I could really relate to this column: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/03/18/headline-stress-disorder-i-have-it-do-you/
And found some promising solutions here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/opinion/depressed-by-politics-just-let-go.html
I originally wrote about the problem in this post.
I have lived next to immigrants that were hard-working and made my neighborhood better. The call for a wall and travel ban will not make us safer. It truly just collective scapegoating driving ideas like this. My kids’ mom is African-American. The children face racism at times (and enjoy privilege in other situations). Someday soon, I have to have that talk with my son about interacting with the police (as he likely won’t get the many passes with the cops I got in as a lily-white youth). Though he looks a lot like Bruno Mars right now, some people just see brown. I could go on and on about the threats that the country faces…of war, or an economic recession, or the crumbling of the safety-net for our most vulnerable community members.
But it’s more than long-standing Blue state versus Red state arguments. I would do most anything for McCain or Romney right now. Instead, it is like a train wreck you can’t avert your eyes from. I seriously need an Al-anon meeting. If you have ever been exposed to someone with a serious major personality disorder – the constant chaos, finger-pointing, detachment from truth, projection, attention-seeking, deflection, gas-lighting, etc. – this turmoil feels familiar.
Intellectually, there is a steady steam of new information and different perspectives. Info-tainment. At this point, it is about the same as binge watching a TV show but the episodes never end in a “finale”. It is a distraction from my real problems in life, or from the live people or work that need my attention. As I read about it all, the distress it induces matches what is lingering inside. But I have zero or no control of these external events – when I have much to do with my inner peas and immediate circumstances.
I have talked to my therapist. Yes, it feels like mommy and daddy are fighting, or it all taps into some kid-like grandiosity about my influence on things, or I catastrophize the situation more than reality, among other dynamics. I grew up in a home with significant abuse, so this is not just “triggering of liberal tears” – the dysfunction and problems of my family of origin would create existential issues for the most psychologically-sound among us. But yet it goes beyond that.
I have this lack of faith that the institutions of this country can survive. That the constitutional checks and balances will be able to maintain a fair and just society. That the free press and grassroots opposition can make a difference. That at least some members of the majority party will take a stand.
For my personal life, beyond my kids, lots of the proposals, if enacted would help me. The bill repealing Obamacare will give me some tax credits that I don’t get now buying my own insurance (though my rates will likely get higher as I get older). Hey, I am all for cutting back on IRS agents, since I am working out some income tax issues. Ha, ha. But as someone that doesn’t have much of an IRA, and has paid into entitlement trust funds for 30 years now, will Social Security and Medicare be around for me in 20 years (right now they are slated to implode when I am to “retire”)?
So, my point – I am taking a “break” from politics. I am shooting for 30 days. I cancelled my newspapers in February, and I got off of Facebook and cut cable TV 2 years ago. So that just leaves me refraining from going online to read blogs, newspapers and Twitter, and from listening to talk and news radio.
Paired with sobriety, my politics “fast” will hopefully lead to some new healthy behaviors:
1) Putting away the electronic devices for better sleep hygiene – no “screens” in bed.
2) Getting to the gym for a light workout or outside for a brisk walk every day.
3) Eating a little healthier with meals planned ahead and bought at the grocery store, especially not eating right before bed.
4) Trending down on caffeine consumption. I don’t have a daily habit but sometimes I drink too much coffee or diet soda and get all geeked out.
5) Eliminating over the counter sleep aids. I buy a two pack of PM pills at the gas station a couple times a week when too much caffeine or stress make it hard to sleep (#4). Usually if I do some exercise (#2), I sleep like a baby.
6) And a new symptom that I have never had my entire life until last fall, is staying in bed all day to either work (I have had very productive days when under a deadline) or to just lay around to read everything about politics for 36 plus hours – boxing out the real world. I am pretty sure this will go away if I cut back on caffeine (#4) and eating right before bed (#3), increasing exercise (#2) and eliminating screens in bed (#1) and OTC sleep aids (#5).
These are all aims.
I know complicated rule making for oneself is a little akin to the drinking bargains we would try to make when drunk – like “no drinking” in the mornings or just on Friday / Saturday nights. Or no more than a “six pack”, etc.
I know the rule making activates the “Black or White” thinking of my “All or Nothing” mind.
But if I can trend no politics, no screens in bed, more exercise, less caffeine, healthier eating, cutting out sleeping aids, etc. things will get even better.
And of course, nothing gets better if I take that first drink. And that is bright line with no crossing.