doing things you enjoy that aren’t self-destructive behaviors, limiting self-pity, apologizing when necessary, drinking enough water, realizing anger and resentment are not sustainable forms of life-fuel, being self-critical while not self-shredding, responding to criticism with informed opinions or not responding at all, and most importantly: being “present” without delusions of what it means to be “present.”
“…If you find that you can’t easily drift back off you might want to take a leaf out of the pages of history and engage in some low-stimulus activity for an hour or two rather than sit there worrying about it.”