Disclaimer: I don’t normally get political here, but when politics are inextricably tied to my anxiety, it’d be doing a disservice to my readers who struggle with anxiety themselves if I didn’t bring it up. So here we are.
I didn’t realize just how much the election cycle and the reality of President-Elect Trump were both instrumental to my increasing anxiety levels lately until the past week or so, when I shared with my mom how I’d been feeling and it began a broader discussion about election and post-election anxiety. Apparently, I’m not the only one suffering from this condition; as early as last March, it was becoming a “thing.” (Source: Washington Post). And to help ease many of our collective shock/despair at the outcome, post-election, The Atlantic doled out some sound advice.
I think the biggest misconception is that Hillary voters like myself think the election was “rigged” and that’s why we’re “mad” or “upset” or why we can’t “get over it.”
But that is not at the heart of why (I feel) so many of us are feeling hopeless and helpless. I think it’s more that we see the country going in a very different direction — taking steps back towards isolationism and all that comes with it — socially, economically, racially … going against what we believe in. We see Trump as a threat to our social fabric, our culture, and — in light of recent events related to the Russian hacks — our national security. And that what is fueling our [collective] anxiety.
And I do feel scared.
Last winter I blogged about some of the reasons I was terrified of a Trump presidency, as well as reasons I find him unfit to be commander in chief … none of which were political, I might add.
The article was written before the Billy Bush incident, before the Russian hacks, before he bashed the intel community, before his proposed cabinet of inexperienced/unethical choices, before hate crimes were on the rise (as I also blogged about). This was before all that. And my feelings about him have only intensified in recent weeks. While fundamentally I don’t like or respect him, above all else, I think he is an absolute bully. Just watch how he has treated women, Mexicans, Muslims, disabled people, the press (for example — yesterday’s press conference was a national embarrassment) … the list goes on and on and on.
And don’t even get me started on his “above it all” attitude of not needing to release his tax returns, divest, or do anything else that would give us a shred of transparency into his financial interests and potential gains over the next (heaven help us) four years. The red flags are there no matter which side of the aisle you stand on — as has been proven by Republican members of Congress who have been willing to call him to task (with no avail).
And so it goes that this man will be sworn in in eight days, and the rest of us are at his mercy. As a result, I’ve been addicted to news and Facebook, and am ingesting so much news and analysis of news that it is disturbing … and it’s actually impacting my mental health. When he comes on the screen, or opens his mouth, or tweets, my stomach honestly goes into knots. Knots I remember so well. Knots I try to avoid. But how can I avoid him? He’s everywhere. And now, with only eight days til inauguration day … it is getting scarier.
I think the hardest part of his election for me to grasp is that there is really very little I can do to change the situation we are all in. Unlike overcoming a personal challenge where you have to admit you lack control over your behaviors and work to control them, this is totally not the case here. We are not in control over what’s happening. Considering half the country sat out the election, many issued protest votes (on both sides) … we’re left with the staggering realization that 25% of the population decided this election … forcing the rest of us to deal with the aftermath.
[Sure, you can write your congressmen/women and maybe he’ll do something to get impeached (preferably sooner rather than later!) but the reality is, he will still be sworn in in eight days and there’s not much any of us can do].
So yea, I’ve been feeling the stress like so many others. I’m proud to say I have NOT been stress eating to cope, or over-exercising. Instead, I’ve been forcing myself to sit with my feelings … to address why I am so upset, and to focus on the positive things I can do. For example, I’ve been writing — that’s therapeutic for me. And I’ve been eating well and going to bed at a decent time so I am not drained. Those things have helped enormously, and though they don’t change what’s happening around me, they help me be a better version of myself. So if there’s any silver lining in all this, I guess that’s one 😉
At first, this hashtag bothered me. After all, shouldn’t we still respect the office of the presidency even if we don’t like its occupant? But the more I thought about it, the more I became OK with it.
Unlike any other election in my adult life, I don’t feel I “owe” it to him to respect him simply because he’s going to be our president. He hasn’t earned my respect in any way — nor has he earned the respect of many others.
And while lord knows I didn’t love GW, I still respected the office he held. In spite of differing with him on many, many political issues, I knew he was — at heart — a good person who did have the country’s best interests at heart.
But President-Elect Trump? He may have won fair and square, but I view someone like him in the Oval Office as a stain on our democracy, and feel he will need to earn my respect, and the respect of millions of other Americans he disparaged, mocked, or insulted throughout the election cycle. As far as I’m concerned, he starts at the floor boards and will have to work his way up.
That being said, I don’t want him to fail — because if he fails, we all fail. It’s just that, in good conscience, I can’t throw my unwavering support in his direction simply because he will have President in front of his name. I believe in building bridges, not walls — and so much of what he stands for falls into the latter category.
How about you? Have you suffered from election or post-election anxiety, and how are you coping?