Ghost Stories of Capitalism: Mental Health is a Class Issue

r/COMPLETEANARCHY - Capitalism is bad for your mental health.

We can’t fight capitalism or imperialism without confronting the psychic suffering that these systems have spread far and wide among us

In addition to producing socialist and anti-imperialist independent media, I’ve been in social work for nine years. Before this, I moved from childhood to adulthood within a household that struggled with mental illness. Memories from this period aren’t all “bad” or negative. However, for those who struggle with any number of mental health disorders, it is not uncommon for the brain to place intense focus on those memories associated with the stuff made of ghost and horror stories. Unlike movies, the suffering embedded in humanity’s traumatic memories rarely gets the collective attention it deserves.\

Here are just a few of mine. I remember pleading to my mother to stop running the sink so that I could get some rest in our tiny apartment the night before my SAT exams. I remember the nausea that I felt before each and every high school basketball game, feeling as though the weight of the world was sitting on my chest and stomach. Equally vivid is the memory of the hoarding neighbor in the apartment below threatening my mother with violence when I was a pre-teen, and my father coming home with visible bruises and cuts after being jumped by gangsters on the block years before that.

Memories such as these are rooted in a family history of mental illness. My father bore depressive scars of trauma from being raised by a mother who struggled with an addiction to alcohol throughout his childhood. Economic insecurity and being drafted to invade Vietnam on behalf of genocidal U.S. imperialists didn’t help matters, either. My mother’s mental health conditions were even more severe than my father’s. Undiagnosed bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorder created innumerable barriers to a stereotypical mother-child relationship under capitalism and fueled toxic stress in the home.

Being a child of mental illness is confusing. The alienation is profound. There are often more questions than answers. As children, the stigma associated with mental health conditions keeps us hiding. We don’t want help. We don’t want to talk about it. We just want to be “normal” and hope that over time any obstacles will be surpassed on the way to a “normal” life.

It wasn’t until I entered adulthood that I mastered intellectualization and channeled this into the struggle against imperialism and capitalism. By the time I was twenty-three, I firmly believed that mental health conditions were a byproduct of exploitation. Class rule, white supremacy, and the violence of imperialist society formed the roots of so-called psychic “pathology.” I still believe this. Indeed, the evidence is profound.

One in five people in the United States have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and many more live with undiagnosed conditions. The United States leads the world in the number of people taking anti-depressant medications. SSRI medications are prescribed for a variety of mental health disorders, from major depressive disorder to generalized anxiety. The prevalence in mental illness in the U.S. has been going up by at least one percent annually. Rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S. have gone up between 50-60 percent over the decade of 2005-2017.

Twitter avatar for @SpiritofHoDanny Haiphong @SpiritofHo

We’re number one… In the number of people taking antidepressants for mental health disorders!