Anxiety and Depression in Times Like These

I feel socially irresponsible for not marching, protesting, using my voice and presence for those who need it. I feel ignorant and uninformed at times because the constant (mostly negative) news cycle becomes too much and I must retreat to safer things. I feel guilty because I have the luxury and privilege to do so. 

I couldn’t go to the Women’s March because the crowds would have been too overwhelming. My anxiety definitely has a component of agoraphobia and that many people in an unfamiliar environment would have caused a major attack. If I had managed to convince myself to go, I would have been paralyzed by fear as soon as I felt that press of bodies, the mass of people pushing forward, yet those in front holding me back. My hands are shaking even thinking and writing about it. Then, when I think of confrontation or counterprotestors it becomes even worse. A friendly mob crushing me underfoot is bad enough, but the idea of being attacked is beyond comprehension. 

I have days, weeks, even, when I can’t bring myself to read about the other side from their point of view. I need to stay in my social media bubble of like-minded people whose outrage matches my own. I see the news through a liberal, Democratic lens. Once a week (or more, if I can stand it) I go read conservative news outlets or watch clips on Fox News. I feel like I would ask the same, that regular consumers of that sort of journalism at least open their minds enough to let in other voices. Often I become so upset that I close the window in frustration and sadness. (And I never read the comments.) I know this is not enough, but some days it’s all I can do. 

Worst is the guilt I feel for not doing enough and then the guilt I feel for even writing about this. No one can assuage my guilt and I am not placing a burden on anyone else. How can I be the change when I need to retreat to puppy videos and K-dramas on a regular basis? What of all my sisters and brothers who do not have the luxury to stop, to rest, to tune out? How can I profess to be an ally when all I can do is sit in my safe home and make calls from my expensive phone, and even that is with trembling fingers and a wavering voice? There is no time to “get better” and then help. Help is needed now, and I feel terribly unequipped to provide it. 

I invite comments with suggestions for ways to get involved without leaving the house. Of course donations to worthwhile organizations are always useful, but, assuming that my giving budget is already maxed out, how else can I help?

2 Comments

  1. I used to struggle with not being more involved for social justice as well. Then dad introduced me to the concept of Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs ) and I realized that all my resources (financial, physical, emotional) are going to meet my own basic needs. More importantly I realized that as long as I was still trying to meet my own basic needs, it’s okay that I’m not trying to save the world at the same time. There’s a reason they say to apply your own mask first on an airplane.

  2. Good question – struggling with this myself given the current number of areas that need attention. My first step is to work local and branch out as time and resource allows. Thanks for posting.

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