A friend of mine sends me things to read five to 10 times a day. She is furious that she has to resort to email because I don’t read her on her Facebook page.
I have an old-school, some would say Clintonian notion of privacy. I, too, have been slow to warm to transparency. Could be an old closet injury. It is still difficult for me to make myself read what’s in parentheses. I have the nagging feeling that it’s none of my business. I don’t ‘thumbs-up’ Facebook because I like learning things from people when I meet them. If I already know every detail of their special Tuscan vacation, what’s to talk about?
The subject line of my friend’s e-missives is usually: READ THIS OR ELSE. She hates my away message: “I will be out of my mind until November 9, and not reading my emails in a careless but legal way.” She disputes my claim of ‘accidentally’ deleting email. And if my long lost cousin, eighth-removed, stranded in Nepal and needing emergency funds for a return ticket is reading this column, please get back in touch. My bad. I don’t have the money, but you’re welcome to put the penis extender on eBay.
I know she sends me emails because she’s anxious about the election. Calling me out on my denial and avoidance is a better way of coping than damaging another’s property or causing another bodily harm. And I have to admit that her recent all-caps ‘read-this’ by a Dr. Stephen Stosny was interesting. Stosny, Ph.D., author of “Soar Above: How to Use the Most Profound Part of Your Brain Under Any Kind of Stress,” recently identified and named the malady: Election Stress Disorder. The guy is a genius.
Other clinicians have also seen the electile dysfunction in their patients. They report that the endless election cycle, 24/7 adrenalized media stories, and anti-social media all cause a hyper-ventilized anxiety with symptoms of restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, fatigue, concentration and sleep difficulties.
If an election lasts more than four months, call your doctor. Some clinicians have reported that two-thirds to three-quarters of their patients talk about the election in their sessions. Donald Trump, the emperor of all maladies is himself a trigger warning. An ABC/Washington Post poll found that “President Trump” made 69 percent of voters anxious. “President Clinton” caused 50 percent of voters to break out in a cold sweat, though that could just be peri-menopausal.
Stosny says that this presidential election appeals more to the emotional, all-or-nothing, toddler brain. People cope with their anxiety with typical toddler tools: blame, denial, and avoidance. They will tend to look for oversimplified solutions at work, drink more, drive more aggressively and suffer the physiological and mental effects of general stress.
His remedy is that people try to shift to the adult brain. That brain has the ability to weigh evidence, see nuance, plan for the future and replace blame, denial and avoidance with an appreciation of complexity.
Really? Shift to the adult brain? That’s all he’s got?
And what are we supposed to take as the national adrenal systems short out in the lead-up to the presidential debates? As the frenzied Wrestlemania graphics blaze, a smoky ringmaster voice barks the promise of the biggest viewing audience for a presidential debate. Ever. Bigger than the biggest Super Bowl. In this corner, Hillary “D for Deplorable” Clinton. And in this corner Donald “the Master Baiter” Trump. Live. And on stage. For the first time. Ever.
To soar above this mass psychosis and its delusional ideation, there is no profound part of my brain that will help with the stress. The thing my adult brain needs is a Klonipin and it better be the size of a hubcap.