Fed Up (Part 1 of a Series)
Fair warning, I am in the "anger" stage of ecological grief. So read with a pinch of salt, (because I am very salty) and stay away if you're thin-skinned.
Trigger Warning for mentions of mental illness, death, and trauma.
So, one of my very closest friends (we are in what we in the asexual community call a Queer Platonic Relationship, mixed orientation, where they have romantic feelings for me, but are ok with understanding my near aromantic-ness) has been sex-trafficked since she was a baby.
She is 40 odd years old, and only JUST escaped her 'handlers' which she calls 'parents' but really should just be called 'scum of the earth.'
She texted me the other day and said, "This is so strange. I'm not afraid to go to sleep."
My heart was not ready.
The conversation that ensued was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.
She cheered when she read my post about tone policing. (which I will get to in Part 2) I'm glad she can feel any positive emotion whatsoever.
And that touched off a revelation in me, too. See, I have alexithymia. I have difficulty identifying emotions much of the time, and have flat affect and delayed emotional reactions. For years, I did not have the mental tools to even recognize I was depressed, or had anxiety.
I did not truly experience the emotion happiness, with full awareness, until I was maybe, idk, 24 years old.
Before that, I was content. I lived a pretty placid childhood. I did not have highs or lows. I existed, and I 'guess' I enjoyed things, and I puzzled when my poetry seemed to hint at deep feelings, yet I didn't remember being aware of them.
My therapist had to explain to me that it was not normal to have racing thoughts practically all day. That it was not normal to disgorge pages upon pages of worry about the world's issues and still only feel somewhat unburdened. Another had to point out to me that even though I was not suicidal or 'dramatically sad', as with a lot of depression narratives, I was experiencing emotional numbness and depression.
One diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder, and the other said that I was probably not depressed at that specific point in time, so was unqualified for official diagnosis, but might dip back into it. She said that diagnoses are only useful if they help a patient cope, or help them climb out of a sickness, just like recovering from a physical bout of disease. One of my professors tried to warn me that it might get worse, but thankfully, it did not.
Various signs, both physiological and mental, also point to me having ADHD, thought with COVID in full swing, I don't think I'm going to get tested anytime soon. My current therapist likens anxiety to ADHD, because both are a form of rapidly switching thoughts. So to her, ultimately it doesn't matter which it is. The point is that my body, I, am in low-grade panic mode all the time.
So, after using meditation sessions to examine the roots of all these issues, I have constructed a timeline that explains just why some days I simply cannot let go, and exist. Like I used to.
I am at the very least, more aware of my emotions. This is a common thing reported among any meditation practitioners, not just people like me who have specific emotional traits.
The odd thing is, this anxiety/ADHD can also operate in a positive manner. Or at least, what I mean is, the *experience* of it is positive. When people go into hypomanic or manic states, they too, are flooded with feel-good hormones, just like any old drug.
So even though, for my physical health, too, it is GOOD for me to slow down, stop binging the internet like other people, or stop listening to blasting music while furiously scribbling screeds of either anger or despair OR just boisterous excitement over some new fact I just acquired in my mind trove, I can't do it sometimes.
I can lie down, breathe, and feel like I am coming down off a cliff, but the hypomania fights back with a vengeance. This isn't all bad, like I say. I've gotten three fantasy novels out of it already. Two of which make mention of vegetarianism. One of which is genre-crossing and asexual affirming. But, some measure of peace must be squeezed in. Sometimes, this ironically takes a lot of work.
So what exactly drives me to the brink of insanity, where I get a little taste of it, but don't go fully off the deep end?
What fuels my artistic mania, so much like other famous figures?
What causes me to micro-dose psychosis?
Since we're on the veggie boards, you can probably guess one issue.
There are two main things.
(1) the public at large is unaware of all the scientific underpinnings of supernatural occurrences, and unaware of accurate, exegesis grounded theology.
This causes untold anguish. Just one aspect is people think they are in danger of going to hell eternally, for instance. That alone hurts me on a daily basis, unimaginably. I most of the time cannot tolerate the word 'hell' and when I am in a bad (or good) enough state to say 'damn' then you know for sure I am at one of the extreme ends of the pendulum swing of emotions.
(and I know it too. Sometimes I have to pay attention to external cues to know what emotional state I am in. Alexithymia is weird.)
(2) the current anthropocene mass extinction is also not understood by the public at large. At best, someone sees a polar bear and either thinks, 'eh whatever, it's a bear' or 'oh dang.' Either of these responses is valid. I only WISH that megafauna or even animals and NOT human life were the only thing at stake. Ignorance is bliss.
