why misery activism?
One of my nicknames for magical depressive realism is misery activism.
It’s not just me being shady to Pleasure Activism, although I do have some snark for that title. I loved much of it, but as a person who rarely feels good in the ways that abled, sane folks do, I craved a more in-depth discussion of how you find meaning when nothing feels pleasurable. I also have my feelings about white people practicing anything that centers their pleasure—in my opinion white people centering their pleasure at the expense of everyone else is part of the problem—and I know the author has a lot of rather oblivious white fans.
But that teensy bit of snark aside, I do think “misery activism” is a rather accurate description of what MDR is. I am really trying to get folks riled up about the stuff that contributes to our (Black mad & neurodivergent folks’) misery.
Like I said, I don’t feel good in the way a person without chronic pain or without chronic illness or who doesn’t experience extreme emotional states/altered realities might. I have come to terms with the fact that I will likely never be Happy™, that is, relationally secure and financially secure and emotionally secure and ontologically secure, and that my experience of life is going to be snatching joy from the jaws of despair every day until I die. So, I am less concerned with feeling good, since that is a state not regularly attainable to me, and I am more concerned with doing good. I understand the latter is a necessity regardless of if I am ever lucky enough to experience the former. And it is a necessity because it is a pathway to security on at least some of those axes, if not for me, then for future humans like me.
Of course, I hope that things will change before I leave this realm, but I’m a magical depressive realist, so I’m not counting on it. And since it be that way, I am driven to confront the things making me miserable, making my people miserable. I also recognize that I would probably be miserable under a variety of non-capitalistic circumstances, and that’s okay. I am a part of nature and I have a role to play. I don’t think misery gets enough credit. We’re always trying to chase it away, to fix ourselves so we don’t feel it, to fix each other so we don’t spread it. And it’s true, much of our misery is unnecessary. But some of it is vital. Some of it is inviting us to sit up with it and uncover new selves. Some of it is a portal.
Making ourselves and others miserable to prop up these systems is not misery activism. Burnout is not misery activism. But honoring and even welcoming misery, grief, depression, dormancy, and decay? Using our misery as a catalyst for building collective movements and creating change? Learning from our misery to reimagine our realities? Yes. Alladat.