this isn’t about anything, i just need to get some shit down.

still don’t have a job/income. i’m in a “hiring process” rn for this remote writing job and i’ve been putting a lot of my energies towards manifesting that. but it is taking waaaay longer than i think i have the stamina for. i had to turn in a writing sample yesterday and now i’m waiting on the results. i want to believe that i will get the job, but i’m so used to being disappointed i can’t let myself think it’s REALLY going to happen. i can’t visualize myself past this point in my life anymore. i’m so tired. i was manic for a week or two and that powered me through the first part of this “hiring process” but i’ve been just kind of numb for a few days and now i think i’m moving into legit depression. but even in the mania i wasn’t ecstatic or anything. it was more just energy but not the good feeling with it.

my sex drive is nonexistent because to desire sex i would have to feel with my whole self and that isn’t something i’m equipped to do rn. plus i’m having a lot of pain in my back and legs and head and guts and it’s hard to focus on anything else going on in my body. it’s just too much. i’m so exhausted of this world and how hard it is to live in it, and with how many people in it truly believe that this is the way it should be. and i know there is so little i can do to change it. and i have to fight my mind and body and the world and it’s just… why. for what?

oh yeah, this is depression.

i haven’t even been able to do more social media fundraising because i just don’t have the spoons. and if anyone ever tries to tell you that “digital panhandling” is an easy way to make money, punch them in the mouth. just even working up the nerve to say anything about how fucked you are in the first place is labor. and then you have to keep updating totals, reviving the post, making new posts, new stories, all dedicated to how dire your finances are like you didn’t already have that in the back or front of your mind at all times. it’s just a lot. especially when you’re already going through some shit, which you clearly are because you’re out here asking for help. anyway. i am very thankful for my friends, who have continued to share and boost even though i’m not pushing it as much as i probably should.

i’m just fatigued, burned out, done. i’ve had to let go of so many things to be “okay” with where i am now, and a lot of that has been really freeing but a lot of it has been more out of necessity than desire. for example, i’ve let go of my need to look a certain way because i don’t have the money to achieve that look. but it’s to the point where some things i let go are actively making my mood worse, like rn my hair is super fucked because i can’t retwist it myself anymore due to shoulder/neck pain so i “decided” to just let it freeform but that led to it getting super tangly and painful so i kept putting my hands in it when it was dry, trying to pull stray hairs out of locs that were like on the other side of my head. and now it’s SO wack looking, it makes me want to cry. but i can’t get it fixed because no money. other shit that impacts my health that i can’t fix because no money: our 15 year old mattress is fucking up our backs and hips and shoulders, my desk chair/dining chair is in no way ergonomic and gives me a migraine if i sit in it too long, and the chair i sit in to “relax” is pushing my spine into awful contortions and fucking with my hips/knees.

and part of that stuff is my fault because when we had/have money i don’t wanna spend it on boring shit like a mattress or getting my hair fixed or whatever. i wanna buy plants and tattoos and good food and cute stuff. but like, if i had enough money in the first place there wouldn’t be this feast or famine mentality over here. i mean, i’m gonna die one day (probably soon, tbh), why shouldn’t i enjoy my life and be surrounded and covered in magnificence? it’s super hard to convince my mad depressive brain that buying a mattress is gonna make me happier than getting more tats. and like, the fact that good mattresses are so expensive yet getting a better night’s sleep puts you at an advantage in life sends me down an anger spiral. same with ergonomic chairs and what not. the folks who can afford all that shit aren’t the ones who really need it.

anyway, i digress.

universe, i need this job. i need something unequivocally good to happen, not some shit that i had to make good by spinning it round and round and extracting some lesson out of it. i’m tired of turning lemons into lemonade, tired of finding a silver lining, tired of trying to stay motivated and upbeat in the face of an unrelenting stream of garbage. just let me have this, please. i don’t think i have it in me to overcome any more.

TL;DR: Support my work on Patreon.

This isn’t going to be anywhere near as coherent as my last little update on post-graduation life, but that’s okay. Everything in me would rather not write again until things get better, so just getting these thoughts translated into words is enough right now.

