Like No One’s Watching You

A few months ago [1], I commented that for the first time I had realized I was disabled as a result of having to fill out a document at work that happened to have one of the conditions I am unfortunately inflicted with [2], and recently I had to fill out another of those forms and was struck with a certain sense of shame and embarrassment that I had to consider myself disabled.  What does it mean?  I have never asked for any sort of special favors from work or school or anywhere else as a result of the disability I have suffered from.  I have never felt a part of any community because I suffered from PTSD, because I am not a part of the two most notable and noisy groups of people who suffer conspicuously from this illness, namely military veterans and female survivors of rape.  I suppose, given the fact that I have had PTSD since early childhood, a textbook case of it from the very beginning of its diagnosis, that it should seem somewhat odd that I have trouble relating to the desire on the part of some to use their disabilities to avoid work, and that I have never personally faced the difficulty of the limits to disability benefits with regards to one’s savings and income.  Indeed, I cannot think that I have gotten any benefits from my disability at all except for a deep compassion and empathy for my fellow sufferers that is not often recognized or understood.

Given the unpleasant personal circumstances that led to my acquisition of PTSD as a disability, I have tended to feel somewhat isolated from the two groups that are most conspicuous in suffering from it, and which use it frequently for political benefit in ways that tend to leave me feeling awkward and uncomfortable.  For military veterans, they acquired the disability as part of their service to our country (or whatever country they happen to live in), and as a patriotic American I tend to have a high regard to veterans for their service and a deep wish that such service on our behalf would not lead to the sort of torments that PTSD provides.  For veterans, PTSD is part of that lifelong price to be paid for one’s service on behalf of fellow countrymen, and a reason to lobby for increased benefits for veterans with regards to mental health.  The other conspicuous group that makes their own suffering from PTSD well known consists of female rape survivors who march near universities to take back the night.  For these people as well their own trauma and suffering serves as the handle to a fierce political effort to attack and belittle men.  As a male survivor of early childhood rape and incest, I find such an attack unappealing on multiple layers, given that I have never considered myself particularly aggressive by nature when it came to my own awkward and uncomfortable efforts at courtship, and given my horror at those efforts being misconstrued as the presence or threat of any sort of violence.  No one who has suffered as I have would wish to inflict such suffering on anyone else, even though I find my own suffering has tended far more to isolate me than it has to make me a part of a lobbying group for benefits and honor on my behalf, unfortunately.

One of the earliest attempts at lobbying, at least as far as the United States was concerned, for the cause of military veterans was in the aftermath of the American Civil War.  Just as the aftermath of the American Revolution had led to dramatic political instability in the cause of poor veterans looking for the payment of back wages owed to them, so to the end of the Civil War led to a sustained and long-term desire on the part of suffering surviving veterans for their service to be remembered, efforts that led to such veterans being viewed as freeloaders attempting to sponge off of the labors of hardworking Americans.  Their long-term wounds and suffering was viewed with a low degree of compassion and the addictions to alcohol and pain-killing opiates rampant in that population was also viewed in a highly negative light.  Not much has changed since then.  Our nation as a whole is remarkably unsympathetic as a culture with those whose suffering is invisible and internal, and not inclined at all to cut slack to those who seem to be falling below expectations in terms of behavior and success.  Every attempt in American society at trying to gain a greater share of the common fund for those who have done meritorious past deeds or suffered past wrongs has tended to make such people seem even more unworthy of any such aid that they presently gain, something that ought to be remembered by those who seek such efforts in contemporary society.

What is it that we want?  I cannot speak for others, but I will speak for myself.  I would like to sleep peacefully, and live life in such a way that I was not constantly uncomfortable and so easily alarmed, and so constantly anxious.  Due to my own self-knowledge and family history, I have sought to deal with such unpleasant matters as far as possible without any sort of self-medication, but I have recognized the temptation as a serious one and one that requires a great deal of thoughtfulness in how I approach life.  No doubt others have found much the same is true for them.  If we want the sort of life that others have, if we want to live in a way that is normal, despite having a great deal against us, we acknowledge that we want to be successful more than we want for our life to be fair.  There is little fairness in this life, and given that we cannot see inside other people and know their own motivations and inner struggle, it would be vain for us to attempt, as is so often the case, to compare ourselves with others or compare our own struggles and sufferings with those of others.  We want to live the best life possible, however ill-equipped we may be to achieve it, and given the world of scarcity we find ourselves in, it should be of little wonder that this provokes such a great deal of difficulty, regardless of our abilities.


[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American Civil War, American History, History, Military History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Like No One’s Watching You

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Reclaiming The Art Of Biblical Meditation | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: You Are Free | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Battle Town | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: White Coat Hypertension | Edge Induced Cohesion

  5. Pingback: Book Review: Carry On | Edge Induced Cohesion

  6. Pingback: Book Review: War Made New | Edge Induced Cohesion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s