Trump, Declining Mental Health, and “What Is a Life Worth?”

Susan Cooke

“What is a life worth?” was asked many times as the insanely premature plans to reopen the country began to be pushed by the White House. I heard no good answer so I’m asking it again. While I’m at it, I’ll add a corollary: What is mental health worth?

I’d like to consider mental health and the President’s effect on it before, during, and after the pandemic. You probably know this already, but poor mental health, besides causing emotional suffering, also affects physical health. Yet many government and business leaders have ignored the fact for years.

I wrote here awhile ago thatTrump seemed to be affecting the country’s mental health because his words and actions so deeply upset many people on so many levels, but during this pandemic what he’s done makes past occurrences fade in comparison. In this post I try to encourage him or those around him who can influence him to stop and reconsider what he’s doing to Americans’ mental health, along with the risks he’s forcing many of us to take physically by reopening without a clear, safe national plan.

Even in the best of times, Americans (and those who imitate us) live with a lot of stress, much of which could be prevented with awareness of some practices now known to cause stress, and with kindness toward ourselves and each other. (It doesn’t help that our President’s chronic rudeness, lack of empathy, and focus on himself models for Americans that not caring how others feel is normal and okay. )

In my research on stress in American cities I keep finding evidence that much of Americans’ increasing anxiety, depression, and numbers of suicides seem to be caused least in part by our own non-stop, incessantly driven lifestyle, plus our having lost once-common practices that prevented stress and depression and promoted good mental and physical health. Little is said about these losses, probably because people aren’t sufficiently aware of them. Certainly hardly anything is said by government, business, or schools.

It’s critically important that those with the power to do something about it understand the basics at least, because these stresses are everywhere but are more pronounced in cities, and there is now research showing that people’s lives are actually being shortened just because they’re living in a big city as many of us do. Sadly, now we’re facing mountains of stress beyond those, due to the pandemic.

There is no more room for added stress, yet that’s what the President is handing us with this too-soon, carelessly-planned reopening. Besides added deaths from the virus, I’m truly worried about the massive PTSD and increased depression and suicides likely to be caused as a result of them and of the chaotic reopening. Those in power need to take mental health extremely seriously right now. So I’ve listed here just a few of the problems we already struggle with in hopes it will help to convince them to slow or stop this reopening, and also convince them to pay much closer attention to mental health from now on.

In addition to the many authors of works on this subject I want to especially thank and credit Stephen S. Illardi, PhD, for the valuable information on the mostly depression-free lives of early humans that informs his immensely helpful book, The Depression Cure, and thank Daniel Buettner for his amazing research and books on what keeps people happy and healthy in the “Blue Zones” of the world.

Research shows that a great many Americans are stressed by an obsession with getting where we’re going (and doing it in record time), whether it’s to the next thing on an endless to-do list, the next step to becoming major successes in our fields, or accruing enough money or fame to feel we’ve reached the top.

Before the pandemic, and even before Trump, both adults and kids were not only feeling societal pressure to drive themselves mercilessly, but also suffered from the stress of lack of community. Early humans lived in tribes in which everyone helped and supported each other day and night, and we’re wired to thrive in the presence of others. Isolation is, as we all now know for certain, very hard on us.

While phones are helpful, and crucial right now, using them as constantly as we do in many ways further isolates us. Our heads are bent down to our phones so often that it keeps us, for example, from saying hello to a neighbor passing on the sidewalk who potentially might become a good friend. Connections with neighbors are more likely to last than those at work, though in our culture any lasting connections at all are much more difficult to make than in earlier times. So we suffer from the isolation that’s become the norm, rather than the communal support that once was the norm.

We also suffer from a lack of time outside in nature. Early humans lived outside much of the time and we’re wired to feel good among trees, flowers, and sky, hearing birds, and feeling and hearing the breeze rustle leaves. In this case again modern conveniences diminish our chances to experience wellbeing, as noise and/or pollution from cars, diesel trucks, leaf-blowers, power saws, planes overhead, and people shouting on phones or playing loud radios all prevent us from benefitting from nature, while also raising our blood pressures (even if you don’t think you mind the noise it still raises your blood pressure.)

Some of our stresses begin quite early in life. The societal pressure to “succeed” in a big way, while it may be invigorating for some, for many is way too much, and even for those who like it, keeping at it nonstop as many do promotes mental illness.

There were many suicides already occurring in kids before the pandemic. And we know children are further frightened by the pandemic. Psychologists are seen often now in the news, trying to help us calm them. The Jason Foundation, a group trying to prevent youth suicides, reports that in the U.S. we lose an average of more than 130 young people each week to suicide. The foundation is making available extra measures parents and others can take to prevent suicides of young people during the pandemic.

https://jasonfoundation.com/youth-suicide/facts-stats/

Let’s say the community and nature problems were solved. The adults and many kids would still find it hard to get off the steep slope that must be climbed to the required success, even if they wanted to. Many children with especially ambitious parents may try to keep up but it’s nearly impossible to do that and still be a happy child. So you see tragedies such as the teen in a town near mine who killed herself because she got a B in math instead of an A. Adults in fact also are killing themselves more often than in the past. An April 2020 USNews post reports the U.S. suicide rate has jumped 35% in the past two decades.

If chronic extreme stress leads to chronic anxiety or depression which if not treated and if severe enough can lead to drug use, alcoholism, heart disease, and worst of all, suicide, then you can see why adding even more stress right now to Americans’ lives is so dangerous. Yes isolation is especially stressful now, but it’s temporary, and is nothing like what we’re going to see with a second, likely even worse wave of the virus. The idea is to deal with a little longer isolation so we can stop the virus’s spread sooner, and then work hard to create more community than ever before (but with more of us alive).

We should also consider the extra stresses of many less well-off families who have so few financial resources that there’s little hope of a child ever going to college or anyone in the family getting a job that pays enough to live in a remotely healthy way (the inability to afford healthy food also takes its toll on both physical and mental health). Don’t forget the homeless, and undocumented workers, whose stress must rarely ever end. All these stresses on so many people, combined (again) with poor diet can lead to a host of physical ailments, and of course to depression and more of the “deaths of despair” we’re finally beginning to hear about, though they’ve gone on for years. It’s now time to pay attention.

Of course workers need their jobs, but as with ending our Covid-caused isolation, we would do better to be patient just a little longer to return to work. We’ll need the government to keep people going however, with food, shelter, and bill payment now until it’s safe, or for some people much longer than that, or else we start the torture all over again.

The causes of and antidotes for these stresses are so many and complex that we’ll probably need to take several paths toward solving them. But the solutions that can help, such as assuring more financial support through equitable wages, seem unlikely to be initiated unless we begin to embrace what essentially would be a change in our culture.

It would go something like this: de-emphasize the value of tons of money over what we might call “more than enough” (which would admittedly require government to address inequality, and again to make sure everyone has enough for at least a reasonably good life–for more on this see Annie Lowrey’s book Give People Money). We would re-think why we make ourselves endure long hours of overwork with little time off once we do have enough money to feel okay, and reconsider whether power, fame, or just the so-called success so many believe all this effort will eventually bring makes sense anymore. Is this really the healthiest, happiest way to live a life?

Some call it Socialism if you try to assure that all people have enough money for a reasonably good life, but I don’t think a label is needed. For those who insist on one I suggest “humanitarianism.” The goal is to stop the suffering of vast numbers of people. To get people to think about change along these lines of course, it would help to have someone in the White House who believed such change was helpful and possible. Well, maybe later.

All this background stress and (other stresses I haven’t covered such as racism) has certainly made getting through the pandemic even worse than it might have been, and will make it harder to face further challenges we know are coming with possible second or third rounds of the virus, and later with other crises we need to get working on including climate change.

But what we need right at this moment is to feel safer, which means stopping or slowing reopening. So I’m appealing to Trump, Congress, governors, and mayors, to stop now in order to save more people from getting the virus, but also to save our mental health. For them to make that decision they have to value empathy and kindness more than ever before. If they won’t, we need to make sure that next time around we elect leaders who get it. We as a society also need to help anyone who is suffering mentally or physically, and to try to find ways to help everyone thrive. Or else what has America become?

