What's Your Poison?

2017-02-19 06:51

Picture: WHO


It has become annoying to some citizens that they are always being told what to do. They feel judged for their lifestyle choices and personal decisions. Gender-based stereotypes do not make it any easier. Women who smoke are not having it easy in conservative communities. Hard-working career women are disliked for not breastfeeding their children. Overweight individuals do not always enjoy their meals, large or small, in peace when in public spaces. Sex workers are constantly being threatened and abused for what they do. Some people keep paying for gym membership but have not set foot in those gyms for a significant number of months. Those with chronic medical conditions are being scolded for missing clinic or hospital appointments. Why should society decide for us who we should be?

I Give Up

How many times have you tried losing weight and failed? When was the last time you had a portion of vegetables with your regular meal? What if you are eating healthy daily but you still fall sick? What is the point of minimizing alcohol and tobacco if you could end up dead from other causes unrelated to such? Why continue with that medical checkup if you are not getting any better? You wanted a cure, all you are getting is symptom control and your pill burden has now increased. On some days, you just want to drive as far and as fast as you can. But you end up with a pile of speeding fines and warrants of arrest. Don't you ask yourself why the speed limit isn't car specific? Sometimes you wonder why non-emergency blue lights are allowed to do as they please.

Your Environment

You are surrounded by negative people full of hate. If it is not that guy that bumped into you as you were walking and never apologized, there is that lady that keeps holding her bag tightly thinking you are going to grab it. People are just rude and no one cares anymore. Your area is no longer safe and children can't play outside alone. Your friend got hijacked last week, your neighbour's cousin was robbed last year and your boss told you how his uncle was shot in cold blood last month. You are constantly hyper-alert and you can't trust any strangers. On the other hand, electricity and water bills have gone up. Your rent amount is never stable. Petrol and diesel prices keep toying with the nation. After paying your TV licence, you are now told the DSTV subscription fees are due for an increase.

The People

You cannot understand why people expect you to speak their language but they don't know more than 2 words of yours. As far as you are informed, on South African grounds 11 languages are official. There is racism and hate speech all over social media. People will either label you privileged, smart, business-minded, violent or lazy based on the colour of your skin. The country is more divided now than it ever was and you are wondering how kids can be raised in this era. Either you accept the violent protests or you don't. Whichever way, you do not understand why someone else won't see your point of view. With issues of poverty, crime or affirmative action, people are divided on how to address and solve these problems.

The Government

If you have voted for the ruling party, you are now either a loyalist or you don't think they are doing well. Divisions and different camps have caused so much tension that opposition parties are hitting that spot. If you don't believe in how the ruling party is running issues, you are constantly complaining and wondering how this country got here. Whatever your political views are, you are not happy because you are not getting what you think you deserve. If you believe in the principles of helping the majority of the population, you don't understand why the minority group is unhappy. From the perspective of the minority group, you feel that the country isn't doing anything for you. SoNA, fees must fall protests and service delivery protests now seem to have a lot in common.

Mental Health

In a judgmental, negative and inconsiderate society, it is normal for one to feel unhappy, dissatisfied, disappointed, persecuted and misunderstood. With natural phenomenons and uncontrollable factors interacting with our lives daily, we often feel powerless. We are taking in a lot of "data" from our surrounding into our minds but failing to process it adequately. As a result, we end up giving in to going with the flow and reacting to situations in an unhealthy manner. We find expectations annoying when they don't cater for our feelings, beliefs or choices. We easily give up when we do not get reassurance or support. We all secretly hope for good things in life and a better future. We tend to rebel when society does not take us seriously. When we start focusing on the negatives and giving up, we lose sight of the great balance in life: it is never always light or dark. What if we have not exhausted all options? What if our mental health has been greatly affected by all these daily challenges?

People are often willing to get help if they have a physical problem that bothers them. Not everyone believes in routine checkups if they think they are well. Some wait for accidents or severe pain before consulting. Mental health has a stigma attached to it which people do not want to be associated with. People think of "nervous breakdown" or "being crazy" as the only problems that should be addressed. Others will only consider getting help when they are required to do so by law. Unfortunately, the damage done on our minds cannot always be seen and can be ignored for a while. Others are not so lucky as the mind will sometimes generate physical symptoms that will slow them down. With depression, it is not uncommon to feel tired, too sleepy or have a decreased appetite.

Our country has a lot of challenges and struggles that affect everyone. We cannot expect everyone to understand or sympathize with us. We also cannot always get what we want. Sometimes what we believe is right might not be true for everyone. And sadly, cannot always change the world. If we choose to sit on the fence or make things worse, we are no different from the ones who are causing some of these problems. So what can we do?

How To Manage Stress

There are high risk behaviours and habits that we develop to cope with stress. Unhealthy food, smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, speeding and unsafe sex practices are sometimes coping mechanisms indicative of deep-lying issues. It's like a cascade and we all keep knocking each other down. We take out our frustrations on unsuspecting victims hoping to deliver some pay-back. Breaking this cycle starts with you. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree. Most times we hope to set our difference aside to work together for a productive, safe and accommodating country. There are times when we can try changing others' behaviour. That's a mammoth task and a topic for another day. For now, we all need to do some introspection and influence positive change.

Be careful of those who have given up in life. They only serve themselves and no one else. Look out for the pessimistic, for they are convinced of what they do. They need our positive influence more than you think.

Do regular mental health checkups. Speak to a psychologist, social worker or any counsellor about clearing your mind of negative data, letting go and looking on the bright side.

Everybody got their reason

Everybody got their way

We're just catching and releasing

What builds up throughout the day

It gets into your body And it flows right through your blood We can tell each other secrets And remember how to love

Matt Simons- Catch and Release.

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