Post-election Stress Disorder: Finding a way to heal with an open mind and heart

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Like many Americans I am exhausted and stressed out over the last 18 months of this mess of an election. The results are in and I just want to leave it all behind me and get back to my life.

When my little sister picked me up at the train after work she suggested we go out to get a bite to eat and just relax. I told her I’ll go anywhere as long as there are no TVs or people talking about the election. Stick a fork in me, I am done with it. So we checked out a tiny little pub in her neighborhood that she’s been curious about.

When we walked in there was maybe five patrons, the hostess and bartender. Sports was on the TVs and the vibe felt good. So we ordered our food and drinks, pleasantly surprised by this little gem and I felt myself finally relaxing and looking forward to catching up with my sister. And then the sports were over and the news came on. Immediately I could feel the anxiety that’s been in the pit of my stomach for the last several days uncoil like a snake and spread to my extremities. When the bartender made a shocking and disgusting comment I begged my sister to leave, please! I knew this was a mistake.

She told me just tune them out and talk to her, but I couldn’t and was getting more and more upset as the news played on and on and the patrons and bartender kept reacting and commenting on it. We had already ordered and I wanted to just walk the hell out to make a statement, but my sister begged me not to. So I looked around in a panic, wondering how to escape or confront this. Fight or flight was screaming in my head and veins, as anxiety pumped more and more adrenaline into my bloodstream.

I noticed a small dining area with a TV and asked our hostess if we could move there. I simply explained that we were trying to have a sisters night out and desperately were hoping to escape the drama of the election. She graciously understood and moved us and the bartender (who I was silently fuming at) came over and turned on the TV for us. She buzzed a few channels and landed on Seinfeld and my sister and I both said “That’s fine, thanks,” and she left us alone.


It was the two-part Keith Hernandez episode and soon I had forgotten my fear, was enjoying the most amazing burger I’ve had in awhile while my sister was swooning over her mac and cheese. The cook came out and chatted with us and I told him how delicious the burger was, and explained that my test of any pub is how well they make a burger and fish and chips, two pub staples in my opinion. We were laughing and having so much fun when the bartender, who I was still kinda cranky with, came over and said she was changing the channel at the bar since everyone was peeking in our direction to watch Seinfeld with us.

Soon four TVs were all on Jerry and the gang’s misadventures and when George came running out the of the bathroom in his boxers almost everyone yelled in unison “Vandalay! Vandalay!” and laughed as one voice when Jerry shook his head and said, “And you want to be my latex salesman!” I look around at everyone sharing this moment in time with me and how much fun we were having and felt an immense wave of good feeling and hopefulness. As we stayed and interacted more I found the bartender was actually a pretty decent gal who seemed to really enjoy hanging with us.

I am so grateful that I found the right words to express my discomfort and found a work around and was able to stay, rather than walking out upset and unsettled. Instead, I had a great time with some really good people who I have a lot in common with, just not politically. I felt hopeful that I can successfully navigate this frightening time of upheaval and unrest if I remind myself that I can only control my reactions to others.

And if I keep an open mind, and heart, perhaps I can get to know another side of them that I might like, rather than turning my back on the side of them I don’t agree with.

I know there will be tough times and bad days ahead. I can’t control that. I can only control how I react to it all. And this one little success was the boost I needed to show me that I CAN. I can control my words and actions to try and make things better, not worse. So I will keep on trucking along my path. I may stumble but I hope I’ll always get up, dust off and keep on moving forward toward light and love.  Peace.

Urban Hippie by Irene Martin



About Urban Hippie: I’m a middle-aged tie-dye wearin’, tree-hugging, hippie who is trying to leave the world a little better for having been here.

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