11/8/16 is My New 9/11/01

I never imagined I’d ever write anything about politics.  Ever.  Anywhere.  For any reason.  The tendency to rant would be too strong.  But I guess this is about more than politics, and more than a rant, though I won’t deny it has its moments.  Maybe, most of all, it’s a search.  I’m looking for something.

Maybe writing this will help.

You see, I have major depressive disorder.  Depression.  And since the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States, I have been in a state of mental and emotional shock.  I know, you’ve probably heard that before.  Me too.  Maybe that should tell us something.  This is my first post on this blog in over two years, and I don’t know if coming back now, for this, is a good sign or a bad sign for me.  So I wonder, will putting my feelings into words here be therapeutic?  Is my brain’s chosen path of trying, in its obstructively conscious way, to process what happened to the world last Tuesday . . . is that going to hurt or help me?  Or will I need to withdraw even more, distract myself from the larger world and avoid the national and international news in order to start healing?

These are my questions.

And now, consider yourself warned:

Warning #1:  This post will be profuse with my own opinions, and sprinkled with a few objective facts.  So if you don’t like facts or other people’s opinions, thank you for stopping by, but you may want to stop reading now.

Warning #2:  There will be name-calling.

Donald Trump has been in the public eye for a long, long time, and I have never really been able to tolerate watching or listening to him for more than a few moments at time.  I always thought of him as a sleazy con man.  At times throughout the recent campaign, I have forced myself to give him a chance and listen to what he has to say.  Unfortunately he’s failed to change my mind about that.  I will say that he has enriched my picture of who he is, however.  But not in a good way.

As for the title of this post:  I’m not saying that the two events demand comparison; I’m saying that my reactions to the two events have been similar.

I didn’t recognize the similarities at first:  The immediate visceral shock that I felt in my chest as I watched the news.  The disbelief, followed by the profound sadness and grief. The tears of realization.  The desire to watch the news nonstop, looking for any glimmer of hope to cling to, because I’ve virtually lost the ability to create hope on my own.  And unlike 9/11/01, now I have a daughter.  My 10 year old daughter will be growing into her ever more worldly teen years and learning more and more about our country and its place in the world.  And now the highest office in our government, which she will have the unspoken expectation to look up to . . . that position is set to be filled over the next four years by a misogynistic, bellicose, ineloquent twit leading our country as dictator-in-chief.

Granted, September 11, 2001 occurred several years before my clinical depression manifested itself.  I could hypothesize that the depression has caused my reaction to 11/8/16 to be more profound than it might otherwise have been.  Yet it seems there are many people around the country who have arguably had a similar reaction to this election result. I doubt that a large number of them have clinical depression.  I do also note that many of these folks may consider themselves to be direct targets of Donald Trump’s stated agenda, and I do not place myself in that category, nor can I imagine or envy their situation or feelings right now.

I also can’t help but think, based on past behavior, that if Donald Trump was to be told of my, or someone else’s, mental and emotional struggle with the election and its aftermath due to clinical depression or another mood disorder, he would mock us:  “‘Oh, waaahh! Oh poor me!’ Look, don’t blame me if you can’t deal with your life.  Get over it.”  Then he might be generous and add, “Take a pill.  See a therapist.”

–Which I’m doing, by the way.  Trouble is, taking a pill or seeing a therapist won’t make Donald Trump go away.  At least not for another four years.  And the world is hard enough without him.  If I care about the plight of other human beings in this country and around the world, if I care about the earth, if I want to stay connected to the rest of the planet, it’s going to be kind of hard avoiding Donald Trump or his words or actions, he being leader of the free world and all.  Or rather, free for the moment, with no extended warranty.

Many people seem to be saying that they voted for “change.”  It’s a frequent refrain in the media.  And that’s all well and good if that is what, in actuality, you had cast your vote for.  The problem is that you can’t conflate or confuse a single grandiose idea such as “change” with a human being.  It doesn’t work that way.  You have to vote for a person, not a concept.  “Change” is not a line item on the presidential ballot, or millions would have checked that box.  You get a person, with all of their facets.  There’s no guarantee, and little chance in the end, of you getting some vague “change” you expect or hope for, or those empty promises you got all giddy about.  You get Donald Trump.  That’s all.

That’s why every aspect of a person counts, in aggregate.  It all matters.  You don’t get to ignore some parts and expect everything to turn out okay.

During the campaigns, I sometimes contemplated the universe bifurcating into parallel universes, where each segment of the electorate could live in a timeline where their candidate won, so they could witness the world that resulted.  Now I realize I’m trapped in the wrong universe.

