Managing Traumatic Trump Disorder

Just when it appears that Donald Trump’s behavior cannot get any worse, it plunges to a new low. The week of March 11 brought a fresh batch of Trump outrage. For those of us suffering from Traumatic Trump Disorder, it’s time to take new action to protect our mental health.

Most of us have had the experience of being in an abusive relationship. For example, a persistent problem with a toxic family member; or a romantic relationship that turns sour; or a sadistic boss or teacher. An abusive relationship weights on us, bring us down; it can produce depression, anxiety, a general feeling of powerlessness, irritability, as well as physical symptoms, such as insomnia. That’s what’s happening for those of us who are not Trump acolytes (roughly 57 percent of the electorate). We can’t avoid Trump’s malignancy; his abusive behavior is in our faces day after day, causing the political equivalent of PTSD — Traumatic Trump Disorder.

The week of May 11 began with the news of the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft; subsequent investigation revealed the culpability of the Trump Administration — Trump had cut corners for Boeing. Next the White House revealed their 2020 budget, which included massive cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. On Wednesday, Breitbart News Network published an interview with Donald, where he growled, “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” Friday brought news of a terrible shooting spree at New Zealand mosques; even thought the shooter shooter was a self-identified white supremacist, Trump minimized the role of the white supremacy movement in the surge of racial/religious violence. Finally, Trump spent the weekend in the White House, tweeting his frustration with the Mueller investigation, Fox News, Saturday Night Live, Joe Biden, and John McCain, among others.

Trump has become a daily nightmare. The combination of the Mueller investigation coupled with a new set of Congressional investigations led by House Democrats, has increased pressure on Trump and he’s responding with increasingly bizarre behavior. Until Donald leaves the White House, he’s going to be omnipresent on all the news outlets.

Trump is crazy. The most “followed” politician on social media, he’s decompensating in plain site. In the process, he’s infecting all Americans. Those who support Trump (39 percent) have developed a unique response; they’ve become moral relativists who say, “Trump doesn’t tell the truth and I can’t stand his tweets, but I support him because….” The rest of us are continuously bombarded with his malevolence, struggling to hold onto our sanity and our values.

What can be done to manage Traumatic Trump Disorder? Five suggestions:

Admit there is a problem: If you are in a relationship with a romantic partner that turns toxic, an important first step is to admit that it has failed. Often this involves recognition that you must make your own health a priority and that you cannot “fix” the other person.

If you are gaining weight or losing sleep or find yourself being irritable all the time, perhaps this is due to the background drone of Trump’s malfeasance. Obviously, you are not going to “fix” Trump. Admit you’re afflicted with Traumatic Trump Disorder.

Develop a plan of action: While an important first step is to acknowledge the problem, this must be followed by constructive action. This could take many forms: joining a therapy group, taking time to meditate, embarking on a new exercise regime, or joining a resistance group such as Indivisible. What’s common with all these alternatives is that you make your personal health a priority. (And resolve that you will not let Donald Trump bully you into passive submission.)

Practice self affirmation: One of the most important steps, when moving out of an abusive relationship, is to give yourself a daily pep talk, tell yourself that you can do this — you can make the changes necessary to manage your Trump Traumatic Disorder.

If you’ve ever had the experience of adopting a regimen to lose weight, you will be familiar with this process. Each day you go through the weight-loss regimen — such not eating dessert or refusing second helpings. At a regular time each day, you weigh yourself. And as you see the pounds slip away, you acknowledge your progress.

As you deal with Traumatic Trump Disorder, remind yourself that you regaining your health to save yourself and the country.

Set limits: An essential step in dealing with an abuser is setting limits. For example, saying to an abusive relative, “I will not allow you to yell at me and call me names.” (Or, “I will not allow you to physically threaten me.”) One of the problems with Trump supporters is that they are not able to set limits; from a moral perspective it makes no sense for them to say, “I don’t trust him or like his behavior but I think he’s doing a good job.”

How do we set limits with Donald Trump? By denying him air time.

Cut back on your use of social media. Restrict watching TV news or political talk shows. (Avoid Trump press conferences or speeches.) Donald’s a pertinacious abuser. The most effective way to deal with him is to not directly engage with his behavior. (There’s another positive side affect of restricting your use of social media: it reduces the amount of vitriol circulating in the public space — which, over time, will lower the level of rancor.)

Develop a support system: It’s easier to deal with Traumatic Trump Disorder with the support of friends. It’s therapeutic to be part of a group that registers new voters. Or that sings patriotic songs such as , “This land is your land.” Or that works to raise funds for a new community center.

A key element of Trump’s insanity is his insistence: “You’re on your own and only I can save you.” Reject this assertion. Replace it with the mantra: “The people united will never be divided.”

Resist. Reclaim your mental health. And save democracy.