*This was written after Donald Trump’s election and the influx of protests that followed it*
As I hit the “ignore” button on the fourth protest Facebook invite that I’ve gotten since Donald Trump won the presidential election, I started to wonder if I was supposed to feel guilty. I’ve missed protests for the #NODAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline), for Black Lives Matter (hosted by the Black Student Union), and I already know that I’m going to miss the #NotMyPresident one this weekend.
It’s hard not to feel like I’m being a bad activist because I don’t share a lot on social media, am not attending a lot of public protests, and am not being as visible as I could be.
But I’m tired.
I’m tired every day, floating from class to class, trying hard to get through my senior year. When you have multiple mental illnesses and disorders, it can feel hard to function. I find myself lying in bed before class willing myself to get dressed and be on time. Sometimes I can’t will myself to get out of bed, sometimes I just watch the clock change numbers until I’m already late. I push myself to communicate with my professors when I’m late with an assignment, push myself to get to my meetings, and push myself to do self-care. But sometimes it’s hard because I have a mountain of school work, a never-ending list of emails to respond to, and I sleep whenever I’m not doing anything.
I find myself navigating these tricky conversations with other student leaders who need a large physical presence where I should figure out whether I want to tell them that I’m too tired to be there. Sometimes when I say no I can see disappointment or frustration in their faces and I can’t help but feel guilty for trying not to overstretch myself. I weigh whether I should be honest or if I should lie and say that I’m busy.
The problem I’m having with chronic fatigue is I’m never sure where it ends and my laziness begins. Am I missing this meeting because I’m tired or because I don’t value people’s time? Why can’t I just get out of bed? It happens so naturally to other people, why can’t it happen for me? Other people do the same amount of stuff as me and more and they seem to be handling it. Why can’t I?
Coupled with the current political climate, it hurts to feel and see people’s disappointment when I can’t show up. I urge people to understand the invisible nature of disability. Chronic conditions don’t always have obvious symptoms and so many people have learned to act like they’re not being affected by them, putting their own health and well-being at risk in order to not feel guilty about missing out.
There are many different routes to resistance that do not always include walking long distances or being in the public space. Here’s a list of ways to combat oppression:
- Share articles and information on social media
- Organize de-stress events, crafting parties, and/or hangouts so that people don’t burn out from constant direct action
- Get in contact with your local senator
- Look up https://5calls.org/ for a full script on how to talk to politicians (if they pick up)
- Stay involved in local elections
- Support your friends when they’re struggling
- Participate in student organizations that are focused social justice