Stop Blaming Trump For Your Depression
Today while I was sitting down to do something entirely different than write this post, I came across an article on the Girlboss website titled “How I’ve Dealt With Depression In The Era Of Trump”. The article follows the author as she compares the election of the current president to 9/11 and takes us through the revival of her Xanax prescription. Her instability is bolstered by quotes from a mental health professional who explains that there is an actual disorder to classify what has now become an epidemic of mental illness brought on by this administration.
I, unfortunately, am no stranger to the throes of depression and anxiety. I understand how exhausting it is to have a nagging feeling with you always, like a mole, that something terrible is going to happen. I had multiple years where the only available scenario was worst-case.
I’ve been fairly quiet about political matters, mostly because the current path I’m on doesn’t leave time for megalomaniacs or peoples’ opinions them. The current path has lead to a symptom and med-free life which has in turn given me the stability to build a business that involves me guiding people through the process of owning their s**t, forgiving themselves their s**t, learning from their s**t, then rewriting their s**t into whatever the hell they want.
That’s not to say that I’ve been hiding from social media or the world in general. I’m aware; there’s a maniac on the loose. My Facebook feed, being of liberal ilk, is full of varying degrees of NOT MY PRESIDENT. (Sorry, but he is.) There’s also: RESIST. What, specifically? Resisting is for two-year-olds who are told that they can’t have the candy they want. Resistance is not seductive or powerful. It slows the flow of results and progress. (Persist? Okay, a little more flow there. I feel like the people actually organizing marches and unifying their communities are in persistence mode — persisting to create a better way.)
Bret Easton Ellis delivered what could be interpreted as a scathing monologue on one of his podcast episodes last month calling out the liberal hysteria sweeping the nation. He mentioned that Lena Dunham blamed her weight loss on Trump, that one of his friends wasn’t allowed to text back an associate who had once done business with Trump lest his wife finds out and divorce him (serious, not hyperbole). He chronicles dinners with some of his high-powered circle who had breakdowns when Mr. Ellis didn’t whole-heartedly agree with their disgust in Mr. Trump. He candidly talks about his boyfriend’s dissent into an opiate addiction and how he begins his days by looking over at Mr. Ellis and croaking “not my president” (hot).
Here’s what I see as a problem in all of this — when we decide to point our fingers at an external source, what we’re really resisting is OUR own personal power. We’re resisting the opportunity to look at what scares us about ourselves so that we can be resourceful, gracious and powerful in times that are less than idea. We’re resisting our true ability to progress and to flourish.
Disclosure: I don’t like President Pussy-grabber and I didn’t vote for him.
Here’s something else: I’ve been severely depressed through the administrations of Dubya and the darling of my people (though he’s just as corrupt as any of them) Obama. A few other things I’ve been depressed through: physically abusive relationships and the nurturing, caring, loving relationship with the love of my life. Past career assents and past career uncertainty. The housing crash and the purchase of my own home. It may not seem like it, but all of those things have one thing in common: me. I was the common thread through all my depressive episodes.
So what to do about it? I’d suggest start by waking up to the intentions of the content and conversations around you because if we are not conscientious and intentional about those two things, we’re going to run around with Xanax rattling in our purses. We’ll keep losing beautiful lost souls like Prince and Chris Cornell.
Because the message that society is engineered to feed us is this: we are not enough. I am not enough. You are not enough. Next time you watch the news see if you can consciously notice how it is designed to manufacture fear and outrage (across all outlets, yes — I’ve found Vice to be the only one that I can stomach and I have to be in a privileged circumstance to consume that as it’s on a premium cable channel). Then watch what they do after they get you scared and angry: the commercials come on and we’re fed the solutions: fabric softener, cars, erection while inexplicably sitting in a clawfoot tub in the middle of a field. Buy. You are not enough, but these pills will make you enough. Buy. You’re worth it. Be outraged. Villainize. Buy. You’ll be a better homemaker. Buy. You’re more of a man.
