I Had a Nervous Breakdown After Being Black-Pilled
Once I saw how bad the liberal mob had gotten, I burrowed into a depressive state and struggled to find my identity.
At 3 a.m. on a cold December evening, I sat outside a Travelodge in London, furiously puffing away on one cigarette after another. Drunken partygoers exited a nearby nightclub, shouting and laughing with their friends, but I was far too in my own little world to care. I had begged my ex-boyfriend to check into a nearby hotel and stay with me that night so I wasn’t left alone. Not that it made much difference.
While he slept upstairs, I spent the entire night pacing, panicking over what I would be eventually canceled for if I were ever to become famous. Would it be for that inappropriate joke I posted on Facebook when I was 17? Would it be when the public discovered that, for two years, I was claiming benefits while working? Would it be guilt by association, because I never called out those two guys in my grade who dressed up as golliwogs on their last day of school?
This slow spiral into madness had started a few months prior, if not years before.
I Thought Liberalism Signified Being Young and Modern
I grew up in a small town in rural England. I had never been what you would call a “popular kid.” I was teased and ridiculed for practically everything—my weight, my name, my intelligence, my appearance down to the way I walked. By the time I got to secondary school, the bullying had escalated, and I felt completely ostracized by my peers. My way of coping with all of this was escapism. I spent hours watching music videos, poring over magazines and watching films and documentaries on tragic icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. My teenage years were spent consuming fantasy to get a fix of what it was that I was aspiring to be: glamorous, respected, successful.
When I turned 18, I moved to London to go to university. It was my way of distancing myself from a town that had both hurt and shunned me, and surrounding myself with other creative and open-minded individuals who didn’t know who I was. By viewing myself as the poor victim who would eventually go on to make something of themselves, I could fulfill the grandiose revenge fantasy that had been playing on loop in my head ever since I was 12.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the media I was consuming in spades was largely steeped in a progressive, left-leaning worldview, curated predominantly by metropolitan, middle-class liberals. Coming from a working-class background, I had always been led to believe that the left equaled good and that right equaled bad, or at best, that conservatives were just a bit backward. To be a liberal was to be young, cool and modern: Hollywood was liberal, the mainstream media was liberal, everyone I admired and looked up to was liberal. To be a conservative was to be old, boring and regressive.
It wasn’t until 2016, well into my mid-20s, that I began to question this narrative. That year would create a monumental political earthquake in both the U.K. and the U.S., as the working classes rebelled against the establishment and turned to populism in droves. Here in the U.K., the build-up to Brexit had been highly divisive and toxic, with people falling into either one of two camps: those who wanted to remain in the E.U. and those who wanted to leave.
Many of my university peers (alongside the majority of academics, the establishment and the mainstream media) fell into the former category. I, however, did not. Venturing onto social media at this time had increasingly become like trying to dodge a landmine—in post after post, my Remain acquaintances declared how anybody who had considered voting Leave was either a racist, an idiot or both. I didn’t dare express how I planned to vote out of fear of losing friends or being shunned for my political affiliations.
The immediate fallout after the U.K. eventually decided to leave the E.U. in June was intolerable. The level of vitriol and disdain online and in the press toward people like me who had had the nerve to vote Leave was excruciating. “Gammon,” “little Englanders” and “uneducated xenophobes” were the favorite insults of choice. The persistent mudslinging—from both people I knew and public figures surrounding Brexit—left me feeling bitter and angry.
After the 2016 U.S. Election, I Began Questioning Everything
I saw the same thing play out in the U.S. when Donald Trump was elected later that year. Although I was never a fan of his, the barrage of abuse and incessant scolding toward him and his followers made me become more and more resentful of the left by the day. It became quickly clear to me that it was no longer the small-town bullies who I grew up with that I was now afraid of, but a mob of faceless, woke keyboard warriors and “progressive” celebrities who branded anyone who stepped out of line or had the wrong politics or opinion with one of their favorite buzzwords of choice: transphobe, racist, misogynist and so on.
It wasn’t just the name-calling that absolutely terrified me. This new form of 21st-century character assassination, known as cancel culture, petrified the living shit out of me. Every day, it would seem some fresh victim would fall out of favor with the moral busybodies on the left for saying or doing the wrong thing and would have their professional and personal lives irrevocably ruined for it. No one was off-limits, not even children that the left deemed as problematic.
