Loneliness Is Deadlier Than COVID

Megan Wildhood
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Let me first make it sharply clear that my intention in this piece or any of my writing is never to downplay or minimize unfathomable suffering happening physically, economically, socially and emotionally all over the world right now. If it ever appears that I am and you want to reach out/comment in a non-troll/non-hater way to discuss, I’m open for dialogue. Blanket statements don’t excuse insensitivity and impact matters just as much as intention.

Because of that, the first thing I want to address is the reality that what we are being required to do and what many are rightly electing to do for their own health—that is, social distance, isolate and quarantine—are exacerbating the felt sense of loneliness that was an epidemic long before the present crisis. This is not in any way to discourage or challenge the CDCs recommendations as I am not a doctor and am offering philosophical commentary, not prescriptions or directions.

At the same time, we need to acknowledge that social isolation and loneliness are two independent risk factors for premature mortality. Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis that combines data gathered by studying over 3.4 million participants over a period of years (as opposed to weeks or months) that found loneliness was associated with earlier death by 26%, social isolation by 29%, and living alone by 32%. Social connection is a protective factor, reducing the risk of mortality by 50%.

So we’ve got data that demonstrates social connection, a thing we can’t do in the ways we’re used to doing, is a major health-protective factor. Social connection is most potent when in-person gatherings are possible; people cannot, for example, co-regulate nervous systems over video chat. And yet, the fact that increasing rates of loneliness had been reported in the media for years before mass social distancing was enacted means that it takes either something more or something different to assuage the felt sense of loneliness.

Partly, it’s the toxic positivity I wrote about last month. Expecting people to be positive all the time and labeling them “toxic” if they’re not alienates people from others because they do not feel they can be true to their emotions while also being accepted by others. If you can only belong when you’re being positive, you either have to pretend to be someone else to fit in or you bear the lethal burden of isolation.

Again, the distinction is between positivity, which I have found to be very helpful in times of extreme stress, and toxic positivity, which polices people’s words and tones, barring anything other than positivity. Humans need belonging and acceptance they do not have to earn even, or especially, when they are distressed and experiencing so-called “negative” emotions. Positivity that is toxic is a rug under which authenticity is swiftly swept; positivity that is toxin-free can be a blanket.

Partly, the burgeoning loneliness epidemic stems from how difficult it is to survive in modern times. Before the pandemic and resultant economic shutdown, many people had no time for friends because they had to cobble together a living from eight side hustles and a main gig, none of which provide sufficient healthcare coverage, sick leave or retirement support or pay enough in themselves for people to survive on less.

The people that do have time for friends struggle to find them because of how deeply the lie that humans are naturally competitive has been embedded into our psyches. This lie festers in us, repeated by mainstream cultural norms and institutions, and produces mistrust, second-guessing and a felt need to always hedge one’s relational bets. This is not to just to blame “others” and point the finger ever outward: we all live at this noxious nexus of capitalism and individualism, which rely on each other to survive and grow.

Over half of Americans literally had less than nothing before the COVID crisis—about 110 million Americans carried credit card debt; according to a 2019 report from Experian, that’s about $6k per person. Classifying that debt into “student, mortgage, medical, consumer” is really only useful in exposing the biases of our system. Notice how harshly we judge those who have credit card debt vs. student debt, as if the current education system is providing the value it’s gouging from students. Notice what we think of credit card debt: clearly, it’s because you’re lazy, materialistic or need more self-control. Medical debt simultaneously garners pity (which is patronizing and dehumanizing) and elicits all the ableism lurking in people’s unawareness. Almost a quarter of America’s population, according to CNBC around this time last year, report that the reason for most of their debt is paying for basic living necessities.

This means that people are going into debt to stay alive and housed. It’s not that one-fourth of Americans are lazy—it’s a lot of work to be poor in this country. People, including myself, have been very frustrated by the “busy is the new fine” culture we have, but there’s a reason the labor movement fought for free time. Humans need to rest, but they also need to be together in a self-determined way that does not involve performing cog-like tasks they have no interest in for someone whose goal is to value their life only as much as necessary to keep them working.

