Struggling in Silence

I have not written here in a long time. But I recognize I have to change something here. And maybe this is a start..

I wanted to restart my blogging ventures again, and more often, once completing my first draft of my doctorate dissertation. And I’m nearing there, but this last push has been so unbelievably difficult. And I am finding that it’s getting harder and harder to be able to write my dissertation, because I feel I have dissappointed myself and can’t seem to live up to my standards or any standards right now. 

Is it okay that I say this?

And everything has been difficult. Breathing has been difficult. Sleeping difficult. Eating difficult. Moving difficult. Smiling difficult. Brushing my hair difficult. So writing a dissertation worthy of a PhD would be difficult, wouldn’t it, if every sentence you write, a massive burst of anxiety emerges that either puts you to tears, or just makes you want to give up… on everything….The dissertation is already supposed to be extremely extremely difficult. But this level of difficulty must be written down in the history books as “2020-Amplified difficulty” for those who were working or are working to actually finish writing their dissertation and graduate this year…

Is it okay that I say this?

There is clear global consensus, that this was the worst year in modern world history. In America alone: The civil unrest, a consequential Presidential election, divisive/polarizing politics, a global Pandemic, and the worst economic recession in US history… and we all just want it to end. 

And to put the grief and worry of that on your shoulders as a global citizen and public policy student, and as an aspiring public servant while facing personal challenges in health, livelihood, and finishing a dissertation is too much. Way too much. A qualitative research project that consisted of analyzing over 170 field interviews, in a challenging region of the world, was already way too much…Anybody who tells you differently, well…at the moment I don’t know what to say to that… maybe I’ll have a better idea when I’m at a better place… 

You can tell us, to shut everything out, to disconnect with the world. And we do that. But It’s perhaps a bit easier to do that any other time, than a time like this…and it varies from person to person. The trajectory, the personal and professional journey, it all varies. And if this variance was understood, perhaps the shame and guilt for just trying to survive this year, wouldn’t make things so much harder in fighting to cross that finish line…

And surely it must be known that it was difficult long before the Pandemic. For so many of us. At the collective and personal level.

As the posts in this blog demonstrate…at least for me..

This Pandemic just amplified it.

Is it safe for me to say that? 

I wanted to revive my writing here in this blog, because I need to. And I’ll be real and honest. As I have tried to be.

The entire purpose of this blog was for self-help, self-empowerment, for survival. Especially to get me through my doctorate studies. Because I came into the PhD with many many years of struggling with depression and anxiety before that. With that recognition, I already knew it was going to be hard. I wish I did a better job of following through with this purpose. And not demanding ‘perfection’ in every post. 

Because I wanted each post to be perfect. Even though it never was. I wanted perfection when I didn’t understand what was happening. When I didn’t understand perfection. And in my mind, ‘perfection’ would come when I’m much better than everything that I am right now. Perfection in this blog would come when things fell a certain way in my life, and when I would be a better writer. That’s the reason why I couldn’t muster up the courage to even begin until February 2016. It’s the reason why I tried in 2009 when the blogophere was getting bigger and stronger, and I dropped it. I was waiting. Waiting not only for the right moment, but just waiting to be someone…..different… someone….Not me…

But I do understand that this space for me, when it comes down to mental health and well-being, may be like having a broken leg and just putting a sports wrap around it, expecting it to heal.

And I know this. I know this.

One thing I appreciate about myself sometimes is that I am not really that dumb, as much as I hate to say that I am smart, when I feel like an ‘imposter’ all the time. And I appreciate my self-awareness. I cannot cure myself. I have only now accepted that. But there are reasons why finding the cure for Warrior Queen ETK is difficult. And that’s the essence of when multiple ‘identity-intersections’ intersect with mental health. Why do some of us have to struggle so much harder to stay afloat, to stay alive, and in silence? 

I do not mean to insinuate that certain people’s struggles and challenges are worse than others. Perhaps there is a better way to articulate that truth however. What I do mean to say is that there is good reason that some of us have a harder time finding help than others in the United States, with the current challenges in our mental health care system, and health care in general, and other social stigmas. 

The truth is, I am not doing very well. I haven’t made a plan, but I have written some notes and letters. I am not going to post them or send them. I’m going to continue the fight.

But can I keep struggling in silence? I don’t think I can. 

Should it make others uncomfortable? It has and it will. But the trade-off of trying to survive especially within a global pandemic vs. risking other people’s discomfort is perhaps a legitimate one. 

