Every year, for as long as I can remember, I have spent New Year’s Eve Day reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future. I used to make resolutions but that stopped after bipolar entered my life. How can I possibly make those sorts of promises to myself when I can’t even be sure I’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow? I replaced my resolutions with a small list of things that I could try to do to keep my health. Take my medications, get plenty of sleep, eat as healthy as I can manage. These are things that I don’t need a New Year to work on. These things are my life.
But, even after I stopped with the resolutions, I still looked to the New Year as a spot of hope. Maybe this year it will be different. I’ll be saner. I’ll go the whole year without being hospitalized. Life in my home will calm down. And the world will become a better place.
That last one is the one giving me serious pause this year.
Because I don’t see how it will be possible. We are looking down the barrel of a very complicated four years coming up.
I didn’t vote for Trump. I considered it. Early on. Even knowing what I know about him. I grew up outside of Philadelphia, PA and I watched the news coverage of Trump’s casino building. I watched him build a casino/hotel over and around an old lady’s house after she refused to sell. I watched him put company after company after company out of business because he refused to pay. I watched him declare bankruptcy and walk away with his millions after putting even more companies out of business.
And even after that, I considered voting for him.
I mean, the allure of someone outside of regular business-as-usual politics was huge. Having someone shake up the establishment is part of the reason I voted for President Obama.
And then Trump opened his mouth.
He mocked women.
He mocked a disabled reporter.
He mocked Muslims.
He mocked Mexicans.
He mocked blacks.
He mocked John McCain for not being a “real” war hero, because he was captured.
He saw videos of himself surface detailing sexual assault on women and didn’t blink. (Did you see the one where he objectified his infant daughter? here )
And he lied. Over and over and over and over and over again. And, yes, I know politicians all stretch truths over lies to get people to do what the want them to do, but he was running as an outsider. Someone I’m supposed to be able to trust. His relationship with the truth is strained. Like a family that hasn’t been speaking for years and isn’t even sure that the other members are still alive.
So, I took stock, refined my position and went to the polls.
When I woke up the next day, I felt like I had been punched.
And then it started. The people who took Trump’s hate speech as a mandate (and not everyone did) felt free and unshackled to go about the business of being hateful in public. Women were tormented. Muslim women took a terrible hit. Schools dealt with situations of young children telling Latino children that they were finally going to have to go “home” because Trump would send them away. Schools and churches and other public buildings were spray painted with swastikas and pro-Trump mottos. The Klan marched in celebration. The Fucking Klan marched in celebration! That right there is bad news.
Then the appointments began. Goldman-Sachs executives are now in charge of our economy. Obvious white-supremacist (based on his work) Steve Bannon is White House counselor (and also another graduate of Goldman-Sachs). The rest of his cabinet is going to wealthy donors. I’m still trying to figure out how this cronyism is “draining the swamp”.
So, here I sit, on the verge of a New Year, and I’m trying to figure out how any of this bodes well for me on any level.
- As a woman, the “what’s the big deal” attitude towards sexual assault is horrifying.
- As someone with multiple mental illnesses, I have to wonder if stigma won’t flourish more in this environment.
- As someone who is very much needing disability to kick in, I have to wonder if rules will not get harsher causing me to be forever declined.
- As the wife of a man who works for a company that relies on trade agreements, I am very concerned for my husband’s job.
- As the wife of a man who works for a company that is in the process of unionizing, I have to wonder if it will be allowed to go through.
But the bigger question for all of us has to be the hate. That mandate on hatred that I spoke of earlier hasn’t gone away. Donald Trump has not condemned the actions of the people who have perpetrated these crimes so far. He seems to be much too busy condemning Saturday Night Live and Vanity Fair.
So, on the eve of the 2017 New Year I am bringing back Resolutions.
I hereby resolve to:
- Stand up for the marginalized. No matter their skin tone, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, immigration status or financial solvency.
- Keep an eye on my local and state leaders. Change always begins at the lower levels. Keeping an eye peeled on those we can most directly impact has to be the first step.
- Keep an eye on the President. A close one. As much as possible. This includes contacting my Senators and Representatives with my thoughts as much as possible.
On the pathway to achieving some of these goals, I have joined Van Jones’ #LoveArmy. You can join at lovearmy.org. The website states the following:
The #LoveArmy is an alternative to the hate and divisiveness gaining momentum in our communities and in our country. Despite our differences, our common pain should give us a common purpose. Let’s work together to bring the country forward.
It’s a “give what you can” type of organization. They don’t expect everyone to do everything and those of us in the mental health community need something like that. We are part of the marginalized.
The other thing that Van Jones has put out there are #MessyTruth conversations. If you didn’t see his special on CNN, it’s worth the watch even though Rick Santorum couldn’t quite bring himself to participate whole-heartedly. But this type of conversation is designed to bring everyone to the point at which they agree and work from there. It’s supposed to be an open, honest conversation with no name-calling and no statements designed to inflame. Yes, we disagree HOW to solve problems, but let’s see if we can agree on what the problems really are and move forward to solve them from a place of understanding.
I have said in the past that I want this space to become information based and I’m going to start that this year. Hopefully soon. I want to find solutions. I want to promote fellowship and understanding between people with and without mental illness.
I want to take the legacy of Carrie Fisher, the openness, the honesty, and run with it. The Bipolar Disorder, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder, the Depression and the Panic Disorders need to have a bright light shone down upon them to bring them out of the shadows.
I resolve to work to make these things happen. I hope you will to.
Here’s to a New Year of understanding Mental Illness.