Mental Health Politics

Election Anxiety

“Oh, and I’m just feeling anxious about the election.”
“Why? Are you running?”
“Uh, no.”
“Then why be anxious?”

I could have stated the obvious, sitting in the office of my Meds Doc who prescribes me medication for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and bouts of Major Depression. I mean, I’m anxious. Duh.

Instead I just got anxious about my anxiety. Which is oh so very helpful. No one else stated a rise of their anxiety surrounding the election to the Meds Doc? Just me? I must be the abnormal one.

Except, oh wait: Therapists say the election is traumatizing women.

Again, duh.

I chose not to watch the second Presidential debate, too triggered by the whole “grab her by the” sexual assault talk. I thought my mental health would be best served by turning the TV off that night. Of course, the next day, all of social media was flooded with commentary on the debate.

The commercials, of course, are the worst. While I understand the Clinton campaign’s desire to show Trump’s true colors by using his own words against him in their advertising, they’re intensely triggering. They’ve spawned all types of conversations with the boys as well. While learning is always good, the non-stop onslaught of negativity from the TV for the hour we have it on each day feels like too much.

I have tried, repeatedly, to put more good, more kindness, more love, more support out there, both online and in real life, but it doesn’t seem to make a dent in the hate. Or my anxiety. Or anything. It’s very “nothing really matters.” Which, of course, only make my anxiety worse.

I’m stressed about Tuesday. I’m more stressed about Wednesday. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I know that either way, people are going to say and do unkind things to one another.

While cleaning today, I listened to the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett. She interviewed Natash Trethewey and Eboo Patel in an episode entitled, “How to Live Beyond This Election.” Because we have to do just that: live, with one another, after Tuesday. After Wednesday. And beyond. We have to work with each other. We have to sit next to one another in our own flaws. We have to continue on this path together.

I watched people unfriend each other over the election, but chose not to on the basis that running from discussions on race, privilege, women’s rights, human rights, and everything in between need to happen in more than our chosen echo chambers. Unfriending racists doesn’t change policy. It makes you feel more comfortable in your space. But some people don’t have the privilege of doing that. They have to show up every day in life knowing people hate them for their skin, their gender identity, any other overt markers that lead people to hate. I hadn’t done it before Jasmine linked back to a piece she wrote on this topic in June 2015, and I understood why I didn’t do it afterward.

On Wednesday, I will still be the same person I am today. Though maybe with less heartburn. I will be on an airplane. I will believe in democracy. I will fight for others who can’t always fight for themselves. I will have a heart full of compassion for those who struggle. I will still be working on myself. Still be mothering. Still trying to be kind in a world that doesn’t care much for kindness.

And at least the anxiety of not-knowing will be over. We’ll just have to figure out how to live with each other after the results. I hope we can do that. Together.

Election Anxiety

Parenting Politics School

What Matters In This Election

LittleBrother decided to run for Student Council.

I only ran once. I think fifth grade marked the year I decided to go for it. I made posters on construction paper. I wrote a speech that in no way promised giving away candy or changing the lunch menu as I knew I couldn’t do those things. I stood up in front of the class with glasses, crooked teeth, and a shoulder length perm that I brushed—no, reallyand gave my speech.

I lost.

I don’t remember who won, but they opted for the “promises we can’t keep” route of candy and longer recess and all that jazz. I’m not even sure I told my parents I lost. I felt kind of stupid for not doing what the other kids did, for not passing out candy or making empty promises. I’d chosen the honest route, followed my moral compass.

And it got me nothing.

To this day, I still choose that path. I follow the rules. I don’t promise what I can’t deliver. I don’t even like when my current bout of insomnia makes me flake on my friends because I simply cannot will my body to move after a night of 45 minutes of broken, interrupted sleep. I kick it old school, I suppose, and I feel like my word, how I conduct myself in business, and how I treat others are all part of my honor. Sometimes I screw up, because we all screw up. But I try my hardest to live a life I’m proud of, one without much doubt that I chose the right path.

My husband took Booey shopping last night for brightly colored small poster board. LittleBrother designed his own poster on a piece of paper first and then transferred it to his poster. This morning, after both boys ate breakfast and got ready for school, LittleBrother asked if he could make another poster. He added a big-smiling emoji face to that one. I told him they looked great.

After school today, he asked if I would help him write his speech. So he sat with my iPad while I finished up some work for the day, and he wrote that speech. My input remained minimal. I told him the basics of speech writing, instructed him on how to introduce himself and give a statement of purpose.

I then asked him, “Why do you want to run for student council?”

“I like helping people,” he replied.

This is why we parent the way we parent. This is why we live our lives the way we live our lives. We want to model kindness, empathy, compassion, dedication, service, determination, loyalty, honesty, and other important characteristics. We want our sons to know that how they treat others matter, that their word matters.

That they matter.

I don’t know if he’ll win or if he’ll lose. We’ll support him either way. He decided to stick himself out there and do something laced with a little bit of risk. I hope he comes away from the experience feeling as though he’s worth that kind of risk—worth so much more than that kind of risk.

What Matters In This Election