Effects of the Government Shutdown on Mental Health

Before I start the article, I want to go over a few things. First, I have my opinions on where the blame lies for the shutdown. Second, I will not go into such things in this article. Finally, I will not approve any comments that talk about the politics of the situation.

Over the past few weeks, those of you living the United States have undoubtedly seen and heard many stories about the affect the shutdown of the federal government has on the economy, at all levels, and the affect it has on many social programs around the nation. While these are all true and serious concerns, there is one thing I have not heard anything about at all, the impact that the shutdown is having on the mental well-being of the furloughed employees and their families.

As one of the 800,000 furloughed employees and the only source of income for my wife and I, I can provide a little insight into this aspect of the shutdown.

The shutdown has greatly increased my stress level, kept me up at nights worrying about how I would put food on the table and pay my bills. These symptoms did not start on October 1st when the government shutdown, rather they started  about a week before the shutdown as it became apparent that the shutdown was inevitable. Each day the stress and anxiety around the office increased, each day there was less productivity because all we could think about was what are we going to do if they do not pull a miracle out of their ass and fund the government? How were we going to pay our bills? How were we going to feed our families?

It is more than just stress and sleepless nights, those two combined have left me feeling physically ill.

I have on more than one occasion felt like a failure and useless because I could not guarantee that I could provide for my wife and I. It has left me increasingly frustrated and angry; especially, since I am hard working and for the last eight years have earned excellent performance reviews from my managers, performance awards and other forms of recognition. It has left me feeling helpless and powerless, to be put in this situation without having done anything wrong and not being able to do anything but sit at home and twiddle my thumbs waiting for Congress to get their heads out of their proverbial asses.

With every day that passes without a resolution, my emotional state deteriorates and I become more stressed. Everyday, I have to fight even harder to keep myself as emotionally regulated as possible. Each day it becomes more difficult.

Sadly, in some cases I am one of the luckier ones. It is just my wife and I. I know a number of people that are married with children, where both parents work for the government. Good hardworking, responsible people who are in the same situation I am in, but even worse off because they have kids. Some of them have some savings while others have had to use up all or most of their savings for medical bills.

How many other workers face mental health challenges? How many of them will suffer severe set backs to their health? How many of them will end up losing their lives if this situation drags on much longer?

These politicians forget, or maybe they do not care, that they are screwing with the lives of human beings. People that are hard working dedicated employees with families, people who just want to do their jobs. People who work for the government, for less money than they could in the private sector, because they love their country.

Comments

Comment from Peter Minde - 2013/11/18 at 18:11

I’ve read this and some other posts on this site. It takes courage to write about these topics online. May you have the strength to cope with your challenges, and keep writing.

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