Hitting rock bottom is a strange thing. Because sometimes you’re certain you’ve hit it, and then something else happens and you go “oooh, no. Now I’ve hit it.” or you might not even realise you’re at rock bottom at the time of rock-bottoming. It’s only when you’re looking back and go “ah, okay. That time I blew up my speakers playing music so loud whilst I was driving half way to London for no apparent reason because I was getting the courage to plow my car into a tree was pretty bad wasn’t it” that you realise that you were at a low point that it was actually quite scary.
I guess there’s different kinds of rock bottom.
Financial, physical rock bottom.
Emotional rock bottom.
And probably other complicated versions, too.
I want to talk about these lows, and how I relate to them, and how my privilege relates to them.
Last year I hit emotional rock bottom. I had relatively good financial security, but I was heartbroken, sick, and absolutely all over the place. It was nearly the end a lot of times, one time more so than others. And it was only through the privilege of my family coaching me, feeding me, sheltering me back to health that I was able to bounce back in an optimistic (too much so) mood.
This year, I hit a financial rock bottom. Not that I’m in debt (student debts don’t count ok) but more so I found that I had lost my independence. Voluntarily. Kind of. I moved out of a city filled with ghosts, quitting my job, completely unaware of the nightmarish relocation-job-hunt ahead. I have honestly had moments of absolute misery – waiting to hear back. Not hearing back. Hearing back. Interviews. Positive feedback! Almost got it but didn’t. Cycling around again. Confidence? What is that? Optimism? Is that a drink? Because I need a drink. Or five. It’s been a little, lowkey, stressful. A different kind of rockbottom to the emotional episode of last year because I’ve been literally forcing myself into being a human person by taking up ‘jogging’, meaning I saw some beautiful countryside sunsets, I ‘gym’ now, go bouldering, joined a writing group, started dating, and generally stayed busy.
Hitting rock bottom, sans-privilege
I was able to do these things because I have a generous family who gave me time to work things out and a place to sleep for free. Take away that privilege and I’d have undoubtedly swapped out my new hobbies for staring into space and, probably, just giving up.
And, I think about it a lot. I think about other people hitting rock bottom, after a break-up, bereavement, a mental health episode, abuse or whatever else daily life can throw at you. Not everybody has family who would rush to the hospital, and spend time healing you. Not everybody can stay in hospital and get the treatment they need for free.Not everybody has family who are willing to let them crash in their spare room whilst they reevaluate and sort out their lives.
It’s not really something I can imagine. Because, of course, everybody has a different resilience, and I assume that my resilience is likely to be a little more fragile than somebody with less privilege than me. But, surely, not in every single case. And I wonder how people do it. People who struggle with debts, mental health issues, isolation, systematic oppression. Because in my numerous hitting-rock-bottom experiences, I have always had support even if I couldn’t see it at the time, and I still almost didn’t make it. Or maybe in the future won’t make it.
My privilege is something I’ve been analysing for some time, years, now. And now, more than ever, is white privilege finding itself in our everyday. Straight privilege, class privilege. You can’t switch the TV on without seeing it, glaring out of a puffy orange face, of a smug homophobic smirk. It feels wrong to blog about the hopelessness I’ve felt, the depression, the bad stuff, without acknowledging that, despite everything, it all still shares a space with my privilege and that might be a reason I’m alive today.