We are all well aware of the state of affairs in Pakistan. The cat is out of the bag, or should we say the cats have been out of several bags for decades, but we as a nation have never been more aware and attuned to what’s happening in Pakistan. Be it the endless political drama, the financial doom, the demise of the justice system, and, unfortunately, the list goes on, we have hit rock bottom and, in our case, an abyss of hopelessness and despair.
What we are witnessing is the country sliding into anarchy. Unlike the widespread belief that one popular political leader is the rescuer this country needs, we need a miracle that can save Pakistan.
I want to highlight not what’s happening in Pakistan, as we all know, but our attitude towards it. It’s a collective trauma we are experiencing, accumulating over any personal trauma that we might be going through. So not only do we need to face our emotional difficulties and challenges, we, unfortunately, experience our country falling apart and impacting our lives. Inflation and its effect on our living standards isn’t the only issue. The political unrest, witnessing the law of the jungle in today’s age and time, and being unable to do anything other than social media posts are distressing and traumatic.
How do we process and cope with our challenges and this collective trauma we share with the rest of our nation? I noticed that my initial reaction was denying any negative news related to Pakistan. I avoided watching the news or engaging in a conversation relevant to what was unfolding. I would hold on to irrational hope and keep going with my life. Out of the three trauma responses of the nervous system, this was the flight mode, the avoidance of facing the conflict. Some of us have the fight mode; for example, people come to the streets to protest. And some go into freeze mode, going on in their lives like zombies and believing this is nothing.
We are traumatized by all that is unfolding in Pakistan, and how most of us deal with, it will impact our physical and mental health more than we have accounted for. We are constantly triggered by the overflow of information via tv channels or social media or the multiple dozen messages we receive from our family and friends. I also notice how every dinner discussion is about the condition the country is in. The same narrative is repeated over and over again.
As a therapist, I am trained and taught to pay attention to what happens inside me, so it has become a habitual position. I started to feel anxious whenever people around me discussed the catastrophic situation in Pakistan. I began to feel hopeless, trapped, and worried about the fear of the known and unknown that was in the future.
I am not suggesting that we avoid reality. How can we when it’s hitting us in the face? But the fact of the matter is that we have no choice but to accept and adapt ourselves to the changing landscape of this country. The makers and shakers of this country know the adaptability and resilience of human beings, which is why we are being tested to this nth degree.
So yes, let’s face and accept the reality as we are already doing but let’s not trigger ourselves beyond necessary. For example, expressing frustration on inflation is fair, but constantly working ourselves up and talking about it will not achieve anything but cause stress, making us more vulnerable and impacting our mental and physical health.
So rather than chronically discussing the country’s condition in sheer hopelessness and anger and manifesting negative energy out there, let’s stay united and pray and hope that our drawing room conversations change.