Memorial Day

Content Note: In this post I express views that are strongly anti-war, anti-violence, and anti-militarism. I mean no disrespect to veterans, active duty military personnel, or military families.

Memorial Day is traditionally a day to honor those who have died during military service, particularly in war. It originated after the Civil War.

The parade in my town passes my street, just a couple doors down from my house. I’ve marched in it, as have my father and my dog. I don’t remember the last time I actively attended, but I hear the drums, bagpipes, and sirens every year. They bring back memories – this year, of what may have been the last time all three of us were at the parade together.

It hurts.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about the people who give their lives and sacrifice their mental health – for what? Gone are the days when we engaged in wars that were actually for something. Now we just have ongoing military conflict that could more accurately be described as terrorism, wasting millions or billions of dollars on the kinds of weapons we claim to be trying to prevent, devastating entire countries, ruining the lives of millions, creating refugees, and creating the very terrorists we claim to be fighting. For what? Corporate greed and US imperialism.

Our military personnel and veterans die of friendly fire and suicide, in service not to our country, but to the greed of the wealthiest people in the world. We shouldn’t just remember our soldiers, we shouldn’t even just mourn, we need to stand up for them. Demand an end to this wasteful violence.

And in the meantime, do whatever we can to protect and improve their mental health. (Also physical health, making sure they have access to healthy food, safe affordable housing, and a fair income whether they choose to work or not, etc.)

I feel like I “dropped the ball” on Mental Health Awareness Month, but there are still a couple days left in May. Today I’d like to share 2 links that seem particularly appropriate:

Veterans & Active Duty

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has information and links to resources for veterans and active duty personnel that may be helpful in protecting one’s career, accessing mental health services, assisting fellow soldiers, and transitioning to civilian life.

Family Members & Caregivers

Members of military families, or probably any family, may benefit from the information and resources offered by NAMI. Please note that “the information here” is linked to in a separate column on the left side of the page.

Solidarity.

Weekly Links

I’m finding it very hard to express myself in words right now, but I read some very interesting articles today. Please check them out and let me know what you think. (This may become a weekly feature to help myself post more regularly.)

On the Difference Between Trigger Warnings and Content Notes, and How Harm Reduction is Getting Lost in the Confusion – I like knowing about potentially-triggering material in advance so I can decide whether and when to read/watch/listen to something; it helps me feel safer.

The Social Model of Disability and Person-First vs Identity-First Language – I love the social model of disability and have thoughts about re-framing how I write about my anxious depression. For the time being at least, I prefer person-first language.

“Unhealthy” or “Inappropriate” Actions as Communication and Survival – permission to be, and interesting implications for raising children (especially, but not limited to, those with special needs)

The Uses of Negativity: Survival and Coping Strategies for Those of Us Who Are Exasperated by the Empty Promise of “It” Getting “Better” – a good reality check, and hopefully movement toward reducing stigma so people can be more honest with themselves and others and get the support they need (or at least engage in the self-care they need)

The Icarus Project “Hurting Yourself” Workbook – normalizes and contextualizes self-harm; asks questions to help one clarify the functions of self-harm, minimize safety risks, and consider alternatives

Suicide is an Act of Bodily Autonomy – Not Beauty. Response to “Suicide is Not Beautiful” – argues for bodily autonomy for all people, including people with mental illness. also argues that expressing suicidal thoughts (e.g. in poetry) can be a means of survival

Suicide is Not Beautiful – against romanticizing suicide by women; against limiting women’s acts of violence or disruption to self-harm and viewing those acts as more acceptable than any that would hold others (men) accountable / create societal change