Recovery Strategy

It seems reasonable enough that I start here.  I figured it out today.  The radio was all ads on the way home from work.  I decided to call my mother.  It has been a long time since I talked about family.  It’s a sore spot.  If you read any of 2010, you know this.  However, you also – if you know me at all, as only my oldest/newest/truest friends know me – know that I credit my family with teaching me to recognize all that was good and right in the world.  I learned the marshes young.  I lived in them and I was home.  I knew the Latin names for the different grasses at age 9.  My father, who built a geodesic dome for us all sleep in, up on stilts and full of windows, taught me what I needed to know to learn everything I needed to learn.

Then something happened.  The Navy happened.  The old timber contracts happened.  The bulldozers came.  They were left on the scraped lots like yellow monsters, big and slow and stupid.  Deadly.  When I found the keys in the ignition, I threw them into the woods and I ranted to my befuddled friends, who just thought we were going to sneak a smoke.  “Why is Faith yelling about bulldozers and blackberry thickets?”

I think it was around that time that I first began to feel pure physical pain in response to emotion and the things I thought.  I was too young to understand outrage, I just felt it.  It was not simply grief, though the grief tore the first seams.

The rage that comes from losing something that you love in your bones and seeing that people do not even seem to care at all, that they do not even see that something has been lost…forever…that is a very powerful rage.

Here is a re-post that discusses what happens next:

See, I was never told that my brain – my way of seeing and feeling the world – was anything other than trouble, an illness. I knew I was smart, but what did I care about the word “genius” when I heard the word uttered, once, at age twelve. A set of numbers, and a vague sort of *hmph* thinking about how remarkably clever the story I’d told about the picture was…a hard lined sketch of a girl by the water, with trees in the back ground a field at right, somewhere seeming far, where the sun would be lighting the grass…and there would be a boat, and she was a little pensive, but she knew that there was always someone watching – in my 12 year old story, it was a young man…that’s how it goes with stories sometimes, with archetypes. I really loved telling stories, it was my favorite part of the testing, though the electrodes were interesting to me, the current conducive gel was cold, and how did I even fall asleep so easily? I wasn’t even tired. I was wide awake, but somehow I fell asleep fast and when I woke up they told me that I wasn’t an epileptic.

This is all ancient history. Trying to remember who I was before the conversation, the Report, changed and the talk shifted from my stories to my moods and what they indicated based on the diagnostic criteria set forth by the DSM, whatever version was in use 23 years ago. 

Prior to the advent of Psychiatry, people with quirky (quarky?) intelligence and abstract modes of expression were thought to be interesting, even valued, within their communities. Perhaps for entertainment, perhaps for inspiration, for liveliness, for stories and ideas? 

Since it was discovered, probably around the turn of the century, that these qualities led to such noisome business as art and revolution and raw shows of humanity – well, folks such as myself have been increasingly been defined as sick or dysfunctional or just weird and so have had to put up with quite a bit of traumatic distraction and undermining of our tendencies to take things apart and then put them back however we see fit.

Did you know that the atypical antipsychotics that are all the rage in America (and beyond) actually have the effect – nay, the goal – of blocking dopamine – the neurotransmitter that allows us to experience the feeling of being credibly alive. The anticonvulsants dull the electricity in our brains and make our hair fall out, we no longer even care to kiss, our bodies get fat and slow and strange, our hands shake so badly we cannot write our own names. This, my friends, is “treatment”…

Add that sort of chemical bludgeoning to the failed educations because you hated the fucking lighting and the school smelled like puke and bleach, and it was filled fools anyway, mean people who made you feel like you were a job…the impossible social trauma of a hundred failed friendships that you didn’t understand to begin with…the jobs that make you cut your damn wrists just so you don’t have to go, but you’re supposed to go and ‘suck it up, don’t be weak’ – and the horrific cleaving action of a ride in the police car, in the ambulance, how sometimes, again and again, you know you have been destroyed again…and always you somehow find some small salvation, some thin thread…and so you find yourself, as I have found myself, again and again.

…and then some.

Tonight I asked my mother to write a book with me.  We were discussing the idea of fear and what it had done to our family, how it had shaped us and stolen us.  We know where it came from.
“That’s what I don’t understand: How do even intelligent and informed people get so entrenched in these family structures that are totally system-driven and actually work against the most basic function of family, which is to love and to nurture one another into some sort of life that dignifies who we are as individuals…?”  

At least that is how I have come to see it…or something like that? 

If children who experience the world differently are pathologized in their ways of being and expressing, they are not seen as dignified individuals.  If one’s squirming and cries and sullenness is seen as a “behavioral problem” rather than, at its inception, an expression of pain that is not understood…well, what does that communicate?  

Often, children who experience the world differently are brutalized by the neurotypical conventions and structures.  We act out..because we’re scared and confused and we hurt and nobody else is hurting.  Instead they’re laughing or yelling.  

That’s fucking hideous.

I am not remotely confused anymore.  I figured it out. I know, I’m always saying that.  This time, however, I really did.  

If families are torn apart, people are inherently weakened.  If we fail to see one another with compassion and appreciation for the ways that the species takes shape in each of us…well, we are torn apart.  

I cannot think of a more divisive and insidious way to oppress people than to tear a family apart…and making the members of the family doubt the worth and validity of one another’s existence is an effective way to tear a family apart.  

This is what the economies of culture do: They teach us new ways of seeing one another.  They tell us we’re doing the right thing.  They tell us, “Everything will be fine.  We love you.  We just have to listen to the professionals.”

They say: “Here let’s just go pick up your prescription.”

The parents spend exorbitant amounts of money and experience terrible heartache for years, the children get mangled inside literally and figuratively.  The pathologizing of neurodivergent children is strongly linked to corporate pharmaceutical interests.  Much of our modern understanding of psychiatry and neurology arose as a result of gross experimentation in the areas of what constitutes humanity.  

Did you know that less than one hundred years ago, there were barbarians in America?

I have a story about what happens when systems of profit and power and the forces that drive them sneak into vulnerable families.  

Don’t worry.  It all ends Well.

Whatever that means…

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