These past few weeks, I have been struggling. Yesterday marked a year since I was in the emergency room, suicidal, and while I’m not nearly that low right now, the depression is giving me a really hard time. The reason this is the first time I have written in weeks is that between the fatigue and the depression, I just haven’t had it in me. There’s that feeling in the back of my mind that no one cares, that my writing, my work, my existence are all useless, worthless. That no one cares. That I don’t have the strengths to make a difference. So you know what? I’m gathering all the strength I’ve got (which isn’t much at this point), and I don’t care if the “fuck you” that I give to that voice comes out as a squeak instead of a scream. I’m fighting it. If I can’t feel valuable in my own right, I’m going to be useful to someone else until I can ride out the feeling of uselessness in myself. I’m going to see if being valuable to someone else will hold me over until the feelings of worthlessness level out.
When it’s hard to see my own strengths, I find it more useful to think about what the specific obstacles are that would make me unable to do something, because it’s impossible for one person to have every single specific vulnerability out there. So I’m working on a list of things I *can* do, and over the coming weeks I will have posts with specific needs and ways to help out. It’s not a substitute for medication and therapy in the treatment of depression, but it’s a lot easier to fight the “you’re useless, you’re worthless” in my own head if I have concrete examples of how I have been useful to others.
Here are some examples on the list:
- I don’t live in a neighborhood where everyone is broke, and my rent is paid, so there’s no need to be afraid to talk to the landlords. So I can work with the people in the leasing office of my apartment complex to organize a food drive. (Starts tomorrow!)
- My glasses aren’t broken, so I can see my computer screen, and my phone/internet access isn’t cut off. So I can use social media to raise money and awareness.
- My blog traffic isn’t dead, so I can use my platform here to help causes that need it.
- My hands haven’t been giving me as much trouble lately, so I can knit hats for homeless people and make baby quilts for the children’s hospital.
- I’m not allergic to cats, so I can bottle feed kittens at the animal shelter’s kitten nursery during kitten season.
- If I’m going to self-medicate with online shopping, I can at least use Amazon Smile to raise a little money for the local homeless shelter as I do it.
- The infantilization of a white woman with a southern accent and a cane annoys the hell out of me, but it also works in my favor, because I’m seen as nonthreatening. If I go on my state legislature’s website and pull up the cellphone number of a representative sponsoring a truly heinous bill, he may not take me seriously, but he will hear me out. If I stop the mayor on the street to ask her about an issue I’m concerned about, she’s likely to answer me. (I’ve done both of these things before.)
I can’t do everything, and the things I can’t do look overwhelming a lot of the time. Most of the time, if I’m honest. But I can do *something,* and if I’m going to keep from drowning in this depression, I have to. It’s not a cure, but it’s a survival skill.