Trigger warning: This post includes mentions of suicide.
This day has been long, so long. Yesterday evening crept by incredibly, agonizingly slowly, and when the clock struck midnight none of the people I was with considered, even for a second, the idea of going to bed. Because we had to stay up and see the election results. Because maybe if we didn’t sleep, if we kept watching, it would make a difference.
I didn’t go to bed until 3:30 AM today. I slept for about three hours, then got up and got ready for my 8:00 AM class. It’s hard to believe that what happened in the first few hours of this day happened, well, today. It’s hard to believe that the hour at which I write this post, 11:00 PM, and those early morning hours all happened during the same day. It feels simultaneously so far away and yet so close. I can’t believe this has happened.
I’m going to be brutally honest here, watching the election coverage made me more suicidal than I have been in a long, long time. Throughout the campaign season I’ve thought, vaguely, of killing myself were Trump to become president of the United States. Please don’t worry about me, I’ve been talking to people who can help me and I’m not going to harm myself in any way now. But I thought I should be honest here. I thought you should know.
I started checking the results on my laptop while also watching Agent Carter with my roommate as a distraction. Eventually we quit watching because I was too anxious to really focus on my favorite show, and we found a livestream of election coverage on PBS. I was tired and nervous and felt like I was about to throw up. (I did, later.) Seeing these two men, Trump and Pence, with a platform that hurts the people I love, made my mind go to some pretty dark places.
My best friend and her boyfriend came over from their apartment a few blocks away. One of my friends from down the hall in my dorm did, too. And another friend spent more than an hour texting back and forth with me to make sure that I was around people, that I wasn’t going to do anything terrible to myself. I’m so grateful for them.
So there we were, the five of us, anxiously refreshing FiveThirtyEight and listening to the PBS commentators and trying to figure out ways Clinton could still win in the electoral college.
By the time Trump was less than ten votes away from winning the electoral college my friend from down the hall was bawling. I don’t even know why we kept watching, but we did. The commentators didn’t seem to know what to say. We watched Trump’s acceptance speech.
The professor who teaches my 8:00 AM class let us out after fifteen minutes because everyone was so exhausted, herself included. My journalism teacher attempted to give a lecture about collecting data for journalistic purposes, gestured vaguely at all the incorrect polls that had predicted a Clinton win, kept refreshing CNN to see when her concession speech would be given.
I took a break between classes to visit the bookstore because, well, they have cats. Cats are soft and cute and don’t judge you when you ugly-cry and, since my own cat is several hundred miles away, this means I had to borrow someone else’s cat. As one does. And then some of the employees and I changed a few of the displays to more appropriate titles, so that the YA section now shows off the covers of recent dystopian novels. Weirdly enough, this actually made me feel better because I needed something, anything, to laugh about.
My lit professor read us a bit from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” and from an article he wrote, inspired by it, about the future of liberal arts education under a Trump administration, instead of giving the lecture he’d planned for today. And he cried, which was hard to see for two reasons. First of all, he’s normally such a jokey kind of guy, always making people laugh. And secondly, a lot of the adults I look up to have flat-out said that they have no idea what to do right now, that they’re overwhelmed.
I have a weekly group therapy appointment on Wednesday afternoons. I’m so grateful for all the advice and support I received there, and it was good to know that others also felt that this election cycle had made their depression and/or anxiety worse.
One of my friends, one of the first LGBTQ+ people I met when I first arrived on this campus, organized an event this evening at the Women’s Resource and Action Center for minority groups to come and talk about how they were dealing, or not dealing, with the aftermath of this election.
And it got me thinking about how much I’ve done with that friend over the months I’ve known her, from taking my first class in the Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies department to watching Carol on the big screen (which is kind of a huge deal because it’s still really rare for LGBTQ+ films to be even semi-mainstream) to attending a vigil for Orlando this summer. I don’t know, I guess what I’m trying to say is that she’s a familiar presence whether I’m happy or sad and that really means a lot to me.
Right now I feel, more than anything, drained. I’m not going to say anything specific about the winners of this election, or the losers, because you’ve heard it all already. Also, I am tired and don’t want to write any more at the moment. Also, I’m still processing everything that happened. I’m disgusted and terrified and I wish this were a dream.
I want to leave you with a few of my favorite lines from Hillary Clinton’s beautiful concession speech this morning:
“…to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.
Finally, I am so grateful for our country and for all it has given to me. I count my blessings every single day that I am an American. And I still believe as deeply as I ever have that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.
Because I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, scripture tells us, ‘Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.’
So my friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary, let us not lose heart, for there are more seasons to come. And there is more work to do.”