Last night my own sense of ongoing dissatisfaction and outrage came to a head. I imagine many among those that consider themselves to be part of “The Resistance” felt this same sense of unease reach it’s apex as Vice President Pence cast his tie-breaking vote in favor repealing the Affordable Care Act. As I continue to read my news feed and Twitter I realize that my outrage and frustration will only continue to grow.
I literally felt ill last night. That sinking pit in my stomach continued to twist and turn my insides; churning the bile of outright anger and rage as I watched our political system crumble and fail us before our very eyes. The vote to move the debate on Healthcare to the Senate floor was disheartening, not only for its ramifications for millions of Americans, but it also feels like it represents a tactical loss in the battle for the heart and soul of America. As I pondered further the fact that the prospects for our great nation seems to have been shattered and lying in shambles before our feet, I felt light-headed and a tightness in my chest as anxiety and fear gripped my very soul. This is not healthy. I shut down twitter from my phone that evening and distracted myself for a few hours with some mindless entertainment; far removed from the realm of politics. This hiatus is not permanent. I jumped right back into the fray this very morning; but sometimes you simply have to take a mental health day away from it all.
So, as a “resister,” do you suffer from Trump Dysphoria?
If you are an impassioned American with the concern for the well-being of your neighbors and fellow citizens, I’d wager you suffer from some form of “Trump Dysphoria.” How can you recognize this particular affliction? Truth be told, the symptoms will likely come as no surprise to anyone.
- An Overwhelming Sense of Powerlessness. Thousands…hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions, have raised their voices in opposition to Donald Trump and his inner circle of sycophants, plutocrats, and outright hate-mongers. Yet, despite the popular upheaval of American society, there is the sense that nothing is moving forward, and Trump and his White House are not being held accountable for their destructively poor behavior. How can we, the small folk, even begin to enact change when change is seemingly obstructed at every turn? How can we affect change when it seems that Twitter Tantrums and demagoguery from the Oval Office seem to becoming normalized as part of a new reality? For some of us, unable to take great swathes of time marching and protesting with others, you can feel very alone…a sense of isolation (ironic in this age of ever increasing social connectivity) that only enhances the feeling you can do nothing to change the world around you.
- Update (7/27/17): You’re Absolutely Terrified. As someone blogging from something of a privileged position, I failed to include this as a symptom. If, however, you are a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ community, Muslim, or an Immigrant (most especially from Mexico) you are likely fearful for the future of yourself your friends and your family. For that I am sorry.
- Chronic Depression. I have since acknowledged that I have struggled with depression throughout my life. Current events have only intensified this ever-present shadow of depression. Are you not eating? Listless? Sleeping too much? Not sleeping enough? Do you have a lack of pleasure in things you once enjoyed? If you didn’t suffer from depression before 2016, you likely have some elements of it haunting you today.
- Emotional Outbursts and Anger. Sometimes you’re simply fed up. You’re angry. Ultimately, the best word to describe the emotion that presents itself most often is Rage. You not only hate President Trump and his administration; you hate Donald Trump the individual and would like nothing more than to see him come to personal, professional, and financial ruin.
- You Feel Guilty for Your Feelings. In relation to the the above symptom. You are a conscientious individual; capable of empathy – a word that Donald Trump neither understands nor has ever bothered to Google Search. So, naturally you are taken aback by your anger and rage. Why do I hate this person so much? It’s a strong emotion and can shock you when you experience it with such intensity. “I’m a good person, why do I feel this way, all the time?”
- Inability to Think of Anything but Donald Trump. You’re glued to the News, your Twitter stream, or blogs such as these. Donald Trump has infected your life in very personal and invasive ways, much like a malignant virus.
As I compiled the list of symptoms of Trump Dysphoria, I realized something: These are the same symptoms for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Perhaps this view is being filtered trough my own diagnosis for PTSD and Depression, but I don’t think it is a huge stretch of the imagination to think that the Donald Trump presidency has been a traumatic experience for many and every tweet, rally, and bald-faced lie only further exacerbates this condition. Remember, our veterans aren’t the only ones that can be afflicted with PTSD.
What actions can we take to preserve our beleaguered mental health?
