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Previously, on Sickly Stardust!
I fell from having exceptional medical care to nothing at all, and it was torturous. It opened my eyes to the fact that though it was frustrating having to constantly go to appointments and tests, the fact that I could afford it all was truly a blessing that I took for granted. When I lost it, I found myself aggravated at those who were chronically ill and complained about getting spectacular medical care. I felt my anger deep in my stomach, screaming out, “shut the hell up! At least you can get medical care, I have a massive pile of disease and sickness and I have nothing to help me at all!” A tiny Hulk would often take over inside me.
When I was accepted into the mental health program and received my social worker and psychiatrist, at first I admit I was annoyed by how little they could do for me. However, I quickly reminded myself that I had lost everything, and began to feel a different sort of privilege.
When we talk about privilege, the first two things that usually come to mind are racial privilege and income based privilege. While it causes quite the uproar, these are things that need to be spoken about. I’ve also found that for most people of any situation, it’s extremely easy to point out the privilege of other people while failing to point out your own. I’m not going to do that.
Here’s a list of things that positively impact my privilege:
- I live in an extremely rich country
- I am not homeless
- I have a car
- I have a cell phone and internet access
- I have access to clean water and safe food
- I have light colored skin (I do not mean that I am BETTER because I have light colored skin; but I do mean that it is an unfortunate fact that in America, certain privileges are given to those with lighter colored skin. It is a deep, immoral flaw in our American culture and system that is in dire need of uprooting. )
And here is a list of things that negatively affect my privilege:
- I live in a rich country but am under the poverty line
- I am chronically ill and disabled (without disability benefits)
- I am female
- I am in a racial minority
- I am in a sexual identity minority (even within the LGBT community itself)
- I no longer have parents/ family aside from my sister and grandmother
- I have minimal healthcare
- I do not have a steady job
- I do not have a steady place to live
I’m sure there is more to add on both sides, but those are just a few examples. As I have grown older and what I hope to be a more thoughtful human being, I have noticed quite a bit about how privilege works for individual people. For many people, but not all, privilege is constantly in flux. While we’d like to assume it is easy to look at someone and immediately point out their privilege or non-privilege, the reality is, it isn’t. Some parts are easily seen on the surface but many aspects of human life are not. I’m learning to accept my privileges and non-privileges, as well as each way they affect my life on a daily basis.
Getting into my mental health program, getting my social worker and starting to have appointments with my psychiatrist in an odd way made me feel privileged and non-privileged at the same time. I saw the other people in the waiting room with me and thought, “I’m not struggling as much as them, am I?” My social worker constantly reminds me that if I wasn’t, I would not have been deemed an emergency case. Admitting what you don’t have is rarely easy.
It was only a few weeks ago that I was finally accepted by Medicaid after six applications within nearly two years. I was brought to tears by the revelation that the Emergency Room was no longer my only option for medical care, that after three months of being half blind I could afford a new pair of glasses, and that despite Medicaid not covering everything I need, it would at least (hopefully) get me into a better place than I had been for the past year.
I try to avoid getting political on my blog; that isn’t what my blog is about. However, politics affect me constantly because being chronically ill and poor, I rely on government funded aides like Food Stamps and Medicaid in order to survive. Especially lately, I have heard so many people in the media, in daily life, and even on bumper stickers expressing their loathing for people such as myself, those of us who use government aide in order to get through our lives. They are convinced that we are despicable frauds, unmotivated and devious, sucking money out of our already struggling government.
They don’t understand the sinking in my stomach and shame I feel every single time I use my Food Stamps card. They don’t feel the rejection I feel when I am reminded I can’t to go to any urgent care or hospital when I’m struggling with my chronic illnesses that I will never be cured of. They won’t know how many tears I have shed over the fact that because I am young and disabled, I have to work ten times as hard to do even the simplest jobs in order to just barely survive. I feel like I’m fighting with all my might only to get absolutely nowhere. Meanwhile, I’m crumbling inside, emotionally, psychologically and physically as I’m being told how “lucky” I am to be so young.
I wish more than anything that I could afford all the healthcare I need, my own place to live, and my own food. However, many of the events that have happened in my life occurred without my permission and were entirely out of my control. Every day I wake up wondering what I could have differently in order to have not be born into an abusive family or to not be born with as much illness as I have been given. Every night, I find my way to the same realization that there was nothing I could have done. What I can do is try my best to live despite it all and fight with every bit of stardust I’ve got in hopes that it will lead me to a better life.
This post has been emotionally exhausting. As I fight my tears I hope that if there is one thing people take from these past two posts, it is that many versions of privilege are always in flux, and regardless of how intelligent you are, you cannot always assume you know the amount one has. Believe the people that tell you they are sick. Believe those who are trying in earnest to improve their lives but keep getting pushed down. Believe those who still seem to get nowhere after working harder than anyone else, and who are having trouble finding a reason to keep living. We are fighting harder than you could ever know.
Believe in us. Please.
What’s the purpose?
It feels worthless.
So unwanted, like I’ve lost of my value.
I can’t find it, not in the least bit,
And I’m just scared.
So scared that I’ll fail you, and sometimes I think
That I’m not any good at all.
And sometimes I wonder why,
Why I’m even here at all?
But then you assure me I’m a little more than useless.
And when I think that I can’t do this,
You promise me that I’ll get through this,
And do something right,
Do something right for once.