lizcommotion: sign which says "Please do not feed the fears" (brain weasels (do not feed))
[personal profile] lizcommotion
Immediately after the election, my brain presented me with a plethora of entirely plausible worst-cause scenarios. I majored in history, so let me just say that the scenarios were many and detailed and horrible. I will spare you the details.

My brain usually runs with one recurring worst-case scenario per anxious thing. Sure, there are diversionary attacks, but there is one that in my heart of hearts I'm fairly convinced will happen. With these I was reasonably certain that any or all of them could happen.

My first gut reaction was that I needed to somehow erase my online presence to better resist the autocracy we are about to launch into, a la much of the advice that's been passed around the internet. I won't link it, as I'm sure you've seen it.

I'm already more careful with internet security than a lot of my immediate social circle. (A side effect, perhaps, of almost every social media network "suggesting" that I add my asshole abuser ex as a friend.)

The thing is, the NSA already has a lot of that data. And anything that is already on the internet is on a server somewhere. So while many of the suggestions *are* practical, after a certain point -- the point that anxiety brain wants to take me barreling past -- it feels like duck and cover drills in case of nuclear bombs.

One thing that is a guaranteed anxiety thing for me personally is keeping secrets. I can do it in limited circumstances -- for example, I don't randomly out people -- but it's stressful and I'm not particularly good at dissembling long-term. This is fine in a society that guarantees free speech (especially if you have white privilege), but not so great in a dictatorship. I've been worried.

My partner spent a lot of time trying to talk me out of the anxiety, which we both know is not a good strategy but neither of us really had the cope for anything else. I suspect a lot of people are low on cope right now.

Where I am now, not quite a week after the election, is acceptance and trying to find the right resistance.

I finally decided that one of the things I have to offer is speaking out. Think The Quibbler, but before Luna got abducted and used as a hostage. Think uncomfortable conversations with some of the people I knit with. This may mean that I end up on someone's list. It may mean I make a difference, or not. I honestly don't know.

I do know that once I decided "Yes, I am willing to speak up and I'm done being afraid, whatever comes," I was finally able to sleep again. I still have the TMJ headaches, but I've had those for about a month before the election. Fortunately I know some really good self-massage techniques.

I know this technique may not work for everyone, either because of brain chemistry or circumstances. Do what you need to. But if (like me) your general strategy for coping with anxiety is "okay, brain, if the bad thing happens I can deal with it," then may I suggest modifying that strategy for the election fears.

After all, if I'm consumed by fear, I have to spend all my energy coping with brain weasels and the stress related muscle aches and duct-tape-over-windows type strategies for preventing very specific outcomes. If I decide I will just try to accept what comes, I can actually DO something about creating the kind of future I want to see.

I called my congressman today. It was rather fun. (He's very pro-cybersecurity to the point where I feel it infringes on privacy, and if there were a democrat running against him I would have voted for them in the primaries. I left a message asking what he was going to do about Russian interference in the US election, given his previous stances on cybersecurity. Then I hung up the phone and cackled to myself.)
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lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)

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