Treating post election depression
'Ronni' is a 40-year-old man who campaigned strongly and whole heartedly for his chosen candidate during the recent national election.
His candidate lost. He is feeling depressed. He couldn't face work on Friday and remains despondent. He said he cannot understand how his candidate lost. "Dem eat de food and neva go vote!"
After an election, some persons are jubilant. However, others are so depressed they are still resting at home in bed, dependent on their view of the outcome.
Some individuals are experiencing not just disappointment but full-scale depression, which is difficult for them to conceal.
Anger over a candidate losing can trigger other emotions which remind us of other disappointments in life, a feeling that someone close did not make a rational decision. It can be a feeling of betrayal, almost overwhelming.
Some people will continue to struggle, emotionally, for a time. Generally, in our communities, we should acknowledge this situation, be respectful of the views of others and give people their space without following up on everything they say, creating further conflict.
The person whose candidate didn't win may experience heartache and real pain, almost as if someone died. It feels as if the bad feeling will be permanent but it never is. Similar to other emotional disorders, healing comes with the passage of time.
Last week polls had showed an election race which was practically tied with supporters of either party ill-prepared, psychologically, to lose. With both sides so polarised, it becomes difficult for the losing party to join the winners in an emotional reconciliation and political acceptance, which would lead to 'closure' moving on with the task of nation rebuilding.
There are emotional responses which seem to emerge when people's hopes are thwarted:
• Depression and sadness: People feel like their personal hopes for the future have been nullified. They feel despondent and fearful.
• Anger: People refuse to believe the legitimacy of the election results. They are angry with the new member of parliament and, perhaps, the entire electoral process.
• Resentment: This can cause alienation and even anti-social activities.
• Cynicism: Because their candidate lost, the individual loses trust in the democratic process and even has thoughts of migration.
When these feelings occur, it is best to engender a long term positive political view. Instead of focusing on a political leader, consider the important issues, nationally and locally. Move along, move forward!
Anyone over the age of 40 has potentially already participated in four elections and is here to tell the tale and share stories!
Our forecasts for the future are often less than correct. We cannot see factors which will play in the future, locally nor internationally. There are often factors which will occur, affect our lives and change the outlook for the future. Because of this, strong negative or positive feelings, which exist at this time, will not necessarily persist as daily realities are faced. In fact, sometimes unacceptable situations present options which are ultimately welcomed.
Dos and Don'ts:
• Don't watch old campaign footage or pre-election coverage if you are feeling down.
• Remove photos and memorabilia associated with the elections, even temporarily.
• Don't do rash things you said you would, like leave the country (That's very short- term thinking, anyway).
n Don't blame yourself if you were actually campaigning and your candidate lost. You did your best. The results aren't your fault.
• Go to the beach, eat out, visit the theatre, indulge a bit.
Post-election negativity is often detrimental to many relationships, so if chat becomes too heated don't be afraid to be the one to break away from the conversation. Change the topic or take a break away from the hostile environment. Try not to say hateful things. Create positive energies which will, in fact, make you attractive. If you hear wild talk, encourage responsibility and never respond impulsively to what you are hearing. Think first.
If you really feel down, consider talking to your family doctor. Talking seriously about your feelings helps put them in perspective. In a situation where many people are polarised in their views, it is good to know the human psychological processes will work to defuse excessive emotion and restore calm.
PO Box 1731,