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.

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Photo by Aidan Meyer, via Unsplash


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