While I still believe humans are not totally victims of their own schedule, there are many people whose life circumstances don’t allow them the time flexibility that those with material and social resources have.  When increasing work hours is the only way you’ll eat that week, forgoing the movie discussion group your friends planned on a Saturday “so everyone can join” (except those “essential workers who are ringing people up at groceries stores 16 hours a weekend) isn’t just “blowing people off” socially.

Loneliness is on the rise because our society makes us choose between survival and socializing, even though, neurologically, biologically, mental-health wise, they cannot actually be separated. Our culture has even trivialized the word “socializing.” The word is used to belittle activities one disapproves of (and it’s usually about or directed at women, which is just one more piece of evidence that anything not male is less valued than anything male). If you want to rank an activity lower than work, productivity, contribution, “creating value,” etc., slap a “socializing” label on it. The only remotely positive use of the word is when it is deployed to indicate a time of resting and relaxing. At no point in our culture that I’m aware of do we use the word socializing to evoke a sense of necessity or imperative.

Partly, our culture is exploding with loneliness because so many of us, whether we know it or not or like it or not, are still under the power of the DSM. Our mainstream culture believes in the hierarchy implied by terms like “mental illness”—we need to believe there is such a thing, that some are worse than others and that they cannot be cured because they give us answers to the horrific conditions many of us are already living in (or will be soon, which we feel and see more starkly every day, especially during COVID).

More accurately, capitalism needs us to believe that the unspeakable violence, the terrifying poverty and the deep alienation and resultant roiling anxiety we all on some level feel are the result of bad actors: people whose brains randomly broke one day and are thus now Sick and Other. Rather than improve conditions and eradicate the mass suffering their system relies on to keep going, though they are abundantly able and well-endowed to do so, those that run this capitalist/individualist/mental illness show would rather us believe that there’s sadly nothing we can do to permanently fix our problems.

But! At least we have an enemy we can all get behind! Mass murder? Definitely caused by mental illness, not raging hopelessness, patriarchy-fueled entitlement, and superiority, or a culture that equates love and belonging with impossible levels of achievement and productivity. Poverty? Definitely caused by bad choices, personal laziness, and unwillingness to work hard and pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps, not an utter lack of affordable boots or that you don’t own whatever bootstraps you may have. Unaffordable boots? Definitely caused by mysteriously constant lack of funding because all resources must be diverted to fortifying our country against all those external bad guys who are so jealous of our freedoms and our lifestyle that they can’t contain themselves. And how convenient that such a system also provides a lifelong supply of profit for those pulling the strings, the bootstraps, shall we say, of this massive operation.

The mechanism through which capitalism profits from individualism is called psychiatry. If we didn’t have psychiatry, there would be no way to propagate or enforce this bizarre idea of “normal.” There would be no standards to keep changing, raising, making impossible to meet and then financially gouging people for trying to deal with how shitty they feel for not meeting them. There would be no basis for labeling, let alone punishing, behaviors that people in power can’t profit from. If we didn’t have psychiatry, maybe people could get some real help, but the reliance on psychiatry goes so deep that people even shame each other for being lonely.

It’s a cultural ritual and it itself is contributing to the loneliness epidemic. You can be sure that a culture is emotionally abusive when it shames people for stating that they’re lonely. If you’re shamed for being lonely, how motivated do you think you’ll be to reach out and try to connect with others? I, for one, have an easier time telling someone I’m broke than I do admitting I’m lonely. The shame comes from this assumption that, if you’re lonely, if you don’t have people you belong with, something’s wrong with you.

This is deeply gaslighting, since it’s actually not your fault that our culture doesn’t allow people the time it takes to find, develop and nourish the kinds of relationships we all need, nor does it acknowledge that, in reality, forming lasting, meaningful friendships as an adult is hard. Part of what utopia would look like for me is being able to walk up to another adult, kindergartner-style, and say “let’s be friends.” And, actually, I would like to acknowledge and deeply thank the people who have done nearly this very thing after reading one of my articles. Reaching out and saying “want to be friends?” is an astoundingly brave thing to do in this culture, in large part because of the internalized shame we who are lonely (I have a suspicion it’s all of us, on some level) all carry about our loneliness.

