When My Heart is Heavy…

Marla Rose
3 min readMar 5, 2024
Credit: Unsplash

My heart is heavy and when my heart is heavy, I know that I need to write down to the roots of it and what is weighing on my heart?

I have talked to so many people, including many I don’t know well, who have shared that they feel out of sorts, depressed, in a funk, more troubled and sad than usual. This has been described as just a sort of vague but ever-present emotional malaise, feeling off, unsettlement, doom. Personally, if I could describe it, I feel like my heart is a gray, raincloud heavy with unreleased droplets and I find myself reaching for my chest, wishing that I could just wring it out and relieve the crushing weight of it.

In the days and weeks before I started an anti-anxiety medication, this was an occasional but familiar feeling, alongside a kind of dialed up state of chronic, irrational but still very real worry. As someone with anxiety and PTSD for most of my life, this amplification was new and noticeable both to me and the people who love me. I wrote before about this runaway anxiety, which felt like a bodily possession, and how I exhausted every tool in my toolbox at trying to relieve it, until, in a pique of late-night desperation, I reached out to my doctor and she scheduled a tele-health meeting for the next day. Thank goodness her intervention has worked because, I don’t mean to sound nonchalant, but it was either that or jump out a window.

I have spent since July or so feeling pretty darn good in my body, in my emotional state, in my self-regard. The return of heart-heaviness would have normally made me anxious. My anxiety being more or less in check these days, I can look at it and examine it dispassionately, as well as take in what so many people are describing, of feeling sadness, loss, hopelessness or impending doom, and say, well, of course.

Of course.

It is perfectly rational and honest to feel sad about life in this historic moment. It is perfectly rational and honest to feel a sense of loss about what is happening in the world. It is perfectly rational and honest to feel a sense of hopelessness or impending doom about what happens next — in Ukraine, in Gaza, in the U.S. elections, the next pandemic, our growing climate crisis. Would you trust someone who felt unbothered or even optimistic about it?

You are a sensitive person in as difficult a time as I have ever known after years of a one-after-another worsening distress and circumstances that would break even the most cheerful person’s spirit.

What I want to say is that I have no solutions other than kindness to one another, patience with one another, forgiveness of one another, trust of one another, and all these things, perfectly imperfectly, to ourselves. We need to work together and collaborate and see one another’s humanity if we have any hope of transcending the factors that brought us to this particular moment, which is really just an extreme retreading of all those old, tired, circuitous footsteps.

We know it, though, we are aware of it on some level, and that is why it hurts so much: It is unnecessary. We have to have the courage to build a new world that is boldly inclusive rather than tribalistic, overcome that now-obsolete old wiring, and create something altogether new rooted in health and mutual support.

If you feel heavy, down, sad, anxious, it could be the new world that is waiting for us as we stay stuck in something we know we’ve outgrown. We need to lay down our burdens and weapons together, no matter how familiar they feel, no matter how scared we are, no matter how safe they make us feel, and step into building this better world that awaits us.

Marla Rose is cofounder of VeganStreet.com