How to Struggle Well in the Face of Adversity: Feeling the burden of the leaked Roe v Wade opinion
Updated: Aug 7
During these unprecedented times, it can feel like there is often upsetting news waiting around the corner. Recently released was the Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v Wade, which was the landmark Supreme Court decision from 1973 that protects women’s access to medically safe abortion in the US. The potential reality of Roe v Wade being overturned rolls back the women’s rights movement that’s been struggling to move forward for decades. This is not an opinion piece about the leaked Supreme Court opinion. The purpose of this blog is to highlight the potential mental health consequences many women may be facing from this impending event, and to provide resources for how to get through these times.
Social injustice has mental health impacts on the community. Racism and discrimination causes trauma to people of color and minority groups. Sexism causes trauma to women and those who don’t align with the normative male gender. Ageism causes trauma to the aging population. Queerphobia and homophobia causes trauma to individuals in the LGBTQ+ population. Ableism causes trauma to the disabled population. A rollback on women’s rights is a social justice issue and has the potential for causing trauma to many women across the country.
Social injustice and trauma
The type of trauma caused by social injustice is referred to as systemic or institutionalized trauma.
“This category refers to the way that people are harmed by the larger systems that many of us rely on such as the educational system, political system, criminal justice system, healthcare, etc. In the United States (and many other countries), these systems are set up to serve a small group of people often at the expense of a larger group of people.”
Systemic trauma causes a sense of threat or danger to the livelihood of those that the system does not serve. The potential overruling of Roe v Wade jeopardizes the safety of women’s reproductive rights and health, therefore potentially causing threat to the livelihood of many women, and therefore also causing trauma.
Symptoms of trauma can look like:
Feeling at a loss of words or shocked
Fear and anxiety
Low mood, low motivation, or depression
Physiological distress such as headaches, upset stomach, shakiness, or pain
Sense of hopelessness
Moments of panic
Feelings of anger or irritability
Self-blaming, shame or guilt
This can be a hard time for many women who are feeling the anticipatory effects of this news, and there is no right or wrong way to process it.
Building resilience in the face of adversity
So what do women do? If there’s awareness of potential trauma, how do we navigate through such adversity? We can better navigate through traumatic times by building resiliency.
What is resiliency?
“Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.”
Retrieved from Building your resilience
Here are some ways women can build resilience during this unprecedented time:
Prioritize your wellbeing
Caring for ourselves is a way to ensure we have the energy and resources we need to make it through adverse times. Take time to listen to what your mind and body need. You can set aside time in your day to be mindful of your needs and do the things that help you feel more rested and cared for. Listen to your physical needs for movement, nourishment, and rest. By finding time to read, meditate, or doing a hobby you enjoy, you can care for your mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Make time for relationships that serve you
Community makes us stronger and relationships are important to our wellbeing. Foster those relationships that bring you joy and meaning through connection. This can be deepening relationships you already have or creating new ones by joining groups or getting more involved in your community.
Find intention and purpose
Prioritizing our goals helps with motivation and can provide some protection against the harmful effects of stress. Reflect on the goals that bring you passion and meaning. This can be starting a project, getting involved in safe and appropriate activism, giving back to the community through volunteering, making a plan to move towards your personal or professional goals, or dedicating intentional time to self-discovery or growth.
Make space for reality and the emotions that come along with it
As relieving as it is to distract ourselves from reality and push down the feelings of overwhelm, anger, grief, and sadness; this is temporary avoidance of important feelings that will continue to emerge. Reality will still be there and so will the feelings associated with it. When we distract ourselves from reality, we not only disconnect from the current situation, we also disconnect from ourselves and those around us. Instead of seeking an escape, try to notice and acknowledge the difficulty of reality and the feelings that come with it. Emotions are just messengers letting you know what’s important. They arise like a wave to share their message, and then fall away once they’ve done their job. The more we’re aware of our internal experience and give it space, the better we manage through adversity.
Seek mental health support and help
An effective way to build resilience is to do our own inner work. Taking the time to work through and grow from personal issues directly builds the resources we need to adapt well to adversity. This can look like seeking out therapy, counseling, or a support group.
Another step towards building resilience is by seeking out help when we really need it. If we’re really struggling with anxiety, depression, past trauma, or relationship issues, taking the step to seek help is a first move to take care of and prioritize our needs, which will also help us access our internal resources to manage well through difficult times.
The potential overturning of Roe v Wade can be shocking, upsetting, and it has harmful implications for many women. While the reality may feel burdensome, we don’t have to grit and bear through and we don’t have a struggle alone. We can still rise in the face of adversity.
If you or someone you know is struggling with these uncertain times and you’re interested in seeking support, help, or more information, click the button below to get in touch.