Why do people shame others for expressing that they’re lonely? It may sometimes be to cover up their own sense of loneliness and concern that not having close relationships means something hideous and unfixable about them.

Going deeper, shaming people for expressing loneliness might come from the pervasive productivity mindset everyone from postal-service workers to computer programmers to stay-at-home-mothers (who are, I need to point out, working just as damn hard as anyone; the only reason the culture tells us they don’t is because they do it for free) has. We are so saturated with messages that we need to “create value.” We are so inundated with messages, explicit and otherwise, that our worth, our validity as a human, is tied to how well we do in the game of capitalism. Indeed, “failing” at capitalism means starvation, homelessness, and the ex-communication from humanity that goes along with it.

And yet, I said that I would much rather tell someone I’m broke than I’m lonely. Neither the tone-deaf advice of “just get new friends” nor the victim-blaming narrative of “just go get a job/better job” are true or helpful. Yet somehow, it feels easier for me to ask for help learning how to make more money than it does learning how to make more friends. This kind of sickens me because it shows just how deep the tenets of capitalism, individualism, and what they dictate should be valued have warped my perspective.

COVID made the pre-existing condition of needing money to survive glaringly obvious, though it was so for more and more people already. COVID has even made it obvious that the precious-sounding axiom “we need each other” is quite literal. It’s still hard to be taken seriously when saying “we need each other,” though. But I neither mean it as a cute little nursery rhyme nor will I accept the shame people get for being sincere and earnest. We need each other, and I am deadly serious.

42 COMMENTS

  1. So this is what you’ve been up to. 🙂

    The mechanism through which capitalism profits from individualism is called psychiatry.

    Excellent! I’d like to see you elaborate on this some more.

    Psychiatry is more than a money-maker however; this is true of any profit-making enterprise people are forced to patronize.

    The primary service performed by psychiatry for capitalism is to trick people into interpreting the pain caused by the system as something wrong with them. One needs to step back to appreciate the difference between a) millions of people identifying their alienation and suffering as “personal issues” to be “worked on” privately (and be embarrassed about publicly); and b) millions of suffering alienated people identifying the system as being responsible for their collective misery, and taking collective action to transform that objective reality. You can do the math.

    Alienation is in the interest of the exploiters, and it is in their interest to keep people too far away from one another physically to hug or interact as humans need to do. This alienation is intensified by the fear that ANY ONE of those friendly-looking maskless people MIGHT KILL YOU if they breathe in your direction. No way to organize any opposition either, sorry kids, too dangerous to have meetings — put your demo plans online, we won’t look.

    And now they’ve crashed their own economy, deliberately. This is not rational capitalist behavior, unless the rationale serves some ulterior purpose. One guess is that they could be stress testing us to see how much fear is required to get the population to do this, then this, then that. And to see how we react. Maybe to see how little we’ll work for. Or, maybe they’re just worried about a rebellious virus. We’ll know sooner or later.

  2. Very Powerful Megan….made me cry.

    I honestly think the word social distance has a negative spin, and wonder if it’s purposeful, to bring home to people, to remind them that they now lack social connections….but psychiatry is there to rescue us
    and not make us feel tooo socially distanced.
    After all, we are “supposed” to have that social network to prove how MH we are.

    I trust that psychiatry with it’s dictionary sat down with the health ministers and someone said, “what should we call it”
    tada, “social distancing”.

    It makes everyone think it’s new.
    It makes everyone think that the fall out is an “illness”

  3. Partly, our culture is exploding with loneliness because so many of us, whether we know it or not or like it or not, are still under the power of the DSM.

    This is a great article, Megan. This line in particular stood out because it reminded me of something Bruce Cohen wrote in Psychiatric Hegemony regarding the DSM and how it is purposely written in user-friendly terminology to get us to self-label within the context of capitalist culture:

    The success of psychiatric hegemony here is that since the original construction of social phobia in 1980, workers have become more inclined to self-label and entertain the possibility of therapy and drug treatment for their failure to be more sociable and assertive at their place of work. This situation has further legitimized the extension of the psy-professions in the areas of unemployment, job training, and work, reinforcing the neoliberal focus on the self as the site of change, while simultaneously depoliticising the increasingly alienating work environment and constant pressures on employees to upskill and be “more employable” in the jobs market.