The virus is barely being controlled and is only minimally understood. There is no consistent national plan to deal with the complex problems we’ll face with a second wave, and with the near-impossibilty of safely opening businesses, schools, and restaurants this early in many areas. For weeks now there hasn’t even been any alcohol in our neighborhood CVS. (We did just find a quart of it online—for $35.)

This is just more evidence that we’re not ready. It’s clear that without immediate intelligent action there will be more lack of supplies, more chaotic or nonexistent guidance, and more illness and death due to the virus but also likely to suicide. The virus is now estimated by some to lead to as many as 75,000 more deaths of despair from accidental overdosing, over-drinking, or intentional suicide. CNN Health’s Mallory Simon writes that the national public health group Wellbeing Trust’s Dr. Benjamin F. Miller forecasts further damage to mental health:

“Unless we get comprehensive federal, state, and local resources behind improving access to high quality mental health treatments and community supports, I worry we’re likely to see things get far worse when it comes to substance misuse and suicide.” 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/08/health/coronavirus-deaths-of-despair/index.html

But Miller added that the numbers are a projection, and the right action could change them. So we don’t have to have all this added illness and death, from deaths of despair or deaths from the virus. Is anybody listening?

Trump likely would answer that this is why he ‘s reopening right away, and how could a good economy not make us all happy and healthy? His selfishness, ignorance, magical thinking, or whatever it is, allows him to remain in denial about (or to ignore) the likely reoccurence of much more suffering and death. The scientists keep assuring us it’s dangerous to reopen so early. Yet that’s what most states are doing, with Trump’s grinning encouragement.

It would probably be a relief to many if state and city leaders now starting to open would pause to study what Governor Cuomo of New York is doing. He’s gone beyond CDC guidelines to implement detailed extra plans and safeguards. Governors or mayors, you could tweek this plan where necessary, but the main part of the work is already done, so why not use it to help open your own area more slowly and safely? Why rush into more hell on earth when you have a good guide to making it less hellish?

Another virtue of Cuomo’s plan is that it doesn’t abandon those who are struggling financially. He took time for example to begin a program that delivers milk that farmers were dumping in one part of the state to places that feed the hungry in another area. This is inspired leadership, and just what we need.

Why cant’t Trump see that he’s going to destroy more mental as well as physical health with this scary reopening? Maybe it’s because he’s so driven himself, toward goals not much associated with the thoughtful, selfless, and generous qualities a leader must have in order to get people through a frightening crisis like this. His lack of those traits also makes him a terrible choice for President in the future, when such qualities will be needed to negotiate the many challenges quickly moving toward us.

For me one of the most distressing things he’s done besides modeling openly that lying, insulting, belittling, and offending others are fine behaviors, is to spread more chaos and despair through cruel power plays. One of the worst was forcing already financially-strapped states and cities to compete for the PPE their health workers were almost on their knees begging for, for weeks. What they were really begging for was their lives and the lives of their patients. Imagine ignoring such heartbreaking desperation. He did, and now many of those workers and their patients are dead.

It’s also disturbing to see how much of the country is either in denial about the tragedy this reopening will cause. The President, his cronies, and some media outlets are all guilty of letting this false idea some have that the virus isn’t so bad continue. They must take some blame for the added deaths, whether from the virus or from suicide. They’re adding also to the wrecking of mental health by causing more stress, anxiety, and PTSD that for many will last for years.

Also distressing is Trump’s most incomprehensible cruelty yet–admitting he not only knows opening so soon will cause more deaths, but accepting it as fine, and trying to get us to accept it, and to say these new deaths are worth it. He says Well, people are dying anyway. I say they would not be dying anyway if he had quickly and with thought and care responded to the pandemic from the beginning. But you have to have both a heart and a love of something besides yourself (such as a country) to do that.

I watch with despair as the country opens, dreading more announcements of added deaths as people move around more. I despair when I see on the news people who shoot others who ask them to wear masks, when a customer at an ice cream shop shouts obscenities at a seventeen-year-old girl trying in vain to get ice cream to him fast enough due to unexpected crowds, and when I see people gather closely in groups without masks, and sometimes even with guns, as if the virus were nothing more than one of the hoaxes Trump is always blaming on Democrats; as if adding to this horrific mix more deadly weapons or more nastiness toward others will help.

Clearly they’re acting partly out of stress but at least some of this behavior was and continues to be encouraged by this President and his modeling of crude and hostile treatment of people who cross him in the slightest way. It’s sad to see such meanness and division when there’s already so much suffering, and such a need to help each other.

If we don’t stop or greatly slow the reopening, we are in essence being sentenced to death by Trump. His message is that reopening (rather than paying workers so they can survive at home awhile longer) is needed even though it means that our life or that of someone close to us is now more likely to end sooner, having been sacrificed for Trump–so he can feel he’s more likely to win a second term. His triumph in this is that it will finally give him the fame he craves. He’ll be perceived as one of the shallowest, most selfish, and meanest leaders in modern history.

Meanwhile the cruelty and breathtaking narcissism continue. Therefore all there is left to do, it seems, is to beg all people who have influenced him in the past to get him to change, and even if they think his self-interested course is going to make America great, to change their own course because it’s the humane thing to do. Convince him to save lives and mental health now, by immediately assuring that 1) needed money gets to the poverty-stricken and jobless now and in the future, 2) that he stops or drastically slows the reopening until all needed hospital beds, PPE, vaccine and testing supplies, and for the public other needed supplies such as alcohol, are in place, 3) a clear plan exists to procure and distribute to all patients who need it more Remdesivir and any other proven-safe treatments that help, and 4) there is a a detailed safe, organized, consistent reopening plan everyone can understand, one that is based on science and not politics.

As to the question “What is a life worth?” my answer is that not one life should be lost so a President can reopen recklessly in order to use a good economy (and it’s doubtful it will even be good) to make himself feel less nervous about the election. We don’t need to fix the economy this minute. Instead we (and he) can make sure everyone is kept fed and housed, with bills paid (or bill payment delayed), until reopening is much safer. A second virus wave and re-quarantine will cost much more than would waiting and keeping people supported and safe right now, and he knows it. He also knows that not waiting will cause a lot more death and despair. He just doesn’t care.

To further bring this point home, emergency physician Leana S. Wen, writing in the Washington Post, refuted several arguments often made as to why we should reopen early, explaining their major flaws. Her answer to the argument “It’s worth the sacrifice if some people die so that the country has a functioning economy,” is that “Those making it (the argument) are committing others to a sacrifice they did not choose.” Amen.

Her article is at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/10/six-flaws-arguments-reopening/

Movies to Brighten Your Stay at Home

I posted an antidepressant movie list on this blog awhile ago (it’s still there), and some of the films below may be on it. But for now here’s what I’m going to be watching in the next few weeks, that you might enjoy too. It’s slightly heavy on classics since I love them, but there are newer ones too. I only chose films that are engaging enough to help keep me (and you I hope) from worrying or getting depressed! I did not include children’s films here but teens may enjoy many of these. Children not too young, maybe 8 and over, may like nos. 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 15:

  1. Moonstruck—Cher as an Italian Cinderella, gorgeous music from La Boheme, fabulous performances by Cher, Olympia Dukakis, and Nicolas Cage.
  2. If you can get hold of it,The Demi-Paradise starring Laurence Olivier. It also stars one of my favorite English actresses from that period, Penelope Ward. During WWII Russian engineer Olivier comes to England to help the British with an important technical challenge, and falls in love with a young Englishwoman.
  3. Another WWII film, also with Penelope Ward, wonderful Michael Wilding, and hilarious Margaret Rutherford, one of my absolute favorites, again if you can get hold if it, the delightful English Without Tears.
  4. Fabulously funny In & Out, with Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack (hysterically funny performance), Bob Newhart, Matt Dillon, & Tom Selleck. A Frank Oz Film.
  5. Welcome to Mooseport, with Ray Romano and Gene Hackman. For me it never gets old!
  6. Dave Stars Kevin Kline as a stand-in for the U.S. President, Sigourney Weaver, and, both marvelous, Charles Grodin and Ving Rhames

7. Again, if you can get hold of these next few: My Life With Caroline with dashing Ronald Coleman (dated but great fun anyway) with some loveable characters and an adorable bulldog partway through

8. All Over the TownBritish post war comedy, engaging and a good story about a newspaper in a small seaside town. Stars Norman Wooland, Cyril Cusack, Sarah Churchill

9. From the Universal Vault Series: Ruggles of Red Gap, with an unforgettable, funny, and moving performance by Charles Laughton, and another of my favorite classic movie actors, Roland Young (film nominated for Academy Award for Best Picture, 1935) Laughton plays a formal, cultured, and accomplished valet whose beloved British employer loses him in a late night poker game to a newly-rich rancher from the Washington town of Red Gap. Scintillating performances by all.

