Electile Dysfunction: Some General Suggestions

We’re sure you’ve got enough people on your screens, Newsfeed and real life, telling you how important it is to go out and vote. This is not that. This is for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at the prospect of voting; overwhelmed with the pressures of the Holiday Season; you may be so overwhelmed that the Ghost of Christmas Future (who curiously looks a lot like Greta Thunberg) is haunting you in your sleep, roasting marshmallows over the flaming carcass of our scorched earth whilst freestyling a Diss Track about how it’s all your fault. (Just me? Okay. Awkward.)

It’s hardly surprising why we’re feeling anxious lately…

In between our shows and workshops, our aim is to provide an online presence of comfort (as well as education and general sexiness, obviously). Whether you receive our monthly postcards or just check up on our Instagram from time to time, we want you to know we appreciate you, and we always, always want you to know that you are not alone. Mental health is a struggle, especially at this time of year, and especially when there’s a political trash-fire happening all around us.

More than anything, we want to remind you that your mental health is as much a priority on Thursday 12th December as it will be on Friday 13th, as it was on Wednesday 11th, and as it will ever be. Your mental health matters, and you deserve to prioritise it. So…

HERE ARE A FEW SUGGESTIONS for anyone feeling those 🎺 ELection Blues 🎷:  

💙 Remind yourself what you value.

If anxiety is looming large and threatening to prevent you from getting to the polling station, as well as remembering any counselling or training you have received to help this (CBT, mindfulness techniques etc.), it may be helpful to remind yourself of why voting is important to you.

  • If you know which way you want to vote, read your favoured party’s manifesto again (or an opposing team’s, the one you want to vote out, if you’re feeling sassy!).
  • If you know you’re in a constituency where your vote needs to be tactical, take another look at how many votes it will take to sway the ballot.
  • If voting is important to you as a human right in itself, Google some pictures of the people who fought for you to have this right. For example, I will be staring at etchings of the Women’s Suffrage Movement while furiously vaping CBD oil and humming ‘Steal Away to Jesus’. Make it your own.
Whatever keeps ya motivated…

💙 S.O.S. – Save Our Spoons!

This one is offered particularly if your anxiety is limiting your productivity. In the chronic illness community, we often talk of ‘spoons’:

Some great descriptions of Spoon Theory here! Thanks to Disibilitease babe Little Peaches @littlepeachesburlesque for sending this to us 💞

In short, we use ‘spoons’ to represent how much energy any given task will take, versus how much we have to spend. So using this terminology, we can ask ourselves: how many ‘spoons’ do we have today? How many ‘spoons’ will voting take from you? Can you tweak your plan so it takes fewer ‘spoons’? If voting takes some of your ‘spoons;, how many will you have left, and how can you fit in your other priorities?

Some spoon-saving/ spoon-replenishing workarounds include:
  • Share, delegate, or postpone household tasks
  • Opt for the dry-shampoo/hat trick rather than expending energy on a full shower right now (we won’t judge)
  • Take half an hour to meditate/ pray, or otherwise nourish your spiritual self
  • Ask if you can car-share to the polling station, or treat yourself to a taxi 

Take support wherever you can get it, without apologising – just say ‘thank you’. Whatever will make the day easier and allow you to balance your priorities – do it!

💙 Incentives aren’t just for kids.

Up and down the country, many of us will be battling ourselves in some form to get to the polling station. Social anxiety may taunt you about having to encounter people at the polling station. PTSD may be treating you to knot in your stomach the size of Denmark. Depression may be questioning what even is the point in it at all. Seasonal Affective Disorder may be dreading the grey skies and drizzle and what that threatens to do to your mood. PMDD may be threatening to garott the next person who smiles at you with a tampon string. In the quiet of the polling station queues, it’s almost a shame we can’t hear the cacophonous choir of criticism our brains are all throwing at us: You’re a worthless human. Your voice doesn’t count. You’ll only get it wrong. You don’t deserve a good government or a good life. You can’t make decisions about your own life, let alone what’s best for the country. Go home, get under the covers, and never come out. I guarantee so many people are thinking the same, fighting their own dickish brains. It is a battle, and you are valiant for facing up to meet it.

Treats come in all shapes and sizes… 📸: Steve Gregson, @stevegregsonphotography

All the more reason to make sure to set aside a treat for yourself afterwards. This might be a Netflix spree, a seasonal latte, a guilt-free nap, or just the sweet, sweet feeling of Sticking It to the Man.  Whatever it is, make it a good one for you, and for the love of Emmeline Pankhurst, enjoy it. You’ve earned it, kiddo.

💙 Reach out IRL.

📸: Richard McKenzie, @theburlyphotographer

This one applies just as well, whether you’re concerned about which way to vote or if you’re just freaking terrified about the outcome generally. See if you can open up a dialogue (in real life, if at all possible – the Internet is dodgy at the best of times, but it’s a vipers’ nest on steroids in these times of political significance). Pick some choice friends that you trust, who won’t judge you or use the moment as an opportunity to ‘convert’ you to their ‘team’. Lead with vulnerability, and show them you’re looking to make connection. “Hey, is it just me or is this whole election thing making you poop your pants with anxiety?” is one potential opener.

Whether they are able to lend constructive advice, a different perspective, or just a listening ear, studies show time and time again that human connection dramatically improves our mental health. You are never as alone as you might fear.

💙 Prioritise your own needs.

Okay, here’s where we get radical.

If you find you simply can’t get to the polling station tomorrow – whether that “can’t” is physical, mental, social or emotional – this does not make are not a bad person. This is not the only action that defines you, now or ever. There will be other elections, and there are lots of other ways of helping people in need if that is your primary concern. Sure, do your best to get there, especially if it’s important to you. But if it’s a choice between voting and having the Mother of All Panic Attacks? Your mental health comes first. The people who love you do not judge you; they just want you to be well. You can put us in that category too. 🙋‍♀️

Treat yourself kindly. 📸: Richard McKenzie, @theburlyphotographer

Yes, your voice matters, and you know to use your one vote well. But it may comfort you to see the flipside: it’s just one vote. Whatever the outcome, it’s still all probably going to be a bit shit… it’s just about where we are on the Spectrum of Shit at the end of the day. So cut yourself some slack. Allow yourself to tune into your own values and logic without the weight of the world resting on your shoulders. Because you do not bear this alone (yet another reason why democracy is so great – we’re all in this together).

Yes, your voice matters, and you know to use your one vote well. But it may comfort you to see the flipside: it’s just one vote.

So, if this election has you het up or feeling unusual amounts of anxiety, know that you are not alone. The good news in all of this is – if there’s a lot of us feeling so much anxiety around voting, that means there’s a lot of us that care. And if we want to change things, the first step is giving enough of a 💩.  

And no matter the outcome, Invisible Cabaret will always be here to stuff your ballot box.

Happy Democracy!

Rosie Verbose x

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