  4. Great article. I’ve read some of your other work and always love your writing.

    “People, including myself, have been very frustrated by the “busy is the new fine” culture we have, but there’s a reason the labor movement fought for free time”

    This part brought to mind the old saying: ” Workers of the world–relax!”

    Anyone besides me fed up with hearing that “if you haven’t learned a new skill in the time we have in lock down you are undisciplined”?

    Um, I have fifteen skills thanks, what’s wrong with refining those.

    And why can’t I refine my sleeping skills? I mean if I have the time what’s so wrong with that? The thing about productivity is, most of it actually is damaging to our planet. Forcing people to make plastic widgets that will wind up in the oceans just so they can survive is not an overall good thing.

    • There are parts of this hysteria that have their attractions, like getting up late and getting paid for doing nothing. It’s like they suddenly said “ok folks, we were just kidding about this whole hard work & capitalism thing, just take this $$ and don’t bother us for a few months.” I needed some rest anyway. And the air does seem cleaner, etc.

          • I wasn’t so much bullied by peers as by teachers (we had some mean ones!), plus very lonely and bored out of my mind. I hated taking arbitrary orders from anyone, and still do. Particularly when I was smarter than most of the teachers and was always way ahead in almost every subject, which instead of counting as a positive made me a problem for them. The kids who liked school were the ones who had lots of friends, mostly, or the ones whose home lives were so bad that school seemed like a big step up. I was neither, and I hated every minute of elementary school. Junior high was only better because they had sports and I was a good athlete, and so finally got a few friends, too. When I graduated high school, I felt like the allied troops had freed us from the POW camp!

      • Yes there are definitely some highlights going on now…

        Where I live they have canceled the fireworks for an upcoming holiday. Now I’m not necessarily totally opposed to fireworks, but having had serious sound sensitivities before thanks to psych drugs and knowing there are others who don’t like them too, plus they bother wildlife and pets, I thought it was about time we had a break.

        Never mind that the ones in my area are extremely boring…Fine if it’s one of the bigger displays those ones can be interesting but seriously, wow, red ball of light, green ball of light, ooh look Jim, another green ball…All people are doing is watching their money explode.

        We are planning a nice night of watching paint dry instead, should be sweet…Have a few local spiders coming over, but no worries we’ll keep our distance…They are recluse spiders, they know the drill.

        The bigger more awesome development is they canceled an extremely creepy development they wanted to put in one of the cities in Canada, where it would be basically turning part of the city into a huge panopticon, wall to wall surveillance. I was so happy I did victory laps around my home…said to a family member better start the car we’re going honking and bring your phone we can film the reaction lol

  5. Great article. I agree, pyschiatry doesn’t fix much and costs a lot. I have an extroverted very old uncle and his GP, years back, gave him a prescription for “socialising”. He told him “Get out there and walk and talk, go get your coffee”. Knowing my uncle, I was impressed with his doctor’s advice. He had “seen and heard him” enough to guide him in the right direction.
    Great article…so true about shaming and naming. What a crock.

  6. I have vented on this site about sadness shaming. Hence the insistence that DEPRESSION IS A DISEASE. They wouldn’t have to justify it by calling it purely biological (and beyond our control) if we weren’t pressured to grin ear to ear all the time like the Cheshire cat. Why not let me feel glum? Really. Feeling blue is not a crime, but to hear some people it’s worse than being a bank robber.

    And regarding loneliness I am sick and tired of well meaning articles lecturing on how the only reason you get lonely is you’re not full enough of self worth. That’s just dumb. Loneliness is not synonymous with low self esteem (though even that’s not a crime) and scheduling a make out session with your mirror isn’t the answer. 😛

    • I think calling it a “disorder” IS shaming! THe non-shaming approach is to assume that it is a normal reaction to circumstances, or else a manifestation of a legitimate and observable physiological problem (lack of sleep, thyroid problems, etc.) It is hard to think of a much more shaming approach than to say your emotions mean nothing, your brain is broken, but there’s nothing anyone can do to actually fix the problem, it’s just you have an inherently bad brain. Tough luck!

