It’s been a hard little while, right? We’ve had to deal with Pauline Hanson, and a whole lot of ugliness, and some gross Islamaphobia right here, normalised in our media, and it’s been hard. It’s still hard.
Sometimes activism gets tiring, and you feel pathetic and useless when you need to take a break. But it’s important. (I had to go on holidays, for a number of reasons; not least because my counselor thought I was burnt out from 24/7 activism)
Sometimes it is super fucked dealing with ableism in the world. This is specifically a post with links about ableism, inspiration porn, appropriation, and maybe not being an ableist poop. It is mostly links to the voices of disabled peeps with the occasional detour into news articles. Okay that sounds wanky. THIS IS AN INTRODUCTION I AM AT WORK OKAY.
Does YA fiction need to check its privilege? On class, and the lack of working class YA protagonists who aren’t leading a revolution. (Liz agrees strongly with this article, and sadly notes that some of the worst depictions of class are from OzYA.)
An Open Letter to JJ Abrams – Did you know that girls can be Star Wars fans? Apparently JJ didn’t. But what made this blog post particularly enjoyable was the author’s account of becoming a science fiction fan in Hong Kong.
Great piece at Overland on the shit going on against the CFMEU and Australia’s Unions: Black bans and blackmail, and why it’s important.
That’s why having workers’ representatives monitoring safety matters. Last month, when a concrete slab crushed two men to death on an East Perth worksite, it transpired that the CFMEU had been refused entry to the site sixteen times.
As Parkhill noted in a response to Kilbride’s piece on Facebook, the core issue was not simply that the piece was ‘garbage’, but that it passed the editorial process at all. ‘Perhaps worse than the article’s content is the fact that [New Matilda] have exposed a very young and inexperienced writer’s ill-formed thoughts to a large audience,’ Parkhill said. ‘This article was by no means ready to go live, and I’m sure in the fullness of time its author won’t thank [New Matilda] for the opportunity or “exposure” but will regret the fact that [they] were willing to publish such asinine crap to which his name will be forever attached.’
Steph was sort of raised in a multilingual household. Kind of. Sort of. Anyway it’s very complicated, and she has feelings about this beautifully written but very misleading post at The Toast: Exposure: On Raising a Bilingual Child.
So here’s how it works. No Award has mental health issues. We admit that. There have been doctors involved, medication, all sorts of stuff.
An older person in Steph’s life was recently told by their GP they should consider seeing a psychiatrist. They went so ashen, so still. “Will I still be able to work?” They asked. We had to have a whole conversation about how a) there’s nothing wrong with seeing a psychiatrist, and b) their work doesn’t have to know, also.
There’s still a stigma around having a mental illness. And there’s a real danger in assuming that someone who looks sad or who is quiet might be the one who needs to be asked how they’re doing. The insidious thing about depression and suicide is that often the people you don’t suspect are the ones suffering; because depression helps you get very good at putting up a front.
There’s a feeling you get in your gut when someone who doesn’t care about your mental health enough to ask any other day of the year asks, because a campaign told them to, RUOK?
Mate, if I wanted you to know, I wouldn’t want you to ask me today.
Steph is going to quote from an Anonymous Friend of No Award here:
A lot of the people who get behind the day are the exact kind of people who would have ignored me at my worst.
Steph continues, this day is perfect for people who want to ignore the sorts of attention, friendship and actions that would actually help a person who isn’t okay.
It totally supports the Western idea that if you do one good public thing as an individual you’ve discharged your duty.
The branding and corporatisation of diseases is complicated: it’s one thing for there to be Parkinson’s Australia and the Walk in the Park (GET IT); it’s another for Steph’s workplace to have had a casual dress and barbecue day for RUOK Day.
RUOK Day doesn’t promote long term support after today, it doesn’t address societal and cultural causes of depression, and it encourages people with no experience with depression to meddle with sufferers in a way that could actually worsen their lives in all kinds of ways.
This is not to say that no good can come out of it, but, judging by the results of Liz’s informal Twitter poll, positive outcomes from RUOK day come from engagement with wider issues, rather than reducing it to one single question on one single day of the year.
For example, Another Anonymous Friend of No Award said:
At my old work, we had a nice morning tea, and the boss talked generally about mental health issues and contacting Beyond Blue etc.
It was pretty chill, and as far as I can remember, no one actually asked anyone if they were OK.
