Over a year ago I went through a really bad depression. Bad to the point of letting my life fall apart. My mother, who really misunderstands mental illness, made a comment about something that occurred during my depression. She said “You care about all these things but you don’t take care of yourself.” She told me the things I was passionate about were distractions from my real life.
The things my mom thinks I care too much about, are politics and social issues. I care about and debate about issues such as: transphobia, stigma, homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and ableism. This is partly due to my minority identities but also in part due to my beliefs as a humanist. I believe everyone deserves respect and freedom to live without having their human rights violated. Politically I tend to be liberal, in case you couldn’t guess.
Anyway, when I was in my deep depression and was plotting to kill myself, one thing never went away, my caring about social issues. I quit my job and felt horrible but I still kept up with these issues talked about them with people online. But what would have happened if I didn’t have this passion. This passion about caring about how others are treated? What would have filled my days and kept me alive in between the pain and the misery? The truth is, without these passions, I probably would have went through with my plans.
While there is probably some truth to the idea that spending time online debating people can be a distraction from my life, it is not and has never been something that has stopped me from living my life. I mean before I quit my job, I would read about and debate these issues all day. When I woke up, during my commute, before bed. Its by no means the only thing I do online but it is a part of it.
These issues that are distracting me are my passions. I eventually want to go into some sort of advocacy work and this is laying the groundwork for that. Debating often reveals my blind spots or gaps in my knowledge. It allows me to reflect on what I believe and why. It allows me to see other perspectives and grow.
The internet gives me a space to indulge things I am passionate about. And when I am in the darkest places of my mind it gives me a reason to keep going, to prove those assholes wrong if it’s the last thing I do.