more thoughts on reality and cycles of dormancy
(Below text supplements above video and vice versa. As above, so below, but not precisely.)
I want to talk a bit more about the nature of reality. Specifically, the nature of the reality of living as a multiply marginalized, neurodivergent person at the end of a world. And I say “a world” in quotes because I believe a new world is being birthed as we speak, but that’s a topic for another day.
My particular reality is this: I am a person with ancestors who were enslaved and colonized, and I am also a person with ancestors who enslaved and colonized. In this incarnation, this physical form, I am oppressed and I am oppressor, or oppressive. I have had psychic and physical violence inflicted on me by other living beings, and I have inflicted psychic and physical violence on other living beings. Those are the lessons given to me. And I have learned from all this that there are many realities that converge within us.
Another aspect of my reality: I am neurodivergent. As a teenager I was diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses, and in the wake of my early-thirties escape from the mental health enterprise I’ve diagnosed myself with some sensory and processing disorders (ADHD, autism). But I still identify as a Mad person, a person who experiences extreme emotional states and “altered” realities.
My experience as this person has forced me to reconcile overlapping realities. The world says I am depressed when there is no reason to be, or I am depressed because my brain chemistry is out of whack, or I am depressed because I experienced trauma. All of this may be true, but I’m not trying to debate that right now. Right now I am asking questions.
Like—what does it mean to be depressed at the end of a world? What does it mean to dissociate from an untenable reality? Why must I accept the consensus on my reality, that I am abnormal, that I need to be treated, when we don’t say the same of winter, of autumn, of leaves dropping and trees going into dormancy, of bears trundling into hibernation? What if all these things that I have been told for my entire life are undesirable features of my neurology are in fact valuable parts of the spectrum of human experience?
Here I also want to talk about interconnectedness, the ways we mirror each other and the world around us. How those threads connecting us and the nonhuman world have been severed by individualism, colonialism, and white supremacist capitalism. How death is a lifting of the veil that makes us seem separate from the Universe itself. And how depression is a small death. How it can nudge us towards reconnection. How we are perhaps vessels for the grief of ecosystems, of other humans far from us; how we are being asked to mourn losses we maybe can’t perceive in the moment, but are worth our attention nevertheless. And how we can also channel joy from a distance. How offering compassion to others can help us extend it to ourselves. How helping others lifts us up as well. The veil lifted, the illusion of separateness demolished.
And I think about how those of us who see and hear things that seem unreal might be seeing and hearing things someone else saw or heard once. I think about the magical nature of my own reality, how sometimes I think things into and out of tangible existence, how powerful and frightening that magic can be. How my love has kept people alive, how collective love is necessary for life.
This is magical depressive realism: our interconnected psyches, our ways of navigating overlapping realities. Colonized and colonizer, enslaved and enslaver, sick and well, madness and whatever sanity looks like in this upturned world. I reject consensus reality if the consensus is that we should keep exploiting each other and the Earth, that one group of people—white people and particularly rich white cisgender men as a subset of that group—should be excluded from suffering while the rest of us are left to carry the burdens of existence on our own. I’m living in my own reality as much as possible, and they can call it delusional, but it’s a place where we, QTIBIPOC, are valued and supported and loved and even exalted.
I want—no, I need y’all sane folks to listen to us when we tell you this realm is miserable, when we tell you we must escape. If we are to remodel the human world in a way that is supportive of life, the experiences of MMIND folks (mad, mentally ill and neurodivergent), especially queer & trans & intersex, Black and Indigenous, sick and disabled MMIND folks, must be our blueprint.