      • What boggles my mind is that someone goes for counsel, where they get a dark menacing serious face telling the client that they have a damaged brain, give them chemicals that hurts their brains and yet these yahoos are against suicide, or at least the client can’t mention it, or else they get locked up.
        Criminals get locked up.
        Am I not getting something? They talk about “self esteem” in their “research papers”, then slap derogatory labels on people that damage them but they are supposed to go out and be “positive”.
        And even if, with all that shit, they chose to be “positive”, then the head screwer uppers, tell their positive clients that it is “mania”.

          • “care” it never was. It only represented itself as such. Even “healthcare” now looks suspicious. I get sour looks from “believers”. I should not complain about the wonderful “care”.
            I believed for 24 years.
            I keep thinking that I became aware of the reality of what transpires. Only yesterday I was hit with new awareness. Of how the “care” was really well disguised infantilizing.
            And part of it was obviously my fault, for adopting the role. It would help a great deal if we were educated on roles, early on. It would help “doctors” and “nurses” to understand roles, that they have a huge responsibility in their hierarchy position.
            I was not a healthcare user or “abuser”, and that was never noted when I did use it.
            Within that short use, I learned just how they abuse. Disgusting and gross. Not just with me, but onto others.
            From what I’ve seen, I truly hope those providers get their own taste of the shit they dole out. Obviously it’s wishful thinking….Karma is not something that comes about in any true sense of the word. Some people really never experience power imbalance.

            Perhaps that is a boring and dead existence.

          • Only yesterday I was hit with new awareness. Of how the “care” was really well disguised infantilizing.
            And part of it was obviously my fault, for adopting the role.

            Congrats on the epiphany — it works even without the self-blame. Just make sure you don’t get fooled again!

        • “these yahoos are against suicide”

          Not in my State they’re not. We passed a Euthanasia Act because doctors wanted it. Make it elective and the exchange of a few Ben Franklins might ease the process of the non existent paper work.

          I mean I get it that they spoke in terms of there being legal ‘protections’ but let me say this. If anyone takes a look at the protections of the Mental Health Act and realises that the person responsible for those protections doesn’t know what they are, or give a damn about them when they are pointed out to him, then of what use are they?

          So people who have a history of ignoring the protections of the law make the claim that they will abide by the protections of the law seems a bit more than rich. Luckily they can simply ignore me and the proof I have of their negligence, fraud and slander, and continue to pass laws they know they will use to enable the killing of citizens and give the appearance of lawfulness.

          Imagine, if doctor happened to not like someone and killed them, and filled out fraudulent documents to conceal that killing, my government has made it possible for that doctor to use the resources of police to retrieve any evidence you have of that killing, and then threaten your family to ensure you shut your mouth about the good people at the hospital killing people for convenience. And they speak about your rights and the protections afforded by the law? Glad all these human rights activists are ensuring these people are held to account, NOT.

          I heard Amal Clooney speak regarding Australia being a ‘trendsetter’ regarding human rights and ensuring that governments like Russia don’t torture and kill bankers for whistleblowing. Why when Australia is torturing and killing people for little more than complaining about torture methods being used under the guise of medicine are being killed, whilst the authorities simply ignore their duty to ensure no action is taken and they can ensure their ‘reputation’ is maintained? Police simply can’t find their copy of the Criminal Code and drop you at an Emergency Dept with a referral for an unintended negative outcome.

          Get a real job lady rather than aiding and abetting in the maintenance of a false narrative for a Nation that is engaging in torture methods and killing anyone who complains and has the proof. Were as bad as them. In fact were worse because people actually trust us.

          • Magnitsky sanctions.

            “You may not be able to solve every problem in the world or respond to every abuse, but you can make sure your country is not a safe haven for despots and war criminals,” she said, appearing via video link from Los Angeles.

            “You can send a message to those who engage in corruption and human rights abuses that Australia’s banks and schools and beaches are off limits.”

            Note she does not mention that our hospitals are off limits? That’s where most of the haven for despots and abusers exists. Surely this is known as a result of the use of Military hospitals by Bashar al Assad for human rights abuses? And that is exactly where they are concealing our human rights abuses, in our hospitals because it is easily concealed and cover ups are so easily implememented. Its standard operating procedure from what I witnessed regarding the distribution of fraud to conceal torture and kidnappings by the State. Call a citizen a “patient” and you can do whatever you like to them, and that is easily achieved via a ‘spiking’ and the planting of a weapon once they collapse. All perferctly lawful according to our Chief Psychiatrist and Minister. Arbitrary detentions and then lawful ‘treatments’ that would otherwise constitute torture if it weren’t for the “inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction” loophole in the Convention (Article 1)

            https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-15/amal-clooney-parliament-magnitsky-act-inquiry-human-rights/12251286

            Check it out, Russia is poisoning people who don’t agree with what they want? Imagine a government that would poison their own citizens. Of course i’m sure their are two sides to every story and the ‘treatment’ of dissidents who talk about human rights could be misinterpreted. Medications are not poisons Mr Murza, where on earth did you get that idea? And in Australia my government will allow those ‘medications’ to be administrered without your knowledge. Any complaints and we call you a paranoid delusional and we then ‘treat’ you for your illness, or as it was described to me by the Operations Manager of a hospital, we’ll fuking destroy you. This from a woman who makes Vladimir Putin look like Ghandi.

            “If you murder someone or if you torture someone or are involved in other gross human rights abuses, your punishment should not be a revoked visa or a closed bank account.

            “But it’s better than nothing.”

            And at present Australia has NOTHING lol. Nice evening had by all at the football while the Euthanasia Act was being debated Minister? I’d be careful who I was photographed with in public and then posted on Facebook if I were you, especially when your truanting from class. Put that one alongside your picture with Immelda Marcos and your shoe collection?

            I guess when you have a history of making agreements you have no intention of standing by, people know your word is worth nothing. My government ratified the Convention against the use of Torture and ignores it when they get caught torturing, nay in fact they will refoul. Why not sign this agreement too, it would provide further cover for the human rights abuses they are committing. Loopholes galore when you have a human rights absing instrument at you service, and that is exactly what our Mental Health Act does. It is it’s reason detre.

            “They will take their oaths as a cover” it says in my Book. Hypocrites.

          • The psych industry likes dead brains, not dead bodies 🙂 The damage on the body and confidence, is worth more and easier to hide through endless research papers.

  7. “When I graduated high school, I felt like the allied troops had freed us from the POW camp!”

    lol I can definitely relate to this sentiment too.

    After high school I was so elated to be out I took all my class notes on a camping trip and burned them in a giant bonfire to celebrate.

    • I remember they had an overnight party the day of graduation, with a hypnotist and dancing and punch and the usual entertainments. I saw different clutches of kids hugging each other, some with tears in their eyes, talking about how sad they were it was all over. I was thinking, “What high school did YOU go to?” I am sure that their experiences were very real to them and I admire them for being able to emote about them publicly, but it was TOTALLY unreal to me. I felt a huge weight off of me, along with the thought, “Wow, I’m free! Now what am I going to do with my life?”

      • The usual entertainments…”They’ll be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow just you wait and see, they’ll be love and laughter, and peace ever after, tomorrow when the world is free…” lol I know that’s what I played…

        lol so true what high school did you go to…at first I thought you were going to say they were crying over finally being freed..

        But if they liked their experiences maybe the hypnotist got to them?

        • Nah, they just liked high school for some inexplicable reason. I guess maybe they would miss their friends, but I didn’t have that many, and in any case, I could still be friends with them absent the authoritarian regime. And that was in the days when we had MORE freedom in high schools, right at the end of the 60s “student rights” movements. Student rights have massively deteriorated since that time, in my observation, other than that physical abuse has been MOSTLY outlawed.

          My high school was in suburban Philadelphia. Supposedly one of the top 10 public high schools in the country. And there were a lot of good teachers. But it was still school.

          And there were still a few, like Mr. Mims, who probably belonged in jail. Even as naive as I was back then, I suspected he was sleeping with at least one of the students.

          I guess I’m impatient with injustice and authoritarianism. Probably a “mental illness” of some sort. Otherwise, I would have loved being pushed around and bored and bullied and neglected and prevented from exploring anything not on the curriculum. What was wrong with me?

          • I had a bit of a problem with authoritarianism too. Or is that my Oppositional Defiance Disorder showing?

