States of Brokenness

by kawrage

Oct 11, 12:02pm

“You’ve reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline . Also serving the Veterans’ Crisis Line..”

I ended the call immediately.

Despite not having reached anyone, my call to the lifeline still felt fruitful. For several hours, I was too consumed with thoughts on the collusion of militarism, isolation and mental health to obsess over my own mortality.

My thoughts turned to the histories of violence that landed me where I was: a colonial-imposed education system that taught that only western knowledge can be valued. Driving the colonised into crossing artificial and arbitrarily set borders in pursuit of education, in the hopes that it would pave the way for gainful employment. Returning home, only to be driven out yet again because post-independence violence and the institutional theft of the country’s resources made it impossible to survive. Immigrating, only to become a statistic; a strategic threat that must be countered and governed through fear and constant reminders of being a replaceable asset.

I thought about the instability and displacement of being a migrant, and how that was the backdrop of my formative years. However, religion, race and gender are often the lens through which I’m gazed at and theorised upon.

I thought about the state’s apparatus of control through mental health institutions. The complicity of structural inequalities – whether economic, racial or erased or – at best – brushed to the sidelines. Mental illness, we are led to believe, is a drain on a country’s resources. Prevention, we are told, is through individual strength and perseverance. And access to treatment is monopolised by the state, through deciding what would constitute health/illness, the licensing or practitioners and treatment methods and funding of healthcare.

That awareness of being disposable, the intricate web formed by migration, penal and family laws and the state’s apparatus of control through mental health institutions meant that I could only feel comfortable exploring queer radical spaces after crossing another set of borders.

But contacting the helpline and listening to that recorded message reminded me that we cannot escape the clutches of state-sponsored brokenness.