Class struggle and mental health: Live to fight another day

Class struggle and mental health: Live to fight another day

The long-awaited and beautifully illustrated pamphlet bringing together accounts from anarchists around the globe about what it means to suffer from mental illness and what we, as individuals and a movement, can do about it.

CONTENT WARNING for suicide/self-harm.

First, a big thanks to all the contributors for their honesty and patience in bringing this pamphlet together. Further thanks goes out to the Edmonton Small Press Association for their assistance in layout and design.

An important note: while we hope this pamphlet will be helpful to comrades suffering from depression or emotional stress, we wish to emphasize that this is not a substitute for professional help. If you are considering hurting yourself or others, please speak to someone you trust, contact your health provider, or call one of these hotlines.

Also note that there are three versions attached below. The content is the same in each but, by request, the page layout varies.

CS&MH_Libcom.pdf5.84 MB
CS&MH - layout2.pdf6.08 MB
CS&MH - layout3.pdf6.1 MB

Posted By

Chilli Sauce
Oct 27 2014 14:33


  • It’s imperative that the class struggle community take issues of mental health seriously.  Mental health should be discussed and there ought to be networks where sufferers can turn when they need support. We hope that this pamphlet can provide a start to that sort of thing taking shape.

Attached files


Chilli Sauce
Oct 28 2015 02:17

Thanks guys!

How was the reception at the bookfair?

Also, loving those related matl's in the link!

Oct 28 2015 07:11

Sold out with a couple hours to spare, so they seem to have gone down well!

Chilli Sauce
Oct 28 2015 13:57

That is bloody awesome!

jef costello
Oct 29 2015 21:27

Excellent, I meant to chip in for the print run but sounds like you did alright without the help!

Jun 25 2017 05:12

Why is self-harming more shocking/less socially acceptable than getting mashed off your face?

Chilli Sauce
Jun 25 2017 15:31
wojtek wrote:
Why is self-harming more shocking/less socially acceptable than getting mashed off your face?

Hey Woj, I'm no psychiatrist but I expect it's be because self-harm is a much more clear-cut indicator of depression and potentially suicidal behaviour.

Drink and drug use certainly can be as well, but lot of people who aren't in the throws of a serious depression go out and get pissed every weekend, ya know what I mean?

In any case, if you or anyone you know is thinking of or self-harming, find somebody to chat with.

Jun 25 2017 16:04
In any case, if you or anyone you know is thinking of or self-harming, find somebody to chat with.

I'd also say the same for anyone whose drug or alcohol use has passed the recreational and gone into the self-medicating range.

Jun 25 2017 19:46

Yo chilli sauce section 5 of this pamphlet, which looks at the most interesting, is still blank…

Jun 26 2017 17:18

A powerful read. Heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed.

Noah Fence
Oct 10 2017 21:42

My daughter has started a blog which I believe will cover many things but will have a particular focus on mental health.
Her first piece is about OCD and anorexia and covers the common misconceptions and how she manages these conditions.

Very frequently is it talked about how eating disorders can lead to obsessive thoughts and severe depression. By no means is that untrue, but it doesn’t necessarily come in that order. Before developing anorexia, I suffered for years with OCD. Some progress is being made with the representation of OCD in the media, but it is still a hugely misconstrued and underestimated illness. Eating disorders are still misrepresented as simply being either anorexia or bulimia, often ignoring binge eating disorder and OSFED (otherwise specified feeding/eating disorder – the most fatal of eating disorder diagnoses). The image conjured up is of a white teenage girl with bones protruding and a grey face crying as she eats a stick of celery. There is no one face of eating disorders, nor mental illness in general. People of all genders, races, and religions suffer with mental health problems. These mental health problems often intertwine and become comorbid.

