Much of our country has struggled with the outcome of this election cycle. That’s understandable: negativity, blame, lies, scheming, and misinformation (read: fake news) have plagued this election across both sides of the aisle. The result? Post-election stress.
What hurts me about this election is not the politics, but rather the impact it has had on people that matter to me. My retired neighbor is nervous about healthcare coverage; my LGBTQ friends are fearful of becoming victims of hate crimes; my grad school peers are disappointed that they may not be able to rely on the student loan forgiveness program. On the other hand, people I know and love are worried that by voting for principles important to them, such as pro-life issues or business taxes, they may be the subject of intense criticism.
Nothing hurts me more than seeing other people hurt. My thoughts on the election became nearly irrelevant once someone I care about told me how deeply the election has negatively affected them. I realized that the pain of this election is not about me; it’s about all of those people who feel discriminated against, who feel unheard, and who feel targeted for simply being who they are.
As a behavioral health employee, I know that self-care is crucial right now for all of us, and one word sums up my best coping strategy for this election: COMPASSION
We do not have to understand a person’s or a group’s experiences to be able to identify with their feelings. For example, I will never understand a Muslim woman’s pain of being discriminated against, but I understand pain. I understand discrimination. I understand feeling less-than because someone else said I am. I don’t have to lack healthcare coverage to understand the fear associated with not being covered. I don’t have to be a woman to be compassionate about the threatening of female-specific healthcare options.
Most of my daily life activities have not changed since the election. I still go to work, I still text my friends every day, and I still spend too much money at restaurants. But some people are going to experience huge changes as a result of this election, and I believe we must support, uplift, empathize, and validate the experiences of those individuals and groups.
Many information sources have been developed to offer coping strategies: check out the short resource list below.
- Inquire about local behavioral health services
- Take an anonymous online screening and get a “check up from the neck up”
- Take action
- Build resilience
Check out DBHIDS Commissioner Dr. Evans’s blog about coping with the election