Take Care of Each Other

By Nicole Barile (Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Long Island, NY)

In the wake of the more recent weeks leading up to the final close of this campaign and ultimate decision about who would be elected to be our President, it became increasingly more apparent that I was having more and more conversations about the panic and fear that was inevitably internalizing within a few particular individuals. These individuals just happen to be women. Let me start over. I am a licensed clinical psychologist, with a particular specialty in treating the multitude of anxiety disorders. Once Donald Trump’s videotape of him speaking casually about using his power to sexually assault women was released, and the more information that was released regarding his Vice President Mike Pence’s views on abortion and women’s rights surfaced, I found myself having conversations in therapy unlike any I have had before. This was true and utter terror. There were the usual PTSD symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, but now, women who had been sexually assaulted and who have had previous abortions, were now stuck in what felt like their own special purgatory. How could a man on national television, essentially promoting the non-consensual sexual and aggressive acts on women, now be close to becoming our next President of the United States? And furthermore, how could his Vice President be promoting the removal of women’s and other minority rights? I have sat with these women, sobbing, weeping, asking me questions that I had no answer to, particularly because I couldn’t comprehend it myself. In my quest to console, I tried to provide the best emotional support I could, session after session, finding it within myself not to cry with them in these deeply painful moments. There is a concept in Dialectical Behavior Therapy called radical acceptance. The first part of radical acceptance is accepting that reality is what it is. The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause and the third, and arguably most important part, is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it. This is something we must strive to do as we try to make sense of all the hateful, sexist, racist and ultimately, inconceivable sentiments that this new President has vocalized. Take care of each other, respect one another with your words and your actions, console someone who is emotionally exhausted and distraught from this new world we live in, and please, remember that your words and your actions have an impact on another person’s life, whether you see it or not. I am ultimately reminded of the wise words of Thumper in the animated movie Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all."