All of us traverse various kinds of emotions to get through our days. Most of how we respond to life is anchored on how we feel and how we choose to process our feelings. While we may be comfortable to deal with positive emotions, the difficult ones take a toll on us.
The pandemic has exacerbated this by restricting our physical mobility, interactions with other people, and our exposure to the outside world. This has resulted in an inwardness in most of us, where we are forced to engage with our varying emotional curves like never before.
Confronting complex emotions is taxing majorly because we are not trained to do so. We generally harbour a culture of brushing vulnerabilities under the carpet and pretending to be strong. This constructed idea of emotional resilience makes it even more difficult for us to seek help in navigating confusing emotions.
Feelings of guilt, uncertainty, loss, grief and the like are extremely draining. We are seldom taught to accept them or even acknowledge that we experience them. Accepting difficult emotions also has a gendered context to it. Certain emotions like sadness, disappointment or irritability are associated as ‘weak’ and thereby, ‘feminine’. Men are always instructed to possess ‘manly’ emotions like fearlessness, ambition and drive. This fuels problematic power dynamics in relationships, workplaces, and all other spheres of life.
The pandemic induced restrictions have additionally spiked health anxiety and a need for certainty. We have struggled to deal with the sudden loss of dear ones and fear for the safety of ourselves as well as everyone who matters to us. With no end in sight, we have all been trying to find happiness in simple pleasures while also hoping to have some semblance of normalcy, however we wish to interpret that term.
The intersectionalities of mental health cannot be ignored, especially in the context of class, caste and sexuality. Those of us who do not have the privilege of basic amenities or financial security cannot often afford to worry about our crumbling emotional health. Therapy is also expensive, making medical help inaccessible to most. These factors combined with the isolation based on caste, class and sexuality adds to the feeling of being alienated, leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms and venting.
We have been interrupted in ways we never imagined. Our general lack of healthy coping mechanisms, stigma around acknowledging vulnerabilities, the pandemic induced health risks, lack of employment and juggling many roles at once with homes doubling up as private as well as professional spaces have made the last year an excruciating one.
In the light of these experiences, as well as in cognisance of the fact that October 10th is World Mental Health Day, we at Feminism In India, invite submissions on Navigating Complex Emotions throughout October, 2021.
Here are a few broad pointers that may help you write your articles on the topic:
- Acknowledging difficult emotions – navigating grief, dealing with disappointment, anger, channeling vulnerabilities in healthy ways, coping with trauma
- Role of politics in evoking helplessness – anger about the mishandling of the pandemic by the government, inability to consume news, impact of inadequate health facilities on emotional stability, fear of loss of loved ones, overthinking
- Gender and emotions – the feeling of not being heard because of one’s gender, burden of isolation being a queer individual, revenge killings after failed relationships, unhealthy methods of coping with rejection, gender and the license to be angry
- Emotional complexities of children and the elderly during the pandemic – getting used to sudden change in lifestyle, digital fatigue and loss of enthusiasm, inability to express emotions, lack of comprehensive teaching mechanisms that address emotional health
- Addressing emotional intelligence – need for mental health sensitive syllabus, addressing the shame associated to opening up, ensuring wholesome emotional development in children and young adults
- Sex and emotional barriers – the need for sex education, conversations around consent, etiquette on dating apps, traversing barriers in sexual self-expression
- Public policy and mental health – investigating the efficiency of mental health institutions, destigmatising mental health, investigating the functioning of mental health helplines during the pandemic, need for gender inclusive public spaces, analysing the attitude problems with inclusive social participation
- Vulnerability and the need to belong – wanting to be part of social/virtual groups, addressing critical conversations within friendship, disagreeing without emotional damage, social media eco chambers and the need for peer approval
- Popular culture and emotions – representation of emotional conflict in popular culture, stereotyping of gendered emotions, glorification of male conquest and revenge, underplaying female anger in films
This list is not exhaustive. Please feel free to write on other topics within the theme that we may have missed listing here. Some of these topics are extremely personal in nature, and if you wish to maintain anonymity with respect to publication of such pieces, kindly mention in your email.
You may send us your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org We look forward to your pieces and hope you enjoy writing them!
Featured Image: Ritika Banerjee for Feminism In India