How To Look After Your Mental Health When The World Feels Like One Big Dumpster Fire

(cw: c-word expletives, VAWG) 

The UK is a massive dumpster fire at the moment. There’s widespread nationalism, creeping authoritarianism, major polarity, and looming fascism. It’s exhausting. Soul-crushing, deep-in-your-bones, depressive exhaustion.

I’m finding it incredibly tough right now. I can’t switch off from the increasing inequality of gender, race and class in this country. Sometimes I wish I was a dumb idiot to it all; ignorant and living in a little-england bubble. I do. It’s awful to admit, I know. What else can one feel when every avenue feels blocked and the cunts with the 80-seat majority keep exerting their power and crushing the rights of the most vulnerable amongst us. I have a past of ‘giving up’ (see many previous suicide attempts) however I am still going. There must be some type of fight in me. 

I am a socialist. Through and through. Cut me open and I bled red, literally and figuratively. Believe me, I’ve seen it. I also believe in democracy and I believe in free speech, however I do not believe that free speech should be absolved of consequences. I don’t always want to hear others opinions, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. It’s a tough pill to swallow, for both sides of the political divide. However, for a fair and equal society we cannot have oppression. Of anyone. 

In that we have to deal with, what I call, Cunts. For me, they tend to lay on the right side of the political spectrum. You know the side closest to facism, authoritarianism, oppression, control – all those shitty things that ultimately remove your ability for freedom and democracy. You may disagree, you may believe that the left side of the divide is in the ‘wrong’ – because we’re going to steal all your money and give it to lazy immigrants who are also stealing your jobs. That’s the beauty of free speech and democracy, we have the right to our opinions. So I can call you a Cunt, whilst I also fight for your right and freedom to call me a Cunt in return. Why? Dunno mate. Maybe it’s my kink (being called a Cunt that is, not right-wing Cunts).

On 3rd March a woman called Sarah Everard went missing, she has since been found dead. The man charged with her murder is a Met Police Officer, Wayne Couzens. A vigil held (by women for murdered women) in Clapham Common was met with heavy-handed, brutish police force. Ah yes! Best way to counter a vigil about violence against women is to do the violence against women. 

Violence against women is not new. Violence against women by the hands of the police, an organisation meant to protect us, is not new. Black, brown and trans women have suffered disproportionately more at the hands of men and police. I can understand their pain at seeing the outpouring of shock and fierce mobilisation after a white woman was killed. They have experienced this for years, where have the protests been? The anger I have seen marginalised women express is totally valid. This anger does not diminish or take away from the current action, however it is incredibly important to acknowledge that our whiteness and cis-gender do afford us privileges others races and non-cis genders do not get. I hope this movement will open more eyes to the need for all women to come together and be striving for intersectionality. Do not stay silent on issues just because they aren’t affecting you. Then come out in force, like it’s something new, when it does affect you. I wholeheartedly include myself in this. We are all a work in progress, make sure we are working on that progress constantly. Society will not progress if we do not start that progress within ourselves. 

Now, everything that is going on is a lot. I’m certain there is at least one item in the news right now that is impacting your mental health. Whichever gender you identify with, wherever you live. Firstly there’s a major global pandemic that’s been affecting our daily lives for over a year now. The #NotAllMen brigade is being louder than ever. There have been two mass shootings in the US just in the last week alone. The UK government passed a second reading of a new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that basically strips UK citizens of their right to lawful protest, and hands police unnecessary powers in curtailing anything they wish with whatever force they deem appropriate. At least 149 people have been killed in Myanmar since the February 1 coup by the military. I could go on. These are just some of the occurences happening in our world today. 

So how do we care for ourselves in such a time? Bubble baths and face-masks just aren’t going to cut it. I imagine because you’re reading this you hold similar opinions to myself. My readership that I am connected with share the majority of my views. They have an inherent desire to help others. So I imagine current affairs are affecting your mental health. 

Firstly, how do I care for my mental health during all of this? I can be of no assistance to anyone if I don’t look after myself first and foremost. That goes for everyone. My first piece of advice? Protect your boundaries. Online as well as offline. Online: don’t engage with twitter idiots. Honestly. This isn’t me claiming it’s your responsibility to stop abuse by ‘just ignoring them’ – that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is, if you see Karen834875 or Gammon94835 tweeting bigoted opinions do not waste your time and energy trying to change their mind. You are not going to. They are bigots and do not have the desire to learn or change their opinion. They will drag you down to their idiotic level and beat you with experience. 

