There are mental health concerns which directly link to politics. Brexit (a highly distressing and upsetting thing for me), was a large contributor to some mild depression which I suffered a few years ago, and the counsellor I spoke with assured me that she’d seen many others with the same issue. I have wondered lately, if I’d not cared about Brexit, not followed it, not even voted, let alone marched, would I have been a happier man?
It is clear that politics is something I obsess over, yet it makes me miserable. There is no denying it. I get angry, infuriated and wound up on a daily basis, not only by the rank hypocrisy of UK government, but by the vileness of their supporters. I find myself wanting to shake people, to shout at them, “Wake up! You’re ruining the country!”. I find myself wanting to point at the economic and social despair and say, “Look what you’ve done!”.
But all I can do is rant online and attend the occasional protest or rally. It’s a miserable, crushing existence. I look around at those people who don’t care about politics, those who annoy me the most, and I see blissful ignorance. I see happiness.
I would be happier if I didn’t care about politics at all. I know that. After the Tories won their huge majority in their “Get Brexit Done” election, I basically threw my arms up and said, “Well good luck with that, get on with it. I’m out.” I vowed never to pay the slightest note to any political news ever again. I promised myself that family life was the sole focus of my existence, and the outside world could go fuck iteself.
Yet as you can see, I got drawn back to it. It is a magnet to me. I can’t help myself. I hate it, yet I can’t ignore it. The hypocrisy, the greed, the dishonesty, the rampant corruption.
Unbelievable though it may seem, for me there is always an underlying thought of hope. I hope for things to get better, for people to wake up and realise their mistakes, with Brexit, with Tories, with Trump, with everything. Yes, I hope. I don’t despair. I really, really hope.
But, what is it they say? It’s the hope that gets you.
Perhaps I will at some point stop listening to politics and focus purely on the things I can control in my life: Kids, family, health, etc. I’d like to think that alone will make me a happier, more content person. But there’s a big problem with putting on a blindfold to shield oneself from the ugliness of the world: You miss out on the beautiful stuff too.
I met some lovely people in my journey into Remainerhood. I found people from all walks of life, all ages, all political flavours, ALL united as one against Brexit. The unified march through London was an experience I will treasure, and it would never have been something I had dobe, if I had been a non political person.
I found solice and uplift in helping local charities and making tiny, positive differences to the world around me. Even sticking a pack of biscuits in a supermarket food bank collection, can feel like a tiny, secret protest against the greed of my Tory constituency. Making bigger donations to a charity can generate more positive feelings too, sometimes enough to stave off the despair for a day, or a week. Again, if I were non political this would not have happened.
So if politics makes you miserable, should you stop following it altogether? I have to say on reflection, no. If it makes you angry or miserable there’s a reason for that, and while burying your head in the sand might seem tempting, sooner or later you have to pull your head out and see what’s happening.
If you have a fire inside of you, the choice is either to feed the flames or to extinguish it. Only one of those choices will be good for your soul.