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Mental Illness: We Are Not Useless; We Can Find Our Way

So often I feel useless.

I apply for a job, go to the interview, get hired, and on the first day, I can’t make it through orientation without paranoia or a panic attack.

Then there are friends and acquaintances, dinners, functions, parties; I cancel more often than I attend. Social anxiety and panic attacks are two of my most frequent symptoms. That trip we had planned to Washington D.C, or the dream to go back to Paris? Not likely with the overwhelming symptoms I experienced on our last few trips.

All these, “no’s.” All these, “Maybe another time,” and “Tonight is not good for us” begin to wear me down, and I think, “What am I good for? Maybe, I’m useless.”

I try not to stay with those thoughts long, though, because everyone has value; if you have the breath of life in you, that magical, mystical concoction, you are of infinite value. Also, everyone, even those of us with daily challenges can contribute something to someone else; we are all capable of making someone else’s life better.

One person might be able to knit socks or hats for those in need. One person might be able to prepare food at a soup kitchen. One person might be able to donate money to a charity that helps others. One person might be able to paint pictures or take photographs that put a spotlight on injustice or inequality. One person might be able to bake or cook for someone who is going through cancer treatment or who just lost a spouse. The list goes on and on.

It might take time, and it will take thought and creativity, but everyone can carve out a small (or large) niche for themselves where they can help someone else. Yes, we all have value, and no one is useless, but sometimes it takes direct action for us to remember and stay aware of those facts.

All of us must remember we can benefit other people by our actions, no matter how small. We can dance in this universe and be a part of the human community. Our illnesses don’t take away our humanity, our value, or our ability to touch the lives of others. We are wonders in our own right; it just takes time to find our way.

Mental Illness: We Are Not Useless; We Can Find Our Way

Rebecca Chamaa

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APA Reference
Chamaa, R. (2017). Mental Illness: We Are Not Useless; We Can Find Our Way. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 Apr 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Apr 2017
Published on All rights reserved.