I've lived with severe depression and anxiety for most of my life, so it's not at all anything new to me, but what I've been going through this past year seems so much stronger than anything I've ever experienced before. Depression so strong and overwhelming that nearly my entire life has ground to a halt. I struggle to find the will to get out of bed every day. To be sure, the depression I've struggled with my entire life has never needed reason or logic, I'm used to that, but I've been on a regimen of medications that have worked for me for years, along with maintaining a relationship with an excellent therapist. I've reconnected with my children and even my ex-wife, who all stopped talking to me after our divorce three years ago. I've made great progress in repairing a once rocky relationship with my current partner and I've brought a chaotic environment that was my home under control. Everything seems to be going great, yet I feel something like I've never felt before. I've struggled for the longest time to understand what it is and I think I might have figured it out: I feel shame.
I feel ashamed that I've been exhausted, and I've been exhausted by the times we're living in. I'm tired of all the racism, the political divisions, the attacks on the LGBTQ community and other minorities. I'm tired of a pandemic that should have been brought under control long ago. I'm tired of police with no accountability, a president with no restraints, and I'm sick of so many people condoning and enabling all the lawlessness and hypocrisy of our leaders. I'm terrified that my country is slipping towards becoming an authoritarian state, and the loss of a Supreme Court seat will mean the loss of rights, freedom, and healthcare for millions. I'm tired of bad news on top of bad news on top of bad news that seems to never end. I'm exhausted like I've never felt before, at a time in our history when we need everyone to stand, be vigilant, and fight. I should be talking to people about voting, or marching in protests, or so many other things where I might make a difference, yet I struggle to get out of bed.
This makes me feel so ashamed of myself and my shame amplifies my depression and anxiety, draining me even more. It feels like a hopeless cycle. I feel so weak. I know I'm only human, fallible and flawed, a soul of only earth and water that feels like I've been stomped into mud. I've tried taking time off to heal and take care of myself, but that healing doesn't seem to come because the bad news never ends to allow it.
Today I watched a documentary about John Lewis and the struggles of the Black community from MLK to this day. I'm in awe of the amazing strength and resilience of the Black community after all they have endured, and they continue to hope and fight for change. I think about the life of RBG and the great things she accomplished, though almost always the underdog and outnumbered, yet she fought for what she believed in until her last breath. I think about the generation that faced World War 2 and what might have come to be had they given up. I think of everyone who feels the same as I do right now, yet continue to fight and organize and push on; these people inspire me, yet I still feel weak and exhausted.
I wish I had a good ending here, I wish I could provide a teachable moment by telling you how I overcame these feelings, but I can't, because I haven't overcome them, but I refuse to give up. I'm trying to get back to my work again, joining calls, watching webinars, posting on social media, and today I finally wrote a blog, baby steps, one at a time, I guess that's all I can do. If I can leave you with anything, it's that we're all only human, and as human, flawed, as weak as water, as strong as earth.
The heroes we look up to were just as human, I imagine they had their days when they struggled to get out of bed too, but they did it, and our lives are all the better for it. I don't want to keep fighting the destruction of our democracy, but where would we be today if no one stood up to Hitler? I want to walk away from politics and let someone else deal with it, but what if everyone did that? We wouldn't have the rights and freedom that we do. I know the heroes of our past must have felt like this too and I can imagine they asked themselves the same questions. We can't afford to give up. Despair is not our luxury, not in these times. Our time to rest will come, but today our future and our posterity needs us. So as hard as it is for me, I'm going to get out of bed and do as much as I can. I'm going to breathe, I'm going to cry when I need to, I'll rest and take care of myself, and tomorrow I'll fight some more. Are you with me?