ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Taking care of ourselves amidst challenging times - and my take on events

Jack Bragen
Friday February 10, 2017 - 10:56:00 AM

The news is fast and furious about all of the mean, nasty, incompetent and ill-advised actions of the Trump Administration, such that a column becomes outdated within the usual five or six days in which I normally write my columns in advance. If the column you're reading now seems outdated, it is because it was written last weekend.  

This is also not the original version--I had to scrap parts of it because of changes in the scenario that took place a few days before it was to be released--which was originally going to be last week.  

In the original version, I was mentioning protesters who, at the time, were still nonviolent. Now, with the "black bloc," that has all changed.  

I do not believe violent protests help. They discourage many people from participating who do not want to face physical harm if they go out there. Thus, the net effect could be a sharp reduction in numbers of people protesting, and this is, of course, counterproductive.  

I also do not believe that breaking glass, starting fires, and beating people up accomplishes the objective of getting Trump out of office. It only serves to alienate people who would otherwise join the cause. And it furnishes Trump with a potential argument that people against him are thugs.  

We really had something when hundreds of thousands, with pink caps, marched on D.C. Now, a few people, whose agenda seems unknown, or who may not have any real agenda except they want an excuse to get violent, are corrupting that.  

It is astounding how those who have no regard for the law, and who are destructive, assaultive, and reckless, never seem to be the ones who get in trouble for anything. This includes Trump, who seems not to care about the consequences of his actions, and it includes people who perpetrate violence in the name of nonviolence.  

And then, there are we disabled people, among the most vulnerable of citizens. We need to take extra measures to take care of ourselves. This is especially so if one's disability is psychiatric. Partly, the President is trying to wage psychological warfare against the American people. The effects of this are amplified for persons who are mentally vulnerable in one way or another.  

One option is to build a wall--a psychological wall--that distances our minds from the garbage. If we do this, we still should have a compartment in our minds that can monitor if, and when we personally must deal with something. The effects of this Presidency have shock waves that propagate to all parts of the Earth and to everyone living on it. Thus, we are affected, whether we like it or not.  

The challenge is to navigate, mentally, so that we can maintain our personal existences, maintain our mental well-being, and remain focused on our own lives. If we feel we have enough extra power, we could participate in some way to opposing the actions of this administration.  

Sometimes we will have "down time," due to how the Trump garbage is affecting our minds. One option is to talk to one's psychiatrist and get some extra medication. You could just say you're feeling really stressed and you might need an extra pill or two.  

We may have fear and anxiety some of the time, but we should not remain stuck in that for extended periods of time. We should not be controlled by fear, immobilized by fear, or made sick by fear. Sometimes cognitive techniques help with feeling less fear, but we may also need to rely on medications.  

We must get plenty of sleep, rest, and recreation. Especially sleep. We should do things we like to do. My thing is to go to Dollar Tree in Martinez and buy frozen and canned entrees that are really unhealthy.  

We should maintain our responsibilities. In some instances, we may need to write them down so that we don't forget any. We should keep a light heart and light thoughts. Heaviness, grief, and shock should not get too much of a foothold. Yet we must not become complacent or underestimate Trump--that was one of the reasons the election was lost.  

If Americans work hard enough at opposing Trump's Presidency, we could accomplish a lot. Among other things, we should focus on the next midterm election, in which we should take back Congress. A Democratic Congress would be willing to impeach Trump, if a good enough legal basis is found. As persons with psychiatric disabilities, we may as individuals be limited in what we can do, but certainly, emailing a letter to one's Representative could be done. But if you do not feel ready to do that, maybe saying a prayer would be something, or perhaps a thought to the universe, even if you are agnostic.  

Of course, all of the above assumes that you are disturbed by what is happening in our country and you are not brainwashed by Trump.  

I do not regret getting political in this column even though it is supposed to be a mental health opinion column. This column needs to accommodate current events. If you want strictly mental health, get one of my three mental health books from Amazon. And if you want entertainment with a bite to it, buy my sci-fi collection, "Revised Short Science Fiction Collection of Jack Bragen." These books are not political, nor do they relate to Trump, yet they are relevant.  

Afterword: I see that Trump seems to be vacationing in Florida (I don't know what you could call it other than vacationing) already, after being in office for only two weeks. Thus, something is getting under his skin. Maybe he could reconsider how he is going about things, and reconsider some of his radically conservative, borderline fascist positions that are coming back to haunt him already.