Election, Hate and Mental Health

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

I don’t expect this to be a popular post for my blog. I’m not writing it for views or comments or anything except my own mental health. I’ve been experiencing a rising tide of anxiety for the past few weeks with more and more election propaganda being thrown my way. And today with the results in it has hit a peak. With so much negativity I feel like I need a platform to have my thoughts heard which I’m not seeing anywhere else. And more to the point, why your hate is bad for my mental health.

The Good Part

Perhaps the only silver lining for me has been that I’ve managed to manage my anxiety for the past few weeks. This has meant having to close myself off to election information to a large extent. But I have also felt the need to keep my hand in too. In this election more than ever I felt the pressure to make the right choice. I needed to know what I was doing when I ticked that box.

Having said that, I was also aware of the huge amount of propaganda and the accompanying feeling that I couldn’t truly believe anything I was hearing. Likewise, my vote in this election felt both more important than ever and as irrelevant as ever. I didn’t feel like I could vote for what I truly believed in. I had to vote tactically. It definitely felt like voting for the lesser of two evils or as one person put it ‘voting for the person I hate to keep out the person I really hate’. From what I can see and have heard, this is perhaps the one thing many of us agree on.

The Not So Good Part

Even as a write this blog I feel nauseated and my chest feels tight. I can feel my heart thumping in my chest. It feels like it’s racing although it’s probably not. I’ve seen on Twitter that a lot of people have been saying how ill or upset they are about the election results. But here is where I differ.

It’s not the election result that has me feeling physically sick. I genuinely didn’t think there was a right answer or a solution where I would be truly happy. What has me feeling so ill is the vitriol I have seen on social media this morning.

On this blog I write about mental health and wellbeing, I consider myself an advocate. Professionally, I work for a mental health charity. I run mental health education and training to give people the language to help others, to advocate for themselves and to reduce stigma. As you will also know, I have my own experience of both depression and anxiety. I have almost lost family members to mental illness. Mental health and illness is my battleground and I stand as staunchly on it as I ever did.

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

For this reason I have been hit so hard by the comments in the mental health community – only a portion of which I see on my Twitter – this morning. The requests and comments that people should unfollow if they’ve not voted the same as you. The people who have said if you didn’t vote for X I hope you die or you suffer. From a community that I and many other people have found to be caring and a refuge of kindness in some dark times, to see this makes me want to cry.

I understand the anger and the rage. Your fears for our NHS mirror my own. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve struggled to access support from our health service (although when I’ve had it I’ve been incredibly lucky and am very grateful). I’m currently on a waiting list to see a specialist which is almost a year long – if I’m lucky. This was after waiting over a year for a referral which I had to fight for. And yet, for myself at least – and others I imagine too – I couldn’t vote just on one issue. There were other issues close to my heart I had to take them into consideration.

I don’t feel guilt for how I’ve voted. But on Twitter this morning and for the last few days I’ve felt the hatred. It’s not directed completely to me but sitting at my screen it feels that way. And it’s made all the worse coming from people who I’ve admired for their kindness and empathy.

This may be #NotMyGovernment or #NotMyPrimeMinister but more than anything today this is Not My Mental Health Community.

If you’re not feeling good right now here are some of my top tips for mental health.

This is usually the point where I ask your comments or thoughts. I still want to hear them. Even if you don’t agree with me. But please for the sake of all our mental health let’s remember the kindness and empathy we all need at times.

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6 thoughts on “Election, Hate and Mental Health

  1. I think a lot of people struggled with the election results, and the hate on social media made it so much worse. People saying “if you voted this way you need to unfollow me” and such, but I think what got to me was the fact so many people were tweeting things like “we’re doomed,” which really isn’t a good thing to read when you’re at a low point with your mental health. Yes its not the result we hoped for, and i’m also really disappointed but at the same time there’s nothing we can do about it now. There’s no need to be sending abuse at someone just because you don’t agree with how you voted. This time of year is all about kindness and coming together, and I think now the whole thing has finished now’s the time to start being nicer to each other. Great post, very honest and I think it said what a lot of us were thinking!

  2. Hugs and love from an American citizen in a bitterly divided electorate. I have no good answers but I hate the “them vs us” attitude I see every where, instead of trying to work together and trying to understand the other people. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we all have our own ways of looking at the world, but I feel there should be a way to pull together for a common good. I am an optimist, so I refuse to believe or accept we are doomed, I like the quote that Martin Luther King used in one of his speeches “The arc of the moral universe is long now, but it tends to bend towards justice”

    For now, I do my tiny part in a big world, like yesterday we donated two teenager toys to the local “Toys for Tots” organizations, who collect holiday presents for people who don’t have the money to buy them. It is a tiny gesture, but if we all do what we can, I fully believe this world will be an even better place.

    Karen | https://OurCarpeDiem.com

  3. I hope you found writing this post cathartic for you. I empathize with the way you feel going through similar drama in the US. For me, so much of it is the contagious emotions. Whether it’s anger, fear, sadness – when it’s spit out into the universe in a negative fashion, we take it on for ourselves as empaths. We have the power to transmute the negativity into something more healing through writing and respectful dialogue. So thank you! And good luck. These are interesting times around the world.

  4. I’m a dual national and have observed the election from the other side of the world. I’ve certainly noticed how this election, more than any other I can remember, has aroused strong emotions and caused deep divisions. I’m sad to see this but I understand those reactions, coming as they do from passionate convictions as to what is right. We all know how easy it is, in the depths of strong emotion, to say things we don’t mean and would never say outside the heat of the moment. So I think the best way to deal with this is to give people the benefit of the doubt and forgive them.
    The downside of democracy is that there will always be those who are not happy with the way the majority voted. But what’s the alternative – dictatorship? No vote at all? It seems to me that the only way to keep the democracy which so many of our forebears fought for and gave up their lives for, is to be prepared to accept an outcome which is not our preference – and do all we can to pull together and make the chosen option work. Because anything can be made to work, if everyone is determined and committed enough. The key thing is to focus on the outcome – the peace and prosperity of the UK – not the means of achieving it, which everyone will always disagree about.
    For longer term mental health, I think we are entitled to switch off from hatred and negativity. I know a lot of folk who no longer watch the news at all, because it is negatively biased (good news stories aren’t sensational enough to grab attention so are featured less often). I think that’s absolutely fine, to ignore the bad stuff in the world, and to concentrate on the good. I don’t mean in a Polly Anna sort of way, head in the sand. But feeling good and positive is our birthright. Where we place our attention is where we place our energy, and energy is a life force that can be transmitted out to make positive change in the world. As Ghandhi said, we ourselves should aim to be the change that we want to see happen. So what can be better than to fill ourselves with positive loving energy and then send it to the world. Sending some to you right now! xx

    1. Thanks for such a lovely comment and I couldn’t agree more that now the decision is made we must put differences aside and all work toward a common goal!

  5. I heard you guys were having some trouble! I can totally sympathize with the anxiety and general crappy feeling. (I live in the US so…. yeah. Lol) I hope they come to some kind of good resolution for you guys!

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