Last time around I said I was going to try to write full-time and I did. For about a week. Turns out I can’t take the anxiety, my heart beating out of my chest all day every day. The first day wasn’t so bad. I wrote and polished four pitches and started sending them out. I did a little work on my website and Patreon and I tweeted and such to build platform. I felt positive. But after a few rejections I started second-guessing whether or not what I was pitching was even marketable. The time spent on social media, supposedly “platform building”, didn’t help my anxiety either. By Wednesday of the first week I was in the previously mentioned condition: tachycardia, high BP, whatever. I was hyperaware of my heartbeat and all its seeming inconsistencies. It didn’t help that I was drinking black tea every morning to try to be productive and not getting enough sleep because I had to push myself so hard to work eight hours each day.

After that fiasco of a week I decided to start looking for a part-time job again. What I really want and what I have always needed to be creative is stability and it’s silly of me to think that at damn near forty and in such a fucked-up time in my life and the planet’s that I’d be able to change something so essential about myself. I shut down when money gets funny. Periodt. I can’t generate anything when I’m worried about how we’re gonna get groceries. I was just trying to make myself feel better about not being able to find a job. This is just a mutation of “if I’m exceptional enough I can succeed”. Like I think that oh, I can’t find a job so I’ll just make a job. When in my whole life has that ever worked? Folks are even less likely to pay me if it’s me, you know what I mean? Like, people will give me money to survive and I love them so deeply for that, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely do and I don’t mean to insult anyone who has supported me financially when I was desperate, or seem ungrateful. I am eternally grateful for your support to support me in this moment (and I know not everyone has the long-term stability to offer more than that). But it feels like most folks–whether it’s readers or editors–aren’t interested in paying for my work, which would truly sustain me past this moment. I know my writing has changed a lot since 2010, but I do wish that what I’m offering now was considered valuable. Oh well.

(The good femme Shannon Barber wrote about her own experiences with $$$ and feeling like she isn’t folks’ cup of tea and I feel it so immensely. You should read it here, here, and here.)

Anyway, I have so little energy, so few spoons, it doesn’t make sense in my mind to spend them on things that have a low likelihood of success. Freelance writing, especially as a disabled person whose disabilities are exacerbated by uncertainty, instability, and rejection, does not have a high likelihood of success. And the types of shits I think to write about are profoundly unmarketable (by me). And to be honest the kind of writing I want to do right now is not that. So I stopped. If nobody’s gonna read my shit anyway I might as well only write what I want, when I want.

But the job search doesn’t seem to have a high likelihood of success either.

Since June I’ve been on three interviews and all of them advertised as part time jobs but ended up preferring someone who would work full-time now or in the future. I don’t want to work full time because I want to have energy to write and if I earned the same wage I did BEFORE I WENT TO COLLEGE I really wouldn’t need to work full time. Irony of ironies, it seems like I’m gonna be making significantly less than I did before I went back to school to make more money/have more stability. I am so, so, so salty about this shit, y’all. Like, the salt is f e r m e n t i n g the longer I sit here with a college degree and no job.

(And I know I knew it was a scam while I was in it but it just sucks so so bad being in it.)

I can’t count how many jobs I’ve applied to and never heard anything, not even an interview request. Right now I’m playing phone tag with a manager at a call center where I applied to be a rep and it’s been so long that I’m suspicious she’s somehow figured out I’m Black and is trying to avoid ever actually talking to me. Last Friday I drove for UberEATS for about three hours and made $26. NO ONE tipped. My broke ass makes sure we tip every single time we order anything delivered and I feel guilty because I only do 20% but we don’t even have that. I was so mad. Driving gives me migraines especially when there’s an additional stress (like time or making money) added to the experience, so I would have liked to make more for three hours of one of my least favorite activities. I might do it again one day this week to see if Friday is just a day assholes tend to order but I am 99.9% sure it’s not gonna be a viable source of income. Especially since it really fucked my energy levels over the weekend.

There are so many things I’m amazing at, but I’m in the exact same position right now I was before I went to school: I don’t have “legit” experience doing those things, or I don’t have the right degree, or I don’t have the money to start doing them as a business because you need licenses and other garbage. I’m stuck hoping one of these places I’m applying to realizes how amazing I am and offers me a job. It doesn’t seem like it’s gonna happen any time soon, and paradoxically the longer it takes the less motivation I feel to keep trying. That is alarming since our financial situation worsens with each day that goes by where I’m not earning money.

