Social anxiety can diminish observation of others and the environment with self-thoughts. Moreover, the emotional struggles of anxiety can have a diminishing effect on the ability to empathise in situations. However, prolonged experience of vulnerability and emotional pain means that anxiety sufferers may have a deep capacity for empathy and compassion, if nurtured.
In the blog-post below, a new blogger, apparently based in India, writes humorously of his dismay at the pressure he feels through his social networks to attend political protests and to be politically active generally. He references protests in support of Muslims, women and other dispossessed and maligned groups: “At times, however, my social anxiety gets the best of me. And why risk panic attacks? I’ll probably be out of this country in two years or so and none of this would matter. I’m hoping Bernie would be my president. Maybe I’ll join his campaign.”
Continuing the humorous tone, the writer reveals that “all this hatred and violence doesn’t really affect me. I don’t say the last part out loud. People tend to be very judgemental.”
The blog-post is a reminder to activist groups and movements that they must broaden their tactics and their message if they are to harness the potential and support of mental health illness sufferers. In some cases, less confrontational, public, noisy or emotive political activity might suit someone with social anxiety. One-to-one attention to find out their desires and capacities can be effective in integrating and giving confidence.
Social anxiety and other mental health illness sufferers have personal experience of, in some cases, daily feelings of severe vulnerability and are well-placed to relate to other vulnerable people and animals. However, they may need to feel safe, trusted and affected to demonstrate their full range of skills and traits.
Working to benefit the welfare of others can be good for personal well-being and has potential mental health benefits, evidence suggests. What activity or level of participation is suitable for each individual will differ and this is a challenge for activist groups and mental health illness sufferers to explore. According to a study: “failing to take action in the face of a perceived sociopolitical threat leads to a poorer long-term mental health trajectory. Even engaging in activism online (e.g., tweeting about sexism) can benefit well-being.”
There is a wider lesson for activist groups seeking to create a movement. The Indian blogger expresses a sense of his well-being being ignored by his politically active and, otherwise, ethical peers. The obvious solution for this recipe for disaffection is to demonstrate real concern for individuals and their personal struggles to engender reciprocal feeling towards you and your causes.
To read the full blog-post, I don’t want to go to the protest today, click below.
And I don’t like being attacked for it.
Have I not been to enough of them already? I walked for miles, and I held one of those posters someone handed to me. Bhagat Singh or someone, I forget. And has it not been like a month since we started doing this? I can’t even see an end in the near future.
Protests are a weird affair. There’s dancing, there’s singing, people shouting till their voices break. A few hours of that always tires me out, and I prefer to go to a nice place to eat afterward. Or go to oxford and browse books on politics and history or read a newspaper. I like to keep up with current affairs.
The last time I went to a protest, I saw a bunch of guys in the white caps that Muslims wear, visibly poor, walking by my side. They had to…
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