So, we have identified that we are all a mental and emotional wreck as a result of an increasingly toxic Trump Presidency. Burnout and exhaustion are the most dangerous factors that face progressives, liberals, and moderate conservatives today; and Donald Trump is being strategic in trying to wear down any resistance so that we become too exhausted and too apathetic to do anything about his disastrous term as President. He has us putting out so many political and social dumpster fires, it’s hard to keep up. Maintaining our own mental health and stamina in the face of seemingly overwhelming denial of reality is key in maintaining the pressure against His Royal Yugeness, the Mad King Donald. So, consider the following and remember…desperation and exhaustion are just what Trump wants. Find ways to ensure you do not fall prey to these emotions. Here are some tips I’ve been mulling over for the past 24 hours, in no particular order.
- Don’t Give Up On Hope. Tomorrow is another day. The moment we feel hopeless, is the moment we give up entirely. Despite the feeling that we are powerless, know that you are not. Remember, the 2018 mid-term elections are coming up. This is an opportunity to reset the balance of power and construct a more robust obstacle to President Trump’s maddening policies. Also remember, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is still a work in progress, so don’t give up on him quite yet either. These things take time, especially if we wish to ensure that we oust Trump once and for all.
- Realize You are Not Alone. I run the risk of making anecdotal exaggerations, but I’ll say it anyway: There are legions of concerned citizens around the country. You are not alone. The Democratic Party has failed us on numerous occasions in the past but they are a massive political organization working tirelessly to oust the conservative agenda that seemingly dominates every headline. Working together and supporting our efforts in a unified manner is what will spell success. People are blogging, tweeting, marching, and protesting Donald Trump’s rhetoric, and you, dear resister, are part of a larger family of similarly minded progressives and empathetic human beings.
- Disconnect from Social Media/News Occasionally. For the first time since I started Twitter, I disconnected for an evening. It helped. Take a break. Your life does not need to be solely about Donald Trump. You can have hobbies. You can enjoy movies. You can go out with a loved one. Donald Trump does not define your existence. I’m not saying, ignore the news. It is the duty of every responsible citizen to remain informed and in tune with what is happening not only in our country but also the world at large. Staying news savvy and informed doesn’t mean you can’t take a break every now and then to recharge and return to the Resistance refreshed and ready to push with a sense of renewed zeal.
- Don’t Lose Friends or Alienate Family Because of Trump. This is difficult for us. I still have friends and some family that disagree with my own political leanings. I’ve made the conscious effort not to engage on these topics with them. I know it can be tempted to “reform” those closest to you…but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people can be stubborn and most likely, your efforts will not convert them. It’s not worth burning bridges with those closest to you. Is Donald Trump worth losing your family over? Your friends? I know what people will say, what if my friends and family are espousing bigotry and racism? This is where I fail. You should take a stand and let people know that these notions are not acceptable in today’s society. If you have a bigoted or racist friend…this may be a case where you need to re-evaluate that friendship. What I’m trying to convey through this tip is: tread carefully and don’t say something you cannot take back and that both you and your loved ones regret.
- Remember to Laugh. It’s hard to laugh when raging or despairing within the confines of your own mind; but laugh. Laughter has a profoundly positive effect on your mental well-being. It can be a cathartic reaction to all the pent up emotions bottled up inside you. Trump is dangerous, and to dismiss him as a joke can make us complacent…just look what happened during the election. We never thought an orange joke-of-a-man and loud-mouthed buffoon could win the presidency…yet he did (with some help from his Russian friends I think). Yet, we have to be able to laugh. Political satire is a great way to laugh at authority and strip away the trappings of power that makes them seem unassailable. Comedy humanizes tyrants. Humans can be fought. So, laugh, and remember to enjoy life.
- Talk About Your Feelings with Loved Ones. Open a dialogue with those you love, your wife, your husband, your partner, a family member. I said earlier, that our collective experience is almost akin to PTSD in some ways. It truly helps to talk it out and let people who care about you know how you are feeling. Again you are not alone, and need not suffer alone like a martyr. For me it’s easy to get caught up in my own head. The best way to describe the feeling is that your mind feels like a small dark room with no windows and you are in the middle, screaming at the top of your lungs at the walls and ceiling. It doesn’t need to be that way. Express how you feel (don’t scream at your loved ones, please). Sharing is indeed caring. You need not carry the weight of the United States in its entirety upon your shoulders.
