Recognize Your Triggers
Anniversaries of a traumatic event are often difficult for people who suffer from Election PTSD. When voting, you may find it especially hard to return to the polls. After all, this is where you last felt that emotion. You know the one, what’s it called? Hop? Hape? Anyway, it’s the last place you felt that thing before it was gruesomely beheaded like an innocent honey bee in the jaws of an invasive murder hornet. Also, NPR says the murder hornets are currently about to enter their slaughter phase, but I’m sure that’s not an omen of anything.
Tell Yourself That Good Things Are Still Possible
Yes, something deeply horrifying happened last Election Day, when Donald Trump actually won the presidential race, but that doesn’t mean it will happen again. Although it totally could. The odds are pretty good, actually. History is full of fucked up shit.
Orient Yourself In Time
William Faulkner once said, “The past isn’t dead, it’s not even past.” Shut up, old bitch. Unlike Faulkner, you’re living in the now! 2016 is super dead. Even deader than Herman Cain. And the other 230,000 Americans who have perished from COVID, which happened because Donald Trump won the 2016 election. It’s almost like the past is reaching its bony hands out of the grave, clawing out the present’s eyeballs, ravenously devouring the present’s brain. Maybe Faulkner was on to something.
Remind Yourself That You Are Safe
While you stand in line at your polling place, gently squeeze your arms and tell yourself, I am safe. Look at all these fellow Americans exercising their rights, even in a pandemic! Wait, is someone taking off their mask and coughing? Who are those black-shirted men in Trump masks hanging around? Do they have guns? Keep whispering, I am safe, as democracy crumbles into a burning heap around you.
Spend Time in Nature
As you leave the polls, gaze upon the golden hues of autumn. Inhale the sweet scent of wild pumpkin lattes. Listen to the cicadas chirping about their imminent deaths. Remember that all human life is ephemeral — even if Trump wins again, you can take comfort in knowing that the sun will swell into a giant ball of flaming gas one day and swallow the entire planet, including Ivanka.
Take Up a Hobby
Remember how empowered you felt voting for Hillary Clinton, who you thought would become the first woman president? The repetitive motions of crocheting will numb your emotional pain. Use soft yarns in soothing colors like cerulean. In no time, you’ll be using your grief to create a beautiful scarf — oh God, have you accidentally crocheted a pantsuit? Weep softly into its sensible but unflattering waistline.
Use a Comfort Animal
Call around to local shelters. Learn that no, they won’t let you adopt an emotional-support puppy this very second, even though Rick Santorum is talking on CNN. Don’t be deterred! Capture an opossum outside and name it Giggles. Cuddle with Giggles on the couch. Listen to the calming rhythm of Giggles’ heartbeat. Scream as Giggles mauls your face with all 50 of her teeth.
Rely On Objective Information
Tune out the hysteria of social media, and look to reliable sources for important questions like What happens if there is an Electoral College tie? and Do possums spread rabies?
Find a Support Person
Invite your friend Danielle over to watch the election returns with you. When Danielle appears trembling on your doorstep, babbling frantically about exit polls, you realize that Danielle also suffers from Election PTSD. That’s OK, good friends support each other! Generously help her find a vein and shoot up Zoloft.
Wrap Yourself in a Blanket
Pull apart the pantsuit you crocheted and make a fluffy, warm blanket instead. Now roll yourself in it to evoke subconscious memories of the womb, where you didn’t care about the Electoral College. Pull the blanket tight over your face. Suffocate yourself so you don’t have to hear Florida called.
Draw On the Wisdom of Others
As the hypoxia sets in, Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears, bathed in glowing light.
“Do not despair, my child,” she says. “Remember what Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural address: I want you to touch that lil’ dangly thing that swings in the back of my throat.”
“But wasn’t he literally murdered after that?” you ask.
Before Ruth can answer, you feel something tugging you out of the blanket. Danielle gives you CPR. Giggles sinks her extremely numerous fangs into your ankle. A calm falls over you. Yes, this election could destroy American democracy and plunge the country into an ethno-fascist nightmare as Covid kill hundreds of thousands of people and climate change obliterates the ecosystem services that sustain human life — but with the support of your friends, ghost Supreme Court justices, and possibly rabid pets, you realize everything might just turn out OK.
But probably not.