The thing is, of course, that I don’t really want to work. I want money so I can eat and medicate and buy plants and get tattoos and stuff, but I don’t want to have to go into an office every day or write something marketable or deliver food or whatever capitalism has decided is worth getting paid for. I want to do the work in that I want to make art, struggle towards liberation, build community, spend time with my loved ones, worship god, and enjoy my place in nature. Those are some of the most important things in the world, but they don’t bring in the cash. Which is why, every day, I question why the fuck I stick around this godforsaken planet.
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I’m still here, though.

image showing degree conferral from UCLA: bachelor of arts, sociology, magna cum laudeSociety—other people, systems, institutions, culture—has so much more power over our lives than the average person gives it credit for. Acknowledging its outsized influence is devastating at first, incompatible as it is with a vision of the individual as master of their own destiny, culpable in failure and deserving in success. But there is a freedom in relinquishing our illusions of control. If I am not charge of my destiny, if my class or race or assigned gender or national origin are stronger determinants of my fate than my individual decisions, it matters less what choices I make. I can make the choices society prescribes for me, or I can choose a different path.

A little less than six years ago, I fled back to school hoping that when I finished, I would be able to avoid the stress and disappointment of looking for a job without a college degree. I had just been laid off from my job as a technical support specialist and was already attending community college part time, so it seemed fortuitous, especially since my partner and were talking about me quitting my job and going back to school full time once he found a teaching job. I made the leap and enrolled in a full load of classes at my local community college.

(Society told me going back to school was a respectable choice, the right choice. I should have graduated from college a long time ago, according to chrononormative* standards, anyway, and won’t a college degree give you a leg up in the job market? They can never take your degree away from you, they say, and promise it will all be worth it, all the struggling and debt and biting your tongue.)

There was no way for me to know five years ago that I would be graduating into a job market even more unfriendly to folks like me than I had avoided by entering college in the first place. No way for me to know that I would be made more disabled by my time in academia; definitely no way for me to know that the world as I understood it would effectively be ending in slow motion, that overt and aggressive fascism and white supremacy would be in power all over the world, that the naively hopeful environmental trajectory I thought we were on would be replaced by dire warnings of our dwindling opportunity to halt the inevitable collapse.

But—this is actually an okay place to be, for me. Even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Even if sometimes it hurts so bad I wish I could sink into the molten outer core of the earth. Systems are failing, nakedly, obviously. That means there is no way for me to blame myself. There is no way for me to be exceptional enough to overcome an actual apocalypse. If I learned anything from studying sociology, I learned that.

At last, finally, and in the end, I understand: It’s not me, it’s society.

###

I once believed that higher education was a refuge for the bookish and bright. Being the kind of learner that prefers to absorb a subject through obsessively researching as much as I can on it, I found only misery in elementary and high school. I felt trapped, forced to learn in a regimented way, forced to adhere to conventions set by long-dead colonizers and bootlickers and other types interested in turning children into compliant cogs in a surplus-generating machine. College, I thought, would be different, would be more open to the kaleidoscope of brains humanity contains. Despite having attended college on and off since I was sixteen, I didn’t have enough long-term experience with it to dispel my idealistic beliefs. I was always too crazy to attend class regularly, always withdrawing mid-semester to deal with some emotional upheaval, some mental collapse. And I was so drugged up and indoctrinated into various mainstream viewpoints that I probably wouldn’t have noticed the reality of it all even if I had managed to spend any length of time at school.

This time around, though, I noticed. I noticed all the ways higher education operates to exclude folks like me, all the ways it demands exceptionalism in the face of its own mediocrity, all the ways it perpetuates a status quo of ableism, capitalism, cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism. And as I got further into my upper division major work—sociology—I noticed even more. It became too much to bear too many times to count. The small ironies piled up like so much oppressive detritus, my daily commute a recounting of historical and present-day trauma, my thoughts a running tally of injustices: I am currently driving on a freeway system built by displacing poor people of color, past houses big enough to hold every single houseless person I meet on the way, to a campus more concerned with the appearance of diversity than materially improving the lives of its Black or disabled or queer or immigrant students, to learn about the impact of housing discrimination on intergenerational wealth in whites versus Black folks.

