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I was thinking about how the "perfect victim" narratives applies to people with mental health issues.

The "perfect victim" narrative is always retrospective. It's an analysis after the fact. The "perfect rape victim" didn't have anything to drink the night she was raped (or a history of/reputation for drinking in general), never used drugs, was not sexually active or sexually active in acceptable ways (married, monogamous, straight), etc. It's common enough I don't need to elaborate.

There's the "perfect victim of violence," too, especially as it applies to people of colour. (Visually white-culture presenting, usually described in context of church and/or school, etc.)

It's a myth, of course-- people can, will, and do always find some way to discredit the victim. Because they're deliberately trying not to see victims because if they did then they might have to accept that misogyny/racism/transphobia/etc. exists, which is uncomfortable, or they might have to face the realization that we can't control our lives through our own behaviour, which is uncomfortable, or they might lose their sense of superiority, which is uncomfortable... whatever the reason, it's uncomfortable, so they avoid it.

Fine. It is what it is. We do what we can. I'm not here to talk about that, anyway.

The "perfect victim" of mental illness is someone who has it but never shows it. They can talk about it (sort of) and describe it (briefly) and be advocates (quietly) but they can't actually be mentally ill. They can't behave in any of the ways which make up a huge part of the reason mental illness is a problem to begin with, because if they do people react with the kind of social judgment and disapproval that is part and parcel of our social species.

I get it-- it's an evolutionary thing, which means it's a survival thing. It really is. We can tolerate some differences but there has to be some kind of mechanism for approving or rejecting behaviour, become some behaviour is beneficial to us all and some behaviour is harmful to us all. It's not a bad thing.

...I was reading this thing about what people say to sexual assault victims-- things like, "you're so strong" or "it made you stronger" or "you're inspiring" or "you're not a victim, you're a survivor."

People say very similar things to people with mental illness, too.

And it translates as: "You can't be weak," "you should be able to endure more," "I need to be able to look up to you," and "you've healed so you can't feel hurt, anger, shame, or fear."

Dudes, that sucks.

I want people to manage their shit but I also want us to be able to be honest that it takes managing, and not always in a "look at how well I'm doing managing thing" way. Not always in a "perfect victim" way. Sometimes in a "fuck you, this is hard and no I'm not going to be stoic-because-it's-the -acceptable-way-to-present" way. Sometimes in a "actually, I'm telling you this so that you can fucking help me with it" way, not a "look at the bravery of my raw, naked honesty" way.

I want the same thing for people with chronic pain and other debilitating conditions, people with visible and invisible disabilities... hell, people in general, I guess. I don't mean an emotional free-for-all where we all just give up on personal responsibility. But enough of this "I'm only allowed to be ill if I'm not actually being ill" shit.

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