My Path of Resistance

The time to resist is now. Most of us know this. Many of us have been living out this truth as the increase in protests, calls to action, how-to posts for contacting legislators, and general conversations about resistance prove. But in the midst of this push to mobilize as many people as possible to join the movements of resistance, I think we are too often giving people external actions to complete without acknowledging the internal powers at play in some of our lives. For some of us, active political resistance is not feasible until we learn to resist certain thoughts, habits, worldviews, and other aspects of our internal lives.

My days attending and volunteering at the Creating Change Conference just as the Trump administration came into power drove home the fact that this is immensely true for me. Because of my personality, because of my mental illness, because of societal messages I’ve internalized, because of things I can’t even name – my attempts to resist the new political regime (and the negative ideology and policy holdovers from past administrations) will not be as effective as they could be unless I simultaneously resist the parts of me that hold me back from pursuing justice to the best of my ability.

The parts of me that say that I am too unimportant and unqualified to deserve to have space in any justice movement.

The parts of me that say my words–written or spoken–have no power.

The parts of me that idolize other people’s methods of activism but belittle my own methods.

The parts of me that are too afraid of failing to even try.

The parts of me that don’t practice self-care despite acknowledging its necessity in good activism.

The parts of me that don’t fully accept that joy and love are revolutionary.

The parts of me that want to deny a truth I heard at another conference I attended this month: when we name the things our inner critical voice is saying, those things lose their power.

Tonight, my act of resistance is taking some of the power away from these negative thoughts and habits, so that tomorrow I can try to contact a legislator or two, speak up about injustice in a space I frequent, and keep writing. If you’ve discovered as I have that self-resistance is necessary for you to fully participate in the resistance, I encourage you to consider what actions will help you resist those parts of yourself that feel unworthy, afraid, or otherwise incapable of active resistance. The resistance needs everyone – even you and me. Let’s not let our inner voices count us out!

Angélique

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I Don’t Yet Know: Activism, Mental Health, and Trump’s America

CW: discussion of depression

This month’s public uncovering of the depth of American bigotry combined with the early onset of seasonal depression has left me feeling unmotivated, numb, and just plain tired. I struggle to pull myself out of bed every morning, and I force myself to stay awake into the wee hours of the night as if that will stop the next day from coming. I drag myself to work, to therapy, to church, and wonder if true progress ever really happens all the while thinking, “Somewhere, the work continues.”

The work continues, but how do I continue with it?

As much as I’ve maintained the appearance of being all right in the aftermath of the election, I’m not really. That’s not entirely the election’s fault – there are other circumstances negatively affecting my mental health right now – but the election seems to be the thing that pushed me over the edge. It’s the face of the nagging voice in my head that says my work is as worthless as I feel I am so why should I even make an effort. If so many people are willing to ignore facts from experts, embrace hatred, and prioritize objects and abstract ideas over actual lives, what makes me think a depressed 24-year-old woman who can hardly get her own life together can really change anything?

Yet all around me, the work continues, and so does my desire to continue with it.

I don’t yet know how to balance the label “activist” with the label “depressed.” I don’t yet know how to find energy to follow my calling to speak out and write against injustice and to take care of my mental and physical well-being. But I do know that despite the stack of terrifying and infuriating news that keeps piling up, despite my depression and its pessimistic worldview, the work towards justice continues. As long as that is true, there will always be a part of me trying to continue with it.

If I’m lucky, the rest of me will catch up soon.

Angélique