There is a sinister implication in the paradigms of the positive thinking ‘battler’ in his ‘illness’ mode: we assume, no matter how unconsciously, that if an acquaintance isn’t, as Ruti put it, ‘doing well, if they aren’t perfectly happy, it’s not because they’re poor, oppressed, or unemployed but because they’re not trying hard enough.’ In this view the patient should be pragmatic and avail herself of complementary therapies, of support groups, psychologists, self-help books and punk-rock knitting circles. She should read the research and keep up her fitness and fill her room with light and flowers and contribute to meaningful causes and rejoice in the positives: that she can take time off work if she can afford it, and has unfettered access to welfare if she can’t. She can finally catch up on the latest HBO shows or she can keep working for as long as she can. She can always try to Have a Laugh Even in This Trying Time. And if she is unhappy, grieving, furious or desperately frightened, if she feels out of control after all this effort, then her effort is not enough. Or, rather, she should be unhappy, grieving and furious, but perhaps she should only be furious at the gym, or on the running track, where she can punch it out in a Rocky montage kind of a way. She should only be unhappy when she’s engulfed in the revolting molasses of The Notebook on her MacBook in bed with a tub of Maggie Beer Macadamia and Salted Caramel ice cream while the rain batters the window. She should only be grieving the sudden and unchosen redirection of her life when the blinds are drawn and that suicide-inducing Cat Power ‘covers’ album is on the stereo.
from ‘Sic 'Em’, a column by Nina Gibb in The Lifted Brow #22. Get your copy now!