Do you ever feel like you really should be doing something, but you just can’t do it? Trust me, I’ve been there, it is a horrible feeling. You do nothing because you feel bad, then you feel worse because you are doing nothing. It’s a vicious cycle that has an intense pang of guilt built in. Especially when the thing you feel you should be doing is for others benefit.
I am fortunate enough to have accidentally surrounded myself with people who are full of strong opinions and a huge drive to better the world for others. I have watched as friends, young and old, have marched through cities multiple times for multiple incredibly important issues. I have liked their social media posts and photos with awe and always admired them. So why have I never joined them in their activism?
It really boils down to not having a stable grasp on my mental health for a long time. Since the start of the pandemic, I have been able to work on myself and take the time to work out the issues I was having and begin the process of fixing them. This has opened up a lot of energy and mental capacity to focus on the things that I always felt that I should have been focusing on.
I have been able to spend the past year finding my voice and using it to try and help others who are less fortunate than me. To some, it may seem that I have suddenly become some sort of keyboard social justice warrior who has decided that certain causes are suddenly worth my time. I completely understand why that would be an assumption but let me offer an alternative explanation.
You see, when you are struggling with your mental health, it takes an enormous amount of effort to simply get through the day. I am sure this is something you all know well with the decreasing stigma surrounding depression, and some of you may have even felt this first-hand.
If you add to this a general feeling that you should be doing more to help those less fortunate than yourself, and the guilt that comes with not actively doing things to make a difference, your energy is completely depleted, and you end up feeling even worse than you did, to begin with.
What I am trying to say is, if you are struggling with your mental health, please try to let go of any guilt that you feel for not involving yourself in activism you care about. You should be your main priority when you are struggling or when you are sick.
You cannot help anyone else if you are not looking after yourself, it is never too late to start so you can take your time. And to those who watch from the outside, who see a lazy, uncaring, unempathetic person, it isn’t as simple as that. People who you would expect to care for may also be working through some heavy stuff, and it may be time to practice some compassion.