Do you find yourself increasingly sad and irritable lately? Do you believe current events in the national news sphere have an impact on your emotional wellbeing? What happens to your beliefs, ideals, and mental health when you think about the impact of what’s going on in America? Let me share an experience of my own I had last week.
After a long, tedious workweek, I looked forward to a relaxing weekend with my family. I returned from that weekend feeling refreshed and turned on the television to see what was trending in the news. To my surprise and horror, I came upon the tragic occurrence in Virginia. I sat fixated on the television for hours and asking myself is this really happening in 2017. I’ve always had a tendency not to watch much television for obvious reasons. However, after tuning in and watching the rallies in Virginia, and watching thousands of individuals dispelling and disassociating themselves from the evil and hate going on in America, I thought now would be good time to shed some light on the sadness, anxiety and anger many individuals are experiencing around this time.
First let me say, the American Psychiatric Association(APA) issued a statement condemning discriminatory violence and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) issued a statement calling on President Trump to show leadership by naming and condemning white supremacy in all its forms. If you’re feeling sad and angry because of what’s going on, consider it normal. In fact, consider it human. The turmoil in America is bound to have an effect on Americas citizens. We all long for a peaceful America and a peaceful world to live in, to share with our children, and to leave behind for them to live in. Constant reminders of the conflicts and clashes going on are bound to create inner turmoil that coincides with the outer turmoil.
When watching violence on television, you may notice that violent scenes seem to trigger symptoms consistent with anxiety such as worry, restlessness, fear and ruminating thoughts of impending doom. You may also experience symptoms consistent with PTSD such as avoidance, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances or dissociation reactions like flashbacks, particularly if you have a history of trauma. These emotions can be very difficult to manage without the help of a licensed clinician.
A healthy way to affirm your experience is to accept, acknowledge and process them. Accepting your emotions means allowing yourself to feel them and to grieve for your loss of relative peace. Acknowledging your emotions means to be honest and transparent with yourself about the anger, worry and grief you experience. Accepting and acknowledging those negative emotions is an important step in coping. The next step is to practice daily self care and self love. Be mindful and understand that conflict is not new, nor is it permanent. In many cases, conflict can lead to social and societal changes that bring necessary reforms. When those conflicts strike, allow yourself to experience the gamut of emotional challenges they bring. The key is to simply not allow yourself to let go of hope, promise, and the possibility and probability of a better tomorrow in the process.