10. The Voice of the Turtle (also sold as One for the Book). I love this so much I watch it at least twice a year. Ronald Reagan is charming in it, Eleanor Parker is one of the most delightful characters you’ll ever see in a movie, and Eve Arden plays one of her best character types–sophisticated, bossy, and a good friend as long as you don’t even glance at the current man she considers her property! Wonderful story.

11. A Stranger in Town This is one of the few films I’ve seen in which Frank Morgan (the wizard in the Wizard of Oz but often cast as a bumbling or ridiculous character) plays a strong, wise, and extremely likeable man–a judge who’s on a rare vacation. It’s a very good drama also filled with comical scenes and a romance of course. Morgan steals the show.

12. Separate Tables A drama with a good story and wonderful actors: Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, the wonderful and too-little-mentioned actress Dame Wendy Hiller, and David Niven. Niven and Kerr both play characters completely opposite in type to their usual glamourous leads, and win Best Actor and Best Actress Academy Awards for their efforts. If you’re a classic movie fan you hardly recognize them because they so completely become those characters. Wendy Hiller also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film was nominated for Oscars in several other categories: Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Musical Score, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

13. Three modern and fun romances now: The first is See Jane Date, which is often dryly witty as well as sweet. All women, plenty of men, and many teens will appreciate Jane’s challenges at work and in dating.

14. The Sweeter Side of Life, in which a character is thrown suddenly from a shallowly glamorous life in NYC to baking cupcakes out in the sticks. Kathryn Morris is perfect as she struggles mightily with the transition, and learns there are things in life that mean much more to her than lunching out with her designer-clad friends. A funny, warm, and very enjoyable story.

15. So You Said Yes is a Hallmark Romance and quite an entertaining one, as creative shop owner Kellie Martin deals with business problems caused by the mother of the guy she’s falling for.

Where to Find the Movies

Some of you asked where to find those older movies on the list I recently posted. A great place to start is Turner Classic Movies which shows many of them–look at their daily or monthly schedules to plan to see or Tivo one when it comes up. You can find some of the classic movies online too, new or used. Keep trying if you don’t find one right away.

To buy a DVD google TCM Shop to get right to what thery have available. I’d type DVD (or Blu-Ray) before the title to keep them from jumping around the store too much (they have mugs etc.) I see they have The Demi-Paradise ($7.95), Ruggles of Red Gap ($17.21), The Voice of the Turtle, ($9.95), A Stranger in Town (2 versions, both around $7), and Separate Tables ($17.96). The other, newer movies can often be found through Amazon being sold new or by used bookstores and individuals out of their collections. These are the ways I’ve gotten my copies.

Brutalizing Donkeys

WBUR just released a story of horrendous and competely unnecessary animal cruelty, suffering, and death, for big profit, mostly in China. The cruelty is increasing worldwide and could even lead to extinction, or just more and more cruelty, if it isn’t stopped. There is not one redeeming detail in the treatment of the animals. The report of what’s going on is in a link below, and I beg you to help stop it by helping the charities that are trying to, by writing your reps in Congress and even the president, and doing anything else you can think of.

Even before I read this story I learned that donkeys in our own country are already suffering a great deal for other reasons, which I discovered when I found that a donkey sanctuary here is among the charities CNN features and is in the running for the top slot of CNN Heroes.

But right now donkeys all over the world are dying horribly for things like face cream and unproven medical remedies for problems that definitely can be helped with other treatment. Villain number one is China, where donkey death brings in huge profits. The result is a number of travesties in other countries such as Africa where people want to get money for the animals, donkeys being stolen from poor families whose one donkey is a companion and helper, and more. In all cases, abominable amounts of suffering occur.

I’ve left a link to the report at the end of this post. To borrow from a comment I sent the site, I’ll say that as long as we’re cruel to animals or make any living beings suffer torture (packed tightly with each other for days without food and water as they travel to an often extra-inhumane death in crummy slaugterhouses) we’ll remain a species that won’t evolve to be the kind, humane, and truly happy one we could be (which I do/must believe is possible). One thing we might do in the meantime is continue to work to make sure ALL people have at least reasonable income so they don’t go along with such cruelty to get more money. But clearly there’s a lot of sheer greed at work here, so I urge all leaders, agencies, and powers that can do anything to stop this to immediately take action.

Also in the news on the same day was a report on rising stress in many parts of the world, with our country among the most stressed, and this is related because it’s extremely stressful to most people to learn of wanton cruetly done to any creature. If we don’t act now to stop this unfathomably barbaric brutality to an animal who is sweet, charming, lovable, and has served humans for centuries, we also punish ourselves with more sadness, hopelessness about the world, and depression. It certainly depressed me.

China especially should be punished. This is coldhearted greed, lack of empathy, and lack of basic humanity (the good part of humanity, that is) that is off the charts and to which we all should say No, and say it now.

Here’s the link:

https://www.wbur.org/npr/716732762/donkeys-are-dying-because-china-wants-their-hides-for-a-traditional-remedy

Animal Agriculture and Amazon Fires–a Reasonable Solution

Since I’ve been hearing for years that animal farming converted to plant farming could feed everyone on the planet, and since the animals suffer so horribly, I could never understand why the world had not at least begun to move toward this change. Now of course it’s an even bigger emergency as the Amazon burns and we hear it is again largely because Europe (and I guess other places) wants more and more beef. I looked around to see if anything is being done at all right now with the animal farming issue due to the emergency we now face in the Amazon, and found a page of various contradicting views. Then I found the article I want to tell you about, on the Forbes site:

Who can Really Stop the Amazon Fires? by Justin Adams.

It makes a lot of sense because Adams sees that in order to make the needed changes we have to support the businesses reliant on earnings from their current activities that damage the forests (such as cattle farming). I have always believed something similar to this kind of thinking is the solution to most of our problems. Make sure those who would lose money due to the changes are pretty well supported financially while we help then to convert to something less harmful, or ideally not at all harmful.

I urge you to read Adams’ article (it’s not too long) and encourage your government leaders, as I now do, to use this and similar methods as soon as possible to help save the rainforest, but also in other cases where there is any emergency that causes suffering of living beings, human or animal, caused by a business that’s the livelihood of people who also need to survive. As for the Amazon right now, in addition to the health of the planet that’s already in dire straits from global warming, don’t forget all those beautiful and often-endangered forest animals who are suffering and dying in the flames, or the healing and sometimes life-saving Amazon plants experts have been discovering that are now being destroyed.

Sure it will cost money to support the businesses as they convert to something else, but what is money for if not to keep our Earth healthy so we, the animals, and the plants can all thrive? And what will it cost if we don’t make the changes? Of course we’ll also have to stop eating beef and using many other animal products, and help businesses to find ways to produce other things we need (as Adams discusses) that don’t harm the trees. Don’t be afraid of this. Innovation is alive and well in the world and much has already been done to solve the problem of what to use for food, clothing, shoes, and other products, instead of using animals or using harmful methods when safer ones are available. Many of us have been doing that for some time and have become much healthier than we used to be (myself included). We also feel free of the burden of knowing we no longer cause suffering, though we get depressed about how much suffering continues.