Noah Fence
Sep 30 2018 18:33

I’ve been through an incredibly difficult and traumatic 3 or 4 years that has resulted in a period of multiple symptom depression and anxiety that peaked in the middle of this year with a total meltdown which resulted in a hospital visit and the darkest thoughts I’ve had in what has not been exactly a stable and uneventful life. It was a wake up call though and since then I’ve put in a huge effort to improve my mental health - I walk between ten and twenty miles daily, sometimes more(twenty seven on Thursday), put a fair bit of time into a self help group for addicts, I’m heavily involved(daily activity) in a political project, occasionally meditate and so on and have stabilised really well to the point that I am mostly very functional.
The thing is though, that although most of the symptoms of depression have subsided, I’ve realised that my politics and the world view that comes with them have rendered me incapable of simply enjoying myself. I’ve quit making music and organising music events, I don’t talk to any of my non political friends and just see absolutely everything through the prism of how fucked up capitalism makes everything and how powerless I am to do anything about it. Any conversation that isn’t about politics seems trivial and meaningless to me.
So can anyone relate? Anybody found a solution? Like I say, I’m functioning ok but I’m concerned about going down that dark hole again and what it might lead me to do. The reason I walked for nine hours on Thursday was to suppress the urge I had to deal with a very difficult situation I’m in right now by means of violence.
I kind of burned my bridges with some people on Libcom a couple of years ago which is a shame but I would still like to think that if anyone has any suggestions for me they would still offer them regardless of their general feelings towards me.
Thanks, and sorry for whinging.

Sep 30 2018 19:30

Yeah, I can relate. My politics makes everything worse because the world is so effin awful. I always say my anarchism and my depression are co-morbid conditions. Spot of advice though you have got to do something else. Not just work, not just politics, something else. Force yourself to find something to do which brings a little joy in your life. Find something which is unconnected to politics and force yourself to do it, otherwise it will kill you. Discover a passion for growing petunias, Join the local birdwatching group. Learn to knit (seriously, knitting is awesome, you can get really angry about something and get a sweater out of all that rage.) Whatever floats your boat but make yourself do something because if your politics and depression are tied in together and the only thing going on in your head is your politics, it's going to drag you under. Don't wait until the mood grabs you because it probably won't, schedule something in.

These things, whatever pass times get us through the crap may seem petty and meaningless and trivial but but your life isn't petty and meaningless and trivial and we all need these things to make it enjoyable.

R Totale
Sep 30 2018 20:34

Yeah, when you say you quit music, that sounds like a shame - like fair enough if you're not excited by a certain style or sound of music anymore, or even just not having the energy, but that does sound like a good way of taking your mind off things. Likewise not talking to your non-political mates, hopefully it'll be possible to restore those bonds in future because there must be some reason why you were friends with those people in the first place.

Noah Fence
Sep 30 2018 21:08

Thanks Fleur, I’ve really ditched my interests over the course of this year. I grow veggies but don’t enjoy it, it just provides me with food. I guess it’s forcing myself to engage with something but principles always seem to get in the way...
RT, the music was really good but I quit coz of my co conspirators sudden desire to place IP claims on what we were doing which I could have no part of. Owning music is a daft and offensive idea to me, especially when we blatantly used obvious samples and were often intentionally derivative.
Yeah, I should keep in contact with my friends but I live in fear of the inevitable moment when something political comes up in the conversation and I’m back in my role of having beliefs that totally contradict their liberalism. I’m sick of listening to myself, though probably not as sick as they are.

Edit: I just read that back - what a whiny bastard! I have a lot to be greatful for yet I’m hellbent on fucking it all up. I even told the one person in my life that I really relate to and care about that I think we should quit contact outside of our political work together coz it’s too stressful to be friends with somebody that lives so far away in a different timezone. Crazy, right? The one person that I truly love and care about apart from my partner and I’m telling her we need to stop talking. Sorry, whining again but I don’t know what else to say. I guess I’m pretty desperate right now.

R Totale
Oct 1 2018 12:20

Yeah, I guess maybe I'd suggest trying to make music solo, or else finding someone more like-minded to collaborate with?

