Many of us struggle with depression and anxiety, and studies show that women deal with mental health issues much more than men do. A four-year study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that almost 50% more women suffer from mood disorders and major depressive disorder than men. As Elizabeth Coffman wrote recently in her “Mama PhD” column for Inside Higher Ed, the contentious 2016 presidential election and controversial beginning to the Trump administration isn’t helping. Many of the issues at play in this election – like those surrounding poverty, health care, and sexual assault – disproportionately affect women. Combine concern over those issues with many women’s broken dream of electing a female president, and you’ve got a recipe for hopelessness. Coffman writes:
My “Nasty Woman” and “This Pussy Grabs Back” t-shirts that my daughter and I bought at the D.C. march are a cathartic start to a counter feminist revolution. But what do we do to combat the depression and anxiety following an election where women’s issues were both demeaned and sidelined as unimportant?
When I am in the cycle of depression and anxiety, I feel like there is nothing I can do about it, and I feel painfully alone. Some days it is too hard to get out of bed, to face the world and to fight for my happiness – even if fighting only means getting dressed in the morning and going to the grocery store. But I also know that when I DO get up, go out, and face the world, I feel better, more hopeful.
And now I struggle with a new layer of depression and anxiety, watching a steady stream of media coverage and hearing consistently unsettling news. I worry about things I didn’t have to worry about before. So what do I do to quell that worry? Like Coffman, I do find some comfort in our current women’s movement. I see hope in the women who march, the women of “Pantsuit Nation” – even the women who leave comments explaining the need for Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act on the Facebook statuses of the Republican senator in my very red state.
It helps to remind myself that I am part of this community of supportive and courageous women. We were pushed into this “new feminist revolution” whether we were ready or not. But now is not the time to stay in bed. It’s the time to get up, get dressed, and fight. Because there is much to do, but we are not alone – we will do it together.