I channeled my anger, my outrage and existential despair, let it flavor impassioned papers and pointed presentations, but it felt hollow, was hollow. It meant nothing, and I knew it. I had to endure the slights, had to make do when my disability accommodations were phased out, had to push myself beyond the point of burnout to finish my degree. Because in my mind, if I didn’t, I’d just spent five years and however many tens of thousands of dollars to have my dreams crushed without even getting a receipt. As much as I wanted to be the kind of bitch that says you know what, I’m good and forges their own degreeless path in life—as much as I had effectively been that bitch for the first part of my adult life out of necessity—I felt obligated to finish, not only for myself but for the loved ones who were sacrificing to help me get through school.

To stay motivated, I told myself that I’d find a job quickly once I finished school. I knew this was a fiction, but it was a necessary one—more than once, the specter of graduating and still being unable to find a job almost convinced me to drop out. I pretended as if this degree really would allow me to navigate the job market with ease, picking and choosing from a panoply of well-paying jobs with full benefits, leapfrogging over my un-degreed competition. But even if that were the case, I was using every last bit of my energetic reserves to reach a finish line that had shifted since I started the race, leaving me in no condition to leapfrog over anything. I spent the first few weeks after graduation pretending it was just another summer, trying to recharge a little before I started my job search.

A manic episode lent me the optimism to apply for a dozen or so jobs and write sparkling cover letters to each. The inevitable fibro flare and depression that followed forced me to acknowledge the truth of 2019’s job market hellscape. Several of the $15/hr-and-under positions I applied to expected me to do free labor in the form of aptitude tests and their ilk. (For some jobs, I did these, because I felt the position/salary would be worth it, and the tests weren’t too egregious. On others, I declined.) Out of the positions to which I applied, only one has even opened my resume—I’ve received no response from that employer at the time of writing, two weeks later. One job I was particularly excited about, one whose qualifications I greatly exceeded and whose hours and duties perfectly matched my needs, had over a thousand applicants at last update. A few jobs have “moved to the next stage in their hiring process” without my resume even being acknowledged.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to be jobless for a while, if traditional employment is the way I insist on making my living. I can write about it now, find the silver lining in my misfortune, because it’s been a couple weeks and I’m high as fuck. But realizing that I just spent five years under some of the most extreme stress of my life to basically end up worse off than I started broke me for about a week. My always-tenuous commitment to staying in corporeal form dwindled to nonexistence more than once, but I happily do not own anything capable of killing me in a guaranteed manner, so I’m still here.

(Kidding, kind of. As long as the people who love me are here on this planet, I’m staying in solidarity. But things did get pretty pale in my head.)

I cannot Black excellence my way out of being on earth as worlds crumble around me. I cannot young, Black, and gifted my way into insulating myself from climate collapse, into financial security, into overcoming a system built to oppress and exploit folks like me before leaving us to become casualties of their disregard for life. All I can be is open to learning how to live in different ways, how to ride the waves of change such that I can keep my head above water, keep what’s important in sight. And if I can’t keep my head above water, I can learn to take bigger breaths before I go under.

If I could travel through time, I would impart this wisdom to 34-year-old me on the eve of their decision to go back to school. I would whisper in her ear: Do not give in to fear. Leap. You will find you have wings. I don’t know that I would fly, that things would turn out any better if I threw myself into professional writing in 2014 instead of seeking the comfort of official validation, but I might have avoided destroying my health in order to get it. I really thought I needed the legitimacy of a degree. I didn’t. Turns out what I needed was to finally internalize the idea that it’s not me, it’s society. For accomplishing that, at least, perhaps going back to school was worth it. For what it did to my emotional and physical well-being, decidedly, it was not.

###

It’s the end of the world—at least, it’s the beginning of the end of a way of living based in colonialism, ableism, white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, and cisheteropatriarchy—and that means we don’t have to do things the same way anymore. We never did, but we have even less incentive now that doing things the way we were told to do them has been so starkly revealed as a path to destruction and separation from god, god being that spark of the divine we each hold within us, the glue that binds us to each other and the planet and all beings across the universe. The way of living that tells me that I must depend on a boss or a landlord or a mayor or a president to manage my work, my housing, my community, my people, is the same way of living that has cleaved Indigenous land from Indigenous humans, the same way of living that is rendering the planet uninhabitable for large human populations, the same way of living that I will reject every single day until it has been banished from this earth.

