Beating myself up for not being productive enough


[CW: Mentions alcoholism, self-loathing, unemployment stigma]

The other day I had an angry neighbour complaining about rubble in front of our place, because we’re having plumbing problems fixed. Another neighbour said it wasn’t theirs, and told this guy to come talk to me. He passively aggressively made loud comments about me, knowing my windows were open.

The comments were something along the lines of implying I was a stay at home alcoholic. (And he made a reference to a certain drink I’m quite fond of, which as you can imagine, made my friends laugh when I told them.)

Firstly, can I just say, this dude must be at home all day himself to notice that I have been too. Secondly, he must have nothing better to worry about. Thirdly, why are you watching my comings and goings, you creepy prick?

Alcoholism, although people joke about it casually, is a fucking sad disease. So let’s say for a minute what he said was true about me. Then, at best, he’s a callous wanker for yelling about it outside my house.

Finally, and I hate to say this because it is the least relevant point, I was freelancing from home that day (and am very fortunate to have acquired a bit of freelance work). But even if I wasn’t working, his attitude and behaviour is completely unacceptable.

It reminds me of the whole skivers vs. strivers rhetoric the government has built up to make us all hate on each other instead of criticising them. More specifically, it reminds me of the comments made by Osbourne in 2012 on the unfairness of those on benefits keeping their blinds down whilst their neighbours went to work. It sparked the Twitter #mycurtainsareclosedbecause… which as you can remember or imagine, contained some hilarious Tweets.

But this guy’s abusive crap got me thinking, that this is the kind of story about ourselves we end up internalising if we can’t work or can’t get work because of disabilities, including mental health problems. And this just ends up running into every part of my thought processes.

So even when I spend a whole day job searching, I beat myself up for not having done the dishes and also something for my mental health like exercise or learning something new. Most upsettingly, it’s this constant trying to live up to these high levels of ‘get stuff done’ that helped land me in that breakdown at the beginning of the year. Yet ironically, looking after my mental health has become another ‘to do’ checkbox that if I don’t get done, I use as another stick to beat myself with.

Motivation for blogging

I’m also struggling to find motivation to write articles at the moment, despite having a lot of ideas about what to write.

Half of me wants to write personally about how I feel for catharsis, the other wants this blog to be way more than just naval-gazing ‘look at me’ blogging. Maybe that sounds too harsh on myself, but that seems to be the theme of the last week or so.

The EU Referendum just happened, and I really want to write a piece on how that will impact employment rights for disabled people. (The truth being the impacts will be way larger for many disabled people who can’t work – and that’s a whole other post, which is why I’d want to start there.)

However I just find that voice in my head (I call him David Cameron – to belittle it and make it easier to tell it to fuck off!) saying that it won’t be any good, that there’s others out there who know more, who are better at this kind of commentary – and ultimately what I write will pale in comparison. So why bother? Depression really fucks with your self-esteem.

So instead of writing about politics (because I’m not good enough to, according to Mr. Cameron), and not writing about my personal experiences (which is whiny / attention seeking, according to David) I write about nothing.

As I type this, I’m so pissed off that my demotivation is caused by such awful internalised bull crap points of view like this, still. They’re not my opinions, they’re the opinions that get shoved down our throats and etched onto our psyches until we believe them to be ours. Which is so poisonous.

Which just goes to show, that no matter how much I bang on about challenging mental health stigma, I’m still totally prone to voices (or this main one, thanks Dave!) telling me I’m attention seeking, making it up, being a downer – or that I need to ‘add value’ somehow to my posts.

Oh, and don’t forget the whole only being as important as your productivity. So if you don’t do much because of your mental health, you’re not worth much. (Again, this is utter shit, but it’s what society tells us.)

Being more compassionate with myself (and ultimately telling David Cameron to fuck off) was working well up to a point when I was still in therapy recently. Now I’m not, I’m finding it harder to keep it up. The self-doubt and self-loathing is creeping back in. And that’s a place it’s so hard to look after yourself from. Which becomes a vicious cycle.