politics

Five Ways to Survive Election Season as a Sensitive Person in a Pandemic World

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

“I think you may be acting out of your anxiety,” someone gently said to me.

“It will be ok” says my husband on repeat.

Hugging myself, I try to create a semi-circle of grace to combat the feelings of self-loathing because yes, these past few weeks, my anxiety seems to be winning.

Being a sensitive person during a contentious election season is hard. Smack on the truth that 900 people are dying EACH day from a virus the government shushes and I want to scream, “How are the rest of you NOT anxious?”

Perhaps you aren’t. Lucky you.

I am anxious. Those three words make me sad.

We’ve got three weeks to go until Election Day. Another friend reminded me, perhaps, it’s time to tune out.

I wobble between wanting to be informed and being disgusted. I laugh at the memes of flies and dip into a place of disgust for sold out fly swatters and pictures of poop on white bread. The flags waving on my street spout hatred. The very hanging feels like a violent act.

How can I continue to contribute to the discourse when we’ve stooped on both sides? Is calling someone a piece of shit acceptable if it’s true?

In an attempt to self-soothe and whisper again to turn back to hope, I made a list of and the coping mechanisms keeping me grounded.

Here are five ways to survive as a sensitive person during election season in a pandemic world.

  1. Do Something

Figure out how you want to contribute to the cause. I wrote to a senator for the first time this month. I chose to disregard the canned response I received in my inbox full of reasons why that senator would act differently. Man-splained once again. I signed up to send 400 postcards to voters in areas likely to experience voter suppression. I bought a coffee mug. I’m done arguing on social media. But I’ll keep giving my dollars to campaigns and keeping my fingers crossed.

2. Remember I can’t control much

Even people closest to me think I’m overreacting. My cautiousness at entering hair salons and the short outburts reminding people to use hand sanitizer mask the underlying narrative I’ve got playing in my head. Soap and masks are good and necessary. But the air is tainted too?

I can’t control other people and their perceived ok-ness. I want to stop judging the kids at soccer practice and the parents who put them there. I want to be free of fear knowing people I love are forced to go back to work in rooms with little ventilation.

I can work on improving my own sense of grounding.

3. Schedule time to process

Whether I’m writing in a journal, or talking to a friend on the phone, or watching a video sure to make me cry, I have to find a place to press the pressure valve button. No one is experiencing this too-much-ness like I am. I need a place to own my own story. Blow off the steam. Dance in the living room. Scream. Let the tears fall.

4. Stop scrolling

Perhaps tears are good reminders I’ve been scrolling too much. No one is forcing me to open Instagram or the front page of the virtual New York Times. My wanting to be informed is hurting my spirits. Give my thumbs something else to do. Go on a walk. Pick up the ukulele. Write more postcards. Stop scrolling.

5. Count the beautiful things

The sun is up and the smoke has shifted. New playlists exist on Spotify. Wrap your hair around an iron to create the perfect curl. Milk still swirls in coffee and yellow leaves crunch at my feet. Candle light warms and ink spills onto paper. People are activating, donating, scrubbing, and sanitizing. Prayers are whispered. Grief is becoming a part of the national conversation. Red toe nail polish. Creativity whistles bringing good ideas and hilarity to our homes. Season six of Schitt’s Creek is now available on Netflix …

I don’t know what will happen in November. Maybe today’s death count will drop. Perhaps one more person will pick up a mask. Saying hello to the anxiety deflates its looming presence.

I’m here, as a sensitive person, reminding myself and others that even in the madness, beauty abounds. Help me remember to focus here instead.

Turned Inside Out

After six months at home with limited social interactions, I didn’t think I could look much further inward.

Inward is where I’ve been living – perhaps for the last four years. Grief turned me so inward, I turned inside out.¬† Insides exposed – skin raw, even still. Prickling with the constant bombardment of suffering, of loss, of what it means to have tugging skin as your wounds heal and re-arrange. After four years, I was ready to get out into the world again. And then a pandemic hit.

With news cycles imploding on the hour, and violence bursting across our country, I’m tempted to turn off my phone and close my eyes.

Tuning out is privilege. Turning things off is a choice.

I thought about changing my Facebook cover photo to this Fauci quote earlier this week.

care

I stopped myself because I don’t feel social media is the place to change minds. Perhaps blogs posts aren’t either. We’re pretty set in our ways and discourse fails in comment threads, when we can’t make eye contact, or place a warm hand of understanding on the fingers of someone we disagree with. Most of the time, our friends nod in agreement when we share our thoughts on how the world could be and for whom.

But, as I continually click reload on news browsers and watch brave protestors, athletes, artists, and individuals address the hurt and pain of others across the nation, Fauci’s quote keeps giving me pause.

How do we knock on closed-off hearts? How do we whisper to those living in extremism? How do we share kindness to people who are different than us?

I have a hard time feeling angry with wealthy people who choose not to share their resources. I live in a working class neighborhood. With every Trump flag popping up on lawns across the street, I hesitate to display my proudly purchased Biden-Kamala sticker. My Christian roots bristle at Evangelical narratives,  withdrawing to find different sources of spiritual thirst quenching. I struggle to embrace the differing opinions of relatives spread across the country.

I said I wouldn’t get political and well, here we are. Everything feels political. Our clashing values create rifts like canyons – pulling us apart from where we used to stand in agreement.

We’re living in fear of those who are different than us. Fear of those who think or look or value different things. Fear of expressing what we really think. Fear of having something taken, or distributed differently, fear of lack of control. Fear of, once again, being unseen.

And somehow, we’ve gotten so sidetracked, that caring for a human life feels radical.

So, I pick up a pen and write postcards to old friends. I text the people who seem to have forgotten me in the course of loss. I go to my garden and I water the plants growing in my tiny patch of dirt. I give money. I pray. I set down the phone. I circle back to my tiny sphere and I keep at the searching for good. I cheer for the protestors. I buy local and support small business owners. I wear a mask. I get ready to vote. I stay home and I keep looking inward.

Maybe, as a nation, we’re getting turned inside out?

How do we remind each other we need to care? Do you care deeply about our impact on the planet, our country, our neighborhood, our streets, on the children who look different than you? What about those who have lived and lost and are hurting? What about those without support networks? What about those whose kids are in literal cages? What about those innocent ones getting shot in the street?

We need to care. And that’s a beautiful thing.