Unlike many topics you may discuss with friends and family, politics is much like a game that requires a strategy. You may feel like every move you make has a land mine. With these steps, you will know how to participate in a meaningful political conversation without losing control or burning bridges.
Politics is always a hot-button issue, turning even the calmest of conversations into a dumpster fire in record time. Throw anxiety into the mix and you have a volatile combination. But you can participate in election-season discussions without worrying that your anxiety will take control.
Tip #1: Practice in a Safe Setting
Preparing to do the near-impossible (e.g. arguing Trump vs. Hillary without losing your cool) calls for practice. Just as people prepare to give a speech by saying it in front of family members and friends, you can prepare to discuss politics by talking about various political topics in a safe zone. Select people who you know will not start acting like a rabid dog when you disagree with them, so that you can practice without feeling like you’re about to get bit. To start, try a few topics where your opinion is either neutral or at least does not make you want to throat-punch people. That way, you can develop some confidence in your ability to talk through minor disagreements without anticipating angry debate or personal attacks.
The red double doors swing open and the nurses patiently wait for me to say goodbye to my mother. Tears stream down both our faces as I stand up from the wheelchair and hug her tightly.
“Mom, I’m scared.” I say, as my voice cracks.
“You’ll be okay,” she whispers, her hands clasped around mine. “You’ll be okay.”
Just like that she let go and I’m wheeled into the psychiatric unit. The doors make a loud buzzing noise as they clamp shut. I hear them lock behind me simultaneously as a lump of irrational abandonment settles in my stomach. I find myself immediately on the verge of throwing up and I feel my whole body shivering. Why do hospitals always have to be so damn cold?
I stare at the TV without seeing what’s on the screen. My mind switches between replaying an upsetting conversation with a loved one from earlier in the week, to an image of myself laying on the couch in the dark, as if I’m watching it all from a distance. I tell myself to get up, to move, or to at least pay attention to the movie, but I remain still, feeling blank, numb, and exhausted. Suddenly, the movie on TV has ended, and I realize I’m unable to recall anything about the plot or the characters.
What I experienced was a form of dissociation, “an adaptive defense in response to high stress or trauma characterized by memory loss and a sense of disconnection from oneself or one's surroundings.”
Dissociation varies in severity, existing as a spectrum from mild dissociative symptoms to dissociative disorders including dissociative amnesia, depersonalization/derealization disorder, and dissociative identity disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder).
Krista Clement is the Executive Editor for the Real Caring blog. For questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org