Another Anonymous Friend talked about people making her aware for the first time that there is (limited) Medicare coverage for therapy, and that made her feel more supported.
What these experiences have in common is that (a) they involved people going to the trouble of finding better resources than a random acquaintance with a four-letter question, and (b) they didn’t put the onus on people with mental illness to answer a four-letter question.
Because that’s the part that sets Liz’s anxiety off, and judging by the Twitter results, a lot of people feel the same way: living with a mental illness — even a minor anxiety disorder — there is a lot of pressure to be normal. Whatever normal is, and it’s a concept that can change with the setting.
If I’m having an anxious day, I don’t want to dump all my feelings in a colleague’s lap — and it’s not fair to them to make them deal with that either. I don’t know what their other problems are! It’s none of my business!
But I also don’t want to feel the pressure to say, “Yes! I am okay! 100% okay! Please hold while I grin nervously and sidle away!”
Unwanted help has been on my mind the last couple of years. It started with The Day of the Doctor, which introduced the marvelous Osgood, a young UNIT science officer with a wardrobe full of Doctor-inspired outfits and chronic asthma. I love Osgood. She delights my heart.
I did not love the recurring thing where Kate Stewart, Osgood’s boss, has to continually remind her to take her Ventolin. Osgood is a grown woman, who has presumably been living with asthma her entire life. No matter how many absent-minded scientist tropes she fills, she doesn’t need her boss to remind her to take her medication.
The idea that a person with a chronic illness or disability needs looking after — needs protecting, even from themselves — is pervasive. It’s big in Marvel Movieverse fandom, where it’s hard to escape the Tumblr posts about Big Brave Masculine Bucky protecting Tiny Weak Delicate Pre-Serum Steve from bullies and diseases alike. Or the posts about wrapping Tiny Weak Delicate Pre-Serum Steve in a blanket and never letting him leave for his own good.
(For some reason, no one ever frets over Nick Fury’s lack of depth perception, or headcanons Bucky and Steve helping Sam through his PTSD. So strange. I can’t imagine a single reason why that would be…)
This was meant to be a joke but somehow it became genuine. An actual guide! Go forth and find therapists, Azns of Australia. Medicare will pay for it, so at least your parents won’t worry about the expense.
Your therapist will be white. This is okay. They can still be of use to you.
When they say ‘magical thinking’, what they mean is, that thing where your mum tells you not to say a thing out loud, because the spirit of that thing will come for you. Do not believe the therapist when they say you have to stop not saying it (but you can say it in your head. That’s okay. Name that thing) (But don’t say it out loud, come on, you don’t want the spirit of that thing to find you).
Therapists almost always practice in old houses. They are probably haunted, but white ghosts can’t hurt you. Do not be afraid. The ghost will take the therapist and any other clients well before they get to you.
They won’t force you to make eye contact. That’s totally a myth. If they do, find a new therapist.
You are not the only Asian Australian with a therapist. I promise. There’s me, at least.
The things that make you specifically your ethnicity are not the problem. You don’t have to become more Australian (“Australian”) to deal with your very real problems.
Your parents will say: are you telling this person our private family issues? (Yes) But they’re private family issues. (Yes) Are you sick? (Your answer may vary) Does anyone you know see you? (Doesn’t matter) What do you mean, your friends know you go to therapy? (My friends know I go to therapy) Do they know there’s something wrong? (They’re my friends, Ma, Ba!)
You may be struck with how some treatments seem like cultural appropriation, particularly around mindfulness and meditation. Yep.
Your therapist might suggest more independence from your family. Feel free to think about the concepts suggested, but remember that you’re Azn and your therapist is not necessarily culturally appropriate.
You will have to explain the following things: family context; family structure; extended family structure; your interdependence on your family; what being Asian means.
Specifically on mindfulness: you will probably learn how to do this. I find mindfulness helpful. But I sit less with my emotions, because identifying individual emotions is hard, and more with paying attention to my surroundings.
On emotions: I have been known to literally start conversations with ‘I need to tell you a thing and I need you not to react.’ This is probably more Chinese hyphen specific, but that’s because emotions are hard and I’ve definitely grown up not expected to share them. My therapist thinks this is because I’m hiding from my emotions, but in my context you can receive comfort without sharing specifics. Other East Asians may find a familiarity in this.
UGH EMOTIONS. WHY.
You might need meds. You might not. Either is fine.