We're losing sleep.
Studies routinely depict a population that struggles with sleep, and the term sleep hygiene has been coined to describe how we are failing ourselves by not taking this seriously. We're interfering with the restorative properties of sleep.
When our head hits the pillow, recurring thoughts pepper our subconscious and interfere with restful sleep. What thoughts? Well, those ones that have been building in the past few months and seem to have lodged permanently within the neurons and synapses on or about Nov. 8, 2016, which we can refer to as the day the Earth stood still, or simply as the day all hell broke loose, or the end of the innocence.
That date marked our denial, the first logical step in a journey that now takes us through the five stages of grieving — and many sleepless nights. As we took those first steps toward denial, we were almost giddy with disbelief in the wake of that Tuesday that changed our lives. We were drawn to the spectacle of a narcissist: that nasty man with little regard for anyone or anything beyond his own hubris. He was laughable, and yet here he was at the helm of the most powerful nation on Earth.
Denial has caused us some restless nights. We'd awaken only to remember what he'd said, what he'd promised to do, who he'd target, and it gave us chills. It seemed so surreal, improbable, and wrong. At times, we still laughed nervously because we thought he would surely get his wings clipped by a governmental collective that must answer for a nation. Alas, the common refrain: This is not fair. This is not right. And then we were witnesses to his vindictiveness. And the restless nights were peppered with nightmares, cold sweats, and fear.
The next stage came: Anger. And what a show. We rallied, we espoused our reason, and we readied ourselves to stand for what is right, and true, and good, and fair. We galvanized the world. Globally, we stood millions deep and resolved to fight for all those who need it, for those who deserve it, and yes, frankly, for ourselves.
We are still in that anger stage, but it is now a wise and measured anger that will not abate and will not be pushed aside. For this, we should be commended.
The next stage is bargaining. We are not there yet, but there is a whiff of change in the air. There is talk of grounds for impeachment and we wonder how this would reveal itself and what steps could be taken. We Google words such as autocrat, dictator, sociopath — and yes, kleptocracy — because it is our nature to arm ourselves with information when dealing with a crisis that we can't quite wrap our heads around. Many of our sentences begin with: "If only..." — the classic refrain from the desperate. We wonder if the media played into his hands, and we realize it did. He was a train wreck personified and we enjoyed the spectacle. It was funny until it morphed from theatre into the new reality.
When we hit the bargaining stage fully, the nights will be long as we toss in our beds. It is the helplessness that disturbs us. And that leads to depression, a stage that resembles anger, but is much deeper. With depression, we doubt ourselves. This will be our darkest time as we wait for Congress to confront him. The depression stage lasts for years.
The final stage is acceptance. We still have anger and depression, but we are able to look forward because we continue to seek strength in numbers, we gain momentum from the power of protest and we try to thrive despite this new world. We sleep, somewhat, because we've learned we must manage it somehow because four years is a long time to suffer acute insomnia. We know the final stage could give us closure and perhaps make this easier on us and perhaps we could get a good night's sleep.
But acceptance? Not on your life.