In the run-up to the just completed 2014 midterm elections, I knew it was going to be bad for the Democrats. The polls weren’t looking good; the President’s approval rating was low; and worse, candidates wanted nothing to do with him. A bunch of pussies if you ask me, but that’s another column.
Sure, I was bracing for a few losses, but nothing like the rout I witnessed last Tuesday night. The returns were so gut wrenchingly awful, that at one point I had to switch from MSNBC election coverage over to Bravo Channel’s “Below Deck Reunion Show.” I was in that much pain.
When it was all over, I sat numbly staring at a map of the country filled with red states and wondering: What the hell just happened?
I am filled with the kind of dread, anger and worry that not even the stiffest martini will take away. I have “Post Election Stress Disorder (PESD),” and I’m pretty sure a lot of you progressives out there have it too.
It’s sister disorder, PTSD, is a real mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event, like watching Mitch McConnell give his acceptance speech, or listening to Ted Cruz gloat. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. I’m sorry to say that PESD can last for years, or at least until the next election cycle.
But there’s hope. By following my advice below (along with the suggested exercises), you can recover from Post Election Stress Disorder and go on to live a healthy, productive life despite who’s in control of the House and Senate.
Turn off your TV and radio for a while, and put the iPad down; ignore the Internet and refrain from listening to Bernie Sanders. The point is, take a break - from news, analysis, and the madness at least for another week or so. And whatever you do, avert your eyes from the Huffington Post headlines, which can surely send you into a panic.
Recommended exercise: Vinyasa yoga
Rant and Vent
Mad as hell and need to vent? Who doesn’t! Now’s the time to vent to anyone who will listen: call-in political radio shows, social media, liberal friends, family and fellow progressives are all safe and supportive forums to let it rip. Whoever said bitching and moaning aren’t great stress relievers is a @*#!
Keep the Faith
The outlook is grim, but there’s gotta be a silver lining somewhere, God dammit! When it comes to democracy and the political process, have faith. The election might not have turned out the way I wanted, but I have to believe somehow the higher good will prevail (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). It’s not all doom and gloom - that is unless Joni Ernst becomes our next president, and then I’ll have to go on anti-depressants.
Recommended exercise: Tai-Chi
Fight the Power
Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world” and he was right. If you don’t like what’s happening in Washington or what’s happening in your own backyard, then do something. Profound disappointment from an election can be a great catalyst for action, so get your ass in gear and get involved. Find your passion. Volunteer, mentor a kid, support a cause or run for office yourself.
Recommended exercise: Trail hiking/running
IAnd if unplugging, ranting, venting, keeping the faith and fighting the power doesn't do the trick, there's always medical marijuana, the voters' #1 choice for PESD relief!
Treva Brandon Scharf