mental health · mental illness · society

Society only values the productive

This is all very incoherent. I am feeling very disillusioned with everything right now.

I am finding it hard to even believe that people exist who have never been suicidal or self harmed etc. I literally cannot get my head around what it would feel like to be able to get up and do things every day and socialise and function in the world. I do not know what it is like to be well. Every single day is an exhausting struggle. To be free of mental illness is to have a real opportunity to do everything you can dream of, to be everything you want to be. Now, I’m not saying that being mentally ill stops you from achieving. But, it undeniably takes a lot more effort.

A mentally well person can wake up in the morning, get dressed and go to work without a second thought. For me, it takes a lot of preparation. The night before I have to write a to do list for things before work including showering and eating. If I don’t write everything down, I will forget to do these things that seem perfectly natural to a lot of people.

This has become a constant frustration for me. How can it be that some people find it so easy to socialise and exist in this society? Then there’s the rest of us who need therapy, meditation, medication, mindfulness practice and whatever else to be able to function. When people talk about mental illness in a negative way, I do not think they really understand the sheer effort it takes for some mentally ill people to keep living.

I’ve had people tell me I’m lazy because I lie around for a day doing nothing. Why do I do this? Because I literally cannot do anything else! The society we live in is not built for the mentally ill or disabled. Human worth is based on how productive we can be, how much money we can, how busy we can stay. When very unwell, I cannot earn money or be busy because all I can do is stop myself from dying. In those periods, society sees me as worthless. Capitalism views anyone in this position as worthless.

I have to work on functioning in society every single day. I have to do this for survival. While it may be easy for you to exist in this society and constantly productive, others cannot. This does not make them lazy or worthless, they are just unwell.

Something else that has been bothering me is this constant need to be doing stuff. People go to work, socialise, take care of children, volunteer etc. There are so many people I know who are constantly in action because they feel like they have to be productive all the time. This puts pressure on everyone that is unnecessary. Taking a break does not make you weak, doing nothing does not make you lazy. You do not need to be busy all the time. It seems to me that this persistent desire to be doing is actually detrimental to mental well being. While it might seem good and useful to be doing things all the time, we need to stop for our own health. Nobody can be in action mode all the time without eventually burning out.

Seeing others being productive and on the go all the time makes me feel so much pressure. I feel like if I stop and rest then I am failing, I am lazy. But, I cannot keep going and when I do push myself to keep going, I become very unwell. We need to stop seeing human worth in terms of productivity. Everyone has intrinsic value regardless of how many hours they work or how much money they earn.

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