And it all beautifully distracts from what really matters: you. You, my dear. You, the one with the inner power to be as amazing as you want. You with the beacon of light ready to burst through from your heart. You, the one can inspire, lead and be a bad-ass at self-mastery so that even when the world is scary and there’s a maniac in the Oval Office or in Florida or wherever they are, you can govern your self no matter what the government or its members are up to.
The way to do this is get really cozy with the fact that there are three things and three things alone that we can control in our lives: our thoughts feelings and actions.
That’s right. Our thoughts are a choice. That’s why consuming content with intention and awareness is imperative if we’re to reach full self-ownership and empowerment. No matter what side of the coin we’re on, or if we’re on a different coin altogether, the media is not our friend. It’s a distractor and thought-filler designed to create outrage and insecurity and to exercise our consumption muscle; NOT to empower you with information. And it’s so powerful; it filters through our conversations, in person, online, everywhere. If our thoughts are being trained to stay in the fear/outrage/insecurity zone, do you think that might shape the way we feel?
Yes. Feelings are the second thing that we can control. They are rooted in our thoughts, which is why we have to form them with the precision of a sculptor. Then it’s easier to choose our feelings. Yes, we choose our feelings. I understand that sometimes our feelings are overwhelming and things can feel really sad, or really scary or impossibly dark. I have been there and I’ve had to participate in chemical intervention (anti-depressants) and I’ll say that at the time I benefitted like crazy from the meds. But when I started digging deeper, beneath the safety of the seratonin, the external sources for my anxiety were simply a mirror of things inside myself that I refused to acknowledge or actually work on. Yup, the monster was within me, also. A scary headline that would have me running for my covers was literally a reflection of something terrifying about myself that I refused to own. And when I decided to go inside instead of pointing away at myself and look for the thing behind the thing, a new world opened up to me. One of composure, one of control. One of endless choices where before there were only a few.
Composure, control and choice: developing these three things allows you to behave in completely different ways. Here’s another common thread: miscarriage. I had one a year ago and I had another one three weeks ago. These were very similar events, both very sad and a brutal reminder from my body that, hey, things get pretty horrific sometimes. But this time, the other common thread — me — was different. Last year my thoughts and feelings resulted in the behavior of staring at a bottle of OxyContin wondering if I should just speed up my journey to eternal rest. This year my thoughts and feelings lead to behaviors like showing up to meetings. Like communicating with the people who mattered the most instead of shutting them out. Like turning a wedding trip into a romantic opportunity to reconnect with my husband while cruising up PCH.
It was a conscious choice that came from inside of me. That’s not to say that it was a super happy fun time; sadness is appropriate in this instance. But to suffer from something that is beyond my control is a choice that I passed on this time around.
If something is terrifying you, consider the idea that you might have room for some self-reflection. Our world is literally a reflection of our inner selves. And sometimes self-ownership might look like getting involved in the community or politics and that’s amazing. I’m not saying stay out of politics, I’m saying take a look in the mirror and see what can be done with that person looking back. But if you’re unfriending people, breaking relationships off and demanding explanations of loved ones’ pathology it might be time to look at your own inner mechanics — with compassion, curiosity and the intention that this reflection will be the first of many shifts that will allow you to be empowered, not victimized; can move you toward self-governance so that you can be a beacon of light and strategy in a world that feels dark and pointless.
Remember that we’re witnessing the swinging of a pendulum. The citizens who voted for Trump were once terrified when Obama was president, and now the other side of the same coin has landed face up. It’s okay to be scared and disgusted. We each have a model of the world that is just as unique as our DNA. But when we point our finger and say that something outside of us is causing us to fall to our knees with complete lack of control, we are giving up our power. In this case, for those who are not agreeable to the power now at hand, it becomes imperative to do the hard thing, look inside and do what it takes to start the shift with the one person in this world that we will ever have control over: ourselves.