2016 PTSD

Who remembers Wolf Blitzer on CNN popping up every few minutes with a “breaking news!” alert? I wanted to swat him into eternity after about an hour of it. My heart couldn’t take it. His alerts only announced that what we thought was a dream, was actually becoming reality.

The night before the election, we celebrated my daughter’s 17th birthday with friends at an Argentine restaurant. All of us thought there was no way Trump could or would win. The word “buffoon,” was used quite frequently during the course of the conversation. Most of us were feeling solid in the idea that by that time the next evening, the first woman president of the United States would be elected.

How wrong we were.

In retrospect I can see how polarizing Hilary Clinton was as a candidate. I can see why so many people thought that voting against her to take a chance on a loud-mouthed reality TV person with questionable morals and financial history couldn’t be that bad. I mean that with all sincerity.

Of course, if you were someone who wanted to slap progressive Americans back for eight years of the suavest, sanest, smartest, most likeable, president and first lady we’ve had, November whatever, 2016 was the best day of your lives. As Van Jones boldly put it that night, Trump’s election was “white-lash.” Was that harsh? In many cases yes. But in others, it was spot on.

So, we cried and anguished for a bit. Quit certain friends on Facebook whose true colors were brightly revealed, and stopped watching the news. I used to start my mornings prepping for work with GMA on. The morning after, I couldn’t bear to hear the president-elect’s voice or listen to more analysis. I turned to Friends on Netflix. Joey Tribbiani and Phoebe Buffay particularly, kept me sane.

That’s something I actually have kept up for these past four years. Once all 10 seasons of Friends was behind me, I watched Say Yes to the Dress, The Great British Bake Off, The Office—anything that wasn’t a reminder of the mess we were rolling deeper and deeper into with every passing day.

So, election night 2020 is days away. I don’t plan on watching the returns. When I went to the grocery store yesterday, it was crowded like the day before Thanksgiving. Turns out, a civil war might erupt, and people are stocking up on essentials again like they did in March. Just when Wegmans started stocking Lysol wipes again, the shelves were empty.

Man, this blog is bleak. But I think it proves my title right: 2016 and the ensuing four years have left a lot of us with PTSD. No joke.

So, what can we do as we face an uncertain future:

  1. If you believe in God or your version of a higher power, pray. Since I am a God-loving woman, I’m going to keep up with my talks with Him.
  2. If you take meds for depression or anxiety, make sure your prescriptions are stocked. Don’t miss a dose.
  3. Exercise, eat well, rest, drink water, take your vitamins—all the things your body needs to keep going. Now is not the time to neglect your health.
  4. Make plans for zoom calls with friends and family who are on the same side of the ticket as you are. You’ll have time to reach across the aisle when things calm down. You don’t need extra aggravation right now.
  5. If you are in therapy, keep going. If you think you might need therapy, set that up and follow through.
  6. Remember that you are not alone.

Now I’m writing as if Trump will win again. Honestly, I don’t know. But these tips are wise even if we do manage to send him packing.

If things go your way, don’t gloat over the “losers.” If this country is going to knit itself back together it’s going to require compassion, kindness, and a swallowing of pride from all involved. Take the high road.

Finally, resist the urge to cyber clap back at people. In fact, maybe this is a good time to take a social media break altogether. Focus on the humans who love you. Focus on the bigger picture. Focus on your spirituality. Focus on making the world a better place right around you.

I think that’s good advice for life overall.

Good luck and God bless. 🙂

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