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