Monday, September 22, 2008

Dear Social Structures

Dear People Who Are the Policy Developers for Our Social Systems,

When you create criteria for your programs, it would be prudent to ensure that there are humans who actually fit into that box. And if so many don't fit into the box, it's possible you may need to adjust your criteria.

Please don't get defensive at the suggestion of change. I know a lot of time and money are invested in the development and implementation of social programs. Sadly, those who are responsible for developing those programs are often the ones who are least likely to need them. So yes, sometimes your policies are woefully inadequate, since the experience and education that would be required to develop adequate programs are not within your grasp. Despite the pejorative insinuation here, I would consider myself lucky to find myself bereft of such an education.

And yes, I feel comfortable telling you why your policies are insufficient to meet my needs. I'm sorry that your ego and education are incompatible with my experience. It's just that your rules affect my life. And who are you to dictate how I am to live? I have broken no laws by being diagnosed with a mental health condition, and so I expect, like every other citizens of this fine democratic country of ours, to be accorded the freedoms and privileges associated with my citizenship.

Goddam me and my uppity notions of inclusion and social equality, you may say. Goddam you and your discrimination, I say.

Furthermore, when someone comes to you for help, and you can offer none, be prepared to explain the next step in the same breath, so the person isn't left dangling in a chasm of despair, for their next step may be a leap into an unknown place... A place where they can never be found... A place they may never rise from if ever they are found.

And in that exchange, do not castigate that person for being inadequate both in sickness and in health. Being forced to bear the burden of illness was not my choice to make. Sadly, these kinds of things are written into the code of our being, and like cancers and other forms of hereditary illness, they are largely unavoidable, although I recognize they are possibly preventable. I worked hard to be as well as I am, and so pardon me for my imperfection. Pardon me for seeking you out and asking for help; pardon me for trying to accommodate this demanding blight that thrives in the dampest corners of my soul.

For what it's worth, I'm working to heal and to conceal it. I'm working hard to be like you... average. Know that it would be my greatest achievement to live out a sanguinely average life... but this seems as out of reach for me as it is to pluck the moon from its place in the universe. So please, spare me your cruelly upbeat rhetoric when I ask for help because we all know that appearances are deceiving. And for me, this type of deceit has become a carefully exercised art.

And so I beg you, when we feel every option within our sight has been explored, when all alternatives in our reach have been investigated, and when we wind up at the end of the chain of services with hungry bellies and empty eyes, please don't blame us for our ensuing self-destruction or deviance. If we can't have comforts of the flesh, at least spare us a little oblivion to fool our starving souls into believing they have been filled.

When we are promised everything, but given nothing, what other resort do we have besides deviancy or self-destruction? I'd love to know.

Trying to keep it together despite the odds,

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