The ScreamHow can a mood change so radically in twenty-four hours? Mine tanked like the Dow Jones Futures as I watched election returns with my friends, mouth agape. Imagine Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream.

Therapists are loath to publicly disclose their political leanings. Tradition from Freudian times has held us to the blank slate standard. Generally we see it as unprofessional to let show anything that smacks of personal opinion. It’s key to give people the opportunity to trust us not to be judgmental. Non-judgment is a fundamental platform of a good, trusting, working, therapeutic relationship. Therapy is about you not me.

The presidential election season of 2016 turned that standard on its head. Many well-respected psychotherapists across the country and the world felt they had to say something. This election was like no other in so many ways; this was on of them. Therapists spoke their truth out-loud due to their sense of civic duty.

I did this quietly one person at a time. If someone asked me a question directly, “Who are you voting for?” I told them. Hillary. Often the talk, regardless of which candidate my patient was for, quickly turned to anxiety. Everyone expressed worry of the outcome. There were plenty of stories in the news media about anxiety being the dominant mood in the electorate. So much, in fact, that I chose not to write about it here, on this blog.

I’m sorry about that. I feel like I let you down.

No more. We need to live on. We have people who depend on us. We need to take care of our kids. We need to work. We need to take care of our homes and parents, our clients and businesses.

To do this under the weight of the unbelievable becoming real, we need to take care of ourselves, too. I want to help. So I will share with you my recovery plan which I am sort of making up on the fly.

5 Steps For An Election 2016 Recovery Plan

1. Be Kind. Tolerating emotional pain is one of the hardest things we do as human beings. Like Dr. Kubler-Ross’s five phases of bereavement we may need to allow ourselves to deny, pretend like it really isn’t happening. I couldn’t sleep last night so I binge watched episodes of The Crown on Netflix. My brain was thankful. There’s nothing to bargain that I can think of, but I have been aware of my anger and how I need to be careful not to displace it onto my innocent, also hurting, husband. Depression is creeping in and I need to watch that too. Acceptance is a way off. When I have an appetite again I’ll know I’m getting there.

2. Move. I will exercise today until the sweat is dripping off me. I’m looking forward to it. If you can move your body purposefully and hard, do it. Anxiety craves action to put it down. If you can’t for any reason then try to do something that takes you physically out of your head. even a car ride to a favorite park is an action.

3. Keep your friends close and your family closer. Your kids especially will remind you more than anything or anyone that there is more to life than who is president.

4. Remember your history. America has gone through some crazy hard times. Just look at a documentary about the McCarthy Hearings. We always seem to right ourselves.

5. Stop the future telling. Anxiety thrives on negative thoughts that bounce around like a pin ball lighting up every vulnerable neuron in your brain. Stop it. I am going to tell myself that our Constitution and the basic goodness of people (which I still believe in deeply) will not allow our beloved country to go over the precipice.

If my Recovery Plan changes, I’ll let you know. Better yet, if you have any ideas to add to help in Election 2016 Recovery please share in the Comments up by the title or on Facebook. We will get through this together.

With love,

Dr. Aletta