We must reject ways of living that perpetuate systems of oppression if we are to have hope of humanity surviving the catastrophic change that is underway. But since systems of oppression also shape the ways of living we have available to us, this rejection will come with pain and sacrifice, especially for those of us who are subjugated under the same systems. I know this, I been known this, been known revolutionary change is full of what we are taught to perceive as negative emotions and experiences, but that there is growth contained within them. If a little pain, a little discomfort on my part, on our part, could propagate through the system all the way up to the institutional level, could destabilize the systems that oppress us, wouldn’t it be worth it? Especially when—in my experience, at least—pain can be a catalyst for awakening, and a pleasure unto itself.

For me, the desire to be traditionally employed is partially rooted in a genuine concern that my disability might prevent me from being able to manage freelance or self-employed life. Putting the responsibility for finding streams of income on myself and not on some professional who ostensibly knows what they’re doing is a terrifying prospect when I consider how few days out of a month I feel well enough to work on projects. At the same time, I do get shit done despite how I feel. I don’t have to feel good about something in the moment for it to be worthwhile. In fact, the most worthwhile things I’ve done have often been ordeals to get through.

That’s not to say that everything worthwhile must be painful, or that suffering is necessarily productive—I would never endorse that idea. Sometimes, though, the only way we get out of a destructive situation is for it to become untenable, uncomfortable, painful. Sometimes pain is a friend nudging you: Are you safe here?  Is this what you really need? I’ve been trying to understand what this pain is trying to tell me, this discomfiting space I’m in where I don’t know when I’ll find work, how I’m going to support myself, where I’m going in life when it comes to career.

Before I got my sociology degree, I might have blamed myself for my inability to find a job. I might have taken the metaphorical whip to my own back, expected that I would be able to make up the gap between economic expectation and reality by hustling, killing myself to meet a capitalist ideal of productivity and employability. Now, I know. It’s not me, it’s society. Trying to be middle class, trying to live up to hegemonic ideals of success, is destructive. What I am feeling is in part the shame of not being able to consume the same disproportionate amount of resources as my parents did, the anguish of believing hard work gets you anywhere, the guilt of having held that ideology against the poor and the houseless and other unfortunate souls I probably thought myself better than, the humiliation of having that ideology thrown back in my face when I cannot succeed under the same terms.

(And when I say I, I mean we. None of us are safe here, and this is the opposite of what we need.)

This job market, this disappointment post-graduation, is painful for me to confront. It’s a bit of the same pain I felt when I came to understand that higher education was not a great equalizer but merely a mechanism to perpetuate the status quo, the same pain I feel when I hear people defend throwing families in cages because they violated some law, the same pain I feel when I see folks saying we can’t take radical action on climate change or abolish prisons or dismantle capitalism because it will cost too much or be unfair to folks who paid off their loans or their debt to society or whatever milquetoast excuse the centrists are offering that day. We insist on adhering to the tenets of a way of life that is killing us. I adhered to them by going back to school, even though I had literally no reason to, was receiving no real benefit besides the false sense of security that comes from doing the right thing. If we just work hard enough. If we get a degree. If we are exceptional. If we go high when they go low, if we open a business in a disadvantaged community for three years, if we are silent as the waves of change crash upon us, as the inexorable tide of exploitation pulls us under, we might become one of the lucky ones.

The past is the past. I made my choice, I went back to school, I graduated. But now, I intend to break away, take a different path than the one society prescribes for me. A scarier path, but maybe a more realistic path. A path that I forge myself, with guidance from others who have navigated this chaos longer than I have, successfully. I want to write full-time, or as full-time as my bodymind allows. It isn’t my first choice to make writing my primary source of income—it is partially a function of the reality of the job market—and I may end up needing to find part-time work to supplement my income after all. The more I think about it, though, the more I believe that making writing my full-time job is at least something worthwhile for me to attempt. Writing is where I see myself doing the most good on this planet, and despite the awful state of publishing, I think I have a chance—however tiny—at my version of success. It will be hard. It will involve a lot of rejection and crying jags and questioning whether I ought to just peace myself out and avoid all the misery. It could also be the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. The way I find community. The way I build community and leave a legacy of work for the folks who live after I’m gone. I have nothing to lose, anyway. We have nothing to lose but a world that would see us in chains again.

