by Natalie Katherine
The best thing I’ve done for my mental health in 2020 is volunteer for the Biden campaign. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for years, and the last time I saw a counselor was before I moved to Sacramento in 2017. I know I should get help, so in June called my healthcare provider to begin counseling. The first available appointment was in November, so I’ve yet to start. I know I’m lucky to have healthcare that covers counseling in the first place, but it’s also sad that “lucky” is being able to schedule counseling 5 months out. In the meantime, what keeps me hopeful is the community of people I interact with daily as a volunteer for the Biden campaign.
Since moving to Sacramento, I’ve worked from home, and I’ve struggled to find friends or a community I can belong to. Until I started volunteering for the Pete Buttigieg campaign.
Here I found friendship and was immediately welcomed into a group of kind, hopeful people. During his campaign, Pete talked a lot about belonging, and that’s exactly what I found as a volunteer in his campaign. A few months later, Pete dropped out of the primary and the pandemic began. Initially we had planned to continue meeting as a group to text bank and phone bank for Joe, but it quickly became clear that we couldn’t continue meeting. Instead, we were stuck in our homes, and I was terrified of being lonely again.
But one day in late March, I made a silly meme and posted it in the “random” channel of the Biden volunteer Slack, which I had joined but hadn’t been active on. I was surprised when Ben, a campaign staffer, responded by asking if I wanted to help with the volunteer content team. Of course I did.
Eventually I also got involved with Women for Biden, the Biden Digital Coalition, and Team Pete — Win the Era. Even though I’ve spent most of the year physically isolated at home, I’ve still been able to find community and purpose by being in these volunteer groups. I’ve also been more creative than I have been in years.
Some days I wake up and I just know it will be a bad day. Some days I feel hopeless. And some days I sort of just feel nothing. But then there’s a kind message on Slack, reminding me that what I do as a volunteer matters, that I matter. And that someone is counting on me and I can’t let them down.
“You’ve got to have purpose.” This is Joe Biden’s advice to people who have suffered loss. Having purpose and staying involved in politics is what Joe says kept him going after losing his son, Beau, in 2015. Nothing I’ve gone through compares to that kind of loss. But this simple advice is something I’ve thought about a lot this year, because the purpose I’ve found in the Biden campaign is what has kept me going when depression creeps in.
It’s hard to express how grateful I am to the Biden campaign and to all the people I’ve interacted with as a volunteer. You’ve given me hope, community, and purpose at a time when I desperately needed it.
I might not be able to get therapy until after the election, but until then I’ll keep doing whatever I can to make sure we elect Joe Biden, for the sake of my mental health and this country’s future.