I opened my inbox to find an email from Boris Johnson alerting me to what to expect this week. No wonder I’m suffering from PTSD, post-transition stress disorder, “persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock.” True enough.
Of course, the prime minister’s email wasn’t addressed only to me, but alas to the entire Conservative Party letting us all know that we’re leaving all the chaos and uncertainty behind to build a better, post-EU future starting at 23:00, 31 January 2020 — as if we could forget. “The arguments. The gridlock. The chaos. We’re moving past it.”
In the new Brexit world, Johnson reassures me, we’ll have a country we can be proud of, where we can walk safely on the streets at night and where children can get a world-class education. For a moment I thought they were talking about Afghanistan and not the Britain I am already proud to be a part of.
So many Remainers, not least me, suffer from a kind of political trauma. I have flashbacks to 23 June 2016, to a calmer, gentler world, before I started to experience dulled responses to others and the outside world. It’s impossible to avoid the internal and external triggers that bring on the nostalgia of a pre-Brexit world, the time before David Dimbleby announced, “we’re out”.
In the three years since that announcement, I have taken heed of the advice to stockpile food. I’ve stocked and restocked my fridge and freezer and filled my shelves with frozen food, dry goods, and tins of tuna, in the unlikely event that France wouldn’t ship over its cheese, or Italian pasta would end up stopped in long lines of lorries at Calais. I never thought that was a real possibility, which is good as I’ve already eaten my emergency reserves once or twice over.
What will 1 February bring? Will Boris’s Big Ben Brexit tip us over the edge? Is that why Meghan and Harry did a Megxit, to avoid the whole thing?
What will our Brexit world look like? Will we all have to conform to some post-Brexit world where we can no longer easily travel to the continent? Will we fall into an economic black hole that makes Greece’s finances look healthy?
Good things can come out of adversity. I take heart in the Rhonnda Valley story about a decimated coal-mining town that just won the UK’s best high street award. Treorchy’s residents all pitched in to create a vibrant community with shops that sell flowers, clothes and good food. The restaurants and pubs attract both locals and visitors.
I’m hoping that my Leave friends are right and the future reflects the news today that predicts a strong post-Brexit economy. That will help cure my PTSD symptoms as we head into this brave, new world. I am happy to be wrong about my dystopian take on the years to come that I too often feel might parallel the HS2 journey, way over budget and going nowhere anytime soon. We’ll still be talking about Brexit all through 2020, regardless. As for talking, I wonder if there is a phone line that offers advice for my anxiety or a therapy group that can work on my post-transition symptoms.