ETA Saturday morning: I've edited out some of the melodrama but decided to keep this on the net, because it doesn't do to be ashamed of one's mental health. This is not cross-posted at New Statesman, for the obvious reason that it's much more personal than anything I normally put out here. I hope you'll take it in the spirit in which it is meant.
Six weeks ago, three things happened in short succession: I broke up with my beloved partner of three years, my entire friendship group left London at once, and, relatedly, I became homeless. Slap in the middle of that upheaval, I have somehow acquired a blog at New Statesman; I've been living out of a suitcase whilst commuting to my other job at Morning Star, and I've been trying to finish my small book, the deadlines for which and several other projects are oh, just whooshing into view. Unfortunately, all I really want to do at this precise moment in time is find secure accommodation, curl up in a bed of my own and eat ice cream in the dark until I feel better. It's hardly bloody Basra. In the grand scheme of things, I'm still rather a lucky person, really. But it's getting harder to stay in touch with why I write and campaign in the first place. It's getting harder to stay angry. And that frightens me.
Writing, which at the moment I have to do at the rate of about 3,000 words per day, currently feels like dragging a large, wet rope out of my forehead, inch by torturous inch. My mental health has taken a turn for the worse. I'm struggling to care. I'm struggling to stay angry. That terrifies me more than anything.
There aren't many things that scare me. The centre-right have taken back my country and imposed dazzlingly punitive cuts to welfare and public services. Across the pond, the American right are winning the fight for ideological control of the world's only superpower. The planet is boiling; the rivers are drying up; the human race may very well be about to tear itself apart. None of that scares me one bit. Give me energy, a cause and a place to stand and I'll shout out against oppression until I'm old and broken and they cart me away. Put me in a room with my own depression and suddenly I'm small and scared enough that I'd rather accept despair than fight bigoty and injustice. That is scary. Compared to depression, Torygeddon and impending global climapocalypse are not at all frightening.
That's what clinical depression does, you see. It takes away your anger, piece by piece, along with every other drive and interest and emotion that ever mattered to you. It wraps you in a dry, stifling blanket of heavy despair and leaves you to shuffle about your daily business, swaddled against the joys of life, the frustrations, the pain. When terrible things happen - like a coalition government closing down your country piece by piece, slamming the door on the young, the poor, the sick, immigrants, women - you cease to really believe that anything can be done. You clam up, clamp down, try to conserve your energy for the monumental task of peeling yourself out of bed, washing your face, rolling a fag, things that were effortless yesterday but now feel like a bucket of iced panic is draining into your stomach when you contemplate them.
Fortunately, I've beaten this before, when the stakes were much higher, when I was younger and madder and battling an eating disorder too. I'm older and meaner now, and I know what to do. I might not be okay for a little while yet, but I'll be okay eventually. For now, I have to keep on battling these currents with all my tiny might.
So here's what you can do to help me. If you have time and energy in your own life, because clearly getting through the day is hard enough without some whiny feminist brat on the internet asking for your input, here's what you can do: send me your ideas. Send me your anger and truth, for the little space in time when I can't access my own.
Send me your rage, your issues, things that make you mad, things that make you want to run into the street and start a revolution. Send me tips, statistics, moments of hope and inspiration. Send me feminist news, socialist ideas, problematic pop culture, stories of suffering and resistance. If you're holding an event or a protest, tell me about it. Email me even just a few lines, to the usual address - email@example.com. It doesn't matter what's making you angry or whether you think I'll agree or be interested - I want to hear it. I will read anything and everything I receive (I always do!) and respond when I have the spoons. Send me your anger and understand that if the internet is made for anything, it's made for times like this. Because god knows, we're not alone in this big bad hyperspace world, however much it feels like it sometimes