Meat substitutes are getting fairly sophisticated, though I don’t crave them and find getting creative with plant food healthier and surprisingly enjoyable. Imagine the resulting decrease and maybe even ending of the current 24/7 agony of beautiful, innocent animals. You may not hear their cries of terror and pain, but believe me the suffering goes on all the time. How blissful would it be to know we’re ending it as a side effect of saving the planet and feeding the world’s hungry? But we’ll also be helping decrease other damage, as Adams describes, by using less harmful methods to get products we need from the forests. There’s a reason they call the Amazon rainforest “the lungs of the planet.” Do we really want to leave a barely livable planet to future generations? Our children are already angry with us for much of what they see now. Let’s not wait and discuss it endlessly. The time for action is now.

Adams describes the kind of things that can be done logically and clearly. He gives me hope. Please do read the article. Here’s the link:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/worldeconomicforum/2019/08/29/amazon-fires-people-focus/#23f9466e1cd2

IN MEMORIAM

For a Country and a Planet

The planet, a diverse paradise of oceans, rivers, mountains, forests, and plants and animals of unimaginable beauty, was the only one in its solar system inhabited by all these, and by sentient beings called humans, or people. Many of the people lived joyous, peaceful lives, yet some sometimes became ill with unfounded fears about each other that led to hatred, tyranny, and even wars they never learned to prevent even though each was more terrible than the last. Eventually their weapons became more ferocious, until they were so powerful they could destroy large swaths of the planet and all that lived on it. 

Despite it being clear that humans were imperfect and often made mistakes or became unbalanced, no one stopped the creation of the weapons and the use of materials that could make more of them. Neither did they stop creating smaller weapons that caused murders of many of the people by only a few individuals. It seemed that no one could stop them because powerful groups of people who were addicted to weapons would not allow it. There was more and more killing followed by crippling sadness in people who lost those they loved.  

Some of the most powerful people were so consumed with their own desires that they ignored the suffering of all others, including the people whose loved ones were killed in mass slaughters. It became clear many were killed mostly because they were not the same white color as most of those in power, or prayed in a different way from them. During this same period, many of the powerful also ignored the looming demise of the planet, as it grew sick from toxins created by the peoples’ industries, showing its grave need through increasingly dangerous fires, storms, deaths of species, and destruction of the natural areas that made it so beautiful. In the end the powerful people let the desperate planet struggle until it died, taking with it all living beings, most of whom had been innocent, kind, and good. 

The pieces of land called countries had looked for guidance to one country considered the greatest, whose founders had possessed great vision. But in this country’s latter days one of its temporary leaders, elected under murky circumstances never completely understood, began to talk of permanently extending the job he had already made into something like the reign of a king. Unlike his predecessors, he was mad and sick with power and greed, and devoid of the great human quality of empathy. He worked both openly and in secret to undermine every effort of those fighting to save the people, the country, and the planet from each other’s weapons and from the planet’s illnesses. 

He soon was acknowledged as the country’s first leader desiring to be what people called a dictator. These were the worst leaders in this world’s history, and always left suffering and death in their wake. Though already wealthy and powerful, he took advantage of his position to gain yet more, despite the cost to the country and the planet. To this end he put in powerful positions people who thought as he did or who would do what he commanded without question. 

The people began to suffer from fear and grief as they watched him destroy laws and rules that had protected them and their beautiful world, and make new ones that made them feel unsafe, causing endless worry and stress. They saw him align himself with other dictators, and with a growing group of people that, like some similar groups in the past that were responsible for murdering millions, spread hatred of all those different from them. They watched him befriend yet others who seemed to love weapons, and who, when grieving families worked to ban them, blocked their every attempt. It didn’t matter to the dictator or his allies how many lives the weapons took. Their turning away from the suffering created a well of sorrow in the country so wide and deep that an anguished cry for the country’s sake was heard throughout the planet. Yet they let the deaths and the mourning of the people, and the destruction of the beautiful planet go on and on. All that seemed to matter to them was wealth and power. The dictator himself believed he was all-powerful, as indeed he seemed to be.  

He and his associates came to symbolize to the people all that was immoral, unethical, cruel, and–in the end we would have to say–evil. Some who could have stopped him were afraid of losing their own positions, so remained silent and continued to obey him. They too became symbols of cruel indifference. The people began to call them all by a name reserved in their history for those they’d reviled the most: traitors. The powerful had betrayed with stunning heartlessness their fellow humans, the great country’s founders, and the beautiful planet with its marvelous creatures.

Who can say if there will ever again exist such a wondrous world, or beings similar to those of that planet, now lost to us? The creator or whatever force made it would have to find a way to make intelligence in each being a trait infused with abhorrence of hate, greed, and tyranny. All people including leaders would need to be born with generosity and the desire for peace ingrained in their very cores. Until such a marvelous thing occurs, all we can say further about this world that contained so much raw material from which could be made such a beautiful existence, is that we miss it, and we will long mourn its passing.

No Excuses

No Excuses

Around the world people are starving, others are suffering as war rages around them, water resources are endangered, rain forests are disappearing, the ever more dangerous effects of climate change are increasing, and fellow humans at home are under constant attack by people filled with hate, Instead of being a world leader in attacking these problems, our country’s leaders are busy avoiding the wrath of the NRA while mass murders continue to accelerate.

There is no excuse for this kind of supremely selfish, cowardly behavior in those in power in what used to be the leader of the free world. It’s an atrocity that background checks and banning assault weapons is even under discussion as people are mowed down or lie in hospitals wounded and dying, and millions of others  fear for their lives and the lives of their children.

Stringent background checks and banning of ALL assault weapons and ways to make them should be immediate with NO DISCUSSION.

To do less or wait one minute longer can be considered nothing other than immoral, unethical, and yes, criminal. Leaders who are blocking this, and NRA, this is what you are will be remembered for.

A Note to and for Haters, Killers of All Kinds, and Certain Government Officials

I’ve been writing about hate and killing for some time now since they’re hardly compatible with my goal of helping us create less-stressed American cities. I agree with many of the suggestions offered by caring people about these matters, and here add my own specific ones, some of which may seem naive but–some readers tell me–that help them to feel more hopeful. I realize some of these suggestions will seem extreme to some (such as no guns, period). Yet in the end we have to get our heads out of the sand and acknowledge that the problems we to need solve in order to stop the violence are deeply embedded in our society, encouraged by leaders who are part of those problems. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the changes needed are dramatic. 

Our problems are not just from the bigotry now being considered fine by some, or from fear of those not like us, but also from our general acceptance of violence and weapons as necessary. Neither prejudice nor guns are necessary in a civilized society, and if we made the society more civilized with laws and whatever else it takes to show we value lives and peace, more of us would see that. (Isn’t a civilized society the goal? ) It’s not normal that some people see hate and violence as normal.

Each time there’s a massacre and whenever there’s cruelty or killing, I find I’m thinking the same thought. That is that along with gun control (at least) and the other changes most sensible people want, we also need deep and thoughtful change in our culture, and much of it should involve promoting kindness and empathy at every level and in every corner of the culture. Maybe that kind of change is what will finally convince those in elected office or otherwise in power that when they don’t act to stop mass murder and suffering, when their own personal goals come before the lives of others, they must accept some of the blame.

FOR THOSE WHO HATE

(The bold print below is accidental and so far we’ve been unable to return it to normal print. Please read as regular print–thanks.)

