It’s November of 2016 and you just watched a racist, misogynist, anti-LGBTQ+, habitually lying fraudulent salesman win the most powerful position in the world by the technicality of the electoral college. You, a minority resident of the US, are in shock; lost in a wave of hundreds of emotions too numerous and fast moving to list. How could this have happened? I mean, of course things were never perfect or even great for you in this country… but was this really the United States you’d at least felt at home in until today?
His supporters start to gloat, emboldened by their narrow victory. They spout bigoted slurs at you and mock your fear and upset. Several of them send you death threats, and the same thing is happening to nearly every minority friend you have. The world outside went from a livable home to a burning hellscape in which no one is safe, almost overnight.
Around this time, you start to realize that you still exist, and that you have the right to continue existing. That fear and anxiety starts turning into a more productive emotion: anger. You start looking for ways to join the resistance. Anything you can do; by spreading the voice of the resistance as far and wide as you can, by attending protests, by making signs or just consoling those in need so they can get back up and continue to make their voices heard.
January seems to come too soon, and you watch this abomination travel in a bullet proof limo amidst thousands of angry protestors to his inauguration to be sworn in as president of the United States. The very thought of it makes you sick to your stomach.
The weeks that follow only make things worse. Every day carries with it a new and terrible example of the oppression and hatred of the new administration. Every day, something new happens that adds high octane fuel to an already roaring fire. Every day, you reach levels of upset you previously thought impossible. It quickly becomes exhausting.
You continue to do what you can to resist, and every day, finding the motivation to continue that fight gets a little harder. You read an article about Outrage Fatigue and realize you’ve been pushing yourself a bit too hard, so you cut back a bit so you don’t normalize all of this automatically in emotional self defense.
February comes along swiftly. The corrupt administration’s supporters are now going out of their way to find you online. It seems like any time you post something positive about minorities on your social media account, you find bigoted slurs and hatred in your notifications. You block each of them as they come along, but more and more seem to find you regardless.
All of this is wearing you thin. You struggle with work, and at the end of the day, all you want to do is rest and relax– find some solace from all of this, but all of your favorite places to relax are crawling with more of the same. Nowhere is safe. Nothing is sacred. You find yourself watching, unable to look away as families and friends tear each other apart over differing ideology.
By March, you find yourself less and less eager to spend time with your friends; that usually results in constant reminders of the hell you’ve been forced into. You find you have less and less energy after work.
You look back at all this, and realize a few things that should have been more obvious.
It’s been a week since you actually initiated a conversation with friends you used to talk to every day. You haven’t had interest in doing things you used to love; when you force yourself to do them, you’re just going through the motions; the enjoyment never comes. It’s as though you’ve become numb to all but the constant anxiety of never knowing what new horror awaits you tomorrow.
And it’s only April.
You finally understand what is meant by the term “Outrage Fatigue.”