Answering 'So What Are You Doing Now?' When Mental Illness Keeps You From Working

The dreaded question that apparently everybody feels compelled to ask when they haven’t seen you in a while:

“So what are you doing now?”

Such a loaded question, full of pressure and expectation. “You’re in your 20s, recently graduated, surely you must be doing something?”

I’m unable to work at the moment. Each day is a struggle, a gargantuan effort to simply survive — getting out of bed, remembering to feed and bathe myself is already pushing me towards my limits, yet I feel so inadequate when I simply reply “I’m living.”

The average person doesn’t understand that to be living, to be enduring my mental and physical pain day in, day out is such an achievement.

I am still here, still fighting, still living.

I think people think I lounge around all day, having fun doing nothing. I’m never not doing something — that’s the reality.

If I’m in bed, I’m willing myself to get up or desperately hoping that today my pain will allow me to bathe. When I’m stuck inside watching television my brain is distracted, full of guilt, thinking I should be doing more, or I’ll be sitting, sorting through correspondence but in actuality I’m sorting through my very own brain fog.

To wake up each day and choose to carry on, to not give in — that’s what I’m doing.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo by Aidan Meyer, via Unsplash

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

Illustration of pigeons and a woman's face with the text "It's OK to ask for help."

11 Instagram Accounts You Should Be Following During Mental Health Month

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Instagram is rolling out a new campaign, #HereForYou, to highlight how supportive the mental health community can be. “Every day, people use Instagram to share their mental health journeys and connect with communities of support,” Instagram wrote in a blog post. “From dedicated accounts tackling real issues, to [...]
Drawing of a beautiful woman with sunglasses - vector illustration

When You Have a Mental Illness, Self-Care Isn't Always a Luxury

Self-care isn’t always face masks and bubble baths, and it often isn’t glamorous. Sometimes it’s boring, lonely or temporarily unpleasant. The popular notion of self-care as a trip to the spa is, for many people, impractical and unrealistic. When you live with a mental health disorder, practicing basic self-care can be hard work. For many people, self-care is not [...]

Piers Morgan Tweets 'Man Up, Britain' in Response to Mental Health Statistics

According to a new study from the U.K.’s Mental Health Foundation, two out of three Britons say they’ve experienced a mental health issue. Responding to the study published on Monday was Piers Morgan, who doubted the notion that 34 million people in the U.K. could have experienced a mental illness. “34 million UK adults are [...]
blonde woman talking to male therapist on sofa

How to Find the Right Therapist for You

“I can’t handle this anymore. I’m losing my mind. My stomach burns and churns and I feel like I could jump right out of my skin. I’m so sick of thinking like this. I think I need help but don’t know where to go.” Do you have thoughts like these? Have you tried everything to [...]