When Politics Meets Mental Health: Insight from a Former “SJW”

3/30/18

(Featured photo of the lovely Nora!)

1:12 P.M.

Mood: Is everyone annoying, or am I PMS-ing?

Thoughts:

I’ve always considered politics a VERY scary topic to touch on.

Of course, for me, that namely stems from the fact that having an opinion of my own, instead of nodding my head in agreement with everyone else, gives me hives.

However, in a world that’s growing INCREASINGLY political, it’s hard (and detrimental) to overlook the fact that politics is totally a thing that can affect mental health. And, I mean, I’m here to look into ANYTHING that affects mental health. How will we ever de-stigmatize it if we aren’t willing to, after all?

Politics has progressed EXPONENTIALLY from being a topic for the old folks, to being a topic that rustles the jimmies of even a little tyke. I hate to admit it, but, back in my day, teenagers didn’t give two shits about who was running for president and what their stances were on gun control or abortion. Now, we’ve got Emma Gonzalezes coming out of the woodworks from EVERY angle, and from both the right and the left.

Politics have essentially become a new way of life for our generation, people.

I, for one, do love seeing how passionate people can become for the things that have the potential to affect humanity as a whole. I become inspired to see so many people, young and old, stand together in protest of something that shouldn’t even be taking place in this era. It’s refreshing to see that people still care, y’know? And politics has this HUGE potential to bring together even the most unlikely of friends in support of one another’s well-being.

But, does it REALLY?

As with every other group, radicals DO exist on both sides. And when people become more radical in their beliefs, they have the potential to make their beliefs more about them than for the whole. They can go even as far as to discriminate and shut themselves off from people who have differing opinions than their’s. In turn, not only do people start to feel that they no longer have the freedom of speech, but they also begin to feel wrong within themselves solely for having different opinions.

Don’t just take my word for it, though.

Meet Nora, a “21 year old girl going through a lot of things, and one of them is this huge, weird political exploration. [She] makes edgy jokes on the internet and hopes to help young people being targeted by movements that exploit them and set them back.”

I got in contact with this sweet young woman either earlier this year, or late last year. Seeing her previous posts on her Instagram page (@figs.and.thistles) helped me to actually feel more comfortable with having differing views myself. She’s actually a very gentle and kind person, but, of course, she doesn’t take shit from people now. However, having been what she calls a former “SJW” (or Social Justice Warrior/radical liberal), she did have her fair share of issues with coming to terms with her own opinions. Unfortunately, it ended up driving a wedge between her and the people she loved most.

“Feminism, and other leftist movements don’t care about mental health when it comes down to it. I stepped away from that stuff, as it became increasingly militant, unpleasant, uninspiring, and personally harmful. After all of that, it cost me. Stepping away from social justice made my best friend of nine years give up on me, my family became disappointed in me, [and] my friends were giving me the silent treatment.”

“I was accused of being a Nazi in my town, which forced me to stay home. I was screamed at in a public place; I received messages detailing what was wrong with me, my appearance, and my worthlessness as a person. At this point, I didn’t know where to turn, and I even looked for friends and acceptance amongst actual Nazis, as they were welcoming and kind, motivational and fit. They showed me how to be happy, how to work out, eat healthily, and some view points that I had never been allowed to respond to. I eventually evened out and became sort of undefined politically, yet more confident and vocal than ever. Yet still, my family and friends would never listen, would ignore me, and isolate me and condemn my personhood.”

“Here’s the kicker: I am an American conservative, AND someone who suffers from anxiety and severe depression. That didn’t change when my opinions did. As recently as last month, I considered suicide as my only escape. I felt defeated. No one would listen; my closest loved ones would tell me I have a heart full of hate,  [and] that I have the wrong views. And even after this, I have started to doubt myself as a good person and have struggled to be okay with myself, to keep going, [and] to continue to argue and fight to be seen authentically. No one on the left has cared for me at all since I stepped away. Even as a leftist, I had become a little suspicious. A common mantra I would hear amongst leftists is ‘It’s okay if you only got out of bed today.’ Well, I listened for around 5 years. I gained weight, which they also told me was okay. I was jobless, without education, bald with no eyebrows, and doing sex work. Low place. All of a sudden, I was being told by beautiful, inspirational people that I can actually work to be better every day, that my suspicions are not wrong, and that there are others like me. However, the people that were supposed to love me; supposed to care for me? They only cared for me when I was as low as they were…”

What Nora said in her story really hit home for me. I, myself, still lean toward the left, but am mostly overall undecided. However, I just hate seeing cases like this where solely having differing opinions is enough to set someone apart from their loved ones, and push them to mental illness and suicidal ideation. This is a HUGE cause of concern to me.

Of course, this is one of the more extreme cases of isolation due to close-mindedness, and it can happen on the right, as well (let’s be clear). However, this shouldn’t be happening at ALL. We shouldn’t have people feeling the need to lower their personal standards in the name of politics. I’ve personally known of a friend of mine who currently no longer talks to a cousin of her’s (who used to be her best friend) because she voted for Trump. I still love that friend, but what the ACTUAL fuck?

When I mentioned earlier that politics has become a new way of life, I neglected to also mention the fact that it’s also become a new form of division in society in more cases than any of us realize. It has lead people to forget that they can have opinions of their own, and feel self-assured. We have many young people in the world who feel WRONG.

Everyone has the right to have a place to find and speak their TRUE thoughts and opinions, without fear of backlash. And, if society doesn’t get that through its thick skull, there’s going to be a higher potential of an even more appalling uptick in mental illnesses and suicide, among other issues.

So, my questions to you: Whether you’re liberal or conservative, what do you think could be done to help people feel more comfortable with finding and expressing their own opinions?

Have you ever felt guilty, ashamed, or isolated due to your personal beliefs and opinions?

Let’s talk about it.

And, of course, I’d like to give a FRICKIN’ HUGE thanks to my friend Nora, and admire her for her bravery in sharing her personal experience in this topic. This story really drove this aspect of politics home, and it’s an aspect that we all need to take into consideration, even if it’s unpleasant.

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