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Help! The News Is Making Me Depressed

15/01/2017 19:01
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Depression, I have often been told, is all in my head. Normally, that's a statement that is true. Sure, bad situations happen but it's how your brain deals with them that makes it depression. For example, I have bad brain chemistry, so without my little daily dose of Citalopram if a negative situation happens to me, I might not get out of bed for a week and forget the entire concept of showering. Might. Not always. Might.

However, lately, I've been beginning to feel as though my depression is even more out of my hands than it usually is. I can't control it with pills or therapy or positive thinking because I have no power over the causes of it. The causes are the outside world. Trump presidency, rise of the far right, Brexit, Tories chipping away at the NHS, the fact I'll never own a home. None of these things are my fault and yet they are making me colossally depressed.

I was on Twitter yesterday, learning about how republicans are trying to get rid of ACA and I spent hours consumed with worry for the millions of people who are going to die if they lose ACA. It's a life and death situation. Free healthcare seems so obvious to me that I can't understand why anyone in their right mind would be against it. It's not happening to me. But I can't stop caring, and worrying.

It's information overload. I follow a lot of Americans on Twitter and so the consistent stream of worry after worry ends up impacting me a lot more than in the olden days when you would just read one article on it. It's not like you can just log off Twitter if it's making you depressed.

Firstly, in these troubled times, I have an obligation to be aware of what's happening. Trump's rise to power and the rise of the far right in Europe cannot be ignored. If we want to have any chance of stopping a new era of fascism and racism from taking place we have to pay attention to the news.

Secondly, social media is how we do life now. If I was to log off social media, I would be out of contact with nearly all my friends. I love Twitter because I love reading what my friends are up to, laughing at their jokes. It's a way to engage with their lives even if we are miles and miles apart. The same for Facebook. You would be asking me to isolate myself, which would probably make me more depressed anyway.

Thirdly, it is a privilege to be able to ignore the news and not one I have. The USA is a super power. It is often said that America sneezes and the rest of the world catches a cold. These aren't the days of isolationism; just because we are in England it doesn't mean we have nothing to be afraid of. The USA often sets the standard for other countries on what is acceptable. The day after Trump was elected, racist and sexist graffiti appeared around my town. If the man who says 'grab them by the pussy' can be elected president, then who is going to have the bravery report rape anymore? America has just said loud and clear, it doesn't care. I wish I could log off and ignore the world, but the stakes are too high for that. On a personal level, I'm a queer woman and I'm afraid.

So what can be done? How can one continue to be active online despite the depression? I haven't worked it all out yet. Following more funny accounts definitely is a good start. Communicating with friends online as well is a way to combat it.

Mostly, I think we've got to learn to put down the phones for a few hours. I check my phone about 20 times an hour. That's got to stop. Tomorrow, I'm going to try and only check my phone once an hour, and hopefully, I'll feel less depressed. If you're like me, I suggest you try it with me. Let's hope it works.

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