Depression is Political
I am here sitting in my bed fighting my depression, trying not to bask in somberness for too long, pondering how I’m going to shatter ceilings with three generations on my back. I’ve always been nervous and scared about writing so personally about myself in such a non-intimate way, but I find myself in a writer’s block that only raw honesty can chip away. There’s a feeling of liberation that comes with being vulnerable, and of course there is also tons of anxiety that comes with that as well. I also wonder about the security culture aspect of this personal disclosure and how wise is it for me to discuss such things in a time when all keystrokes are being analyzed and stored for the State to use later. Maybe in the future I’ll regret revealing so much, but for now I will choose self-empowerment over strategic resistance.
Or maybe the act is both.
I think it’s interesting that when I talk about my depression in a public manner people usually feel the need to prescribe things to help the situation. As if I have a cold and I just need to drink some lemon tea or something, not understanding that depression is, at least for me, something that is structurally created. I am depressed because I live in a white-supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist world. I am depressed because people that look like me are constantly being murdered. I am depressed because the State has purposely made it difficult for black families like mine to survive. I am depressed because I have suffered traumas from white supremacy and the police state. I am depressed because the only way this will end is if we have continual revolutions. I am depressed because I don’t know if I’m going to know how it feels to be free.
When someone declares that they are depressed there is this fear and uncomfortability that happens to those that are listening. People are uncomfortable with the honesty and self-awareness, they see the sadness as a weakness, as something to be addressed.
But, I am not weak, and my depression is not weakness.
The awareness is isolating. Which makes sense that social anxiety is such a common thing for black people and non-blacks in intentional resistance spaces. It feels as though this country and its cohabitants are constantly gaslighting you. When people ask me “how are you doing?” or “why are you depressed?” I wonder if this is someone’s extreme privilege and distance from my struggle that allows for them to be so naive, or are they just willfully ignorant?
My depression is not a mental health problem, it is not fixable by seeing a therapist, or popping any pills. My depression is the direct result of anti-blackness and all of the cruelty that this country has shown to black people. My depression is political and should be treated as such.
I think of Sandra Bland often, the picture of her mugshot still haunts me. It shows the capability of the state, the level of fascism, and organized badge wearing white supremacists. When I watch the video of her arrest, the whole time I thought that could have been me. It reminded me of a recent event where I was encircled by heavily armed police officers and threatened to be arrested for cop watching and asking the police officers why they were using excessive force on a man that you could hear his waling from down the street. Even though I had my press badge on me they told me that they would gladly arrest me. I told them that if they arrested me that I would take them and the LAPD to court. More police officers arrived in riot gear, with shotguns ready in hand. I was intimidated, and successfully bullied away from the scene.
I think about what if I would have stayed and was arrested, would they have murdered me, and if so, would they try to cover it up as a suicide? I wonder if they would use my depression to aid in their cover up.
I know that we live in a surveillance state, but I refuse to be silenced about the violence that is consistently being inflicted onto me and others. My resistance is strategic and I’m allowed to be vulnerable. So if the State ever wanted to kill me and tried to rule it as a suicide, here it all is – your “Exhibit A”.
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You’re right. Depression is political on a physical basis as well as a social and psychological one. Recent research shows that most depression (like schizophrenia and autism) is linked to an imbalance in intestinal bacteria. This, in turn, stems from the corporatization of our food and health care system – and the mercenary promotion of high sugar, high carbohydrates and overuse of antibiotics.
@stuartbramhall how can you possibly be so insensitive as to read this, hear their pain at structural racism and violence and then without blinking say yeah, but your really depressed because of bacteria. If you were listening and not looking for a soap box to stand on you would realize how much you missed the point. even if your argument was cogent this isnt the god damned time or place!
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I love your work. I’d also really love it if you gave me a follow.
