I began this very personal post yesterday as I reflected on the very bumpy road that was 2011 for my family; in many unfortunate ways our lives reflected the woes of too many Americans who now find themselves without income and in despair. Despair is an all too easy place for me to go, for I suffer from depression. After taking the time to exorcise some of what had happened, I decided to recast things as a wish for our new year–I hope my story will inspire others that suffer from depression and are currently unemployed due to no fault of their own to focus on the resources and love we have and to work hard to make 2012 a far better year than 2011.
The first week of December, shortly before my birthday, I was having coffee with some very dear friends of mine here in Portland, Mary and Tamara. They asked if I still wanted to return to Atlanta; my transition here to the Northwest has been fraught with many obstacles and culture shock. As progressive as Portland can be, it is not particularly diverse, and subtle forms of racism and homophobia lurk behind many corners as even well-meaning people overlook their privilege in this bubble of liberalism.
To my great relief and surprise, however, I was able to answer my friends with a resounding NO. I love living here in Portland. Our lives finally make sense here. I love social work school and my husband loves his job. We also have legal protections here in Oregon that we will never have in Georgia.
This was eleven months into a tumultuous year. I went through the major process of applying to graduate school and began the adjustment of returning to the other side of the classroom. This came on the heels of months of being rejected for jobs because of my age and experience– painfully ironic. My husband had a crazy year with major career ups and downs.
Sadly, right after my revelation, things turned upside down. We are now a fully unemployed household in a still perilous economy–a very frightening place to be indeed! All the uncertainty and trauma I’ve faced in the past two years resurfaced as my husband now begins his job search. I worry about the challenges he will face and how we can be supportive of each other as we emerge from one of the most challenging years of our life together.
I am exceedingly ready for 2011 to come to an end! As awful as things are right now, I know we are still fortunate! We have food, we have people who love us, and my husband and I have each other. We have survived being robbed repeatedly, a transcontinental move, my falling off our roof, and abominable discrimination–we will survive this setback as well. My New Year’s wish for all those that don’t have equal access to resources, for all those that are oppressed due to race, gender, sexual orientation, and age is that 2012 will bring good energy and change for the better. I still believe we can make the world better, but we must change the system of a white heterosexual power structure. My family knows all too well how easy it is to lose your job because of sexual orientation.
My husband and I are dedicated to a happy, successful 2012, we are fortunate enough to have the support of friends and we have an education; with that love, support, and education we hope to overcome the barriers of white heterosexual abuse of power and emerge stronger and better equipped to help others that are disenfranchised. Let’s all look forward to a year of progress and success. As someone who has battled depression for a lifetime, I hope is that anyone struggling with depression will seek help, be it medical, family, friends–get the support you need.