“According to the CBC, which I assume published this investigative piece to mock us for electing Trump when they have Justin Trudeau, therapists across the United States have seen an uptick in patients suffering from Trump-related agitation. Patients express anxiety over whether or not Trump’s policies will be apocalyptic (a reasonable fear); over whether Trump will nullify their LGBTQ marriages (also reasonable); over whether Trump’s Supreme Court pick will overturn Roe v. Wade (another very realistic concern); and, generally, over what the state of an increasingly polarized nation and global society will look like after Trump & Buddies lay waste to it.”
I been feelin it. We all been feelin it. State of exhaustion/trauma/credible threat since 2016.
Let me explain something I’ve come to know from working with an organization that deals with child sexual assault and other ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) like witnessing a homicide, witnessing domestic violence in the home, sexual exploitation, child sex trafficking, chronic runaways (mostly from the foster care system):
When a traumatic event happens, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode (Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear]).
But when that trauma is sustained over a period of time, when our fight-or-flight switches get stuck, retraumatization happens on a daily basis, on a running loop.
Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.] Fuck, a grizzly bear. [Runs from grizzly bear.]
Our brain chemistry changes.
So basically we have been RUNNING FROM A MOTHERFUCKING GRIZZLY BEAR for two years.
And that, my dears, is why you are mentally/physically/emotionally exhausted every goddamn day. Your brain chemicals are all out of whack.
That’s not just Snowflake whining, that is SCIENCE.
The are and will be long-term effects, just as there are for children who experience sustained trauma (like being separated from their parents & locked in cages). Children with high ACEs scores are more likely to get sick, be abused, be raped, commit criminal acts, end up in jail, suffer from depression, commit suicide, die early, etc.
Not good for humans; not good for society in general. If you want a better society, you gotta start in the beginning, with the kiddos, and give them every opportunity to thrive and feel safe. (NB: The after-effects of ACEs cost our society billions of dollars. It is the most easily treatable public health epidemic we are currently mostly ignoring, and studies show it cuts across all ethnicities and income levels.)
But know this.
One way to battle it is to practice resiliency techniques. Self-care.
Children and adults with high ACEs scores (mine is 8) are AT RISK OF a multitude of sucky things. Yet there are a lot of thriving survivors out there because they have learned resiliency. They have learned that they can take back control of their own narratives. They have learned that their is POWER in their voices (see: Me Too movement et cetera), especially when raised together with other survivors’ voices, publicly and loudly. They have learned to say PAY ATTENTION. THIS IS NOT OKAY. They have learned what to do when life knocks them on the ass, when they experience retraumatization.
Reach out for help. Take deep breaths. Meditate. Find others with shared experiences of your trauma. Go to therapy. Dance. Practice mindfulness. Socialize. Take a walk. Listen to music. Hug a loved one. Pet a dog. Make art. Paint sunflowers in the middle of the street. Have great sex with nice people. Register voters. Volunteer. Run for office. Bail out parents so they can reunite with their kids. Call out racism & sexism. Do whatever gets you back in balance to face another day, whatever brings you joy and makes you feel like you are making a difference.
Trauma is not forever. This too shall pass. Meanwhile, find your joy, water your soul, bear your scars with pride (see: video below. NB: I’m not crying, you are.) wobble around until you get your center back.
We need you in this fight for the long haul.