a destroyed room with visible bricks and graffiti with light going through fallen roof

The War Within

I decided to copy my post from last year. I wrote this after the invasion of Ukraine started. Today marks one year. A full year of a war that was supposed to last a couple of weeks. There are still people dying and yet we got kind of comfortable in this uncomfortable world. The news isn’t shocking anymore. It’s just another day.

Today is probably the day that every single site/influencer/TV channel/whoever will call to arms in some way. They’ll probably tell you how terrifying the war still is. That’s good, but it will certainly create a lot of worries and fears. So here’s my post from last year. I want to call to calm down. Not to run into anxiety or panic. Take a step back and see what you’re equipped with. And then help as much as you can but not more. You can’t stop your fear but you can contain it. Act on it. If this means you will try to live your life as usual, it is still something. And that’s great. If you can do more – please do. We need you.

I wrote this post because I was feeling guilty, even though my depression doesn’t listen to reason.

I’ve never hidden my mental state and I don’t care if people see me going through it. I’d rather work as an activist for others with more troublesome situations than mine. I’ve been dealing with depression my whole life, and it has its ups and downs.

The pandemic didn’t overwhelm me that much. It was easy to be introverted and stay at home. The first couple of months were exciting because I had more time for myself. I didn’t have to commute or figure out my lunch. But later, when I began to feel burdened by missing events and having too much on my plate, I fell into a drastic burnout hole that I’m still working my way out of. But it’s getting better.

It seems that the world doesn’t want to be a good place. The cruelty and devastation are all around, and there are never enough good people to change it. I’ve always been a pessimist-realist, and the level of helplessness always brings me down. Still, I could always focus on my own bubble world and break out of thinking how lousy it is out there.

But Putin broke me.

Ever since the invasion of Ukraine, my bubble got severely damaged or even completely broken. I’m in a rut and I can’t do anything. Nothing for me and nothing for the world. My feed has been flooded with news and ways to help. I see brutal images of destroyed cities and people crowded in trains or on the border. You know.

What it did was make me numb. I wanted to help, but all I could do was break down. I was actually frightened to get involved because it would deal with human pain and the helplessness I can’t bear. The injustice of something that destroyed the lives of millions.

I can’t remember what I was doing in the first couple of days after Thursday. The moment I can remember is when I realized I cannot live like this. I needed to cut the cord. I needed to find strength and figure out my life. If I kept this stillness, I’d only be more damaged later. This was certain, it had already happened too many times.

All I could understand is that I can’t get closer to this war. I’ve already lost what I’d worked on for the last six months. Since Monday, I’ve been avoiding any information about Ukraine, and thankfully, some accounts have started posting unrelated content. I set up my calendar for March and pointed out a few things to do (or not). I needed a routine to stick to and I needed a routine to help me with my mental health.

I still feel guilty, though. Sure, I post a related story from time to time, but that’s about it. I still feel like somebody will judge me. That I’m the only Pole who doesn’t help. And even though I know I’m doing it for a reason, I don’t feel comfortable at all. I envy all who help – through money, items, or simply helping with their hands. And here I am – scared to even acknowledge this suffering.

All I know is that if I see more cruelty in this world, I’ll get to the worst possible place I’ve ever been. And I can’t go there, even if it’s just for my boyfriend who has already seen it.

At first, I planned to get this off my chest or maybe explain my worst fear only if someone actually asked me. But then I realized that I can’t be the only one. I’ve been trying to be the voice for the damaged, and I guess this is another try. This is for everybody who feels the same: it’s okay. If you can’t do anything, you don’t have the obligation to. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. You do care. But to care, you have to be able to. And with your depression dragging you down, you aren’t able to do it.

I know how much therapy helps me. Some of the things I’ve written here were already discussed with my therapist and she applauded that. For me, it’s still a work in progress, but I have the opportunity to work on it. And I am not alone. I am lucky this way. If you have thoughts like that, please don’t keep them to yourself. It doesn’t do any good. Find someone to help or even something. Or I don’t know, scream it into some void or write it to Santa Claus. Tell him you want to end all wars for Christmas. Or something. But don’t stay alone.

What I’ve been trying to do now is acknowledge my emotions. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve been doing. I write what I feel. I try to understand why I feel like I swallowed a stone or why my brain seems clouded with toxic fumes. I’m trying to braindump every single thought that ruins the clarity. And most importantly, I’m trying to focus on living.

My living consists of a lot of control over my time and tasks. I plan and review my productivity maniacally. It isn’t a perfect solution and obviously not perfectly healthy, but I know it helps me keep going. I know it calms me down when I see the structure. And if I add a Winnie the Pooh sticker, it works even better.

I know this is not the stand that we need. Maybe it’s cowardly. But it’s thought through. I hope eventually I’ll be able to do more. But I can’t do more now. And I am truly sorry about it.

If you can do more, please do. We need fighters, and we need to win.

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