While my experience of depression as a white woman is not as dire as yours, especially given the pressing down of the state upon Black people, it does incapacitate me at times. Today one of my friends posted your article, and today, minutes before seeing your article I wrote this poem to try to explain a few things to myself (it’s long, no pressure for anyone to read btw). I found that timing interesting:
“Don’t think that way!” Ppl say
“They don’t really think that way about you!” Others will say
What if our deepest, saddest thoughts are all real
Reflective of how they really feel?
What if they really do think I’m too fat or ugly or poor or disabled or old or queer or Brown or freckled or all
And are grateful simply to not be ME
What if we believed all the lies
That’s what they want, right?
For us to believe their words
Out if their sight
So the world has one less ugly, fat, emotionally starving burden to bare?
What if we just shut up
And stopped complaining
And stopped wanting what they know we cannot have
Of pretty, perfect people
Of witty jokes
Of conversation that isn’t awkward or laden with turmoil or shame or feeling bad about the world
It’s heading in the direction of the wind anyway
Why try to fight it with small fans?
What if we just stopped trying
And stopped moving
And started dying off so that the world, with its perfect, power self
Can just be
And what if this *really is* what they want us to do?
What if there is no negotiating
The terms are set
You don’t fit so
Die or be bullied
Useless is as it does-
That’s what they want, right?
We tell kids not to bully but our lives are run by bullies
And we either are of use to them or not
And if not
We run the risk of being pushed out of the playground
If we don’t look the way they like
Or play by their rules
Or do the work to keep shit together that they won’t do
Uphold that hierarchy that reinforces them being on top of the pathology pyramid
It’s not always blatant
But it’s always selfish
And it never sounds like this self-loathing, pitiful poem
Because it steps on the throat of the poets who write ones like it
Crushing the vocal box
Severing the thinking, thoughtful, empathetic nerve-brain that feels and admits what its like to suffer, extending itself to all of humanity
Who want it gone
Or who satirically poke fun at something they wish didn’t exist
So much so that they enter your mind and keep talking long after they’ve gone
Until you take that step
And finally leave
And they ask: why? Was life so bad? Why didn’t someone stop them?
But they don’t care about the answer because they are the answer
We are the answer because we’ve been bullies too
We just didn’t know how to perfect it to get something out of it
And maybe we felt bad, just maybe
And we project this onto the bully kings and expect them to feel too
But they won’t
They will never be the problem to themselves
We will always get in their way
And if we all just leave and enter that place that has no choice but to accept us, they will be forced to wish death upon each other, as divisive as their world is
Born as knives
Slitting each other’s throats for a living
All this to say
Don’t give them what they want
Stay in their way
In your imperfect wretchedness that they are so afraid of
They are perfectly wretched
And judge you for being made of the same dust
Stay with me
Sadly, troublingly, in the way
Sometimes of ourselves
Always of them
I do not have the words to express how touching and impactful this post is for me. I am a psychologist and so much of the time us mental health providers place the burden of changing the conditions which create suffering on those who suffer from depression and are the most marginalized. Your voice makes this world a better place.
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FUCK. YOU. Fuck everything you stand for, and your fucking empty headed identity politics load of bullshit. Depression has no-what-so-fucking-ever to do with your goddamn motherfucking politics, you stupid cunt.
Where did you learn your TRADE, you stupid fucking cunt, you imbecile?
Depression is a sum of negative subconcious responses locked into endless loop of average negativity, driving repetitive responses towards constant neutral-melancholic-sad-angsty-apathic behavior spiral and back again.
You – you don’t have a fucking depression. You – you have a fucking infantile behavior of a stupid cunt which wants to be noticed.
I’ve been through depression for a good chunk of my fucking life and i barely clawed my way out of it. And to see some stupid infantile cunt appropriating the term to submit under it’s shitty identity politics. You – you go fuck yourself. You and your “political depression”, you stupid fucking cunt.
Sometimes I wish the world were still flat so we could shove smokefumus (and a few other people, while we’re at it) right over the edge. Bye. Don’t let the door to the Universe hit your ass on the way out.
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