Sunday, 6 October 2013

On activism.

Trigger warning for discussion of suicide, depression, eating disorders, fascism, racism, the police, medication, self harm

We're exhausted. We've either just finished a fifty-hour work week with a conference and a night of drinking at the weekend, or we're struggling to cope with the effect our clinical depression is having on our assignments and attendance at uni, or we're trying to do all of these things at once. We are planning the next protest, the next demo, the next conference, but forget to plan in a meal. We try to take care of one another but never take care of ourselves. We haven't slept properly in months.

We're fed up. We're fed up of explaining to our family why you can't separate the politics from the person. Fed up of being told we should respect members of a party who are literally taking money from those who need it to survive and killing them, fed up of being told to shut up and listen to someone who thinks we shouldn't have the right to control our own bodies, fed up of racist immigration controls and fascists given airtime and just about every decision made at the top, with no thought of those at the bottom. We are angry, so angry, that we don't know what to do with it. Sometimes we collapse, exhausted, in floods of tears, because we cannot for the life of us understand why anyone could do this to another human being. We cry on one another, we support one another, we give one another hope that tomorrow can be better. We miss the release of the razor. 

We've been arrested recently, we've been manhandled by the police, thrown mercilessly to the ground by several officers, and peers have the audacity to claim that this was somehow justifiable. We've been banned from protesting on our own campuses. We've been left in a cell mid-panic attack, and released 48 hours later. We're sick of people telling us that there's nothing wrong with the police, and we're sick of the state letting fascists march down our roads. We drag ourselves out of bed and stand as a blockade, trying to deal with the police and the fascists and the voice in our head telling us to kill ourselves. We have a panic attack in the kettle, and the police won't let us out. We go home and sleep for twenty hours.

We're counting the pennies to have enough to buy our medication in England, or we're sitting in Scotland and Northern Ireland feeling sorry for those who don't get them for free. We're hopelessly waiting for the next psychiatrist appointment, we're still at the bottom of the CBT waiting list, we don't know how to explain why we can't eat or sleep and we don't know what to say to our friends who are feeling like this too. We have enough scars between us to tell a hundred stories. We have to leave our medication on the kitchen table or we won't remember to take it, or the thoughts will come back again. Our interactions with people take place via the internet.

We spend weeks looking forward to seeing one another, to spend time with those we love, those who understand. But then we spend too much time awake wanting to die. Or rather, something triggers it, and then suddenly we've spent the cost of two return trips to the UK on a flight home from London because we didn't trust ourselves to be alone in a place with tubes and not try to commit suicide again, all the valium in the world would not shut up the voices inside our heads, and the only way we feel like we can talk about these experiences is through writing a blog on a Sunday night. Or maybe that's just me. And we worry that writing about this will make people concerned. But we don't know what else to do.

We have dysfunctional relationships within our activist circles, mostly because they're our friendship circles too, and our room mates, and half the time we work with one another, too. We have issues with attachment, we have issues with self-worth, we have a fucked up head and we don't know what to do with it, so we hurt one another. Our relationships are unstable, like our health. We can't be there for one another, because it's happening to everyone. We cry alone in our rooms because we don't want to be a burden. 

We can't reconcile our feminism with our own bodies. We can't stop ourselves developing eating disorders, but we curse ourselves for not being able to fight it. We restrict, we binge, we purge, but most importantly, we keep it a secret. We all have problems and we don't want to look like we're asking for sympathy, even when we're in tears each night because we had the audacity to allow our bodies to consume food. We can't look at ourselves in the mirror without our lip shaking. We preach body positivity, we deplore body shaming, and we berate ourselves for wishing we were thinner.

We can't escape. We can't escape because even when we have left the demo, even when we have stopped talking about welfare reforms, when we have stopped arguing with Tories, we are left in this world we live in. We are left in this place that condemns us for being ill, that hates us because we are women, that will leave us to die because we are disabled. To separate the politics from the person we recognise that one must be privileged enough to remain unaffected by the politics. We spend every single fucking minute living in this hell of a patriarchal capitalist shit hole that has dragged each and every one of us to the bottom, and is determined to keep us there, no matter how much our arms flail and our hearts ache from the pain of it all. It wants to kill us and it will not stop until we are dead.

We try to keep telling ourselves that we need to be the living breathing reminder for others that there is good in the world, that there is hope, that there is pain but that there is also art, but eventually we break. Eventually, we stop telling ourselves that, and we stop being that person for other people. We want to cling to hope, to live by Andrea Gibson's words that all they knew of hate was that it couldn't beat the love out of me, but one day we stop. We can't do it anymore. We can't keep pretending that we're winning this fight, because we aren't. We're losing. We're broken. They've broken us. All that is left to do is write.

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