If you hate a certain group of people, or even one person, there are numerous ways you can turn off that hate, and it’s a good idea to try to do that. If you were trained to hate–and most people who hate have been trained–you owe it to others, to the world, and mostly to yourself to un-train yourself. There are many ways to do this. Practice empathy and kindness even if that’s new for you. Stop hanging out with other haters, and do whatever else you can to get yourself to the other side where you can learn about and begin to care for your neighbors. If you get to know your neighbors or acquaintances of other colors or backgrounds you’ll likely find they’re really cool people, nice to be with, and often have interesting life stories to tell. If you ask you’ll learn about their cuisine, how they like to party, what they miss from back home and what they love here. Your own life story is also of great interest–everyone’s is. So why not tell it to them, while removing prejudice, fear, rage, and cruelty from your mind. Then your life has a better chance to end up a happy and peaceful one, which is much harder to accomplish if you live in a cloud of hatred. 

Remind yourself that people can’t help where they were born, what color their skin is, or who their parents are. Put yourself in their shoes if they’re not like you, and stay there a few minutes. Realize that all most of them want is a chance to have a reasonably happy, healthy life, like you do. Many of us struggle with how to do that, and the struggle is hard enough without having to deal with hatred, violence, and the horrific loss of life mass shooters cause. 

If you’re still consumed with hate or the urge to harm, ask for help. One place you can get it is to google local mental health resources in your area and try to connect with one. One helpful national site (and group) is MHFA or Mental Health First Aid. Try going there to see their huge list of resources that can help with any kind of mental illness or pain. One of many helpful pages there is https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/mental-health-resources/

Or go to a place online that’s about more positive emotions such as ways to be happier. One of many sites that may be helpful is https://www.sparringmind.com/be-happy/ . Or learn about how prejudices are formed, at a site like Very Well Minds, on this page:  https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-prejudice-2795476 

If you’ve read any history you may know that often the reasons people are taught to hate are based on false premises. A common human weakness is to find someone else to blame for our troubles even when it makes no sense. Other people may harm us at times, sure, but when entire groups, races, or religions are made into scapegoats you can bet the reasons for it don’t ring true. So stop believing things you hear coming out of the mouths of racists and bigots and get over your prejudices that some pathetic, clueless website, friend, or relative taught you. 

Look the rest of us straight in the eye and tell us that if you didn’t live here and were being persecuted or threatened, that you wouldn’t want to come to a freer country like this one where you thought you could be safe and have at least some kind of work. Persecuted people and refugees have done this throughout history. You know you’re a hypocrite if you say you wouldn’t do the same. Many immigrant families by the way come from places where family ties are close. This often makes them secure and loving people just because close families often foster those good feelings. That means they’re very nice people to know. All such families I’ve met tend to be warm, caring, and kind.

So please come out of the dark ages and stop accusing them of things they aren’t doing, and stop trying to hurt them. Maybe even try this: help them. Helping people makes the helper happier–too many researchers have found that to be true for you to doubt it. Try it. You’ll like it.

GUNS & THE ACT OF KILLING  

A great many people, myself included, believe there’s no excuse for killing for any reason, period. In fact by now we should have evolved enough as a species to be done with all killing including that done in wartime as a way to solve problems (we should be done with war as well). But even if we’re temporarily forced to participate in or suffer through wars by greedy, angry, selfish, and power-mad leaders, we don’t have to also kill each other at home.

As for guns themselves, they don’t belong in a peaceful, civilized society, end of story. Hunters, you won’t like this, but even killing animals for whatever reason has got to bring out something in you that cringes, doesn’t it? Truly evolved humans, in my view, should abhor inflicting pain on any other living thing. As long as a bunch of us go ahead and kill things (and most of us really don’t need that deer meat do we?) it will be easier for humans to find killing and maiming okay. 

That’s why I believe guns of ANY kind should be banned, and nothing short of that is acceptable. I’m not a naive wacko, I’ve just had enough. Haven’t you? Let’s say you still insist on having a gun. Whether or not you’re a member of the NRA, don’t you find it outrageous and kind of sickening that this group that tries to keep lots of guns around at all costs actually controls many of our elected officials? 

TO CERTAIN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

You’re not fooling anyone when you act only to protect your title as representative or senator or President, while letting suffering and injustice continue. No rep of mine who does that will ever get my vote again. Act to protect people from hate and gun violence now, and get ALL of it done, not just tiny steps.  And no I don’t want the death penalty–that’s just more violence, cruelty, and death.  Enough. 

OTHER KILLING IN OUR CULTURE ADDS TO THE GENERAL VIOLENCE

Because I believe that killing anything makes killing something else easier, I also believe we should stop the horrifying practice of animal agriculture. We may not personally hear the tortured, terrified cries of animals headed to and going through slaughter, but we know they’re out there, 24 hours a day. We know unless we lie to ourselves that that pain we cause, directly, or indirectly with our dollars, can’t be good for us either. When we do such things to other living things it should ring alarm bells in us, and I believe it would go along way toward creating a happier, more peaceful culture if we paid attention to those alarms.

Besides it also being awful for the environment and the fact that we can feed many more people with plants, continuing this practice means a certain number of humans–many who would rather not have such jobs but can find no other—will be forced to carry out that cruelty for hours a day even if it causes them great personal pain (the evidence is that it does for many of them, and they are never the same again).


I’m convinced that one day slaughtering for food as well as hunting for “sport” will be universally decried for the barbarous acts they are, that we’ll be seeing very few mass killings of people then as well, and that those two changes will be at least somewhat connected. This is why I include comments about animal killing when I write about hate and mass shootings of humans. Killing and causing suffering is too widely accepted in our culture, even though most of us don’t participate. It’s in the air too much. So I’m suggesting a holistic approach to stopping violence by stopping all violence of all kinds, so we get out of the habit of seeing and accepting it.

(Note: For a more detailed piece on some of these ideas, go to this blog’s first-ever post, written after the Parkland massacre.)

Upcoming Online Summits on 5G Wireless, & Reminder to Please Hurry to Sign Petition Against 5G

There are three new online summits on 5G Wireless beginning very soon that can further inform you and help you protect yourself and your family. from what are likely serious health effects caused by this untested technology. Again 5G is NOT necessary and we’re being bullied into having it surround us, even though there’s a great deal of evidence that the EMF radiation we’re already soaking in is harming our health.

I hope to continue to get petition signers from everywhere to sign my petition against 5G, again modeled on one from Helsinki, but am now also making a special call to residents of my state of Massachusetts, because I know for certain 5G Wireless is getting underway here right now. However I think you can still use my petition to show your own state and local governments how many people are disturbed by this roll-out with no warning and no way out (except protests like this). Here’s that petition link:

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/813/839/624/stop-5g-and-smart-meters/?taf_id=62109181&cid=twitter#bbfb=791069356

Upcoming Summits

Further down is a little of my husband’s and my experience in attempting to decrease current types of EMF radiation so far, but first, here are the summits if you want to do some more reading on 5G Wireless.

Here’s the link to one summit, presented by HealthMeans:

https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#search/5G/WhctKJVRPLjGxwrCBrwfXvKbWwXlNpMGVxSQvgpwPRrPHXnQQPgkxlqlPHkZJSLqCVZfGvq?compose=DXDwSWxDjFhLFHgwQHKcVCnnJWszRlqztKTJsRbFSrBCNGDbLgcPHnmjlFcRpsztBZmzLmjxckBqJBgWZbbMCQMTXcMWnLWfHLsvFwWpwVLLQRHRZMhwvMZL

A second summit is being presented by Dr. Jay Davidson:

https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#search/5G/WhctKJVRQLqxXxjGnbKTRxNXZVcnSDFWTGNrtvBGTkPlxFssCqMxJLTbfqqQWMhWfsthMVQ?compose=DXDwSWxDjFhLFHgwQHKcVCnnJWszRlqztKTJsRbFSrBCNGDbLgcPHnmjlFcRpsztBZmzLmjxckBqJBgWZbbMCQMTXcMWnLWfHLsvFwWpwVLLQRHRZMhwvMZL

A third summit begins July 17th, hosted by “EMF Guy” Nick Pineault

https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#search/Nick/WhctKJVRQLqzXrFWbwvzPpmsrnnntrcMPZWCnzWftxLJVTBlwSgpMGkNttzprKwmfrBpGwV?compose=DXDwSWxDjFhLFHgwQHKcVCnnJWszRlqztKTJsRbFSrBCNGDbLgcPHnmjlFcRpsztBZmzLmjxckBqJBgWZbbMCQMTXcMWnLWfHLsvFwWpwVLLQRHRZMhwvMZL

Our Experience So Far

At home we’ve started to measure EMF radiation in different rooms. If you want to do this I recommend you get one of those devices you can measure it with, and hold it near anything plugged in, and in places where you sit often, or sleep. We bought one that’s a little more expensive than the cheapest one offered by Nick Pineault. His site is https://theemfguy.com/ and he’s one of the summit hosts.

