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Watching the 2016 Election With Anxiety and Depression

I click on the evening news as I normally do each day after¬†work, and I am not shocked to see both Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s faces¬†on TV. At this stage in the election, it’s¬†an hourly occurrence. One campaign has¬†said this, and the other has said that. The articles and news clips and coverage feel as though they may¬†last forever. As a person who struggles with¬†both anxiety and depression, this entire election has been daunting¬†emotionally.

When my anxiety is in the driver’s seat, I’m highly¬†terrified at the prospect of what could happen. Certainly, each candidate comes with his or her individual faults, as each of us human beings does, but the person who wins¬†the election will fill the most powerful position in the world. This means each decision they make will¬†not only affect the now, but also has the potential to shape the future. This¬†means each fault must be dissected,¬†evaluated and compared. What is¬†interesting for me is this isn’t the part of the election that¬†inflames¬†my¬†anxiety. I’ve always been confident in¬†the person I plan to cast my vote for come November. My anxiety rears its ugly head when I think¬†of all the people who have not taken time to be informed about the issues in¬†America: issues that affect me and my life, and you and yours. I would invite anyone, for example, to view¬†both candidates’ websites and compare them singularly on their mental health care plans. I believe that¬†comparison speaks volumes alone.

On the other hand, when depression is in the driver’s seat,¬†the apathy I feel for this election is almost physically deafening. The polarization of this country, the tension¬†we all feel on a daily basis, the vitriol that is spewed on an hourly basis is¬†enough to keep most anyone¬†low emotionally.¬†For the life of me, I cannot understand why or how the divide between us¬†all became so vast and so ugly. When I see¬†the coverage of the election and its true heinousness, I just want to cover¬†myself with a blanket and resurface four years from now. My mind just stops. It stops caring. It almost feels like the divide is too much for¬†any man or woman to conquer, and I just give up.

In these moments, I’m almost grateful for my anxiety,¬†because it never lets my depression sink me low enough to truly stop caring forever. I can change the channel and try to pretend there isn’t a huge election that has the potential to be life-changing,¬†but my anxiety is always stewing, ready to remind me how important it is. Whomever¬†you feel is the best option to lead the United States of America as commander¬†in chief is your prerogative. I will¬†only endorse someone who cares about the things I care about. I will only endorse someone who puts forth¬†the effort to come up with and share¬†their ideas for mental health care reform and the de-stigmatization of mental¬†health illnesses. One candidate¬†specifically mentions all of these issues on their website; the other makes no¬†mention of them whatsoever. I will only¬†endorse a candidate who has spent a lifetime dedicated to issues that¬†directly concern me, including mental health care and women’s rights. The other candidate is glaringly silent when¬†it comes to the acknowledgment of mental health illnesses and disabilities, and¬†is laughable in the contradictory nature of their views on women.

I’m not here to advocate one versus the other, nor would¬†I expect this contribution to sway any votes. But if you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness,¬†disabilities, chronic and terminal illness, gender, sexuality, race, or¬†religious discrimination, I implore you to investigate both websites and¬†determine who speaks for you and your plight.

Though my depression is determined to muffle my enthusiasm for this¬†election, my anxiety has played a critical role in my focus on the issues. Of course, I’d love to live a day without the¬†tug of war between the mental hurdles that are anxiety and depression, but as¬†it relates to this election, my experience in dealing with these issues has allowed me to care just enough, while not getting overwhelmed, and for that I¬†am grateful. Vote.

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