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Night Terrors

Like lots of women I know, I have anxiety. And, like lots of women I know, my anxiety manifests itself in ways that are unique to me. Namely, my strongest attacks occur in my sleep. 

In the pages of Scary Mommy, a publication all about “empowerment,” Michaela Brown shares a tale of adversity and heroism: 

The other night was particularly rough. I shot up in bed, heart pounding, feeling terrified and not knowing where I was… It took me several minutes to calm my mind and slow my heart rate before I could comfortably lie back down again.

It’s all rather dramatic. One wonders what the cause of such nocturnal torments might be. The coronavirus pandemic is mentioned in passing, along with an allergy-prone son. But these things, it turns out, are manageable and routine, and merely a prelude to the real sleep-shattering trauma.

What’s causing the latest round of panic in my sound-asleep mind?

You may want to clutch the arms of your chair.

My paperwork for my absentee ballot had arrived in the mail that day.

Which is to say,

It’s the election. That’s my primary source of anxiety right now, and I don’t know how to turn it off. Because I’m fucking terrified of Trump winning again. 

Not merely terrified, you understand, but fucking terrified. A fear capable of inducing rhetorical incontinence and a chronic loss of sleep.

And not like the anxiety I felt in 2016—that was nothing compared to these fears. That anxiety barely scratched the surface of what 2020 feels like. 

Once again, it occurs to me that politics really shouldn’t occupy that much space in a person’s life. It isn’t the kind of stuff a life should be filled with, such that it dominates one’s outlook and everyday activity, even one’s dreams. The result is very often a kind of bad mental opera. 


Ah. Now the meter’s peaking in the red. And so, we get several paragraphs of Mr Trump’s shortcomings, real and imagined, some wildly delusional, presented in a form approaching stream-of-consciousness. We’re told of Mr Trump’s “rich, white, racist agenda,” and his alleged “hatred” of “Americans with black or brown skin.” Needless to say, evidence to support such claims is not forthcoming – doubtless the inclusion would only impede the rhetorical rush.

So yeah, 2020 election anxiety is a whole different beast and it’s consuming my mind.

Lest there be doubt.

I can’t let this man—a man who certainly doesn’t give a shit about me—have that control. I can’t let him win—at least not in that way. So I woke up the next day after that panic attack with a new resolve. I’ll keep fighting.

See, heroism. In the face of self-induced panic attacks.

And most of all, I’ll raise my kids to be kind. I’ll raise them to see people like Donald Trump for what they truly are. I’ll raise them to realise that a life isn’t worth living if you only think of yourself the entire time you’re on this planet—because that must be the loneliest, saddest existence of all. 

Well, allowing the possible outcome of an election to consume one’s mind seems a tad suboptimal too.

I’ll teach them about their white privilege and socioeconomic privilege and that they have the responsibility to do something with it.

And boasting of how you’ll teach your children about their “white privilege,” a recipe for affectation and neurosis, endless pretentious guilt, doesn’t seem likely to help matters enormously.

And in those ways, Donald Trump will not win, no matter what. And when I can’t sleep or feel my heart racing or feel the “what if he wins again” fears creep up, I’ll look at my kids and remind myself that he can’t take away the goodness in them

If Ms Brown’s children should have the goodness in them taken away, this seems unlikely to be a result of a Trump second term, and more likely to be due to a figure much closer to home and more prominent in their lives. Say, a mother whose mind has been consumed

He can’t stop my daughter from donating all of her allowance money to saving endangered cheetahs. 

Though it sounds like exactly the kind of thing a Demon King would do, right?


With apologies to the artist

Above, Sleeping Leftist is Visited by Donald Trump, Henry Fuseli, 1781.


Michaela Brown writes about her crazy life.” And yes, a “former educator.”

Via Pogonip.