Redefining My Anxiety in the Age of Trump
Since November, I’ve been dreading a Trump presidency. Since Inauguration Day, I’ve dreaded every day of it. But as a person living with an anxiety disorder, I’m used to dread. I’m used to fear of the unknown. The thing that makes this so different is it’s real and palpable in a way my anxiety usually isn’t. Here, the dread and anxiety are over tangible and concrete actions beyond my control that affect my life and the lives of millions of others — some of whom I know and love, others I don’t know at all.
Normally, the things I have anxiety over aren’t a matter of life or death, freedom or restriction, peace or war, or love or hate. They are everyday occurrences, social interactions, the send button on an e-mail, or locking the door to my apartment — all of which seem trivial right about now.
One of the main rules you learn in therapy is to accept the things you can’t control and realize most of your anxiety is controllable — by you because you are the one with the power, not your anxiety. But that rule doesn’t necessarily apply to a presidency.
Every day I find something I dread more than the next. The Dakota Access Pipeline. The travel ban for Muslim-majority countries. Chemical pollution of waterways. The deconstruction of the Affordable Care Act. The list goes on and on and on. For many, the realization that the majority of the next four years will be like this is just now settling in. The fact that I, as an individual, have little impact to chart any part of the next four years has settled. And I’m fearful. I am so full of dread. I am so full of sadness. I feel I am at a loss.
This era is a new chapter of my life. I am having to redefine my anxiety in the age of Trump. I’m both struggling and, in many ways, succeeding in finding small, concrete things I do have control over and using them to reach sturdier ground and help others if possible. I’m standing firm in my opinions. I’m donating money when I can. I am sharing information. I am joining the masses in the streets. I am talking to friends and strangers. I am telling people I love them more often.
I’ve made so many strides in my anxiety in the last five years or so that to let myself be sunk by Donald Trump would be a tragedy I refuse to allow a stage to play out.
There are many others in my same position. I know I’m not alone, and I hope they know they aren’t either. As we redefine anxiety in the age of Trump, let’s remember that individual human agency is a powerful thing. Power doesn’t always come in pop and circumstance. Sometimes, it’s in the small, almost hidden things we say and do every day.
Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.
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