Mandy Wiener: Trying not to lose it over load shedding
We need to talk about the mental health impact that load shedding is having on us as a collective. It's not something that is always top of mind or easy to do but we can't ignore it, writes Mandy Wiener.
I'm almost always optimistic about the country. At least, I try to be. To the point that friends and family tell me that I'm being unrealistic or delusional.
I often get accused of being like the frog in the pot of boiling water, refusing to acknowledge that things are getting worse. As a journalist, we spend the bulk of our time shining spotlights on negativity as we attempt to hold power to account. This is probably why I am so conscious of not being sucked into the cynicism.
But this load shedding is really getting to me this time around. It's not like we're rolling blackout virgins. We've been through this before. But this time, it just seems to be impacting me a lot worse.
It permeates every aspect of our lives and the knock-on effects are real. It's making me angry and short tempered and irritable. I know I'm not alone on this because I hear it in the conversations I'm part of and see it in people's faces and how we are treating one another.
We are anxious and on edge. Like you, I'm pissed off about the mismanagement and the incompetence, the dereliction of duty and the failure of our elected leaders to have foresight. I'm also angry at the possibility of politically motivated sabotage and how we ever let things get to this point.
We need to talk about the mental health impact that load shedding is having on us as a collective. It's not something that is always top of mind or easy to do but we can't ignore it.
We don't want it to reach breaking point and then have to live with the regret. We need some kind of national therapy, an outlet to deal with it all. Many on social media have suggested that May 8, election day, will be our collective catharsis. Sure, I get that. But we need to be more proactive about staying sane and not losing our shit over this period.
Please, don't misinterpret this as pessimism about South Africa or as an invitation for you to rant about how awful the country is. You can take that elsewhere, thanks.
I acknowledge that we have to be critical and hold the leadership accountable, but I can't justify writing off the entire country because of this one issue. I get that it is the catalyst for people with the means to choose to emigrate. It is the canary in the mineshaft for many. But load shedding doesn't mean we're on a slippery slope into anarchy or that "we are going to be the next Zimbabwe".
I may sound like a Pollyana desperately searching for the positives in this diabolical mess but far from it. I'm also battling to put a smile on my dial and continue to justify the situation.
We need to have a conversation about how we can stay positive and patriotic and be active citizens. Fortunately, we have people like the guys at Good Things Guy and mental coach and speaker Erik Kruger to keep us on track when we want to it. I found this mini-guide on how not to lose your mind when losing your power really valuable.
This bit about ubuntu resonated with me most.
"You are not suffering alone. It may feel like it. But rest assured that we are all feeling the strain. Of course, I am not suggesting that there is some joy to be found in observing the suffering of others. However, when we know that others are experiencing the same hardships it gives a sense of Ubuntu. We are in this together and together we will overcome."
In the wise words of my mother, this too shall pass. But before it does, we need to make sure we stay sane and don't lose our shit completely as the power continues to go out.
- Wiener is a specialist reporter for News24.
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