I witnessed firsthand how relentless the mob could be if you tried to defend its latest target of choice or questioned the level of abuse being thrown at that individual. Many on Twitter were gleefully rubbing their hands after right-wing YouTube personality Jordan Peterson was admitted to rehab after becoming addicted to benzos following his wife’s cancer diagnosis. After I suggested that I didn’t think it was particularly funny to be relishing in someone else’s misfortune, whether you liked the person or not, I was dogpiled by a brigade of “tolerant” liberals in their hundreds. I was even added to a Nazi sympathizer list.
As I spent more and more time scrolling through social media, I started to question everything else that I had absorbed from the left that I had once taken as the gospel truth. Who was deemed good or bad? Who was on the right or wrong side of history? Were those that the media fawned over really as virtuous as they were portrayed? I turned to alt-right figures such as Paul Joseph Watson and Candace Owens that the left utterly despised to find answers. I was horrified to discover that not only were these people not as terrible as they had been made out to be in the mainstream media, but I actually agreed with many of the things that they said.
I Became a Victim of Black-Pilling
As I continued to question my own politics and dig even deeper, I fell further and further down the rabbit hole. I started to unearth more and more conspiracy theories being peddled online, ranging in various levels of absurdity about the left in general—from cultural Marxism to Pizzagate to the Muslim takeover of the Western World. I no longer knew who or what to trust anymore.
All I could see was left-wing bias everywhere. I felt like my whole world was turning on its head. I began to lose my identity and what I once believed. As much as I tried, I would never be woke or progressive enough for the left, or be accepted by them.
I kept seeing the term “red-pilled” being thrown around on the internet to describe what it was that I was going through. I had never watched The Matrix before, but I understood the analogy. If you take the red pill, you become awakened to the unpleasant reality around you. If you take the blue pill, you remain in contented ignorance. Some conservatives use this term to refer to a liberal becoming more right-wing, or waking up to the corruption of the leftist agenda and its control over the mainstream media and popular culture. Many former liberals online who have claimed to have been red-pilled say they felt empowered after having had their eyes opened to reality.
I, on the other hand, was left feeling like a paranoid wreck. All I wanted was to go back to my former blue-pilled, comfortable state that I had been unexpectedly dragged from.
I began to sink into a deep depression.
I would later discover that there was a name for this, too: black-pilled. In other words, when a red pill goes hopelessly rotten. I spent most of my time lying in bed, for months on end, unable to do anything other than obsessively scroll through my phone and read articles from alternative media outlets such as Breitbart and Infowars. When I wasn’t doing that, I would be sleeping, trying to temporarily shut my brain off from the ceaseless chatter and paranoid thoughts, or cry to myself.
I would regularly wake up in the middle of the night on the verge of a panic attack, unwilling to face yet another day. When I did force myself to go out, I would just sit, staring into space, shaking uncontrollably or randomly bursting into tears. My friends began to worry about me. I completely lost my appetite, which wasn’t like me at all. Whenever I did eat anything, I would usually throw it back up.
I had suffered depressive episodes in the past before, but nothing ever on this scale. I could see absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel and I was convinced this time around that I would never recover from it. Furthermore, I knew that if I was to disclose what was fueling my mental health crisis, I would probably find very little sympathy or understanding either.
I Wish I Could Go Back to Living in Ignorance
It took a long time for the mist to start to clear. Nearly six months, in fact. (And that was only through distracting myself with menial tasks that involved little association with politics or social issues such as arts and crafts or cleaning.)
I made a conscious effort to avoid watching and reading topics that I knew would trigger me. I struggled to pull myself away from social media but I had to for my own sanity. I found myself muting friends and acquaintances on Facebook whose posts left my blood boiling.
By doing this, though, I felt like an utter failure. Even though I knew I needed to remove myself from this toxic environment for my own mental health, I felt like a pathetic weakling. How would I ever be able to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a journalist or a blogger if I couldn’t cope with the crossfire of a few opinionated assholes online?
I must admit that even now, nearly three years later, I still feel lost. I am still terrified of being trolled or doxed if I put my opinion out there. I still feel disillusioned with the left. I’m not as easily triggered by politics as I was in the throes of my breakdown, but I still have to be careful. I ended up having to completely turn off all my social media channels for several weeks last year during the George Floyd protests because I couldn’t cope with the constant mudslinging between both sides of the political spectrum. I couldn’t stand the contrived virtue-signaling happening on social media or switch off the irrational paranoia that everyone around me had been brainwashed by some left-wing agenda.
Only, in this case, I was desperate to rejoin the masses to think how they did. I didn’t want to be enlightened anymore; I no longer wanted to be red-pilled. Maybe I am a coward, but if I was offered the choice to go back to how I used to think, I would in a heartbeat.
I would swallow that whole goddamn bottle of blue pills if I could.