Elections are frightening times for those of us who need the safety net the state is supposed to provide. Everyone is impacted by political decisions, but for those of us who rely on the NHS to keep us alive and on benefits to keep rooves over our heads, elections remind us of our powerlessness and our vulnerability. If you have someone in your life who’s chronically ill or disabled, get in touch with them this week if you can. It’s a good time to be reminding people they’re not alone.
I had a suicidal crisis just after the 2015 election and not long after the Brexit vote, so I’ve been thinking about how I can get ready for Thursday night and Friday morning. I know Labour have been doing better in the polls, but I’m not getting my hopes up – I was blindsided by the results before. This time I can be prepared. I’m going to try to volunteer with my local candidate’s campaign on Thursday evening, if my anxiety allows. I’ve got a plan to go to my art studio on Friday, and I know that a GP I know well is running the duty service that day. I’ve arranged an appointment with my usual GP for the following week. I’ve made plans so that I don’t spend the weekend alone. I’m writing a list of things to remember on election night. I’m sharing it in case anyone else needs it.
1) Whatever the result, nothing in our day to day lives is going to change instantly. We aren’t going to wake up on Friday morning to find the sky rent in two and the horsemen of the apocalypse riding, even if the worst happens and the Tories increase their majority. Nor will we wake up to find our benefits have instantly been removed or that the NHS is instantly ten times more underfunded. This election matters, but it takes time to push through changes, and there are many ways to resist. We will have time to breathe, to gather ourselves, to feel devastated and frightened and then to pass through to the other side of those feelings, and start fighting back.
2) It’s ok if you feel like shit. Curl up in a ball under a blanket. Wait for the dust to settle before you react.
3) The Samaritans are always there. It’s free to phone them. You can also text them on 07725909090, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Cats are still good.