It’s not you, it’s society. And society is in shambles. What would you do if there was nothing holding you back, if you had nothing left to lose, if everything you thought you knew turned out to be a lie? What will you do now, at the beginning of the end of this world?


* Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Duke University Press. 2010.

CW: mental illness, suicide

This week Kanye West and Chance the Rapper’s manager and some other folks decided to share a few thoughts on mental illness and medications that were less than ringing endorsements of the latter. In the midst of a Twitter rant against two other artists, Kanye mentioned that he’s not taking medication anymore because he felt it hindered his creativity; seemingly as a response to the backlash against that statement, Chance’s manager tweeted that folks should try lifestyle changes before taking psychiatric medication and referred to his own experience becoming addicted to doctor-prescribed Xanax for anxiety. 

At first I was just going to let it ride and not say anything, because it’s Kanye and I don’t particularly like him or what he has to say lately. On this point, though, I felt where he was coming from. In the 20 years before I began withdrawing from all my psych meds, I also felt my creativity drain away. Yes, it was eventually replaced with the ability to hold down a steady job and maintain some level of stability on my meds that didn’t require me going in to the hospital every year to have them readjusted. But I mourned that loss, and I had to learn to accept a reformulated version of myself: one who was not a prolific writer, who didn’t use writing as a form of creative expression but merely as a tool to document my mood states from day to day.

Anyway, I was going to let it ride until my timeline started to clog up with other folks with mental illness (I won’t call them crazy, since I’m not sure they would take kindly to the reclaiming of that label) exhorting other folks to take their meds and completely dismissing what Kanye said. And then when Chance’s manager said their piece, it ramped up even more. It became overwhelming, confrontive, all that stuff–especially when people started trying to pathologize Kanye’s reaction to meds as resulting from “medication resistance”, and his Twitter rant as being evidence of his “rapid cycling”. It just reminded me that as someone who still has a severe mental health diagnosis somewhere in the system, I won’t be taken seriously because I’m not taking psychiatric medication. 

Which is absolutely wild to me, because for the first half of my life I wasn’t taken seriously because I was taking psych drugs. 

Back in the 90s, when I first started writing about my mental illness in ‘zines and online, mental health awareness seemed to be at absolute zero. Barely anyone was really talking about it in any real way in popular culture, and those who were, were usually white and upper/middle class (a la Elizabeth Wurtzel and Susanna Kaysen). I was all about the personal being political, so I felt revolutionary being a Black girl talking about my crazy openly and without shame.

I opined about my broken brain’s inability to produce a “normal” level of serotonin or norepinephrine or dopamine. I wholeheartedly accepted the medical model and in fact, in one ‘zine I wrote when I was a teen, I took it to its logical extreme by comparing folks’ unwillingness to allow me to commit suicide with denying a terminally ill cancer patient access to euthanasia. I thought this was logical because the doctors were telling me I would have to take a med cocktail composed of dozens of meds for the rest of my life just to maintain my marginal existence.  

I never guessed that I’d be on the other side nearly 25 years later, disagreeing with folks whose arguments are based in the same logic. Or AGREEING with motherfuckers who advocate lifestyle changes before starting on psych meds. 

Now, that last part is way controversial and I don’t fuck with saying anything of the sort on social media because it requires over 280 characters to articulate my feelings on the matter. But I do think that in an ideal society doctors would try nondrug treatments for mental illness first, because those treatments don’t scramble your brain chemistry. And I think our belief that meds are the first line of defense is rooted in capitalism’s productivity edict (which necessitates that recovery from mental health crises be quick) and the decades-long project the psychiatric establishment has engaged in to promote the chemical imbalance myth (in order to convince the public their discipline is as scientific as others in the medical field).