The media focuses on images of pollution, as if to scare people into thinking that this will affect them. Yeah, ok, they have to do whatever they need to do to get the message across. I get that. But the thing is . . .
There's a photographer who has made it his mission to photo every megafauna species that is KNOWN to be at threat of extinction. Click his website, and you are met with a wall of images that couldn't be fit on your computer screen if they were shrunk to ten by ten pixels each. If the media used, say, twenty news cycles to spend just one minute on each, they would not come close to covering it all. This excludes the thousands of species we have already lost in the past 50 years, and species we have not discovered yet which may hold niche places in a specialized ecosystem that is slated to be razed tomorrow for ****ing toilet paper or a Big Mac.
If you ask ANY ecological scientist. You might, after a few hours or days of listening to them, comprehend a given amount of the scale of destruction. Maybe.
And if you aim to get a degree in ecology yourself?
They really should assign a therapist to all students who click that box on their intake forms.
One professor came to speak at a student's funeral. He had drunk himself to death. Being an ecologist in today's consumer culture is not a fun adventure, or even a mysterious and exciting and maybe a little dangerous voyage like it was for Charles Darwin on the Beagle.
In today's culture, you walk into a grocery store, and IMMEDIATELY, your brain conjures the facts that orangutans are probably dying because of those boxes of Nutter Butters that three people just mindlessly and carelessly grabbed off the shelf.
Being a layman and being emotionally attached to animals is possibly worse.
If you venture outside the safe confines of 'ooo cute puppy.' You are met with pigs, who are smarter than dogs people fawn over, yet treated with a brutality or indifference that would make most dog owners screech in foam in protest if someone even suggested doing it to their family pet.
I am at a particular disadvantage, because for years, as a kid, my autistic 'hyper-fixation' was watching nature documentaries.
When most kids were hanging out, I was glued to the screen. For hours. I watched some more than once. I was barely aware there were other tv channels available. I watched them the way a man watches a woman he loves dance. Every curve, every motion, is enrapturing.
Imagine someone taking your childhood, turning it inside out, and mangling it beyond repair.
Imagine, unlike an average person with a personality towards anxiety tendencies, you CANNOT REMOVE YOURSELF FROM YOUR TRIGGERS.
You wake up. Open a closet. Petroleum products.
You want to crawl back into bed.
You go downstairs. Open the fridge. Someone's cheese.
That was made by removing a calf's stomach and sprinkling the contents into what it was supposed to be drinking in between bites of grass. It's called "rennet." Technically, because daily demand is at an unnatural, heart-disease-inducing height that human history has never before witnessed, half of all beef is veal, since 'market weight' means that female cows are slaughtered before they even hit puberty.
You watch some of your eleven year old students tackle each other in play fights during recess. Hope they get to reach adulthood, unlike those in that utterly unnatural-herd members who had no chance to run from a single wolf pack like their free adult cousins, no say in the matter.
Meanwhile, if anyone so much as kicked a puppy, it would be front page news.
The slothful middle class, which also ignores police brutality, would be roused from their stupor.
Rant about it on Facebook a bit. Pat themselves on the back because they did something 'good.'
Then they nod off again, eating that six week old chicken whose male relative was sliced up alive right after he hatched because he could not lay eggs.
So. All that said. 'Eco anxiety' has killed a person that I know.
For me, it didn't drive me to that point, but that's probably only because I have a different temperament, and/or did not have any additional stressors in my life that were unbearable.
This is hardly bearable, yes. But I manage it.
I don't scream at the people who are not only needlessly ending a given individual animal's life, but causing EXTINCTIONS of ENTIRE SPECIES. I don't scream at non-vegan or vegan aspiring people except when I've blundered, made a slip, and mis-managed my emotions for a given stretch of time, and/or more stressors have been applied lately.
And when I do actually achieve sitting outside in the green, peaceful setting, listening to birdsong, and NOT think about the fact that songbird populations are being threatened by people letting their cats roam around instead of keeping them in the house, it is BIZARRE.
I'm actually just existing.
Do I feel good??
Is that allowed?
I'm not sure I like it.
My foot taps.
My skin itches.
My fingers twitch.
Shouldn't I be info binging or info dumping?
I need that next fix.
I feel the need to shove that metaphorical needle back in my arm.
Yeah, the high comes with the cost of being emotionally burned out, but it feels so exhilarating in the moment.
So I breathe.
In, and out.
Sometimes I lose.
But next time, I'll breathe again.
Until I have mastered it.