I don’t have it in me right now to be as gracious or conciliatory in my grief as our current president or Secretary Clinton or even some of the impossibly professional journalists I’ve witnessed covering and parsing this story.  I can only mourn as if I’ve lost the home and the country I knew.

And so with that, I have a few more things to say about our next president.  And for the record, I used to be a registered Republican.  I now consider myself of neither political party, since far too often I see so-called party lines, in all their more detestable manifestations, hinder and hurt our country rather than help it.

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a narcissistic demagogue and a pathological liar.  He’s latched onto a suffering and desperate (in far too many cases) segment of the electorate like a parasite, and suckered them with those plecostomus lips of his.  Sure, he will accomplish some things as president, or at least try.  A few of those things might even be good for the country, though some will most probably be terrible for the country and the world.  But those things he fights for will all be for Donald Trump and what he personally desires. Only coincidentally will anyone else or the United States of America benefit.  More likely we will suffer for it.

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a repugnant charlatan who lies blatantly and repeatedly even after he’s been proven wrong.  He conjures controversial rumors and publicly speculates about his foes, absent any reality, because he seems to enjoy it and thinks it will advance him personally.

Donald Trump is a racist who proudly associates himself with other racists and refuses to disassociate himself from racist groups.

Donald Trump only cares about Donald Trump and his own family, and will say or do whatever feels right at the time to advance his goals.  It matters nothing to him if his story later changes, since he will unequivocally deny the first story ever existed, and lie about the context if faced with proof.

The high office of President of the United States, which I profoundly respect, does not deserve the walking corruption that is Donald Trump, a man who totally lacks the capacity to be a decent human being over an extended period of time and whose untrustworthiness will tarnish that office in the eyes of the world for the foreseeable future.  I grieve for our White House and for our nation.

* * *

And so continues the First Age of the Trump Dynasty after this important milestone.  Stay tuned for the next episode, wherein Donald J. Trump will attempt and perhaps even succeed in installing his children into important positions in the government.  It’s called nepotism, little brother to despotism.

* * *

Now that I have that off my chest, I guess I’ll have to wait.  If only it could be so simple, feeling better.  Maybe it’s like an antidepressant that can take weeks to start having an effect. In the meantime I wish I could afford cable.  CNN runs 24/7.  I could use a little hope right now.

  1. #1 by Martea on November 15, 2016 - 11:21 PM

    Thank you Joseph you have put into words what I have been feeling since 11/9/16 and unable to articulate. For days I felt physically ill and still now I have bouts of sadness, fear and anger. Sadness for the direction our country is heading; fear for the hatred, racism, bigotry I believed was disappearing from our shore (so very naive of me) and angry that my fellow Americans, friends and loved ones were taken in hook line and sinker by an obvious charlatan. I am still reeling by this catastrophic event in our countries future and history.
    Thank you dear friend.


    • #2 by Joseph M Kurtenbach on November 16, 2016 - 3:38 PM

      Thanks for the comment and your thoughts, Martha. I’m thinking now about the state of denial I was in, just never imagining or believing our country could elect such a man as president . . . I thought I was doing what I could by voting, and it wasn’t enough, so I wonder what else I could have done. I didn’t allow myself to consider the worst in this case, and it’s another wake-up call that the United States is not immune to the kind of horrific things we see on the international news or by looking back at history. We can’t take for granted what protects us. We can’t be reckless if we want to survive as a free nation. And yet if I want to survive depression, I may have to largely turn my back on the outside world again.


  2. #3 by Rilla Z on November 16, 2016 - 11:04 AM

    I’m sorry for your grief, Joe. I go through the overwhelm every election year, and crash after. This election was different only in one way: I’ve been dealing with an ongoing struggle outside of my control for over 3 years. It’s removed me from the things I can do nothing about; I don’t seem to be capable of dealing with the future problems. You’d think I’d be smart enough not to worry about why I’m numb to the future! I have a therapeutic writing exercise I do to help me with the anger and worry. I take my meds and hope I’ll get better. I hope you have better days in the future, my friend.
    Btw, I looked up plecostomus. Dictionary.com wasn’t even helpful! You’re so clever. 🙂


    • #4 by Joseph M Kurtenbach on November 16, 2016 - 4:10 PM

      Thanks, Rilla. So sorry for your struggle as well. I’m glad you’re able to use writing to help. I look forward to having the energy and wherewithal again to figuratively pick up the pen and get some more significant writing done. It comes to me in waves that are all too infrequent, but at least at those times I can get a mood boost and don’t get the same “Why bother?” brain response when I try to pour energy into writing at other times. Also wishing you better and brighter days and “Get Well Soon” wishes wherever appropriate ;-). Let’s keep on writing (when we can)!

      Liked by 1 person

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