Noah Fence
Oct 1 2018 17:59

Well actually, based on what yourself and Fleur said, I forced myself to call my friend. He really is a great guy and we’ve made music together since 1989. His background is that he’s always made his living from music, at one time in a pretty corporate way(signed to Sony, Top of the Pops and all that) and whilst he’s certainly an interesting thinker, he’s no anarchist so I’m trying to cut him some slack.
Anyways, we’re back in the studio in three weeks time but not to do the abandoned project which we were gigging with but to just do it for our own consumption. Essentially I’m going to model myself on Holden Caulfields plan for the piano - “play it on the goddamned closet.”

Seriously though, I was taking the advice offered seriously - I just made myself call with my teeth gritted.

Oct 2 2018 03:15

I like the Radiohead suggestion by one of the contributors on page 38, seem to listen to the Bends on a daily basis myself (sad but uplifting album; not that impressed with their newer stuff; Bends, Kid A and Ok Computer are enough for me).

RT, the music was really good but I quit coz of my co conspirators sudden desire to place IP claims on what we were doing which I could have no part of. Owning music is a daft and offensive idea to me, especially when we blatantly used obvious samples and were often intentionally derivative.

You can put stuff on bandcamp and distribute it for free or pay-what-you-want, if you ever wanted to do that with your music (believe Yorke actually released solo stuff on there as pay-what-you-want).

Lucky Black Cat
Oct 2 2018 10:01
Fleur wrote:
I always say my anarchism and my depression are co-morbid conditions.

Oof. Relatable.

Edit to add: Anarchism for me is both a source of optimism and joyful hope at the vision of a better future, but also agony and anguish at how truly awful things are and how useless the solutions that nearly everyone peddles.

No advice to add but it's heartwarming to see people being so supportive of each other on this thread.

Noah Fence
Oct 2 2018 21:05

I arranged to meet up with all three of my grown up kids today, something I usually dread but again, I gritted my teeth and asked them if they were up for it and to my surprise they were. It turned out to be a great time. Both my daughters have over ten years experience of living with depression and it was great talking to people that I can relate to in this regard.
I’m already feeling significantly better after just a couple of days of forcing myself to do something distracting. What I’ve realised about depression, at least for me, is that you can’t get complacent if you’re going through a good period or have been making good progress. It seems that constant vigilance and effort is required to hold on to any gains you make. There’s no standing still - if you stop moving forward, you start going backwards.
So yes, I still feel fucked up in a hundred ways but I have a little hope again, and that makes all the difference.

Noah Fence
Oct 5 2018 18:07

Well, that was a very short high.
Had a panic attack this morning, only the second I’ve ever had although fortunately it wasn’t as bad as the first(which was fucking terrifying) on account of me recognising what was happening after a little while and doing some breathing exercises that I’ve been shown.
Anyways, the reason I mention it is cause with hindsight it was obvious that things were building up to this and I wondered if anyone knows if there are signs to be aware of and preventative action that can be taken if I recognise the signs?
The other thing is feeling like such an ungrateful fucking asshole. A thirty year old guy lost his life and as a result mine was saved, yet I’m not enjoying my life, in fact this morning I was wishing myself dead. His parents wrote to me a couple of weeks ago desperate to know the joy their son’s gift had bought to my life and that of my family but I can’t write back as I feel it would be incredibly disrespectful to lie and the truth would be devastating to them.
I know it’s weird spewing this out on the internet but I’m desperate and I don’t feel like I’ve got any real support outside of my family and they all have mental health issues of their own.
Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.

Oct 6 2018 12:41

Hi Noah,

Sorry you’re feeling lousy.
Only thing I can think of to try and help you is to say what allows me to turn the corner and head in a better direction.

When I was a youth I’d get full of anger and sometimes get into serious scrapes that I only got out of by dumb luck. I was told by a friend a truth that has proved very useful to me, that many people have similar feelings, and the line not to cross is to act on an anger impulse, as you’re very likely on a no win situation. I’ve found the insight - that most people share my feelings, to be true in many respects. Please note, I’m talking about ‘feelings’ not sharing my opinions. I’ve never found anyone to be ‘happy and normal’ like in the adverts. I have taken comfort in this fact. We are all bent out of shape by society and yet most people most of the time behave well to each other. Yet our anger/unhappiness can turn inwards and we start thinking and behaving self-destructively.

