Post-Traumatic Election Anxiety Disorder

I think I have it. (I just made it up.)

Symptoms are: restless surfing for information that 1) I could post on MOMocrats to persuade maybe one more voting person to vote Democratic. 2) Will reassure me that Obama-Biden will win.

Symptoms also include 3) Making overwrought phone calls to people on my N2N list. (After totally humiliating myself the other day, I had to stop. Collect myself.) 4) Sleeplessness, combined (not surprisingly) with fatigue. 5) Loud-talking about how horrible McCain-Palin are for the country at a perfectly nice spontaneous lunch with HB, thereby annoying our dining neighbors. 6) Noting who has McCain-Palin signs on their front lawn in our neighborhood, and therefore leaping to outlandish conclusions about what kind of people they are, how they could possibly be so blind, etc etc.

Add in a little free-floating anxiety from owning a house, and putting another up for sale ON THE WORST FINANCIAL WEEKEND IN SAY, 80 YEARS, and yeah. I’m more twitchy than a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. I’m feeling, as goes the Southernism, rather high-strung.

*       *       *

That said, I wrote a post for the Blog Action: Poverty Day that stretched me a little from the usual policy-wonky bent. Writing-wise, it felt like coming home again; I realized how little of that kind of writing I do any more. But in terms of the emotional territory covered, it wasn’t at all like coming home again. It was like fleeing some very powerful and not altogether happy times that I still have strong, mixed feelings about.

The post made me think of my childhood friends all over again. I wondered what had become of them. And in googling for the links to my old hometown, I could see from statistics that nothing really had materially changed for the people who live there. Then commenced some survivor guilt.

12 thoughts on “Post-Traumatic Election Anxiety Disorder

  1. Thanks for clarifying the condition I have been suffering from of late. I have another symptom: anxious forwarding of satiric political cartoons from friend to friend. My finger twitches when another picture of Palin or spot by Jon Stewart comes my way.

    I’m hoping I will be cured in 16 days.

  2. Oh yeah, compulsion to forward political cartoons–totally. I feel you. It’s why I invented the McCain Oopsapalooza Tour. The gaffes and contradictions just seemed too many and ludicrous to let pass.

    I’m hoping we get a good result soon too.

  3. Thank you for diagnosing my problem, too! Now if we could just get it covered by insurance …

    The kill-or-cure treatment will come in November, I guess.

  4. Jennifer on

    Hi there –

    I’m a producer for one of the cable networks and am working with our medical correspondent on a piece about election anxiety. I’d love to speak with you at your convenience. Please shoot me an email if you’re interested. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Don’t Worry, Be Happy - Judith Warner Blog -

  6. I came your way via NYT and I SO have this disease as well! I spend 12ish hours daily perusing the news in any format I can get just to find that one article that’ll say, “We Got It. It’s in the Bag! Now buy your tickets to D.C. for Inauguration.”

    Fingers, toes and all other crossables, crossed!

  7. Barbara on

    Just read the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” piece by Judith Warner in the NY Times. She quoted you and seems to have summed up all the symptoms a large part of the U.S. population is suffering. We BELIEVED Bush couldn’t possibly win in 2000 and we were 100% sure that Kerry would win in 2004. We are not calling this 2008 election for Obama until all the votes are counted and the McCain/Palin team acknowledge defeat. We’ve learned.

  8. Randie Baker on

    I am right there with you!! In fact, once it’s over, I think I may go into post-partum depression, whichever way it goes. No, no. I mean after Obama’s won.

  9. Guaymas Jim on

    I also use humor to make serious points. However, there are hundreds of thousands of young Americans who suffer from PTSD (including me) and turning this horrific family destroying condition into a joke, even a well meaning joke, does these wonderful folks a disservice by devaluing the condition.

    If we are indeed our brother’s and sister’s keeper as Barack has so frequently said, we need to be especially careful not to unintentionally harm our brothers and sisters!

    It is quite possible that I am oversensitive (a common PTSD symptom) to this.

  10. Jim, I understand the point you’re making. And I would never in a million years suggest that the situational and completely invented “disorder” of my post (Post-Traumatic Election Anxiety Disorder) is equivalent to or meaningfully mimics what veterans experience in genuine Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am sorry if that attempt at bleak, ironic humor sat poorly with you.

    Very simply, many of us experienced the elections of 2000 and 2004 as traumatic because of the questionable ways votes were counted or not counted. I think it was a wake-up call that our democracy is a lot more fragile in its implementation than many of us would like to admit.

    And I think people who opposed the Iraq war from the outset (like me), or who have come to oppose it, are despondent at how two terms of George W. Bush have injured or failed to return our fellow citizens sent to fight overseas, polarized this nation, destroyed our good standing internationally, and put a financial boot on all of our necks that it’ll take generations to remove.

    So the prospect of a leader who includes us and says he will advocate for the majority of us is both too wonderful to contemplate, and too agonizing should he somehow not be elected.

    These aren’t wounds suffered during the course of battle, obviously, but many of us around you are heavily invested in the outcome of the election. The injustices committed by the Bush administration in the name of the American people are too many to list. And we are–I am–profoundly horrified and regretful that Bush used the nation’s fear to call you to serve on false pretexts.

    You see, your grief, terror, pain, suffering, loss of innocence, difficulty working, exposure to physical harm–all that and so much more–weighs heavily on my conscience.

    That should never have been permitted; now that it has, we are long due to make amends.

    Electing Obama would be one significant step toward putting things right.

  11. Thank you to all the commenters who are angsty with me. At least we aren’t alone.

    Who’s up for some last-minute phone-banking for Obama on Sunday afternoon?

    Vote hope, not fear!

  12. Pingback: On Anxiety over Election « Endi Thinks

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  14. Great post. While it may not be a social or political answer, there are some natural anxiety remedies that can help when feeling stressed as a result of external circumstance. Some to look into are St.John’s Wort, SAMe, L-Theanine, and Tryptophan. There’s also cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and programs like Panic Away and The Linden Method, to name a few. Hope this helps!

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