ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Keeping Paranoia and Fear At Bay

Jack Bragen
Friday November 18, 2016 - 01:00:00 PM

Many persons are traumatized by a lengthy, nasty, and awful election and by its outcome in which we seem to have someone who could end up being a very harsh, nasty and mean leader. Mentally ill people are often more sensitive to fear-provoking stimuli, and this election may have already taken a heavy toll on the mental condition of many.  

If mentally ill, if subject to greater than normal levels of anxiety, and if you feel pessimistic about the fate of the country and about your own fate, I suggest exercises of mindfulness, and other techniques that could be loosely termed as meditation, to adapt to new conditions.  

If you can adapt to being mentally ill, to being forced to take psychiatric medications for the rest of your life, and to all of the other baggage, financial and social, that come with being categorized as mentally ill, you should be able to adapt to a new and very different administration in the White House.  

To begin with, I suggest keeping your options open. This could be difficult if you are just barely eking by month to month. However, research could be done on the internet concerning things like job possibilities, housing possibilities, and alternatives concerning where and how you get treatment for mental illness. The knowledge you gain could come in handy in a pinch. Also, getting on some waiting lists, (even if you plan to continue living where you are) or other waiting lists, is a good idea. Then, when your name comes up, if you are fine where you are, you could just tell whomever it is to cross off your name.  

Your routine--of paying bills, keeping appointments, if you have a job, showing up for work, and other things that you do to survive on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis--should be continued.  

Concerning maintaining your mental health, seek additional counseling as needed. Secondly, try to put the presence of a possibly malicious president in perspective within your thoughts. Persons with psychiatric disabilities will probably be affected by the new President at some point, but we don't yet know how and when. As soon as you gain more knowledge of what will transpire, you can work on adapting to that at the time.  

I believe that we should continue to have a positive attitude. As individuals, we can not control everything. We do not yet know what the ramifications will be of Trump being in office. Rather than panicking, bemoaning, or retreating into a psychological shell, we should do what we can to make our situations continue to work, and we should continue to try to make things better for ourselves.  

We don't have to welcome a President whose campaign was based on countless lies, on scapegoating women and minorities, and possibly on collusion of the FBI and Russia. However, we need to acknowledge the reality of Trump being elected. He is likely to be a worse President than Richard Nixon. However, he will have limited power.  

Trump is partly attempting to rule through fear with the revelation that he has an enemies list. We shouldn't be intimidated by that, and we should feel at liberty to speak out and to speak the truth.  

It is not likely that the government will retaliate if you exercise your First Amendment rights. There are far too many people against Trump for small fries and those who are "judgment proof" (meaning you have no assets, therefore no one is likely to sue you) to invoke the wrath of Trump.  

There are encouraging signs, as Trump prepares for the transition, that he is capable of rational thought. This doesn't excuse the fact that his campaign employed racism, misogyny, homophobia, prejudice against disabled people, and any other type of bigotry you can think of. Purely from a pragmatic perspective, this is the government that will come into existence--at least until his four years are up or until we impeach him out of office for some type of misconduct.  

Thus, we'd better prepare for change. Anything you can think of that could buffer your life situation in a crisis, such as saving up a few hundred dollars, strengthening connections with people who could help you, or looking into getting a part time job, could all come in handy if things go south.  

I don't suggest investing, unless such investing is in the form of your own startup, and obtaining the equipment, licensing, advertising, or other resources related to that. Investing in oneself rather than investing in someone else's company is my suggestion, since we do not know what will happen with the stock market.  

Even doing volunteer work is useful, since it looks good on a resume, and it channels your energy into something positive.  

Being afraid can be immobilizing. However, mobilizing in the face of fear, including when this is very uncomfortable, will help defeat the fear. And, for many, our own anxiety, fear and apprehension is our greatest enemy, and not President-Elect Donald Trump.