First and foremost, let me say that I don’t want to talk politics on this blog because mental health isn’t a political issue. Mental illness impacts people regardless of their political beliefs and support for mental health programs should not be a partisan issue. And now that I’ve clearly explained why I shouldn’t talk about politics, let me go ahead and talk about politics.
Why? First off all, because this is my blog, which admittedly gives me a certain degree of power. Does that sound cocky and arrogant? Sorry, you see the anxiety that would normally hold me back from being so assertive is busy freaking out about the future of this country, and I’m guessing I am not the only one whose anxiety is working overtime this election cycle, hence why I feel a need to comment briefly on politics. (P.S. I know I have readers who aren’t in the U.S., I apologize for this brief aside into the chaos of American politics. Please bear with me and regular programming will resume soon, to the extent that there is anything regular about the programming on this site. Also, no, I don’t care that the P.S. is supposed to come at the end, again, my blog, my rules.)
Now to my point. The fact is we live at a time when both parties engage in vicious, demeaning rhetoric, although there are some notable exceptions on both side of the aisle. We live at a time when the country is perhaps the most polarized it has been since the outbreak of the Civil War. Every major topic seems to face great uncertainty. Whether it is the economy, the environment, immigration, national defense, you name it Americans disagree vehemently about it. It is enough to give anyone anxiety, but for those who already struggle, it is enough to shift that anxiety into high gear. I’ve struggled with this plenty myself. Here are a few things that have helped me.
One, I remind myself that much of this is beyond my control. Yes, I can and do vote (and so should you! If you haven’t voted already go vote right now, its okay, I’ll wait). I also submit comment letters and reach out to elected officials on issues I care about. But beyond that, how the country votes, how politicians behave, it is largely beyond the control of any one person. Do as much as you can to make your world a better place and learn to accept the things that are beyond your control. I know. It is hard. I still struggle with it.
Two, know that no matter what you hear from politicians in your local mayor’s office, in your state capitol, or in Washington, it doesn’t change the fact that you matter. Know that there are people in your life who love you. That there are and will be resources for you to turn to, no matter what happens today, or what happens in 2020, or what happens in every election after that.
Three, know that when individuals throw around mental illness as a political punchline to demean their opponents, it is a reflection of how short sided and misinformed that individual is about the reality of mental illness. It is not a reflection of you. As I said before, you matter. Your voice counts, and no matter what happens with your chosen candidates, people love you. And you are not alone in feeling anxious about the future of our country.
Our country may be fractured, but you can’t let that break you. You are stronger than you know. So today’s advice, make sure you vote, if you haven’t already. But just as importantly, make sure you take care of yourself. Don’t let politics get you down. Walk away from the news for a bit if you have to, it’ll still be there when you get back. And so will all the people who love you and support you.