Shame largely functions as an agency in the society meant to pull one back into the very narrative that the society wants to speak. Shame, as an agency, is always deeply felt, and reacted to, and hence becomes an important ungoverned tool to force societal decisions of the right and wrong upon us. Like every oppressive and marginalizing agency uses shame, the neuro-psycho-typical society uses shame as a violent medium to impose a low self esteem on those persons suffering with mental illnesses, disorders and diseases, and this needs to be heavily problematized.
The lack of discussions around the politics of social interactions between multiple forces and the mentally ill person at the intersection of these forces needs to be broken, because existence cannot be free of politics, and any non-conforming act or condition will be met with the weapon of shame.
No one throws out shame upon a cancer patient, because the society tells you that seeing is believing, and suffering should be measurable. Hence, if you are depressed, you must be either too sad, a wannabe, or an attention-seeking machine, because machinery and technology fails to measure and ‘prove’ your suffering. If you are bipolar, then you don’t exist, if you have anxiety, you can snap out of it, and if you have Borderline Personality Disorder, you need too much of attention. And if you are any of these, you should be ashamed of yourself, and keep yourself hidden till you actually are able to ‘deal with it yourself’ and hence be a part of the neurotypical society. A call for help, taking medications, are met with extreme stigma, and stigma just propagates shame, and to break this oppression that shame brings with it, the stigma needs to be tackled as well.
It is easy to sit in a privileged position, and say, snap out of your shame and embrace yourself with pride; but pride and shame are not equal and opposite agencies, and an attempt to transgress shame with reclaiming shame and converting it into pride is met with a lot of hostility and destruction. This transgression is extremely continuous, and to transgress one, you will have to transgress other agencies interacting with that one. Shame basically acts as a medium to propagate and incite social anxiety, as a counter mechanism of the anxious privileged neurotypicals to not feel anxious about losing their privileges.
But let’s not be so cynically pessimistic about this. If you can reclaim your shame into pride, then embrace it. We need to start somewhere, so, maybe the next time you do not want to wear your full sleeves and do not care about who thinks what about your scars, do it if your space and situation allows you to. Do not fall into the all pervasive trap of shame, counter it with your understanding of yourself, and when it gets difficult, remember, you’ve made it till here, and the journey hasn’t been easy. More power to everyone who isn’t the ‘perfect’ social person, but prefer to take care of themselves throughout all the shame.
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