I am going to fight this, I am going to survive this. I don’t want any pity. I never aspired for pity. But just like you, just like any other human being, I cannot be afraid to admit that I do aspire for community. As a social scientist who worked in arenas of “community empowerment” and studies ‘community empowerment’ in the field of development, as a student who has studied social capital in my higher education, and perhaps simply just as a human being who understands social phenomena and how things work, I know that survival is more possible through enhanced social capital. Indeed, I am human, and I am suffering. Naturally, as a human being suffering, I need to know that someone cares sometimes. Is it too much? Some people are able to process that better without anyone saying those words, “I love you,” “I care about you.” Some of us weren’t built for that.

Is it okay to say this?

To aspire for community, does that mean I have to hide my authentic truth? To be accepted in our communities, among the people we love, aspire, and respect and admire… we must hide our suffering? We must hide our pain? We must hide our truths? We must suffocate in order to remain “connected”?  

I wrote several posts, this past month online, about how much I was struggling, and I really got no reactions or responses. There was either a bystander effect, or no one saw them, or nobody really cared. It wouldn’t matter to me much, but it stung a little because my “Facebook memories” would remind me from previous years when I would post about my own mental health, how people supported that.  It could be because many may have ‘muted,’ ‘snoozed,’ or ‘ignored’ me because of my posts on US politics and the need to move in the Progressive direction, and my ‘ruthless posts’ against ‘systems’ were taken personally by those who disagree. It could be because people think I am strong enough to handle it myself, as a “self-described” “Warrior Queen.” It could be that people are just struggling themselves right now too. Which is totally, totally understandable.

But I wonder, is the Pandemic making us even more “individualistic?” Can we prevent this, if that’s the case?

I am wondering if I should take it as a sign that we are moving backwards instead of forward on the fight to end mental health stigma, which I addressed in this post earlier this year: 

I think overall, as a society, we need to put aside differences when it comes to our survival. We need to be better. We need to do better to support one another. Most especially during this time. The moral support, the compassion, the solidarity, was needed far before today’s times, but it’s needed now more than ever. Being there for each other surpasses any differences evident from our intersections. 

Anyways, I feel better already. I feel…. a little freer. 🙂

Because this is my space for freedom. I forgot I had a space for that. And as I have written before, everytime I came here, It was like an affirmation. That was the entire purpose of this. And I haven’t done that enough. This must change now.

I revisited this post of my affirmations:

It’s a good reference or reminder for others about the importance of daily affirmations. I have my own repository of mental health resources here, which I’ve been meaning to update for a long time. There are resources out there. So many resources to help those of us who have no other choice but self-help. 

But again, I know I am not the only one struggling in silence. 

I make a promise to myself, while I continue to find the right help, that in the meantime, I will “wrap the bandage around my leg,” and will come back here more often, and will write my story here instead of other places on social media that only reinforce the perceived reality in my head that I am invisible, even to those I love. 

And I really hope, that if anyone else is struggling, and struggling in silence the way I am, please let me know, and we can get through this together. I’m here. I’m real. And I’m here….. I’m here. I’m here. I’m here. I’m here. And regardless of any “nasr” or “evil eye,” that seems to keep trying to prevent me from winning any battles, I am not going away. 

Today the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention had their virtual walk, something I have supported for 6 years now.  I made this my birthday fundraiser this year.  I wrote about this in previous posts the past four years or so, like this one last year:

And you can support AFSP here: .

It’s one of my favorite fundraisers which I hope to support more in the future.

I did not plan to write this post just now. This just happened now. And I am so grateful I did…

And I’ll keep writing. Because writing means I am fighting.

And thank you so much, from the very core of my heart, for reading. 

Peace, Warmth, and Blessings, 

Your Elsa

The Warrior KQueen

“She wasn’t looking for a knight. She was looking for a sword.” –Atticus


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2 comments on “Struggling in Silence

  1. Like you, I also aspire for community. Much of what you said resonated with me. I have a tough time suffering in silence and fighting off depression and anxiety. Perhaps they are opposite sides of the same coin.

    Keep up your posts. You share your struggles with all of us and help us see we are not alone in our experience during this unprecedented time. You are human, not an imposter. You are the Warrior Queen. Your posts are your sword.

    • This is such an amazing heartwarming note, Giovanis. It really brought tears to my eyes and motivated me. Thank you so much for reading this, and commenting. I am so grateful. And I am sorry, you too are experiencing something similar. I’ll definitely keep it up, thank you for providing some necessary positive reinforcement, something we all need sometimes, and if you are writing, please pass along your URL as well, I’d love to read! Thank you so much for your humbling, kind remarks. Warm wishes, and take care, Elsa

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