- America is Great and You are a Patriot in Your Own Way. It’s easy to give up. America is my home. I consider myself a patriot. Despite what Trump and his supporters would have you believe, you are upholding your patriotic duty to question authority and hold our leaders accountable. I hate the Trump slogan: “Make America Great Again.” America has always been a great place for me to live. Let’s “Keep America Great.” The catch: America may be great, it just so happens there are rotten people that inhabit it; this is how we get slavery, discrimination, and unjustified wars that have cost us so much blood and treasure. I consider America to be more of an idea than a place; the ideal of a republic beholden to no Prince, King, or Potentate; an ideal of equality and open debate; an ideal of freedom of thought; an ideal proliferated by John Adams that “We are a nation of laws, not men.” Can you separate the political refuse of modern conservatism and Trump from this idea…this concept of America?
- Stay Active. You can give up. Lose hope. I would say, stay active. Whether that is ensuring your voice is heard, donating to a cause you believe in, or marching to Washington D.C., stay active and be a part of the growing community of progressive activists. Also, in your personal life, try and be active. When disconnecting from the news, take a walk. Work out. This is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health as your body funnels endorphins into you bloodstream.
- Look to the Future for Change. I see so many memes and tweets pleading Barack Obama to return. President Obama was a true statesman and elevated us and our country through his eloquent oratory, conveying a sense of hope and change; a model we as citizens could aspire to. Here’s the hard truth. He’s not coming back. Even if he wanted to return, our own Constitution (the document we all hold dear and hate Trump because he has chosen not to respect the rules of law in our land – founded upon this document) says Obama can’t come back. We can tweet about how Hillary Clinton “Told you so,” but how does that help us now or in the future. It has been a horrific number of months, there is no doubt about that. We need to continue marching forward and looking to the future. We love nostalgia. Looking back feels good in the short-term, but ultimately only adds to a seemingly never-ending list of frustrations and does not further our cause. If we are to look back, let’s look back upon our recent history as a guide we can learn from…learning so we can improve our actions today and thus our current situation and future prospects.
- It’s Not You’re Fault. Guilt. It’s a real feeling. You may feel guilty because you felt you could have done more, guilty over your own anger, guilty over your depression, or simply a sense of indefinable sense of ennui. It is not your fault. We are faced with a monumental challenge of deconstructing an entrenched elite with power and money. It is no easy task to unseat these figures. Again, these tips all intertwine with each other.Rectify your guilt by talking about it, getting out and being active, vote in the midterm elections, find a noble cause you wish to donate money to. Guilt is a horrible feeling and a key element of both depression and PTSD, but the “silver lining” is that it means you are introspective and have the capacity to feel guilty. Pity the nihilistic egoists that are incapable of empathy and guilt. You are not guilty! If, however, you have this feeling you are closer to something Donald Trump will never be: a decent human being with some sense of a moral compass.
- Update (7/27/17): Even in this Nightmarish Scenario, There is an Upside. It may come as cold comfort to you to think that the Trump administration has managed to galvanize the American electorate into action and awareness. For years pundits and politicians have bemoaned the apathy of the American citizenry, yet, through the tumultuous tenure of Trump, we have seen people rise up and voice their concerns, and I have the distinct impression that voter turnout for the upcoming mid-terms will reach unprecedented levels. Think, how many could have named or recognized key members of the Presidential Staff and cabinet before Trump? It is a terrible event, and I wish we never would have arrived at this point, yet…it seems it has taken monstrous acts of a single man and his cronies to polarize the nation and move so many into action.
It has been a tough couple of days, and often I find myself neglecting the very tips I have laid out above. Even as I write this, I can’t help but bounce between writing and Tweeting. It’s…almost as if I’m addicted to outrage, and it can be paralyzing. So, for my wife and myself, I will pledge to more consciously adhere to these tips. If anything, I’ll make the conscious effort to disconnect for a few hours a day while at the house so that my own anger and depression does not infect our home and poison my own well-being; and I can return to the fight with the rest of you refreshed and ready to tackle the next horrific challenge placed before us. Stay strong. Don’t give up. And as quoted in the flawed Latin from Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale:”
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum!”
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down!”
Thank you for reading. For those of you commenting, I truly appreciate your thoughts and encouragement. They really do help me continue doing what I do. Thank you so much. Please continue to stay engaged. If you’re so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter @streamingdan82. Also, feel free to share this article. Cheers!