I have always made an effort to be a reasonably informed citizen of my country. I may not know the ins and outs of all things political at all times, but I pay enough attention to things to have a broad understanding of the issues that I consider to be most important (civil rights, economics, and the environment).

I’m ashamed to admit that ever since the election, that’s changed.

I stopped listening to NPR. (Coincidentally, my Public Radio Nerd travel mug’s lid also got stuck so badly that I can’t use it—I feel like NPR is trying to punish me.) I unsubscribed from news outlets in social media. I don’t watch the news in the morning. Pretty much all I see these days are things my friends post on social media, and even then I haven’t been clicking through to read them.

It’s not that I want to live in a bubble. Not exactly. It’s more that I just haven’t found a healthy way to cope with our current political upheaval, so in the interest of my own mental health, I have withdrawn.

I hate to say it, but it’s been working for me. I’m sleeping better. The constant buzz of anxiety I was feeling has quieted some. My in laws are coming for several days next weekend and I’m not climbing the walls about their visit. The distance is helping me to gain a bit of sorely-needed perspective on things.

For further perspective, I had a long chat with my mom in the car the other day about a family friend who is visiting here from Venezuela right now. She’s close to my age and has a six year old son that she supports on her own.

If you’re not familiar with the socioeconomic status of Venezuela right now, it’s pretty horrific. Our poor sweet friend waits in line for an entire day to try to get any groceries that might be available—and sometimes by the time she reaches the front of the line, there is nothing left. She is forced to try to purchase groceries on the black market, where she will have to pay upward of $150 (that’s in US dollars) for a dozen eggs.  These people literally don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

That’s just the beginning.

Our friend is one of the “lucky” ones. She has a “good” job, making a decent living and yet she still can barely afford to feed them and keep a roof over their heads.

The government there doesn’t care. There is no end in sight. Elections are cancelled regularly and things get worse for the people month after month. She has asked if we can send her things like shampoo and allergy medication. SHAMPOO. I didn’t even realize that I took shampoo for granted.

I try to imagine raising a child in such an environment. I can’t. How privileged am I that I have never seen the inside of an empty grocery store? That I have never had to wonder if my child will have enough food this week?

That’s not to say that things in the US aren’t insane. They are. I don’t understand how there are so few people in this country with the ability to use reason to see both sides of a situation. And I REALLY don’t understand why our politicians can’t put down their bibles and vote with their brains instead. It boggles my mind.

And while there are confirmation hearings for an Attorney General who believes that my family is a threat to his very existence, well—I guess I just need to take a beat and make some space in my head for gratitude before I pick up my torch again.


14 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. I’ve done the exact same thing – stopped reading political news. It’s not that I’m not interested it’s just that reading it makes my anxiety go through the roof! As im not nearly as directly impacted as you (as a canadian) I cannot even begin to imagine how this is all impacting you!
    Sometimes perspective sure is helpful, eh? Yet I am incredibly sad for your friends struggles in Venezuela!

  2. All Things Considered just had a story yesterday covering the grocery situation and corruption in Venezuela. I’ve conversely been more tuned into the news so I can prepare for what’s coming. Take care of yourself, this is uncharted territory, I’m not sure how we cope.

    • Did they really? I might have to look that story up. I feel so bad for them. They go home next week, I think. They’re at Disneyland with my mom today and I just can’t fathom a six year old understanding why he has to leave this land of excess and go back to a country with nothing to offer him.

      • I can’t even imagine. I had no idea until I heard the broadcast yesterday. It sounds like there are so many factors stacked against the people.

  3. I totally get it. I am reading some and listening some but it’s really hard and when I do I am just overcome with hopelessness. I really don’t know what to do. Calling legislators are good but here our elected officials know how we feel and I think they are doing NOTHING. I struggle a lot because while I follow along I never feel smart enough to call someone and know what I am talking about – even with preprinted scripts. I’m just at a total loss. Our financial situation is super shitty right now so I am trying to work on righting that so I have a bit more economic freedom to help or run or whatever we need to do. You are not along and self care is important.

    • I count my blessings that our state-level elected officials here are all over this shit show. Living in California has its political perks, I suppose. As for feeling smart enough–I guarantee you are smarter than most of the people answering the phone–and you are DEFINITELY smarter than most of the people making similar calls. Don’t short change yourself, girl! I applaud your efforts to get your financial shit together. We seriously need to do that, but we both feel so overwhelmed by it all that we don’t know where to start.

      • I can confirm that you are smarter than most of the people calling and even answering the phones. I worked as the phone monkey for a politician once and honestly, anyone who wasn’t mean or crazy was a delight to talk to.

  4. I feel this! I stopped listening when the newly elected president started his shit show. I am barely even aware of who he is picking for his cabinet because I just do not want to know. However I work in an office of people who are absolutely over the moon excited with this all. Just this morning my coworker was live streaming the press conference and saying how wonderful this is all going to be and how smart he is and all of “his people”. I just thought there is no way I can listen to this for 4 years!

  5. I had a no good very bad day today and messaged my friend about it from a dark, dark place. She called me to talk and we talked about how I’ve been avoiding news like the plague. I won’t watch it, I won’t listen to it. I get a bit here and there from facebook-enough to know what’s going down, but not more than that. I just can’t let it in right now. it feels like the height of white privilege, but my family needs my mental health to stabilize right now and watching the news isn’t going to help that cause. so I feel you on this 100000%

  6. My blood pressure rises any time I hear that man talk. It’s a problem. I have to switch the radio whenever they cover one of his “speeches.” I try to stay informed through online news instead, but oof- I have to take breaks often to avoid burn out. Do what you can and stay away if you must. It’s going to be a loooooooong four years, but if this galvanizes us to show up at the midterms, then maybe we can salvage something out of this garbage fire.

  7. Wow, this is a really important post. I’m struggling with all the same things. I took a three-week break from all news and social media after the election. to maintain my emotional health. Had to do it, but it made me incredibly angry because being well-informed and on top of world events is very important to me. And I truly appreciate your point about recognizing how privileged we are, even though things here completely suck. One last thought: I’m adamant we have to start referring to the person nominated for Attorney General by his full name: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. That name tells you pretty much all you need to know about where he stands on issues of civil rights and equality for all. Yeah, that’s biased against the South, but I honestly think it’s true.

  8. A few years ago my husband and I got a chance to go to Ensenada, Mexico to help build homes for families in need. Just a short bus ride from the San Diego airport over the border and to Ensenada and we felt like we were in a different universe. We built a two room house (Like just two rooms, separated by a wall). No electric, no running water, just a cement slab, four walls, a roof, and a diving wall. We provided them with a propane stove, bunk beds, and some essentials. You would have thought they were on Extreme Makeover, Home edition when they got the keys. When we were done we took a bus ride back to the San Diego airport and I instantly felt overwhelmed. The amount of electronics alone was enough to give me a full on panic attack. I came home and instantly felt like my three bedroom home that was stuffed with things just for me and my husband was too much. I constantly think of that family, even years later, and hope that their four boys are growing up healthy and strong, and that the parents were able to build on the foundation we gave them, but knowing that they live in a much different world than ours.

    I am someone who has always had to turn off the news and try to tune out politics and the news in my life to be able to mentally be ok, but with Facebook and Instagram it becomes increasingly harder and most days I don’t even want to open the app. But I do because…well that’s just what we do now. *sigh*

  9. Wow, I could have written the first few paragraphs of this myself, word for word. I’ve always wanted to be an informed person, but lately my sanity just can’t handle it. I kind even handle it when it’s presented as comedy/satire, which used to totally be my jam. We had to turn off Sam B last night because I was just getting too angry.

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