We looked around and ended up buying the TriField EMF Meter Model TF2. It measures all three types of electromagnetic pollution (EMF)–electric, magnetic, and radio frequency. It cost us $168 on Amazon. They have cheaper ones but this one got a good review that said it’s pretty accurate and covers more kinds of EMF than many do. We even found something free on the phone but it only measures wifi. (We have no connection with Trifield.)

We took some measurements in our bedroom at home and the increases in radiation in some locations were so high we unplugged many things, and no longer charge things near the bed. Sometimes unplugging makes no difference so you have to hunt around a little, and sometimes you just don’t know where the increase is coming from. (That’s why I suggest looking at links I’ve given you and at some of the summits. We’ll be doing that too.) We also moved the head of our bed about 18 inches from the wall because up next to the wall the numbers went so much higher. This may be because a meter outside the house isn’t far from the bed, or because we’re getting radiation from the house next door which isn’t too far away from where we sleep.

When we measured our electric cords we were measuring on the electric setting of the Trifield meter, and when we measured wifi and phones we used the radio frequency setting. For behind the headboard of the bed we used the electric setting. We tried measuring there with the other settings but they showed no increase. So you might have to try all three to make sure something’s okay.

We even found many lamps made the meter jump up high. We thought it was the bulbs but changing them to different types only made a little difference. LEDs did seem to make somewhat less EMF than compact fluorescents. so we changed most bulbs to LED. We found that staying 6 inches away from the lamps even with the LEDs lowered the radiation a little more. But check each lamp, your fans, etc. since sometimes there are surprises.

Aluminum foil is said to decrease the radiation, and my husband held some between the wall and the headboard and it did decrease it. (He also tried some thin sheets of steel and they made no difference.) So we’re going to try (till we learn of something better, if there is anything) wrapping poster board with foil and put the foil side against the wall, then move the bed back where it was. The headboard hopefully will hide the poster board but if we have to have the foil further up the wall to get the radiation lower, I guess we’ll have to paint or somehow decorate the wall to make it look okay. There may be other things we can do with the bed and with other areas, but we’re still studying the var sites and sources I’ve listed for you here,on several of my 5G posts, and on the petition site.

The Stealthy Roll-Out of 5G

Why aren’t you hearing much about 5G Wireless? Because those forcing it on us know many of us want no part of it, so they’ve quietly arranged to quietly set it up. And as I’ve mentioned, your health worries or even illnesses you or your children already have will not help you stop them. They’ve made a law saying in effect no health excuses allowed. As I’ve mentioned, Trump wants it right away to compete with China which also wants it right away. They don’t care about its likely damage to health, that it’s untested, and makes everything much more easily hackable. Whatever you’re worried about, up at the top, where this is coming from, they don’t care. (Were you ever asked how you felt about 5G? We certainly were not.)

Personally I’ve had enough of this. Hence my petition. Please do go there and sign it, and may I make a plea again especially for residents of Massachusetts to sign now? Also wherever you are, do feel free to use my petition as a template to set one up in your state or city. Again here’s the petition link: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/813/839/624/stop-5g-and-smart-meters/?taf_id=62109181&cid=twitter#bbfb=791069356

Greed & Power vs. Wellbeing

Please stay safe, watch what your state and town are doing, and protest when needed. The best way to decrease stress in the American City or anywhere (a major goal of mine) is to get government and business to understand that highest profits often contribute to decreased wellbeing. We need to convince them that just-high-enough profits (and good enough technology, and reining in some leaders’ bottomless egos requiring more and more personal power and fame) can help promote or at least maintain wellbeing.

Wellbeing includes both mental and physical health, and ours is declining as we’re bullied into lifestyles controlled by ever-wealthier high tech moguls and their buddies in high places. In fact doing whatever causes less stress, fear, depression, and illness saves tons of money in healthcare, crime, etc., so the rich and powerful can still do very well without destroying wellbeing for everyone else. Because they seem unable or unwilling to step back and acknowledge that, we’re on our own, and we need to make a big stink about 5G Wireless. Now is the time.

Trump, the Border, Trauma & Depression, & Immediate Steps to Take (if we want to be considered a moral country)

As my readers know, one of my main concerns in helping us fight the stresses of living in the American city is the lack of attention paid to mental health, especially to two of its most distressing problems: anxiety and depression.


Trauma at the Border

I’ve been thinking about it again this 4th of July as I continue to learn more about the misery at the border. I’ve been worrying not only about the obvious physical effects from the unhealthy conditions, but also about the PTSD that will likely affect every man, woman, and child going through this horrible experience, leaving them to face  months or years of lingering anxiety and depression.

Trauma Throughout the US

As you may know, chronic stress of any kind often leads to anxiety and depression, but being traumatized for long periods almost guarantees this outcome. Tragically, prolonged anxiety and depression  often contribute to continued and new physical illnesses,  creating a painful and expensive  cycle for victims and those caring for them. 

Many kinds of stress and  emotional abuse can lead to such prolonged mental suffering, and research shows in fact that depression is increasing throughout our country. This isn’t surprising given the current environment. While those at the border suffer both physically and mentally, many others of us watch with fear and horror  King Trump’s destructive march through what’s left of many of our country’s goals and ideals. We see the end of being a respected leader on the world stage in peace, justice, and protecting the planet, and that we are no longer anywhere near the kind and generous example we used to be, or some of us thought we were, of welcoming the weary masses who yearn to be free. Even many non-Americans have begun to feel more stress as things deteriorate further with a Tweet or a dubious Executive Order. 

No matter how  Trump and his yes-people twist the words or the history, this  generalized misery as well as that at the border was and is largely caused by  their own self-interested actions. Before writing more about this I wanted to check my hunch that since the beginning of this Presidency Americans’ depression and anxiety has increased even more than what I’d already observed by just talking to people in the first few months. I  searched online only for a few seconds, and no less than nine articles appeared  on Trump’s negative effects on mental health.


Pushing Trauma to Extremes at the Border

I’ll get to those in a moment .  Meanwhile it must be said there could be no better recipe for wrecking mental and physical health than the hell on earth going on at the border. Aside from the physical misery, those of us who have suffered from depression know that the new and acute depression that will result for many is itself its own hell on earth. This past weekend as we celebrated our freedoms including the right to pursuit of happiness, our desperate fellow-humans, already stressed beyond what most of us can imagine experiencing, continued to suffer. Continuing for them–for who knows how long–are the brutal effects of family separation, their loneliness for home, fears for the rest of their families and friends back home and fear of an unknown future, finding themselves living in cages and other jail-like  containers, seeing their children ill with diseases that aren’t being treated, feeling looked down on or even hated by many people they now depend on for survival, being surrounded by filth they never would have lived with at home, and being emotionally and/or sexually or otherwise abused. Now many already living here are hiding, trembling in fear of being taken from their families. This past week we saw one child on the news terrified that she’ll never see her mother again. Throw in constant doses of helplessness and hopelessness, and  a US president lying to the world about how great things are for them, and you have a perfect storm for  creating severe mental illness that can last for years.

