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What It's Like Waiting for Election Results With Both Depression and Anxiety

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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.

My leg is nervously bouncing. My thoughts are racing. My head is pounding. I start to anxiously crack my knuckles. I pour myself a glass of wine, hoping it will calm my nerves a bit, but it only intensifies the pounding in my head. I want to cry, I want to scream, I want to sleep until this has all settled. My heart is breaking for the world around me, and right now, it is completely out of my control.

This was me on election night, and has been me every day since, anxiously waiting for votes to be counted and our next president to be announced. As someone with anxiety, waiting for these results has been absolute hell. Not knowing and not having control over a situation spirals me into thinking the worst.

What if I lose my job because of our economy and have to move back in with my parents? There’s no way I’ll survive that. What if the Supreme Court gets involved? How bad is the aftermath going to be based on who wins? All the riots and protests — I know the TikToks about a Civil War breaking out are jokes, but what if it happens?”

I spiral and spiral until I have convinced myself the absolute worst is sure to occur, however illogical it may be. The panic attacks come, I wake up sweating, I want to obsessively check the live maps to see if there has been even the slightest change. It’s like every coping skill I’ve ever been taught goes right out the window — the election is the exception, the coping skills don’t apply here. In reality, I know now is the time I need to be using them more than ever, but I let my feelings overrule the facts.

Here’s where it gets confusing for me, though.

I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life, and it’s something many people are dealing with right now in this election season. But I also struggle with severe depression and suicidal ideation. And it only takes stopping for 30 seconds to think about the state of our world right now for my heart to absolutely break. So while I’m ruminating in these catastrophic thoughts, I’m also experiencing depression that leaves me with suicidal thoughts. The depression renders me unable to work, trapped in my own head. I can’t get out of bed and I don’t see a point in anything anymore. I numb myself with whatever I can find and I feel a heaviness in my chest that spreads throughout my entire body. And soon enough, the suicidal thoughts set in.

“If the worst happens, I won’t survive it. I don’t want to survive it — I don’t want to live in a world like that. I don’t want to live. I have to escape. I have to leave this place of pain. If I die, I won’t have to endure this excruciating wait any longer. I won’t have to deal with the aftermath. It’ll be over. It’ll be better — for everyone.”

My soul longs for peace, and my brain convinces me death is the only way I’ll find it, even though I know deep down that’s not true.

It feels utterly confusing. One minute I’m having a panic attack, and the next I’m lying in bed with no energy and no motivation to do anything at all. I’m obsessively checking maps, but then I want to avoid all news outlets and social media forever. I can’t stop thinking about the what-ifs, but I can’t help but think I need to die. I want to work to keep myself busy and distracted, but I feel so empty I can’t get anything done. It’s beyond frustrating to juggle between the two.

I don’t know if anyone can relate, if maybe you also feel confused by your thoughts or emotions that have been coming up. Maybe you’re feeling something you’ve never felt, or maybe your thoughts and feelings aren’t lining up how you want them to. Maybe, like me, you’re struggling with two completely opposite experiences simultaneously — it’s funny how depression and anxiety can work like that. But, however you’re feeling, I know this to be true: your feelings are valid, you are allowed to feel however you feel and you are absolutely not alone in whatever those feelings may be. We might not be able to control much right now, but we can still hang onto those powerful truths — because yes, they are true for you, too.

Related stories about the 2020 U.S. Election:

Getty image via Aleksei Morozov

Originally published: November 5, 2020
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