BEIRUT: Lebanon has been revolting for the past 11 days. Among the echoing cheers and radiant hope, protesters need to keep in mind one question: Am I taking good care of my mental health?
In this light, a group of called "Bedna Nthour, Bedna Naa'ref," which translates in English to we want to revolt, we want to know, organized a public teach-in titled "Mental Health during Revolution" on Saturday October 26 at Gibran Khalil Gibran garden.
The aim of the discussion was to remind people of the importance of taking care of their mental health.
Hosted by Ghina Ismail, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the American University of Beirut and a clinical psychologist, and Mia Atoui, Instructor of Psychology at AUB and a clinical psychologist, the discussion acted as a platform for people to share their thoughts.
“It might sound controversial, but what we have to know today is our limits,” Atoui said during the discussion. “We have to know how much we can contribute to this revolution.”
According to Atoui, the revolution gives the protesters a rush of adrenaline. This rush pushes the protesters to think that they have to do everything and participate in all of the activities at once.
“We have to ask ourselves: Am I able to close a road? Am I capable of doing a sit in? Can I handle pressure during times of danger? Can I do all this at once?” Atoui added.
What people watch on television or see on social media might look easier or simpler than what it is in reality. This is why one should always ask him/herself if he/she is physically or emotionally able to take all this pressure. Any contribution is a good contribution. In other words, there is no contribution greater than another.
“You might only be able to take a picture or post a post on social media, and that is a contribution,” Atoui explained. “The moment an individual pushes his limits because he/she feels guilty, there’s a higher risk that he/she will do a burnout.”
Another point that was highlighted during the discussion was the feeling of uncertainty.
“No one really knows where this revolution is heading which makes us feel anxious,” Ismail explained. “But it’s normal to feel this. You should always remember that you are not alone.”
Aside from the feeling of uncertainty, feelings of anger should also be taken into consideration. Anger in revolutions plays a positive role and helps make the revolt a success. Yet, according to Ismail, some studies have shown that during revolutions, people are most likely to mix between their personal anger and the anger for the revolution.
“We have to know how to differentiate between our personal anger and our anger for this revolution. And what’s even more important is not to think of this revolution as a vacation from our old problems,” Ismail explained.
Ismail pointed out that people have definitely had their own personal problems before the revolution started. This is why one should deal with any problem he/she has and not avoid it or forget about it just because there is a revolution.
“The revolution will end at some point, and people will be left with their own problems at the end of the day,” Ismail said.
Tears and smiles enveloped attendees as they started sharing their personal stories.
“I’ve been projecting my anger on everything and everyone for a while,” one of the attendees said. “But, after this discussion, I realized what I’ve been doing is wrong and I decided to take today as a break.”
“I have been sleeping for two hours everyday and I haven’t been eating,” another attendee shared. “Today, I decided to go and get myself a croissant from my favorite place. I realized that I have to take care of myself because if I don’t, then I can’t take care of anything else.”
Atoui and Ismail also stressed on the importance of taking digital breaks from social media and being aware of what is being shared.
“Make sure to know what you’re sharing on social media, and always ask yourselves: why am I sharing it in the first place?” Atoui explained. “If it gave you a feeling of anger then think twice before sharing.”
Atoui and Ismail reminded the attendees that embrace’s hotline “1564” is always ready to listen to anyone who is going through tough time during this revolution.
Emotional support and suicide prevention hotline in Lebanon: 1564 | For more information, visit: www.embracelebanon.org
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