            You know I half wish someone had labeled me with that rather than what I got, at least it has a connotation of “you are not a coward” lol. Also not sure if they often use drugs for that? If not, where can I do a label swap….

          • Yeah, I think I’d volunteer for that one. Except if you’re a kid, they might lock you in a “residential treatment home” until you learn to knuckle under.

            The best diagnosis is “don’t know what happened to that guy – he seems to have disappeared.”

  8. “Wow, I’m free! Now what am I going to do with my life?”

    Pick a prison? lol

    I’ve just been for a drive past one of my old high schools and said to my ‘navigator’ about how it was the worst place of my life. I couldn’t even name someone who I would have considered a friend in that place that I spent a year in. I think it had a lot to do with it being a place where there were a lot of what we called surfs and rockers (bogan aussie kids who grow up to be neo nazis basically lol), and I still had a remnant of an English accent from living in the UK for a while.

    I take it all back now I’ve seen the inside of the Ariel Castro Memorial Hospital. At least some of the teachers saw something good about me, unlike the slanderers at the hospital who think that anyone who walks through the door needs to be fuking destroyed.

    • I hear you about pick a prison boans. I would have gladly gone back to school for fifty years rather than put up with the time I spent in hospital.

      My high school was in a redneck area, I think the same thing as a bogan? Though it was one of the better schools so it wasn’t too bad for rednecks, it was more the jocks who were a problem. The city though is a really rough one, known for crime. As bad as my high school was for female students I think the guys had it worse. Sometimes a guy would call out another guy and demand they meet him after school for a fight, and basically if someone did that to you you had no real option to refuse. They’d always end up next door in the church parking lot, fighting. Finally one teacher put a stop to it, started to regularly call the cops.

      And it’s horrible that you were not treated well for having an English accent. In Canada many people love UK accents, so much so a guy I was acquainted with faked one for years on end in order to meet women lol. (Used to really bother his friends, having to help prop up that charade…) Personally I’d have given anything to have something other than the Canadian accent I drew…and if I had an English accent I’d spend all my time talking to myself. Then again I’d be even happier to live in England even though I know what a risky gamble that is given their psych system seems even worse than ours.

  9. I’ve noticed all over the web articles and comments about how devastating isolation of a few weeks has been to everyone from children to elders. I can relate. But many, like the elderly or the chronically ill, suffer ongoing isolation of decades. I’ve read online posts by several of these that were eloquent, humble, and honest. Yet the responses are typically… empty or dismissive. I’ve also over the years read many accounts by people who suffer chronic loneliness because they’re different enough from their communities, despite these people’s diligent work to reach out, remain positive, and be included. Again, the response I read to them, typically, is along the lines that no one is entitled to anyone else’s time or attention. That they should entertain themselves. That we do not need other human beings to be healthy or happy–and that such a need indicates a mental problem or character failure.

    So now that so many of us are experiencing some of the horrible effects of ongoing isolation and people are understandably sharing their pain from the lack of connection to others, I wonder if our cultures will become far more understanding of the suffering of millions who endure social isolation and loneliness regularly. I want to be hopeful, but part of me doubts this is what will happen once the worst of the crises are behind us.

  10. This was certainly sensitive to the emotional issues that have been rising into view over many decades and made much worse by government reactions such as the one we are currently experiencing.
    But to blame it all on “capitalism,” though chic, I don’t think is helpful. We need a target we can actually deal with and do something about.
    And that target, I believe, lies in the field of better understanding the human condition. The morally-depraved corporate board member and the homeless meth addict share more in common, as human beings, than one might at first suspect. The addict, if anything, is being more honest about his situation than the corporate criminal. But we have to progress to a place where we can effectively handle both of them. Psychiatry, if anything, epitomizes the “ascent” of a group of mostly crazy people to a quite high level of prestige (and pay) in this society. I think they are using corporate and government resources more than the other way around. Yes, corporate produces psych drugs and weapons of war. But it also produces pots and pans and clothes and shoes and houses. Take the insanity out of it, and it might be a workable system. Same way with government. But this all relies on our ability to understand, and then do something about, the human condition. I believe this understanding is closer than many here realize.

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