“Rather than a depressive disorder, demoralization is a type of existential disorder associated with the breakdown of a person’s ‘cognitive map’. It is an overarching psycho-spiritual crisis in which victims feel generally disoriented and unable to locate meaning, purpose or sources of need fulfillment. The world loses its credibility, and former beliefs and convictions dissolve into doubt, uncertainty and loss of direction. Frustration, anger and bitterness are usual accompaniments, as well as an underlying sense of being part of a lost cause or losing battle. The label ‘existential depression’ is not appropriate since, unlike most forms of depression, demoralization is a realistic response to the circumstances impinging on the person’s life.”
Welp, I can relate to that.
I am feeling rather demoralized these days.
I was listening to our audiobook version of The Secret Garden in the car, and the scene was when Colin Craven (the young boy who’s been ill and shut-in for ten years) woke up- and didn’t automatically wish he were still asleep. He woke up, and he was excited about something for the very first time in his life. He woke up, and he had something to look forward to.
And I realized that I had lost that feeling. I felt, in fact, exactly the opposite.
For most of the last year, I was rather excited about the future. Since the middle of 2015, things were looking up. Things were turning around. Important steps were being taken. Some sort of progress was being made. In my private life, you understand. Both my son and my daughter found an educational program that was working well for them, we had our services sorted out finally, and I was applying for college to finally finish my degree. And other things, but these are good examples. They will stand in for the rest.
But now, even though things in/ trajectory of my personal life haven’t changed per se, I feel as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath my feet. My mind keeps asking why bother with things, I am overwhelmingly sleepy (even more than usual for winter, which is saying something), and when I am awake I find myself standing and staring and realize I haven’t actually gotten anything done in the last hour.
It really is that I’ve lost all sense of safety. It’s not that I feel in danger all the time; it’s more that I feel danger could come any minute and I wouldn’t maybe even know in time.
It’s, is it smart to pay tuition when maybe all our services (funded in part by the Affordable Care Act, which the Republicans have promised to defenestrate day number one in office) will disappear and then I’ll have to find a way to pay for everything including housing even though I can’t work because I wouldn’t be able to afford a caregiver to replace myself in that scenario? College would not be something I could really even consider at that point. So, my mind asks, what’s the point, and also, should college, which might ultimately prove itself an unrealistic goal, really be my priority now?
Probably? Until and unless something changes? Maybe I’m overreacting?
But it’s usually not a sudden and overnight kind of thing, that change. It’s the slippery slope kind of change. And do not for one minute think that society will be able to realize the no-turning-back point. Not at all. Just check your history on that. American media was searching so hard for signs Nazi Germany was going to mellow out that there were stories about how things were finally going back to normal for the Jews— as the holocaust was just getting started. And Chamberlain thought the best way to deal with Hitler was to give in to his demands, and that would settle that. People, in the moment, seem to do their very best to pretend things aren’t going straight to hell.
I… I realize it sounds like I as a white person am acting all freaked out only now that things are made obvious. What about the reality people of color have been facing since the United States began? What about the reality of the Indigenous Nations since the European colonists first arrived? I haven’t ever talked about those things because they aren’t my story. I do listen, though, and search out those stories, and they are part of what I study, and I care. (I feel as if I could spend my entire life listening and I’d never hear all the stories that we really all should have heard and learned from by now…) And god help us but I really wanted to believe that at least some of white America was coming around. In the cities, maybe? Some of the youth? But to see the… “cultural*” revival… of hate towards THEM/OTHER… To see people glory in it, like that, especially young people… It makes me think we might very well find ourselves stuck endlessly reliving the past, and that the U.S. may never, really never, have a future in which I can feel safe. And if I as a white person don’t feel safe, then how much worse would it be for anyone without that level of privilege? That’s scary.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that I’ve never just come out and told anybody in my real life that I’m trans, nonbinary, pan demisexual, etc.- and that is out of a fear which is internalized in my bones, because that kind of thing can still get you killed where I grew up. And to be not only disabled but also developmentally disabled? neurodivergent? That kind of thing can get you locked away for life in an asylum. If they didn’t put me in conversion therapy for one, they might for the other. Double rainbow is, in this scenario, a double whammy. “Treatment” of both involves electroshock therapy and possibly electroshock punishment, as well as psychotropic medication. That’s scary.
And of course the fact is that the first people to be victims of Nazi Germany (as turned in by their own doctors etc) were the disabled. Even now in the U.S., the life of a disabled person is seen as a burden to society, the murder of an autistic (and those with other disabilities) person is treated as a mercy done to them, and the consequences of killing an autistic child range from “time served” (ie, nothing) to being promoted to leadership of the local autism society. So, the slope is past slippery here, and the thought of escalation is so, so scary.
The likelihood of escalation (on all these fronts and more) seems, well, rather likely.
My faith in “America” (was it always baseless?) ~November 9, 2016
That I had, in my forty years, somehow managed to start feeling confident in my ability to navigate my daily life successfully at all is really an accomplishment. I just… I just have to get that back again, somehow. I guess?
My faith in fellow humans may be a while healing (not everyone, but wow still a lot of people ok). But maybe I can manage to find more faith in myself?
*Is hate and a history of oppression and colonization really all there is to white culture? Can we not think of anything else, or invent nothing else whole-cloth if that’s what it takes? (mercantilism, consumerism, capitalism, Christianity-as-practiced are already included in those two words)
p.s. I hope I capitalized everything correctly, etc. I’m never sure whether to capitalize, for example, people of color (People of Color?) or not… The little rules are not my strong point.