Trump Won, So I Finally Got Out of Bed

The day after the election results came in announcing a fresh new terrifying America, I stayed in bed feeling scared, hopeless and melted into inaction. I think that’s how most of us processed that day. I wish I could say it’s something I rarely do, stay in my bed when it’s too hard to do anything else. But I stayed in bed the day before the election too. I also stayed in bed the day before that, and the day before that. In fact, I’ve pretty much stayed in bed all year long. When the election results came in, it had already been a month since I gave up on trying to fix my own mental health issues. And so it turned out that the worst day of our generation collided with my own personal low. I hate that it took something so ugly and urgent to finally get me out of bed. But here I am.

I wish I could say that after the election, I got out of bed and drove straight to a psychiatrist who gave me the perfect pill to fix everything. In reality, I already tried going to the doctor for depression twice, and ended up not responding to either medication I was prescribed. That’s the cruelest joke about depression medication: when it takes a year just to find the strength to get out of bed and get help, it feels impossible to try again if the first medication you’re prescribed doesn’t work after you’ve endured a month of tough side effects. When I tried another medication for another month with even worse side effects and no results, I gave up. Cue the endless days in the bed and the hope that my mattress would swallow me whole.

I also wish I could say that after the election, I found the motivation to call a psychiatrist again after feeling an immediate glimmer of some general “I need to be better for this world” kind of urgency. How it actually happened is much worse. One night I got a call from one of my closest friends, someone who was on the list of people I had distanced myself from — a list that included every single person I knew. I can’t go into detail for sake of anonymity, but he’s the kind of person that Trump’s America hates for existing. He told me that one night while he walking home, a group of young white supremacist men targeted him, attacked him and injured him badly. He didn’t have any idea how to deal with the trauma of a hate crime. But in that moment, when he most needed support, I didn’t have the strength to offer him anything but: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

I was so fucking angry at my brain for not letting me be the kind of friend he needed in that moment. So I got out of bed. I called every psychiatrist I could find and begged for someone to see me. Places that took insurance were booked for months. After many frustrating calls, I eventually found a psychiatrist who takes same-day appointments without insurance. It was very expensive and it was legal, but barely. Surprisingly, this new psychiatrist asked the right questions and found out that the root of my depression — not being able to focus or get anything done — is actually ADHD, which often goes undiagnosed in women. And as it turns out, ADHD medication doesn’t take a month to work, it takes about an hour. So after months of searching for something that would help, I took a pill and finally felt all the missing jigsaw puzzle parts of my brain melt into their matching pieces. I called my friend and told him what I couldn’t say for months: “I’m here for you.”

Getting out of bed right now is hard, especially when we’re so tired of fighting. I got out of bed when I realized that for months, the only words I could offer my friends who needed my support — many who are Gay, Trans, Mexican, Muslim, or Undocumented was, “I’m sorry, but I can’t be here for you right now.” I got out of bed when I realized that I have no choice but to be here right now. I got out of bed because there are only two things I can be right now: either scared into silence for fear of my life and friends’ lives, or here. And because I can be here, I have to be strong. I have to take care of myself so that I can be fully and actively engaged in resistance, with all the of the focus and determination and strength I have to offer. And no matter how many times I try to short cut my way around it, I know that the road to my own strength starts with prioritizing my own mental health.

Cecelia is a playwright and student living in Houston. She is most passionate about writing and watching the honest queer experience in film, television or theatre. She also finds herself to be very moved emotionally by zines, squirrels and emojis. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @zo0mbini.

Cecelia has written 24 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. And now I’m crying in the break room.

    Thank you for writing this. This resonates on so many levels. Thanks for the reminder to take care of ourselves and the call to action.

  2. You’re beautiful and wonderful and it takes so much hard effort to get out of bed some days and I’m so proud of you for doing that and finding someone who actually helped you get your brain back. We can fight the administration so long as we prioritise our health needs and keep ourselves going, and we will fight it all together.

  3. This post solidifies my view that the old saying, “the first step is the hardest,” is bullshit. The first step is the easiest (not that it isn’t hard); it’s the one that you take before you get rejected, or you hit a wall, or fail. First steps are nothing compared to the step you take after you’ve been shut down by friends, or the medication didn’t work, or the last therapist was an ass. That step and every step after is the hardest, and they don’t get easier. Not for a while, I think, but they’re worth it. Thanks for reminding us to take care of ourselves so that we can take better care of each other.

  4. Cecelia, thank you for this. I resonate deeply with both your struggles and your determination. I especially needed to read this today – it’s been a rough one. I’m also glad for your progress; I hope you continue to find your way <3

    I've also struggled to be "here" for so much of my life due to MH issues, but I'm finding some new ways to care for myself and make progress amid the tumult. Even though I've experienced some setbacks in the last few weeks, the election outcome is motivating me to work toward better things for myself and others.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. 2016 was (and is) also very hard for me personally on top of everything going on in the world. It feels like it’s been one experience after another where I started to get hopeful that things will change and set my sights on something that seemed like a sure thing, only to lose out on it, with the election being the ultimate example. I can’t say I’ve recovered post-election or come anywhere near a step in that direction, but there’s something kind of reassuring about how so many people are talking publicly about their mental health state in the aftermath. Like I’ve been miserable all year but for the first time I know I’m definitely not alone.

  6. Wow, thank you so much for this. The election happened right at the time that my Crohns disease medication stopped working. I’ve been trying to get ahold of my crohns while also staying there for those most marginalized in trumps america. But with crohns, stress is one of the main causes of flair ups, and thus I have been feeling like shit. I’m trying to take care of myself while also staying educated and stay active in the fight. But these things seem to contradict at times, and I’m struggling. So, I started a strict anti-inflammatory diet and I have an acupuncture/Chinese herbalist appointment on Friday, and I’m gonna try to stay up on my health so that I can actually be there for people at this time. thank you for sharing your story.

  7. As someone who has ADHD, I can definitely relate- wanting your brain to do something, and having it fail you is one of the most exhausting experiences in the world. I’m glad you’ve been able to find a good psychiatrist 🙂

  8. Finally decided to read this because of another comment. Glad I did. This was me for a long time until I got treatment. I just don’t like that my doctor pushes anti-depressants on me. My medication isn’t as effective anymore and she will not up the strength at all. I’m glad I have ways to cope with my mental health issues but there are still rough days even with medication.

  9. This might be odd, but I just went looking for this article and made an account just for this (no idea if comments are still moderated 2 years later). This is the post that changed my life. It’s been an exhausting, frustrating journey to get a diagnosis for ADHD. And this is the post that started it. After this resonated so deeply, I looked up adult ADHD symptoms and was just looking into a mirror. I started being tested and seeing doctor after doctor and last Friday, a nurse practitioner finally believed me and prescribed the correct medication. The trajectory of my life has changed. I am a better partner, better friend and I can read books again for the first time in years. Cecelia’s social media accounts seem to be deactivated, so if anyone reading this has a way to contact her, please tell her that she changed my life. It was her raw description of executive disfunction and failed use of anti-depressants that made me wake up to my reality and gather strength to wrestle the homophobia, ableism and sexism that is psychiatry practice in the US to take my life back. Thank you, Cecelia. I hope you’re well.

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