Staying Stable in the Age of Trump

This is a strongly opinionated take on the current state of the nation, and my response to it as someone living with Naked Nerves. These are strictly my own opinions and I take full responsibility for my words. Whether you agree or disagree with me I hope that at least these words make you think. Please leave me a note to express your own feelings. Dialogue is so necessary. We all have a say in how our country works and we need to make our voices heard. This is my way of doing that. You’ve been warned.

I can’t say I’ve always loved my country. I came of age during the tumultuous 60’s and 70’s, amid the Civil Rights Struggle, the Vietnam War, the fight for Gay Liberation, Watergate and many other things that made me question the goodness of this country. These things made me angry, but they also made me terrribly sad.

As time has gone by I’ve grown up and mellowed out a bit and I have a different perspective on just how wonderful this country can be. Lots of hard work by so many good people has made it that way and continues to do so. I have an enduring optimism that things will work out for the best. I get depressed when it doesn’t, but I struggle thru it and try to come to terms with the bad parts. I love our democracy with my whole heart and I always will.

But today we’re in a different world: the age of “Post Truth” and “Alternative Facts”. It’s never felt so bleak to me. Chaos reigns supreme and lies are the norm. “Truth isn’t truth”. I recall when Donald Trump was running for president I wrote to friends that it was imperative not to vote for him because he’d gain the power to destroy not just our nation, but Western Civilization as we know it. As it turns out, I was right. He’s doing it right before our eyes and no-one is stopping him – least of all the gutless Republicans in Congress. Such cowardly wimps.

The standing of the U.S. in the world has never been worse. We’ve alienated our best allies and broken our word to the world in crucial ways like the Paris Climate Agreement, and so much more. The administration doesn’t even believe in climate change. Over 95% of the world’s best scientists say it’s real but the president and his toadies in congress and on Fox news won’t listen to them and cling to their fantasies that human caused change isn’t happening and we don’t need to do anything about it. I’m embarrassed by their willful ignorance and I fear their power to cause great harm by ignoring reality.

As I write this we’re in the 23rd day of a ridiculous government shutdown brought on by our president’s temper tantrums over his absurd promise of a racist and ineffective border wall. All the data show that it won’t work to curb illegal immigration, which we do need to address. What we need is better technology, more border guards and more immigration courts to process claims of amnesty. But that’s not what’s being proposed. Just a wall that won’t stop the problems. Most of the illegal immigrants actually come in thru Canada, not Mexico at all. Do we need a wall there too?

Our nation is being held hostage over this wall. Hundreds of thousands of our dedicated Federal workers are out of work and out of money. They’re either stuck working for free, or not allowed to work. It hurts far more than just them however. It’s felt in our entire economy and it’s debasing our way of life. It makes people angry and feel afraid for their futures. It’s mean and it’s cruel – the hallmarks of this administration. I’ve never seen a President act so callously towards his people. Are we really “his” people, or are we just pawns in his games of power? We have a “Kakistocracy” – a term meaning “rule by the worst elements of society”. This is our reality now.

So what does all of this have to do with Naked Nerves? I’d say it’s obvious, but I’ll go into it a bit. This kind of insecurity in society is felt most keenly by those of us who are sensitive, and are already on the edge of sanity and survival. Whether it’s mental or physical, those of us who are seriously struggling with our health have difficulties. Having the basic institutions of society destroyed like they are erodes our sense of stability terribly. It makes us more vulnerable to the tragedies we see happening all around us to people of color and immigrants, as well as religious, ethnic and sexual minorities, especially if we’re members of these groups. Racism and intolerance are rampant, and it hurts us all.

As a lover of nature and a gardener I particularly feel the insults to our natural world that this administration is perpetrating. The destruction of our National Monuments and the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge infuriate me with their injustice. These are lands that belong to all the people of the United States, not to some private mining companies or oil drilling rigs that steal our natural resources, leave a mess, and refuse to pay for any wrong-doing. They just want their millions of ill-gotten booty. It makes me cry, and it makes me very depressed. And it makes me angry as hell…

I tend to cycle often between depression/despair (mostly) and hypomania/anger (lately – too much). But these days it’s almost constant. Even tho I try to limit my news intake, don’t watch TV news and mostly get my news thru NPR and certain objective, non-partisan newspapers and websites, I still get way too much for my comfort. It upsets and destabilizes me and makes me fear for my own survival, even tho I’m not directly affected by the shutdown. But I am queer, mentally ill and living on Federal Disability insurance, and I don’t trust this government to take care of me in these circumstances. In a word – I’m Terrified – for myself, but mostly for our nation.

So what do I do to stay stable? It’s very hard, but I try to stay as calm as I can and not let myself get too outraged or depressed because it just hurts me and makes me less able to address the problems. This is just how our “leaders” want it. Keep the public ignorant and powerless and you can do what you want to them. Declaring the news media the “enemy of the people” is totalitarian talk. It’s the first step towards authoritarian rule and it freaks me out totally. White nationalism is on the rise and bigots rule the airwaves. It’s scary as hell. But when I remember there are so many people working so hard for positive change it gives me hope that we can find a way out of this mess.

Being isolated is the worst part of it. I don’t have as many friends as I used to, and feeling alone with it all just exacerbates the issues for me. But I have Louie and some family and a few good friends to help me stay sane. I rely on their support very much and I think that people who have good social support networks will do the best as things get worse, as they surely will. Being connected with other like minded people can help us keep our centers. Just writing this blog helps me feel that way. I hope my writing does the same for others. We need one another to be reasonable and to work together for a better world.

There is so much fear in our society these days. Trump says creating fear is his modus operandi. This can’t help but affect us all. But when you have a mental illness it’s much worse. We magnify things out of proportion in our mood states, and we can’t always think clearly enough to see the way out of them. I can’t say I meditate as much as I should, or stay as mindful of my circumstances as I could, but I do try. I think that these things are good ways to help us maintain clear perspectives and survive this turmoil we live in. But probably the best way to feel more empowered and like you’re making a difference is to get involved in the struggle to make America safe and welcoming again. I know how hard this is when you’re depressed, but helping others is a proven way to help yourself.

If you’re struggling like I am to live a good life in the age of Trump I hope you have good people in your lives and positive things to do to help you stay stable. Just emoting can help us feel better. Getting it out of our minds by journaling helps. Allowing the negative energy to dissipate helps. Taking our meds helps. Keeping calm and remembering the good things that are happening helps. Appreciating the beauty of the natural world and all the wonders of existence helps. And working for change helps. These are some of the many ways to survive this mess we’re in, but they take conscious effort. We need to do them if we are to save our country, and our collective and individual sanity. Let’s hope we have the courage and the will to persevere.

Trying to stay strong…

Steve

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