I have things I do like many listed on this and other similar threads. Mostly I forgive myself for my feelings of powerlessness leading to inertia. I suspect doing nothing is usually better that doing the wrong thing. There’s an ad on telly where someone states ‘we regret not the things we’ve done but the things we have not done’ (trying to sell a holiday package). Well I think that is twaddle.

A few days ago I was in conversation with a couple of folk older than me. We were talking about the American judge accused of sexual assault from thirty years ago. One old fellow said, “Blimey, thirty years ago is in a different age, I would not like anyone to ask me to account for my actions when I was a teenager” (in his case that would be about sixty years plus). He probably implied more than he intended, though I thought his frankness refreshing. And helps me to excuse my own tendency for procrastination over the years.

I understand your dilemma about the letter you’ve received. Well, as this post has a telly theme, I’d offer the advice of King Thistle from Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, “There are times to be honest and there are times just to be nice!”

Take care.

Oct 6 2018 17:34

I don't know what it's like being in your shoes, but lately i go to sleep when i feel shit. Everything, including my internal monlogue, momentarily goes away - so long as you can reach that state and your troubles don't invade your subconscious. Godspeed. Xx

Oct 7 2018 12:20

Noah, if you don't reply to the donor family it'll only make you feel worse. They're devastated at their loss and want to get some comfort. Just thank them for saving your life, give their son's death some meaning for them. If you don't respond or if you tell them any negative it will make you feel worse in the long run.

Depression is a long journey, it's full of knock backs. Something set you back last week, well fuck that was last week, try to keep moving forward.

Lucky Black Cat
Oct 9 2018 06:29
Noah Fence wrote:
The other thing is feeling like such an ungrateful fucking asshole. A thirty year old guy lost his life and as a result mine was saved, yet I’m not enjoying my life

I hope you can stop feeling guilty about this. You're suffering and that makes gratitude extremely difficult. You're not a bad person for being ungrateful and it's not your fault that you're suffering.

Try to have more compassion for yourself. If a friend or family member of yours was in your shoes, you would have compassion for them, and would not think of them as an ungrateful asshole.

You're only human, and you're reacting in a very human way to an extremely difficult situation. Forgive yourself... in fact, there is nothing to forgive.

Noah Fence
Oct 9 2018 21:30

Thanks AB and Fleur, I’m going to the hospital on Thursday for a scan and am going to ask advice from one of the liver transplant coordinators about my reply. I just really don’t want to be dishonest - sometimes I feel my principles strangle me.

Thanks for the dubstep Woj. I enjoyed that and it reminded me how good this is, though the melancholy sound of the vocals(weird they seem melancholy considering they sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks) gets in amongst me somewhat.

Oct 10 2018 08:59

Noah you must do what you think is right.
It does not sound to me that you are ungrateful for the donation, it’s that you are not sure you are worthy of the gift.

Perhaps you are suffering from the misapprehension that anyone can expect you live in a way that transcends the stress brought on by your traumatic experience. Most people will sympathise with you even if it is beyond our experience. Some people freak-out if they are asked to get on a horse that’s thrown them – you’re grappling with a bump-started life after a near conk-out. Remember no one is asking you to hang the moon.

I like sitting out the backdoor, feeling the sun and watching the cat roll around on her back.

Noah Fence
Nov 11 2018 20:15

So on the second anniversary of my transplant I set out on the Norfolk coast path with the intention of walking 101 miles in four days. This was for the purpose of contemplation and to do something symbolic for the family of my donor. It was much harder than I thought due to the weight of my backpack and the amount of time spent walking on beaches and sand dunes and by the third day a knee injury became pretty painful. Anyways, it was a fantastic experience and I managed 90 miles! I also wrote to the family and answered the question they had asked, “what difference has our son’s gift made to you?”, by saying I had gone from only being able to walk a few hundred yards and only then with the assistance of a stick, to walking 90 miles in four days! I don’t know what they thought when they read it but I hope it helps them.
I have been feeling so much better ever since, it seems to have been a real healing experience for me. I’m practicing vigilance against the danger of complacency though.