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Democracy’s Dark Side: My Mental Health Struggles In Nigeria’s 2023 Election

A personal account of mental health struggles experienced during Nigeria’s 2023 election, highlighting factors that contributed and advocating for electoral reform and mental health awareness.

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Democracy's Dark Side: My Mental Health Struggles In Nigeria's 2023 Election

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As Nigeria’s 2023 general election came to an end, it left in its wake a trail of social, political, and emotional turmoil. While the significance of the election for the country’s political landscape cannot be understated, the mental health struggles faced by many, including myself, warrant attention.

In this article, I will delve into the factors that impacted my mental health during this tumultuous time and highlight the need for a more inclusive, transparent, and peaceful electoral process in the future.

Democracy's Dark Side: My Mental Health Struggles In Nigeria's 2023 Election
Democracy’s Dark Side: My Mental Health Struggles In Nigeria’s 2023 Election
  1. A Climate of Fear and Uncertainty

The months leading up to the 2023 general election were fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Political unrest, potential violence, and the general tension among the populace took a toll on my mental health. Sleepless nights, constant worry about the safety of my family and friends, and an inability to concentrate on my daily responsibilities became a part of my life during this period.

  1. Voter Intimidation and Violent Threats

The election was marred by instances of voter intimidation and violent threats, particularly against the Igbos. This environment of fear and hostility made it difficult for citizens to exercise their democratic rights and resulted in feelings of helplessness and anxiety. The fear for personal safety and the safety of loved ones had a significant impact on my mental well-being.

  1. Misinformation and Disinformation

The spread of misinformation and disinformation during the election contributed to confusion, mistrust, and polarization among the populace. This barrage of false information made it challenging to separate fact from fiction, causing stress and anxiety. The constant need to verify information and navigate the complex web of deceit took a toll on my mental health.

  1. Tribalism and Hate

The 2023 general election exposed deep-seated tribalism and hate among different regions and ethnic groups in Nigeria. This animosity, particularly from the southwest and the north towards the south-south and southeast, perpetuated a toxic atmosphere that affected my mental well-being. The realization that these prejudices continue to drive divisions in our society was disheartening and emotionally draining.

  1. Social Media’s Double-Edged Sword

During the election period, social media became a double-edged sword. While it was a useful tool for staying informed and engaged, it also exposed me to a barrage of fake news, hate speech, and toxic discussions. The constant exposure to negative information and divisive rhetoric amplified my stress levels and fueled feelings of hopelessness and despair.

  1. The Role of Influencers

Many social media influencers, whom I once respected, played a disappointing role in the election by accepting payments to promote certain political agendas or candidates. This unethical behavior eroded trust in these public figures and increased cynicism about the democratic process. The disillusionment with these influencers, who had a responsibility to provide unbiased information, further impacted my mental health.

  1. Election Rigging

Witnessing instances of election rigging at various polling units was demoralizing and disheartening. This blatant disregard for democratic principles fueled feelings of anger, frustration, and hopelessness. The sense that my vote and the votes of millions of Nigerians might not count due to electoral malpractice was emotionally distressing.

  1. Social Media Commentary

The divisive and inflammatory comments on platforms like Nairaland and Twitter served as a constant reminder of the deep divisions within Nigeria. Engaging with or witnessing these discussions often left me feeling drained, disillusioned, and distressed.

  1. INEC’s Conduct

The Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) handling of the election was widely criticized as one of the worst in Nigeria’s history. The lack of transparency, organizational inefficiency, and allegations of bias led to distrust in the electoral process and a sense of disillusionment. This further exacerbated the stress and anxiety I experienced during the election.

  1. The Pressure to Participate

As a responsible citizen, I felt compelled to participate in the electoral process and make my voice heard. However, this responsibility brought its own set of mental health challenges. The pressure to choose the right candidate, coupled with the fear of potential consequences if the wrong person was elected, was overwhelming. This decision-making process led to self-doubt and second-guessing, further eroding my mental well-being.

  1. Post-Election Fallout

After the election results were announced, the initial relief quickly turned to disappointment and despair. The fear of what the future held for Nigeria, as well as the frustration with the electoral process, left me feeling emotionally drained. The constant analysis and discussion of the election results, as well as the uncertainty about the country’s political future, continued to affect my mental health.

  1. The Path to Recovery

The first stage to recovery was realizing how the 2023 general election affected my state of mind. I was able to gain perspective and create coping mechanisms by asking for assistance from friends, family, and mental health specialists. Self-care practices like exercise, meditation, and disconnecting from social media were all extremely important to me as I worked to recover my mental health.

Conclusion

The general election in Nigeria in 2023 marked a turning moment for the nation as well as for my mental health. By telling my story, I expect to spur positive change and increase awareness of how political events can negatively impact mental health. Prioritizing mental health in our culture is important, as is creating a safe space where people can express and address their worries without feeling embarrassed or afraid. To safeguard both the integrity of our democracy and the welfare of our people, it is crucial that we work toward a more inclusive, open, and peaceful electoral process as Nigeria develops.

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Source: MandyNews.com

I have a passion for blogging about what's trending in Hip-Hop, politics and entertainment. I'm a huge Hip-hop fan; my favorite artiste are Chris Brown, Jay'z & Beyonce. I also enjoy spending time with my team (#TeamWE), and working hard as hard work pays off.

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