A friend told me of an article she saw that said the 2016 election has been bad for peoples’ mental health. I remembered seeing something like that in my Facebook news feed. My first response was : No Duh. But I still thought it sounded like a good challenge, so I decided to look up the article.
I found a lot of articles. Here’s a few titles.
How to Preserve Your Mental Health Despite the 2016 Election – Atlantic.com
Those are the first four articles that came up when I typed in the search terms “2016 presidential election and its effect on your mental health.” I wasn’t going for one particular site – as you can see I have everything from The Atlantic to the American Psychological Association. I also didn’t use the term “Trump” – it came up all on its own. The thing is, though, that it isn’t just Trump that has made us this bummed out. Elections have been doing that for years.
Especially considering this one has dragged out for over a year. It’s like waiting for the worst Christmas ever. You’re excited for it to come, so it can be over with, but you know that your presents are probably gonna suck in some way, no matter what’s inside.
Yet this election does seem extra special, more so even than the 2000 election when the choice of president of the United States rested on whether a chad was pregnant or not. It isn’t only Trump to blame, but to say that he has not had a huge influence would be kidding ourselves. His behavior, which would send most children to the principal’s office, has directly dictated how all other, Republican and Democrat, candidates have responded. The bully was set loose, and there was no principal to be found, so they did what any other children on the playground would do. They bullied back. Some, like Jeb Bush, called their mommies. I know I would have.
Why WAS he allowed loose like that? People underestimated him. Republicans and Democrats both laughed. The media had a field day. T.V. networks have gotten unprecedented ratings. Everyone figured it would just be good entertainment for a short while, and then he’d be packing.
It didn’t happen. Because it turns out, the American people were underestimated. Our political parties underestimated the effect that years of unemployment, of substandard health care, of working hard and still not being able to pay for your basic bills, yet alone achieve “the pursuit of happiness”, had on people’s psyches. No matter who was president, they would find themselves in gridlock with the other side. This one has the presidency. This one has Congress. Very little changes. People still suffer, because ultimately candidates will do what it takes to stay in power.
Once they are out of the limelight, it’s amazing how easily they can get along. Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. are actually good friends. In reality, the politics of the parties are not that far apart. Both sides could work together and get something done. But it doesn’t happen. And so things stay as they are – until the boiling pot overflows.
Trump speaks to the people who are angry and want someone to blame. The thing is, though, there isn’t any one person, or group of people, that you can blame for the mess. Even if there was, it wouldn’t matter more than fixing the situation in the first place. But Trump’s message is easier. It’s the fault of Mexicans, or Muslims, or any Other you can find. It’s their fault. Now don’t you feel better?
I don’t. And as he gets louder and louder, and his vile speech harder to deny, more people are realizing they’ve let the wolf in, and there is no locking him out again. Trump’s own party has no control of him. The Democrats had too much control of a candidate, taking away any chance for Sanders to win. So it’s no wonder we are worried. We don’t know who to trust anymore. And all we hear is hate and blame and fear mongering. Hillary Clinton, even if she wasn’t trailing bombs, can’t get a message across because she is too busy fielding assaults from Trump with bullets of her own.
And no one stands up and says “Enough”. Just once, I’d like a moderator to tell the candidates who interrupt, who belittle others, or who simply will not directly answer a question to leave. Give them a warning. Then they’re gone, off the stage, no more debate. We’d do it with children. Why not them? Because I’ve watched debates before, and while there was some mud slinging, it wasn’t like this. When John McCain lost to Barack Obama (anyone remember that far?) he told us to stand behind the new president of the United States. Yeah, really! Can you imagine that happening this time?
I can’t. Our candidates can’t even shake hands.
So we all, whether we have a mental disorder or not, are showing signs of extreme anxiety. Enough that the media is coining terms like “election anxiety disorder” or “election stress disorder”. It’s ironic, too, because the media is responsible for a lot of this anxiety themselves. The Wall Street Journal points out that so many articles say “don’t panic” which is liken to telling people not to think of elephants. Or donkeys. It stirs up fear. And you can’t get away from it anymore by simply avoiding the newspaper, or even the T.V. It is EVERYWHERE. All the time. News by the second. Millions and millions served.
Eventually the anxiety gets so high our bodies give up. Depression sets in. There is nothing we can do. Doom is upon us. Etc. But don’t worry – the media will be there to cover every second of the lunacy.
Which is why we must turn it off – all of it. Turn off the T.V., the computer. Throw away the newspaper. Take a deep breath. Watch cat videos. The election will come, one way or another, like every other one has. And we will survive it, like we have all the others. We need to have faith in ourselves, for no one person has control of everything. That is why we have checks and balances in our system.
It’s also why we have pitchforks.
Take care of yourself. Enjoy a bath. Play with your kids, or someone’s kids – as long as their parents know who you are and all. Read something funny. And relax. Most of all, relax. It will be alright in the end. We are not helpless. There is always hope. You can see it in your children (when they aren’t out stealing cars and all) and you can see it in each other. The average, normal American who makes up the majority of the population. We’re there, we just aren’t as loud. But we’re there.
And as long as that is true, we’ll be okay. If not, there’s always Canada.
© Alice and A Canvas Of The Minds 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alice and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.