I can’t imagine the founding fathers envisioned us causing such anguish in people begging for asylum. Few people can bear such multiple prolonged abuses without psychic damage. Depression by itself, without all the other problems, is torture enough.  Psychiatric drugs take weeks to work, often don’t help at all, and many have awful side effects.  Physical illness only makes depression worse, and depression makes physical illness worse. Add to these challenges increasing evidence that our culture is becoming more and more stressed,  including increases in blatant hatred and hateful behavior, and you can see it will be more and more difficult no matter who we are or where we came from to recover from depression in our country, without some major changes at the border and in our way of life in general. 

Ways to Start Now to Restore Calm & Hope to Americans Horrified by Trump

I’ve made some suggestions at the end of this article as to how to begin to undo some of the mental damage at the border, so that just maybe we can protect thousands from a future of horrific mental illness. But we also must do more on a general level throughout our country to reduce the stresses that many researchers believe are out of control. We need to help each other, and our leaders must also help. If they don’t help we need to elect different leaders. Some of our leaders’ failures to call out hatred and its related crimes are reprehensible, but it’s not too late for them to make amends. Among other things we need them to work with us to change this culture of prejudice and hate, and to change as well the money-and-success-over-all state of mind now so central to our society, and that many of us feel forced into by the resulting rush-rush never-rest American lifestyle. Hate itself is just more salt on the stress wounds, and because much of it has been taught to the haters, I can only recommend they un-teach themselves as soon as possible. If they stop and think for awhile about it–and this does require actual stopping–they may begin to see that the non-hating path provides a much happier, healthier way for all of us to live. 

We need specific help from business and government leaders in altering those other stressful lifestyle practices, since all the stress and worry that panicked living causes not only makes more of us sicker but also can make prejudice and violence more likely. If your life is filled with stress and you’re angry or upset most days, maybe it feels easy to blame the person of another color or religion who works in your building or lives on your block. Because we can’t change this all on our own, and we need leaders and those in power to help by prioritizing finding ways to help more of us reduce stress. This could include public service announcements encouraging people to be kind, laws to reduce noise and make slower speed limits, rethinking how businesses are run and employees are treated, making more green space (which makes us calmer and healthier), and encouraging more sense of community that can help prevent the unhealthy isolation that’s increasing in our society. This step alone can help reduce hatred and prejudice because we’d get to know each other better.

Wellbeing improvements such as these are not impossible, as many seem to think. It’s just that the idea of helping us change a few things that chronically stress us just isn’t near the top of business and government priority lists.But as other healthier societies have demonstrated, this is a mistake.

These stresses and more (such as the unhealthy SAD American diet and too many guns) have for now made our country  a hard one to get well in or stay well in, especially if you’re already traumatized, anxiety-ridden, or depressed. A stunningly self-involved and ignorant administration at the top doesn’t help. When it heaps more abuse on new refugees and continues to upset the rest of us with ignoring these known stressors, it only makes all of our stress worse. All stress-caused illness costs a great deal to treat, as do the addiction and even crimes it sometimes leads to, which I mention since so many of our business and government leaders are always thinking about profit.

A Few Quotes on Mental Health in the Age of Trump

My plan to help prevent more trauma immediately at the border is below, but first here are a few quotes from articles I found, to give you an idea of how the country’s mood is already being affected by the current leadership:

“While Trump supporters may have experienced a boost in  ’ psychological well-being, pride, and hope for the future,” in the words of the New England Journal of Medicine researchers, his presidency has been a pit of despair for others. ’ ”

(from Pacific Standard, PSMAG.com,  article by Jared Keller, Jan.15, 2019)

Referring to a phenomenon called “Trump Anxiety Disorder,” author Matt Kwong  writes that therapist Elisabeth LaMott’s patients ask questions such as “Is he gonna blow us all up?” and many others tell her they suffer from fear of how dire Trump’s decisions may be for the world. She told  Kwong, “There is a fear of the world ending. It’s very disorienting and constantly unsettling.”

(from CBC News, CBC.CA, Matt Kwong, July 18, 2018, “In a divided U.S., therapists treating anxiety are hearing the same name over and over: Donald Trum p,”)

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Trump is making us  both crazy and ill, listing the many stress-caused symptoms people are feeling including his own increasing blood pressure since Trump became President. He references a paper by New York Analyst Matt Aibel that was to appear in the journal “Psychoanalytic Perspectives ,”  in which the analyst wrote that many mental health professionals are often using terms such as ”Trump Anxiety” and “Trump Affective Disorder.”

(Dana Milbank, Washington Post, Sept. 22nd, 2017, “President Trump is Actually Making us Crazy”)

In the blog Anxious Minds, Dr. David J. Leonard writes effectively and movingly of the PTSD and general anxiety, fear, and anguish being caused by Trump . The post’s title says it all: “A Culture of Depression; the Toxicity of Trump.”  I recommend it, and it’s at his blog AnxiousMinds.org.

My Plan to Help at the Border

Whatever your views are on  our President or our current society, you likely are among the many in this country who don’t want to see continued suffering at the border, so I hope you agree with my prescription below,  or something close to it:  

Trump must arrange to pay for  the 3 to 5 years of mental health aid the border families or some members of them may likely need ,and at least two years of housing,  two years of healthy groceries  (fresh organic fruits and vegetables, so they can recover from the damage caused by the chemical-filled nutrition-less processed foods fed to them at the border), a two-year stipend for other necessities, and  jobs, plus job training if needed, so adults can work once they’re stabilized. Jobs assigned must not be ones that cause  new or worse mental  or physical health issues. All families must be reunited, all illnesses immediately treated, and all medical care paid for by the US. Endangered families and individuals must not be sent back home. US money and aid should be sent to each country from which suffering people are fleeing so that those places become healthy and safe  to live in without terror.  Finally, it would look really good and be even more healing if some of this money came directly out of Trump’s pocket.

When should this process begin? Today. The alternative, for  those who let the suffering continue,  is to be remembered  by a great many people as bullies, cowards, and pathetic leaders who did nothing .  There may be worse alternatives in store as well, such as going to jail, even if action is taken now, because so much damage has already been done.

Miserable, traumatized and frightened people can’t be very good citizens even if they try hard. We need to help them get on their feet. Jobs need to be done here, and these people  need jobs. The whole country needs a mental health boost which it could be given right now if the government acted humanely and did so immediately.  This right and good action might  do a little to begin to redeem the current leadership’s reputation and to help heal the despair of so many Americans that’s been caused by Trump. I personally would love to see this administration redeem itself in these ways and in many other ways, because besides feeling chronically stressed like so many other people are due to the behavior of this President and his colleagues, I’m stunned and embarrassed daily by their cowardice and cruelty.

Trump, the Border, & Depression on the 4th of July

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As my readers know, one of my main concerns in helping us fight the stresses of living in the American city is the lack of attention paid to mental health, especially to two of its most distressing problems: anxiety and depression.

I’ve been thinking about it again this 4th of July as I continue to learn more about the misery at the border. I’ve been worrying not only about the obvious physical effects from the unhealthy conditions, but also about the PTSD that will likely affect every man, woman, and child going through this​ ​horrible experience, leaving them to face ​months or ​years of lingering anxiety and depression. As you may know, chronic stress of any kind often leads to anxiety and depression, but being traumatized for long periods almost guarantees this outcome. Tragically, prolonged anxiety and depression ​often contribute to continued and new physical illnesses, ​creating a painful​ and expensive ​cycle for victims and those caring for them. 

Many kinds of stress and ​emotional ​abuse can lead to such prolonged mental suffering, and research shows in fact that depression is increasing throughout our country. This isn’t surprising given the current environment. While those at the border suffer both physically and mentally, many others of us watch with fear and horror ​King Trump’s destructive march through what’s left of many of our country’s goals and ideals. We see the end of being a respected leader on the world stage in peace, justice, and protecting the planet, and that we are no longer anywhere near the kind and generous example we used to be, or some of us thought we were, of welcoming the weary masses who yearn to be free. Even many non-Americans have begun to feel more stress as things deteriorate further with a Tweet or a dubious Executive Order. 

