This is about as political a post as we’re going to get here, not because it doesn’t seem appropriate for mental health professionals to share their opinions on the state of our nation, but because I’m not able to put myself together on this enough to write a personal post so there’s no way I would try to do a more professional one.
I will add that I see it as my responsibility as a therapist to…
be aware and well-informed on how the happenings of our democracy impact the mental and emotional well-being of individuals, our communities, the country, and our world.
continue to support through action and communication legislation that supports access to mental health resources for all and continued mental health, psychological, and neuroscience research.
advocate when these resources are being restricted or denied.
All of this said, this transition of power is a conversation that cannot be separated from our daily lives and so it seems a shade unreal to not address and respond to what I’m seeing both in and outside of the office, which (to oversimplify it) is a lot of fighting. We are fighting the other party and our neighbors, our representatives and some of the conflicting parts of ourselves. And whether or not this fighting is good or bad, it’s happening and in the wake of it, many of us are feeling angry (maybe rage?), isolated, shamed, helpless, depressed, terrified, and/or overwhelmed.
Where ever you land, if you find yourself wanting to run away or smash things or scream or stay in bed for the next few weeks, I hope you are open to hearing the following.
You can set boundaries. Whether this means you leave FaceBook for a while or ask for some time before giving a response in a painful conversation, we are imbedded in an inherently reactive conversation right now. I am not interested in debating whether that reactivity is good or bad. Again, it’s here and it can be very intense. So that you can respond in a way that is true to you, notice your need for boundaries of space and time and on the flip side, notice what happens when you do not acknowledge those boundaries.
You can help. You can help now. One way to look at the situation is that we now have a surplus of ways to channel our energy. Whatever side of this you call yours, you can donate, write, call, march, volunteer. The downside is you could easily feel overwhelmed. Here, today, create a commitment practice to give (your money, time, or energy) to what we’re going to call a “good enough” effort. Next week, perhaps you find an organization that resonates more perfectly with your values. Maybe you will have more money to give next month. Maybe the needs of our nation will change. For now, find something that will use what you have to give wisely enough and go. Need help filtering through all the possibilities? Connect! Ask your friends/family/community for their suggestions.
You can continue to care for yourself while you support others. Whether you are actively engaging in the fight or not, you need some fuel. Fuel for compassion. Fuel for commitment. Fuel for the basic truth that today, you have a day to live through. Notice if you are taking the fight inward and out on yourself. Eat. Drink water. Stretch/walk/move. Brush your hair. Wash your face. Floss. Talk to a friend. Play music. Listen to music. Read a favorite book. Breathe fresh air.
You can listen to yourself. When in the fight, it’s easy to not feel or actually be heard. If you do not feel like anyone in your life is listening to where you are right now, talk it out! Hear what you have to say on your drive to work or when the house is empty. Write it down and look at it on paper. And I know I’m bias but I’d highly encourage therapy as a great place to put your words out and have them heard.