This is an essay I wrote last year over the holidays during a stay in a respite center (moments of crises often pick inopportune times to strike). I was largely comparing myself to others while writing this, and lately my own level of functioning has been on my mind, plaguing me. It’s probably something I’ll touch on in the coming weeks. I think that regardless of someone’s level of functioning (often impacted by mental illness), they should be given a chance by society at large and they often times aren’t. It’s interesting to see someone’s own perception of their ability to function in society, just as it is interesting to see what coping skills they employ to deal with the stress and other triggers that result from living in society and dealing with mental illness at the same time.
How does one define “functioning”?
How does one define “damaged”?
Does it have to do with the listless glaze that settles over someone’s eyes – the glassy film that indicates a lack of intelligence or inability to comprehend one’s surroundings, or perhaps a layer of tears that stems from boredom, depression, or the apathy that comes from feeling too many emotions, too strongly, too often?
Does it have to do with one’s manner of speech? The slow drawl that signals some sort of serious mental defect, or perhaps physical or emotional exhaustion? The anger and raised voice that is indicative of a temper, or someone with rage and anxiety issues, or perhaps the frustration of someone who has dealt with too much in too little time? The vocabulary someone uses – is someone who is verbose or who has a firm grasp on the English language really more intelligent than someone who utters “fuck” every few words? Are intelligent people not allowed to be angry or to curse? Are intelligent people not allowed to make crass jokes or indulge in inappropriate humor simply because they know better and understand the gravity and severity of a given situation?
What is the difference between “high functioning” and “low functioning” (read: damaged)?
What makes someone broken? Can they be fixed? Should they be fixed?
Does everyone really need to do the exact same thing the exact same way to be a functioning member of society?
If someone says there is no such thing as a bad person – only good people who do bad things – if someone says there is no such thing as monsters – only human beings who do monstrous things – could it be they have simply never been exposed to a bad person, or to a monster? Could it be they are trying to rationalize their own behavior and thought process, and go out of their way to not judge anyone because of a crippling fear that they, themselves, will be judged? Who has the right to judge? If there is a God, can He even truly judge anyone? If there is no god, does that mean humans have the right to judge other humans, and punish them? What behavior is punishable? What behavior is unacceptable? What repercussions are too harsh? What reprimands are not nearly harsh enough? If someone makes a serious mistake and is forced to admit to it, own up to it, and accept the consequences of their actions, then why are others who make comparably less serious mistakes allowed to skate by? The punishment must certainly fit the crime, but if a series of minor mistakes compound to allow and encourage one person to make a serious mistake, then should the others who created that “monster” not be forced to accept the consequences as well? If someone’s mistake is considered minor or comparatively less serious, shouldn’t admitting to that mistake be simple and relatively painless? Are we really so obsessed with perfection and so terrified of flaws that we go out of our way to ignore our faults, pretend they don’t exist, until it’s too late? If someone is consistently taught that we are allowed to ignore our flaws, faults, and problems, to not discuss them, to look the other way when we see others behaving inappropriately, is it really that far of a leap in logic to assume that one can do horrible things and get away with them? Everyone has a choice, but if someone doesn’t realize that choice is theirs to make, how much of the fault is truly theirs? Is anyone truly so evil, bad, monstrous, damaged, or “low functioning” that they are undeserving of love and human dignity? Is it possible that a human being could do something so bad that they deserve to have their humanity stripped of them? Is it possible that a human being could to something so terrible that they are no longer, in fact, human? What could possibly drive someone to do such a thing? How much of one’s mind and its ability to function is inherent, and how much is environmental? What is the breaking point? What is “insanity”? What does “damaged” really mean? Is there such a thing as being too hopeful, too positive? Is being realistic really just being negative or pessimistic? Is it wrong to want good for everyone, regardless of their history or past mistakes, or regardless of the history and past mistakes of others that affected that one person, or people, or humanity as a whole? Is it wrong to want to relate to someone simply because of the human condition? We are all born, and we all must die. We all have minds, hearts, souls, and blood. Do we really need anything else in common with someone to feel empathy, sympathy, or love?
Does “damage” make someone a creature?
Does “functioning” make someone human?
Is “perfection” the absence of flaws, or the inclusion?