No matter how ​Trump and his yes-people twist the words or the history, this ​generalized ​misery as well as that at the border was and is largely caused by ​their own self-interested actions. Before writing more about this I wanted to check my hunch that since​ the beginning of this Presidency Americans’ depression and anxiety has increased even more than what I’d already observed by just talking to people in the first few months. I ​searched online only for a few seconds, and no less than nine articles​ appeared​ on Trump’s negative effects on mental health.

I’ll get to those in a moment​.​ Meanwhile it must be said the​re could be no better recipe for wrecking mental and physical health than the​ ​hell on earth going on at the border. Aside from the physical misery, those of us who have suffered from depression know that the new and acute depression that will result for many is itself its own hell on earth. ​This past weekend as we celebrated our freedoms ​including the right to pursuit of happiness, our desperate fellow-humans, already stressed beyond what most of us can imagine experiencing, continued to suffer. Continuing for them, for who knows how long–are the brutal effects of family separation, their loneliness for home, fears for the rest of their families and friends back home and fear of an unknown future, finding themselves living in cages and other jail-like ​containers, seeing their children ill with diseases that aren’t being treated, feeling looked down on or even hated by many people they now depend on for survival, being surrounded by filth they never would have lived with at home, and being emotionally and/or sexually or otherwise abused. Throw in constant doses of helplessness and hopelessness, and ​a US president lying to the world about how great things are for them, ​and you have a perfect storm for ​creating severe mental illness that can last for years.

​I can’t imagine the founding fathers envisioned us causing such anguish i​n people begging for asylum. Few people can bear such multiple prolonged abuses without psychic damage. Depression by itself, without all the other problems, is torture enough. ​Psychiatric drugs ​​take weeks to work, often don’t help at all, and many have awful side effects. ​Physical illness only makes depression worse, and depression makes physical illness worse. Add to these challenges increasing evidence that our culture is becoming more and more stressed, ​including increases in blatant hatred and hateful behavior, and you can see it will be more and more difficult, no matter who we are or where we came from, to recover from depression in our country​, without some major changes at the border and in our way of life in general. 

​So we must help each other, our leaders must ​also ​help, a​nd if they don’t help we must elect different leaders. Some of our leaders’ failures to call out hatred and its related crimes  are reprehensible, but it’s not too late for them to begin to make amends. Among other things we need them to work with us to change this culture of prejudice and hate, and to change as well the money-and-success-over-all state of mind that seems so central to our society and that most of us feel somewhat forced into by the resulting rush-rush never-rest American lifestyle. As for the hate, it’s salt on the stressed-out lifestyle wounds, and because much of it has been taught to the haters I can only recommend they un-teach themselves if they’ve been so taught. If they stop and think for awhile about it, they hopefully will see it’s a much happier, healthier way for all of us to live. 

We also need specific help from business leaders in altering those other stressful lifestyle practices, since all the stress and worry they contribute to not only make more of us sicker but also can make prejudice and violence more likely. If your life is filled with stress and you’re angry or upset a lot, maybe it feels easy to blame the person of another color or religion who works in your building or lives on your block. So business and government need to prioritize making everyone’s life less stressful. This is not impossible, as they seem to think. The idea of helping us by changing a few things that chronically stress us just isn’t at the top of their lists. For example they can help reduce noise and pollution in our lives, help us have more nature in our cities, and help us calm down about climate change by doing something about it and not lying and denying what science has proven. They can help us have more sense of community by encouraging the presence of friendly community meeting places, parks, and coffee shops. If we’re less isolated, meeting each other more than we do now, and making friends in our own communities, we’ll all be healthier both mentally and physically. Don’t leave it at the bottom of your lists, government and business. Do something.

These stresses and more (such as bad diet and too many guns) that they can help us decrease, have for now made our countr​y​ a hard one to get well in or stay well in, especially ​​if you’re traumatized, anxiety-ridden, and already chronically stressed or​depressed. A stunningly self-involved and ignorant administration doesn’t help. When it heaps more abuse on new refugees and continues to upset the rest of us with ignoring these known stressors, it only makes ​all of our stress worse. All stress-caused illness costs a great deal to treat, as do the addiction and even crimes it sometimes leads to, which I mention since so many of our business and government leaders are always thinking about profit.

​​To give you an idea of how the country’s mood is already being affected by the current leadership,  here are a f​ew quotes:

“While Trump supporters may have experienced a boost in ​’​psychological well-being, pride, and hope for the future,” in the words of the New England Journal of Medicine researchers, his presidency has been a pit of despair for others.​’ ​”

(from Pacific Standard, PSMAG.com,  article by Jared Keller, Jan.15, 2019)

Referring to a phenomenon called “Trump Anxiety Disorder,” author Matt Kwong ​writes that therapist Elisabeth LaMott’s patients ask questions such as “Is he gonna blow us all up?” and many others tell her they suffer from fear of how dire Trump’s decisions may be for the world. She told ​Kwong, “There is a fear of the world ending. It’s very disorienting and constantly unsettling.”

(from CBC News, CBC.CA, Matt Kwong, July 18, 2018, “In a divided U.S., therapists treating anxiety are hearing the same name over and over: Donald Trum​p,”)

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Trump is making us ​both crazy and ​ill​, listing the many stress-caused symptoms people are feeling including his own increasing blood pressure ​since Trump b​ecame President. ​​He references a paper by New York Analyst Matt Aibel that was to appear in the journal “Psychoanalytic Perspectives​,” ​in which the analyst wrote ​that many mental health professionals are often using terms such as​ ​”Trump Anxiety” and “Trump Affective Disorder.”

(Dana Milbank, Washington Post, Sept. 22nd, 2017, “President Trump is Actually Making us Crazy”)

​In the blog Anxious Minds, ​Dr. David J. Leonard writes effectively and movingly of the PTSD and general anxiety, fear, and anguish being caused by Trump​. The post’s title says it all: “A Culture of Depression; the Toxicity of Trump.”  I recommend it, and it’s at his blog AnxiousMinds.org.

My Plan to Help at the Border:​​

Whatever your views are on ​our President or on our current society, you likely are among the many in this country who don’t want to see continued suffering at the border​, s​o I hope you agree with my prescription​ below,​ or something close to it:  

Trump must arrange to pay for ​the 3 to 5 years of mental health aid the border families or some members of them may likely need​,and at least two years of housing, ​two years of ​healthy groceries ​(fresh organic fruits and vegetables, so they can recover from the damage caused by the chemical-filled nutrition-less processed foods fed to them at the border), a two-year stipend for other necessities, and ​jobs, plus job training if needed, so adults can work once they’re stabilized. Jobs assigned must not be ones that cause ​new or ​worse mental ​or physical ​health issues​. All families must be reunited, all illnesses immediately treated, and all medical care paid for by the US. Endangered families and individuals must not be sent back home. US money and aid should be sent to each country from which suffering people are fleeing so that those places become healthy and safe ​to live in without terror. ​Finally, it would look really good and be even more healing if some of this money came directly out of Trump’s pocket. ​

When should this process begin? Today. The alternative, for ​those who let the suffering continue,  is to be remembered ​by a great many people as bullies, cowards, and pathetic leaders​ who did nothing​. ​There may be worse alternatives in store as well, such as going to jail, even if action is taken now, because so much damage has already been done. ​

Miserable, traumatized and frightened people can’t be very good citizens even if they try hard. We need to help them get on their feet. Jobs need to be done here, and these people ​​need jobs. The whole country needs a mental health boost which it could be given right now if the government act​ed​​​ humanely and did so immediately. ​This right and good action might ​do a little to ​begin to redeem the current leadership’s reputation and to help heal the despair of so many Americans that’s been caused by Trump. I personally would love to see this administration redeem itself in these ways and in many other ways, because besides ​feeling newly stressed most days like so many other people are, due to the behavior of this President and those who go along with him, I’m also perpetually stunned and embarrassed by their cowardice and cruelty.