Original article published here
What should you do if the commentary of the marriage equality debate and the postal survey become overwhelming. Psychologist Colin Longworth suggests some practical things you can do do.
When I thought I saw Marriage Equality opponent Margaret Court on the Yahoo news page, (admittedly I was mistaken) I thought to myself “Here we go!”.
I also got to thinking about what I as a Psychologist could write to seek to seek to help reduce the impact of the hate-speech that I feel we can expect as part of the ‘debates’ on this issue that impact on the LGBTI community.
Although I couldn’t find anything in the psychological literature from my initial look, I did get to thinking of how do we ‘protect ourselves’ from other negative events?
I was reminded broadly of two things. Firstly a publication from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) on Tips for talking with and helping children and young people cope after tragic events as well as how I coped with the media barrage after the September 11th attack in New York.
Firstly, the APS tips suggest under the heading “What can parents, Caregivers and Teachers do?” They suggest – “Encourage (but don’t force) children to talk about their thoughts and feelings about the events. [or in this case debates] Let them know that talking about it can be a good thing.”
They also talk about monitoring media exposure.
So, for adults, this could well be limiting your exposure to media. My thoughts would be to ‘avoid like the plague’ the shock jocks, talk-back radio and TV current affairs programs that have a reputation for sensationalism.
It could also be advisable (as far as possible) to try avoiding people or settings that are likely to ‘push your buttons’.
Secondly, after the September 11 events, for my partner and I, after seeing the footage of the jets fly into the Twin Towers for the umpteenth time, we decided to turn off the TV and only listened to ABC FM on the radio. It only had occasional news reports, that also covered other matters at the time.
In terms of positive things it could be making a point of catching up with other LGBTI people, particularly those you might have lost contact with, or may be socially isolated.
Another could be catching up, preferably in person, rather than just via social media, with other LGBTI people and those who support us.
It could also be a case of catching up with friends to watch an LGBTI movie like Pride, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Shelter or Russell Crowe in The Sum of Us, no doubt others will have other film suggestions. For women they could perhaps be films like Tipping the Velvet or the TV series The L Word. (sorry I don’t know too many lesbian films.)
This is apart from supporting groups like Australian Marriage Equality,
However, for those who may feel overwhelmed, isolated or just want to talk with a supportive voice, I’d suggest phoning (or web-chatting) with Q-Life they are available from 3pm to Midnight on 1800 184 527.
Colin Longworth is a Psychologist in private practice and long-time volunteer counsellor with Q-Life and its predecessor organisations.
Do you need some support?
If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyondblue: and www.beyondblue.org.au
QLife: and www.qlife.org.au
QLife are a counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.