Please take your time and enjoy this three part series "Self-Care During Tense Politcal Tmes" (written 2016 and still painfully relevant.)
Hell is Going On?
We all have stress in our lives. But lately, more often than usual - you may find yourself
snapping at people, afraid of your own shadow, weepy and bored, exhausted,
guilty, pissed off, withdrawing, dropping out or obsessively talking politics,
posting, protesting and striking out.
What’s going on with the current administraton may be causing you a
lot of anxiety, depression, and a range of troubling emotions. You may be aware of the effects of bad
news on your own psyches and relationships...or you might be challenged
These are truly
helplessness, exhaustion, anger, sadness, guilt and fear will ebb and flow and
most importantly can TRIGGER earlier little (or big) traumas that sit in wait
to be ignited by current events.
And without being aware, you can feel a lot worse than necessary.
And if you were
ever abused, neglected or betrayed…you may be pushed into PTSD type reactions.
You need to be
AWARE of this because if you don’t acknowledge it, things can feel worse.
The News is Pushing Your Buttons
Post-traumatic stress disorderis a condition that is usually associated with war
veterans, but the term applies to any chronic anxiety you may experience after
seeing or living through a dangerous event. That “event” could even mean
childhood trauma of any kind or degree… as well as everything from car
accidents to school shootings.
People with PTSD often re-experience the trauma in their
minds. When the memory brings on a physiological response or feeling it’s
called a “trigger” or abreaction. (The release of emotional tension through the
recalling of a repressed traumatic event.)
Often the situation that brings on the abreaction is
reminiscent of the original trauma. For example, if you’re a survivor of any
form of abuse or neglect (esp. from a narcissist or sociopath who you counted
on or had control over you) you might get more upset at autocratic, stubborn,
irrational leaders than other people.
An abreaction could
be triggered by something someone says, circumstances such as the press of a
crowd, being left totally alone, a darkened room...or even a particular time of
the year, smells, touch, tastes...or other things associated with the trauma.
And if you hear or
see things that upset you in this way on an ongoing, daily basis…it is really
hard to keep your bearings.
unconsciously transported as if in a time machine to the event of the original
trauma and you react with the emotional intensity that would have been
appropriate then, though not now.
abreaction it is difficult to distinguish "what was" from "what
The problem is you may function well in many aspects of
life until you encounter the events or circumstances that are likely to trigger
abreactions such as struggles with authority figures, cultural oppression or
and violent imposition of another's will onto a relatively helpless person can
lead to despair or other challenging feelings.
We all sometimes get giddy, excited, grumpy, teary-eyed or
jittery. Your job is to monitor
which of these feelings might be overly stimulated because of your
It’s appropriate to be angry when you feel you are being
disrespected, misunderstood, lied to, betrayed or put down. But when it becomes a constant urgent
feeling, please just take a look at what is coming up from the past so you can
kind of “shave the edge off” of the exteme reaction and take care of yourself.
Are you feeling angry, guilty, ashamed, scared, sad, weak,
Unfortunately there is just cause for alarm. You are not imaging things. And you are totally entitled to feel whatever you feel!
Some of the feelings might be things like the
following. See how easy it is to
put it together for each person.
From a woman who was molested as a child: “I’m so irate that these people are getting away with
it. Are they going to just do
whatever they want?”
From a child of holocaust survivors:
“I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve got to do something big
and act now. I have to fix
From the son of an Iranian American:
“I feel tormented by guilt that I am not doing enough. I just don't want to be distracted from my own good life.”
From a life-long activist and health care worker:
“I can’t stop crying at the drop of a hat. Is everything I’ve worked for going
down the drain?”
From a survivor of severe neglect as a child:
“I’m nervous every night when I’m home alone and can’t get
From a rape survivor: “I can’t stop thinking about what’s going on. Nothing else in life seems to interest
the Fight/Flight/Freeze Response
There’s a part of your brain that does not think. but instead
causes you to just react to a perceived threat of danger (it’s called the Amygdala).
feel chronically threatened, fight-or-flight hormones begin to go on overdrive
and can cause harm - producing inflammation, depleting energy reserves and also
playing havoc with relationships.
a state of this primitive (built in) animal arousal is not able to
listen or communicate very well, to problem solve, digest food or sleep.
stressful times you need sleep more than ever, to repair and replenish.
What are you doing to make yourself feel worse?
Just like most of us, you have a Menacing Character in your
psyche that bugs you, criticizes, or frightens you with upsetting messages.
Usually we are only aware of our
response (we feel “bad’).
You get a feeling about what is going on politically for
example, and the unconscious internal response makes you fell worse, not
The emotion gets put down in ways like this:
“I’m sad that our freedom seems threatened.”
bellyaching and stop complaining.
It’s no big deal”
“I’m scared that I’m going to lose my rights.”
why don’t you do something about it instead of whining?”
“I’m mad that people seem to have no regard for the
always mad at something. You have
“I’m worried that I’ll lose my money.”
should have saved more and not spent so much on stupid things.”
“I just want to stick my head in the sand.”
lazy and never pay attention to anything anyway and never do anything.”
“I can’t stop thinking about what is going on.”
there’s no time to rest. You have to do something.”
“Things seem to be getting really bad.”
is fine. The fact is things are
“I’m frightened that I may lose my social security.”
you’ll probably die an early death anyway.”
Tune in to yourself, listen to your thoughts and you can
begin to find ways to VALIDATE your feelings and TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF.