The Mental Health Crisis of MAGA America

“I feel like I’m losing my mind.”

These words are a continual presence these days.
I hear them a couple hundred times a day, in one form or another.
I read them in desperate social media outbursts.
I find them in my inbox from friends and from strangers.
I hear them in my own head.

They are the symptoms of a shared sickness we now find ourselves afflicted with; a sprawling homegrown mental health crisis, the genesis of which can be traced to a single Wednesday morning in November. They are part of a growing national neurosis brought on by a continual assault on decency and sanity and goodness by those in power.

Mental health is a daily battle, even on our best days.

During any given year in America, one in five adults (nearly 44 million people) experiences mental illness—10 million of these people finding their lives fundamentally impacted by their internal, invisible maladies.

The personal toll of these diseases is almost incalculable: debilitating mood disorders, propensity toward addiction, susceptibility to physical illness, and regular feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

Nearly 45, 000 people die here by suicide each year, with 25 attempts for each of these deaths. Many of these premature passings are have direct or indirect lines to undiagnosed, or treated but ultimately insurmountable sickness. On any given moment, millions of people are fighting a battle in their own heads just to stay here.

This is all under normal circumstances—and these are not at all normal circumstances.

These are days that tax people’s already burdened mental defense systems and emotional reserves, by relentlessly targeting their places of vulnerability:

The real and manufactured emergencies designed by the former President,
the daily legislative attacks on vulnerable people groups,
the normalized acts of violence he not only tolerates but incites,
the not-at-all-sane behavior in matters of national security, environmental stewardship, and human rights.

In other words, the previous president is unwell and lots of good, already hurting people see it clearly. They understand the gravity of these moments for our nation and they are rightly terrified by the lack of accountability.

Men and women already prone to depression and anxiety, normally driven to despair without any discernible cause or reason, now also have objective data that makes that hopelessness quite sensible.

The MAGA movement is making otherwise mentally healthy people sick, and ill people much worse.

Like forcing a person suffering from Asthma into an enclosed space and making them exert themselves over and over without rest; surrounding them with every allergen and trigger their illness has—and with great joy, watching them gradually suffocate.

And a growing number of otherwise well people are developing a form of PTSD from a former Administration and its current cheerleaders, whose malevolence and contempt for life are beyond comprehension. They too are finding the space within their own heads to be a dangerous one as they live within it all.

What worse, the Trump’s boundless attacks on reality, his continual gaslighting of otherwise sensible people, and his reckless fake news conspiracy theories, aren’t just making those who oppose him prone to head sickness—it’s doing the same to his supporters.

He is playing on their paranoia, instability, and fear; ratifying their latent or active neuroses, and justifying the ways they now act out in both emotional and physical violence.

We are seeing daily assaults in subways and on city streets and in grocery stores, by people whose own illnesses and frailties have been triggered by the incendiary language and lies continually perpetuated from the top.

America is not well and its leaders are fine with that.

It’s no coincidence that the Trump Administration drastically reduced funding for mental healthcare and removed barriers from ill people accessing firearms. This chaos is what it thrives upon and desires.

In an environment populated by emotionally fragile and mentally unhealthy people, it’s much easier to act without accountability and to continue to take away resources, personal liberties, and human rights without recompense.

Mental illness is rarely treated with the same urgency and seriousness as physical illness, and the dismissal is even more profound in days when people feeling deep sadness and great empathy for others are derided as “snowflakes.” The callousness of these days makes brain maladies nonexistent, or worse—worthy of ridicule.

The former President and those who support him are counting on sick people growing too tired from pushing back, too overwhelmed fighting their inner demons, and too hopeless at the story to go on.

We can’t allow that.

We need to keep our eyes and ears open to the pain of others right now; to hear the suffering in their words or that buried in their silence—and to move toward it.
We need to linger long enough to see them; to notice their withdrawal and absence, and to make sure they’re OK.
We need to use the resources currently available of therapists, doctors, and counselors who understand these invisible sicknesses and how very real they are.
We need to gather in community to bolster and encourage one another, and to remind people that they aren’t alone in the wars they wage to get better.

We need to reach out to people in our own despair, in our sadness, in our own fight to stay here.
And we all need to carry one another and care for one another, realizing that this Administration has no desire to, and in fact is doing willful damage.

We are not well, America.
Our leaders are really not well.
We need to vote for our health and for our lives.
We need to get well together.

Note: If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help, here are some resources to help identify and treat mental illness, depression, and mood disorders.

 

 

 

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61 thoughts on “The Mental Health Crisis of MAGA America

  1. Are you serious??? Have you ever met someone with actual PTSD? To say that a presidential administration is causing PTSD is the most absurd thing I have ever heard and is a spit in the face to those who have true PTSD. How dare you??? How dare you belittle those men and women who suffer from truly horrible situations they have had to live through by even implying that you can have PTSD because you don’t agree with someone’s politics. Maybe if people like you weren’t pushing the “if you disagree with me you’re a horrible person and we will never be able to get along” agenda, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. Everyone. Stop with the hatred and whining about not always having everything your way. That’s life. Learn to be an adult.

    • Tracy. Shut up. I bet the Jews in Poland suffered from PTSD because of Hitler. How dare you say that a monster like Trump cannot give a person PTSD? He is wrecking people’s mental health everywhere I look—including here in the American South. Go get a life Tracy, and wake up to the fact that the person sitting in the White House is a Satanic monster that is nothing like Jesus—and probably never will be.

    • Tracy j

      I don’t know John or the desperate people who post here week after week, and who find some solace in his words, and I’m no psychiatrist, so I can’t say if they have literal PTSD, but you’re not “reading the room”, even if you’re technically correct. A little empathy goes a long way.

    • You are forgetting about sexual assault survivors, people that know the real damage that results from family separation, and the cost of seeing your countrymen and women, many of whom may be actual friends and family, succumb to dark brainwashing. If you don’t think those things will exacerbate stress and trauma, possibly PTSD, you don’t know PTSD.

    • I was diagnosed with PTSD and severe depression last year, especially post-brain surgery, and I can confirm that this president is making things much, much worse. And shut the hell up.

    • Tracy, you need to have some compassion. I have changed because of this presidency. I am 65 and have never felt so afraid for our country and future generations. The bigotry and hate out there is not anything we can ignore. Don’t tell me I’m whining! I refuse to accept this as the new reality!

    • I suffer from a type called C-PTSD, or Complex PTSD. It comes not from a single incident, but years and years of parental psychological abuse, followed by 20 years in a fundamentalist, authoritarian church.

      Yes, this President has made my condition worse, and it isn’t about political disagreements. Part of it is the way he bullies and gaslights just like my father. Part is seeing families ripped apart in ICE raids or at the border. Seeing children in cages. Seeing the rollback of civil rights.

      Obviously I have a preexisting condition or two, as does my Autistic son. How will we afford treatment and medications (we spend several hundred on COPAYS as it is) if our private insurance company changes and we are no longer covered?

      That’s just scratching the surface. I could go on for quite a while. But yes, as someone with C-PTSD I totally agree with Mr. Pavlovits on this.

    • Thanks for showing up and proving two things:

      – John’s point
      – that you have absolutely NO IDEA what PTSD is or how it works

    • my opinion is you are off base. I have ptsd from childhood events. everyone is not military. I don’t act so different as I proscess things differently. John is right on target with this piece. A bit too wordy but he’s a writer. Get over yourself. He appears as a full grown man to the rest of us.

  2. This is so true. I mourn the loss of my optimism. I was always the one who could find the bright side, can’t find it these days. Peace and Love,

  3. I can no longer take what is happening to this nation, my workplace, my family, and I, John. I’m a desperate man. I hear the name, or his antics, or his stooges in radio, TV, Congress, and print media and my blood boils to the point of getting aggressive, cynical, unreasonable, mad, and helpless. I can’t sleep. I can’t even speak in my own home as my wife is extreme right and has been brainwashed. I have lost friends over this man and his cronies.

    And above all, I’m tired. Tired of living this way. Yes, I’ve sought professional help, and are under the care of two professionals. Yet, that’s not enough. I’m at the end of my rope. Religion has failed me too. I find no solace anywhere.

    I guess it’s hopeless. Over half a century of progress gone in one administration which could, God forbid, extend to two terms. A SCOTUS that will be highly imbalanced.

    It’s over. At least for me it looks like that more every day. Until there will be nothingness. A welcome relief.

    Love your blog.

    • Dear J, Please take care of yourself first and foremost. You are not alone and many feel as you do. I have no advice. Find others who feel as you do and support each other. You are valuable and needed to help undo the harm caused by this regime. Please do not harm yourself. Continue getting help and help others who feel as you and I do. With much love and solidarity, Daniel

    • You are destroying your own mental health with your obsession and you are blaming everyone but yourself. Trump has no power over you unless you give it to him. I understand you because I live with a man just like you. He’s willing to throw our marriage away as well as his relationship with our daughter. He spends all of his time fixated on Trump. I do not like Trump at all but I’ve chosen to focus on my daughter, my career, volunteer work, and my relationships with friends and family. I also have a serious disease to manage. I wish I could feel sympathy for you but I can’t. I just see my own angry husband choosing Trump over me and the happiness of his family. It’s a choice and you are making the wrong choice.

  4. I’ve been a proponent of a national mental health program… but you are absolutely correct… mental health begins in the White House, either way you look at it.

  5. Trump prides himself on his ability to befriend winners and belittle losers. But the job of a president is to shepherd everyone, not just those he deems “winners”. This, more than anything else, is the fundamental problem with the man. Rather than empathize with the least of us, he would rather shower contempt and derision upon them. His sympathies lie with the powerful, not the powerless.

  6. During his campaign, this President said he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose a vote. Today he showed us what he really meant. He stood on the world stage and shot the United States of America, its citizens, and his Intelligence Community. And – underwhelming murmurs from the Republicans and their leaders. The only true Republican American Hero and Patriot among them was John McCain who is fighting for his life again. John McCain, who Trump, when he is at one of his ego rallies – gets his sheeple to boo. John McCain is a fellow Republican to Trump who did not cry bone spurs to get out of service.

    Any good and decent thing the Republicans have ever done has been eclipsed by this revolting event. This man has shamed our country. He has always mocked those who do not praise him. Republicans have always tried to shame those of us who have seen Trump’s true character from the beginning. Now, you have all witnessed the hundreds of thousands of people of other countries who see Trump’s true character also. It will take us years to earn back respect from those counties.

    Character does matter – more than pleasuring big business and big money, certainly more than forcing your religious beliefs on others, and more than forcibly silencing a woman’s voice over her own body.

    Why do we have to keep fighting for our same rights over and over and over again? This country is our home.

    Anyone who comes on these pages to tell us what an American Patriot Trump is – is a traitor who enables a traitor. Look what you have done to this country by enabling this monster!!!!! You are complicit.

    Every time I am surprised how despicable this man is. Most of us do not have the mental capacity to envision each horror before it smacks us in the face.

    If you are not appalled by the behavior of this President you have a problem with your character. I have lived all my 70 years in this country and today was a truly black day.

    To Mr. Pavlovitz, everyone on these pages and everyone in this country who are in fear for our country bless you and bless this country.

  7. I am re-reading *The Archetype of the Apocalypse* (1999) by the late Dr. Edwin Edinger. The book is a Jungian analysis of current times in light of the psychological content of the Book of Revelation. Dr. Edinger believed that we are going through a period in which the apocalyptic archetype dominates our collective psyche. In other words, we are in for rough times, but if we persevere without destroying ourselves, our collective psyche will be transformed into something very different. The book is partly based on Carl Jung’s *Answer to Job.* Both books are powerful lenses through which to view our current times. (And no, I don’t believe Donald Trump (or Putin) is “The Beast,” at least for now)

  8. I suffer from a type called C-PTSD, or Complex PTSD. It comes not from a single incident, but years and years of parental psychological abuse, followed by 20 years in a fundamentalist, authoritarian church.

    Yes, this President has made my condition worse, and it isn’t about political disagreements. Part of it is the way he bullies and gaslights just like my father. Part is seeing families ripped apart in ICE raids or at the border. Seeing children in cages. Seeing the rollback of civil rights.

    Obviously I have a preexisting condition or two, as does my Autistic son. How will we afford treatment and medications (we spend several hundred on COPAYS as it is) if our private insurance company changes and we are no longer covered?

    That’s just scratching the surface. I could go on for quite a while. But yes, as someone with C-PTSD I totally agree with Mr. Pavlovits on this.

  9. The real tensions engendered by the Trump Presidency begin with his failing to unite the nation behind him. He only has interest in his base of support which is entirely Republican. Yes, we are living in a highly polarized time. So it has been imperative that the new president looks for ways to heal the divides that we have as people. Then there are the real policies that place ever greater stresses on family budgets, fears of loss of health insurance , the persecution of vulnerable groups in our society and worse. And yes, he is an extreme narcissist who cannot make something about all of us. For me that is highly stressful and depression can seep in. I don’t let it get to me but then I have had loads of therapy that has worked finally. But oh, to have a unifying president again. Either party.

  10. You should apologise for stirring up hatred in people, that was never there in the first place.

    When you start an uncontrolled fire you can destroy the faithful along with the chaff.

    It’s time to stop justifying the hate you make through recklessly aimed words and stop encouraging others to join in your mob of ill-willed people who can’t tell the difference between a troll and a friend.

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  12. Please don’t confuse or dilute post traumatic stress. While this president is a terrifying monster, the idea that millions, or even thousands, are subject to mental disorders is ridiculous. If you’re not a licensed provider of services (I believe you’re a spiritual leader?), and if you aren’t qualified to diagnose, then you probably shouldn’t be diagnosing people en masse. Bring him down, topple this corrupt and dangerous administration. That’s fine. But please dont assert that people are mentally ill when you are neither qualified nor in any position to state such draconian assertions.

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