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.
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.