But I also know that we don’t live in an ideal society, and people don’t always have the time or spoons or resources to engage in nondrug treatment. I want people to be able to relieve their suffering by whatever means they need, whether that’s via psychiatric drugs or therapy or recreational drugs or exercise or massage or sex or nothing at all. Life is hard, and everyone is different. That’s why I’m not out here demanding that we stop prescribing medication across the board. But I see way too many folks doing the opposite and demanding that talk of medication only be positive to avoid scaring people away from getting the help they need, and that isn’t realistic. People need to know what they’re getting into. They need to be able to make informed decisions. And dismissing those who’ve had negative side effects from meds (like a loss of creativity) isn’t facilitating informed consent among psychiatric consumers.

(I’m not even going to get into how many of us enter the mental health enterprise under coercive circumstances–as children and teens, as adults under 72-hour holds, etc.)

So yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few days, and I decided I’m gonna start trying to pitch some essays to outlets about this stuff*. Because I don’t see my experience represented in the current discourse on mental illness and I think it is a valuable one.  There are so many others who were harmed by psychiatric meds, and who have written about this stuff for years with little mainstream recognition. I want to help bring attention to this. Not because I want everyone to give up their meds, but because I want to offer a counterpoint. I’m not speaking out of turn; this is and has been my life since I was a teen. If there’s one thing in this world I know, it’s what it’s like to be crazy. And what it’s like to survive, every day, a mind that wants me to die.

(P.S. – I didn’t cite anything here because this is just a quick blog, but do please Google stuff if you think I’m a conspiracy theorist or making things up about psychiatry or whatever. Eventually I want to upload a lot of the material I have on the sociology of mental illness, because I think everyone should have access to this stuff. But today is not that day. Sorry!)

* Edited December 23, 2018 to say: I’ve realized I probably don’t have the emotional energy to handle the amount of rejection this would (and already has) result(ed) in, and so I may or may not do this, after all. I gotta save my rejection spoons for fiction.

Sometimes the magnitude of my lack of knowledge leaves me wordless.

I wonder how it is to be so sure you have all the answers that you’re willing to write about basically any topic with little to no knowledge — confidently. How it is to write about, say, the experience of people of color when you’re white, or queer people when you’re straight, or cultural appropriation when you don’t even know what the fuck it means, and demand that people respect your opinion. It couldn’t be me.

So many awful things are going on in the world right now, and I want to weigh in, but I bite my tongue. I’m tired of writing gingerly, unsure. I tell myself, maybe I should wait until I’m done with school. Or maybe I should wait until I’ve done a ton of research on whatever underlying structural issues are enabling ____. I feel the expectation of expertise weighing on my shoulders, the demand for confident, final language that reflects an illusory ultimate knowledge. I have no idea, about so much. I know this, viscerally, and it hangs like a spectre over my head whenever I sit down to write. I balk at the idea of contributing my own to the masses of garbage opinions on the Internet. What if I’m wrong? Worse, what if I’m loud and wrong?

I used to give myself permission to only be an expert in my own experience, to write self-indulgently in a way that doesn’t necessarily have to resonate with anyone else. Now I keep trying to find ways to expand whatever ruminations I have into some far-reaching critique of systems of oppression or pop culture or something. I just redid this blog to allow myself the freedom to write about anything, but here I go boxing myself in again. Myself. I have to be real about who’s zooming who here. And yeah, there’s probably some kind of social pressure at play too, something about how marginalized peoples have to be twice as good to get half as much, but who’s counting?

At what point do I stop second-guessing and start just writing?

The thing is, I recognize the harm it can to others when writers just write without considering who their words might hurt. When writers co-opt experiences and lives to get clicks, further their career, and bolster their brand. I don’t want to participate in that. I don’t want to just carelessly run my mouth, get the publicity and deal with the angry mobs later. Getting paid & getting famous isn’t worth running roughshod over other people. But I struggle to find a happy medium between recognizing that and still expressing my ideas about why things are the way they are. I know a degree doesn’t actually mean shit, that lived experience is equally if not more valuable, & that society overhypes the necessity/utility of traditional education. Still, in these restless & ever-changing times, I’m so uncertain of what I actually know for sure that it’s easier just to stay silent. Easier, but maybe not best.

Fuck it, I’m posting this as it is. In all its waffling, ambivalent glory.