Yes, I do feel empowered and inspired each time I hear that another brave woman has come forward to share her story of abuse, assault, or harassment.
However, I can’t help but to also feel sad.
To feel angry.
To feel hurt.
To feel scared.
To feel hopeless.
To feel confused.
To feel sick.
Because each time another woman comes forward, I’m reminded of the darkness and pain that woman has gone though.
I’m reminded that while it’s a “great time to be a woman”, it’s also still a terrible time to be a woman.
I’m reminded that with each step forward, there are still people being harmed and taken advantage of.
I’m reminded that there are people who are still afraid to speak up and are suffering in silence.
I’m reminded that many people aren’t receiving the therapy or support they deserve and need.
I am reminded that I’m not the only woman who’s been through trauma and hard times.
And while that last one is sometimes comforting (to know I’m not alone), it’s also terrifying and scarring.
The stories of others open wounds.
They “trigger” difficult feelings that I don’t want to have to face and be reminded of every single day – and yet it’s the reality we’re living in…
Think about it:
When was the last time you watched the news or scrolled through Twitter without hearing or seeing:
– The pain in a woman’s voice as she tells her story of sexual assault?
– Newscasters reporting on the next exposed “Harry Weinstein”.
– People fighting over politics, religion, sexuality, gender roles, etc.
– Of a minority being disadvantaged, assaulted, or abused?
– Of corrupt political agendas?
For me? It seems like it’s been over a year.
I’m feeling heavy and I can’t seem to shake it.
I feel this same way about the upcoming #BellLetsTalk day here in Canada.
While the day was designed to open the conversation and to de-stigmatize mental health across Canada, as an empath, I find the weight of the day (when everyone rallies to share their stories all at once), extremely overwhelming.
I feel weird.
I feel anxious.
As a feminist and mental health awareness advocate, you would think these events would empower me to raise my voice and to push these initiatives forward with full force. And there are days they do:
There are days I post, and share, and engage my friends and family in conversation, and attend events, and write, and fundraise.
However, there are also days where I want to crawl into a little ball and give up:
Give up the “feminist fight”.
Give up the idea that I, of all people, could make a difference.
Give up on the idea that my voice, in a sea of voices, has value.
It’s hard to stay hopeful when so much of what’s around me is heartbreaking.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I think there’s a very fine line between inspiration + empowerment, and anxiety + depression – and that we need to start talking about that too.
And while most people will tell me to:
– “Stop reading and get off social media”
– “Just ignore it”
– “Don’t let it get to you”
– “Use your anger to make change”
… it really just isn’t that simple.
In these digital times, I find that I actually feel worse when I ignore these news stories and initiatives than when I stay aware of them.
Because when I ignore them, when I bite my tongue, when I scroll past the posts, I feel guilty and complicit.
I feel part of the problem.
I feel weak.
I feel ignorant.
I feel even more hopeless.
I feel like a bystander.
And I don’t like it.
So, at the end of the day, I’m finding that now more than ever, I need to take better care of myself and the women in my life.
I’m finding that I need to take more time to breathe, to relax, to read, to spend time with my loved ones, to talk about my fears, to discuss what’s going on, to cry when I need to, to listen to others, and to really connect with people who are willing to listen to me as well.
In other words, I’m finding I need to check in with myself more frequently – so that I don’t let myself slip down the scary slope I know depression can take a person.
So yes, the world feels depressing right now, and I’m definitely feeling those effects.
But I can’t and I won’t allow myself to stay silent that this is how I’m genuinely feeling – warts and all.
And I guess I’m also writing this post to put out a feeler:
Am I the only one who feels mentally stuck in all of this?
And if I’m not,
How can we do a better job of supporting each other?