I have taken to looking at comments under posts from mutuals/people I admire/intelligent people, then blocking all the idiots underneath it who have stupid, ill-informed, fake-news opinions. Yes it makes an echo chamber but, my god, a timeline cleanse feels so good. Be aware you’re in an echo chamber. Use it for resources to inform your opinion, meet like-minded people. You aren’t going to change the world one twitter user at a time. Forget them. The block button exists for a reason and it’s glorious. 

The Karen’s and Gammon’s are entitled to their opinion, and you’re entitled to block them. Remember I said free speech but not free of consequences? Well one consequence is you blocking them. They don’t care, and you feel so much better. 

If you had a person in your life who kept being racist, sexist or bigoted you wouldn’t invite them to your house to listen to their views, would you? No! So treat your timeline in the same way. No one deserves a place on your timeline. You don’t need any reason to block someone either. I block people for just being annoying. I know I’m not changing the world through my twitter. Social media is meant to be an enjoyment. Isn’t it? We don’t think ‘oh I fancy some abuse today, better log online and get my dose’ – we use it to connect to those we want to connect with. It’s a great place for resources, news, comedy, and cat pictures. Since I’ve started taking stronger control of my social media, and shutting off all the bollocks. BOY. Do I feel better.

I promise, you aren’t going to miss anything by blocking football twitter. 

Boundaries are vital to protecting our mental health. If we don’t have boundaries we are vulnerable. Boundaries are also learning when to say no, or when to not get involved. You can’t solve all the world’s problems. You just can’t. Don’t let the what-about-ers make you feel guilty for this either. More often than not the what-about-ers aren’t doing shit for what they are what-about-ing and are just doing it to try and derail your cause or argument. They can fuck right off to the trash. 

With all this helping others, who is helping us? Understanding what I mean? You can be a helper and be helped. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not linear, top-down or any other image or metaphor that goes in one direction. When you are struggling, know there are people and services out there who can help you. I write about mental health and activism. I offer guidance and advice on both of these subjects, I am always happy to support anyone in the ways they need. Friend or foe. However it does not mean that I am not asking for the same support in my life. I have a therapist, a sponsor, friends, an online community. Spread that help around and don’t be afraid to expect it in return, it doesn’t have to come from the source you’ve helped it can come from anywhere. Beauty of collective sharing. Everything in society is made by the cooperative efforts of the people and citizens. You are a part of society, your mental health is a part of you. We have a collective responsibility for each other, and each other’s mental health. 

Did I just connect the importance of your mental health with socialism? Yes. Yes I did. 

Ultimately: unplug, unwind, and understand we all deserve support. The world is a dumpster fire, if you only focus on the dumpster fire stories, but there is good in it. You, for example. It’s easy to get trapped in the never-ending cycle of doom-scrolling and want to change all the bad parts of the world. We can’t though. Don’t exhaust yourself by trying. Don’t put all that pressure on yourself. You are your priority and world. Make your world a better place first and foremost, then you’ll be able to tackle the wider issues from a stronger position. 

It’s so important to care for your mind during times like these, and whilst I always encourage everyone to be proactive in self-care and seek medical and mental health support, it’s not always that easy. Mental health care is hardly accessible to everyone, particularly marginalised communities, there are free support services available in the UK and USA. I have linked phone lines below. They do not replace regular talking therapies, diagnoses, and medication. They are incredible and run by volunteers. Our government needs to step up and provide wider and more accessible life-saving resources to all. Mental health support should not be a luxury. 

However if we can all help each other, and set our boundaries without guilt, we can create our own socialist utopia. When we are stronger in oursevles, we are stronger to fight the good fight. 

…& if you don’t agree, fine. You’re (currently) entitled to that opinion. Who knows what we’ll be allowed if the police state that’s growing in the UK continues. #KillTheBill – resources to support this movement (and your future freedoms) below. 

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and the domestic violence helpline is on 0808 2000 247. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the US, the suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

Resources to contact your MP and members of the House of Lords to express your disagreement with the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. 

#KillTheBill toolkit can be found at this link: http://bit.ly/rejectthebill

Including:

– how to find your MP

– House of Lord’s names & contact details 

– email template for Lords and MPs. 

– posts for social media

– links to petitions

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