Last night, I was finally able to make some calls to senators/representatives, Department of Justice, poll lines, etc.; not as much as I want to do, unfortunately nothing yet touching the Standing Rock situation, but significantly more than nothing. What made this possible for me is fourfold.
One: If you're comfortable with VoIP but not phone calls, and/or don't have or use a phone, and/or only have access to a landline and are worried about charges: it's possible to make all phone calls from a computer (I used Google Hangouts), and within the United States those calls are free. Staying within the comfort zone of my computer screen and headset made it easier to step out of my comfort zone and, you know, make calls; it also meant easy access to my notes.
Two: Talking to a live person is probably the most effective thing you can do, but leaving a voice message is more effective than emails/website comments and significantly
more effective than doing nothing at all. Out of business hours and national holidays are good times to make sure you get a machine, not a person. (For example: this week)
Three: There are scripts for most/all calls to action. "We're His Problem Now" Calling Sheet
has scripts for everything it advocates; I also found some just by googling "[political issue] script." Using those as a starting point makes the process significantly more accessible.
Four: One of the "how to make phone calls with social anxiety" posts
floating around explicitly says it's okay not to be able to make calls, and that validation and forgiveness, in a hilarious turn of events, eased my anxiety enough that I was able to make calls. So I'll restate it here: what is phone anxiety for some people maybe literally disabling for other people. If your disability is making certain things impossible, hopefully there are other things you will be able to dobut, regardless, you are forgiven. Look after yourself.
I'm sincerely grateful for the people on social media who are proliferating calls to action, providing their own scripts, and working at the interpersonal level to help people manage their anxiety, because those things are making this accessible to me. And please, if you can speak out, do speak out, because there are people who cannot safely speak who still need advocates and protection.
- - -
(I'm feeling a little better having actually done something
, but not better enough that I've left the house or will be traveling for Thanksgiving; hopefully I can see my family that weekend or the weekend after, since there are tentative plans for them to visit me. The frantic anxiety has mostly passed, to everyone's sadnessthe compulsive cleaning was productive!and left me with the predictable depression. With a particularly weird symptom this time, alongside the usual sleep upfuckery & nothing tastes like food: a weird musty smell that followed me from room to room, regardless of how much bathing and laundry I did, regardless even of if the central air was running, probably because I was creating it with my mind
; the actual smell of sadness? if so, sadness is a mundane, vaguely unpleasant, inescapable scent.
I feel, like most people probably, like every time I'm getting better something in the world gets worse. The most haunting for me, personally, is that I've lived until now in a steel fortress of Godwin's LawI hate reject ignore almost all mentions of and comparisons to and narratives about Nazis, because near all of them do harm, they obfuscate or idealize, essentially benefiting
from the Holocaust without productively discussing it; but right now, comparisons are not hyperbole, they are literal and they are being made by my people. That we live in a world where we make video game villains Nazis as an earmark of "bad person, murder without compunction" but call Neo-Nazis the alt-right
, give them the benefit of political correctness, normalize and idealize them, and refuse to see them as Nazis and therefore as bad people
is ... I don't know what to do with that. It requires a readjustment of how I process information. It creates such an amount of fear and anger.
Living in Oregon is a strange thing: to look up all my reps and see that they've already spoken against Bannon is heart-mending in an essential way, but also means that my contacting them on this issue isn't particularly valuable, which is what living in Oregon always feels like: this is a pocket of relative, bare-minimum safety with no political power to extend that safety or, right now, to preserve it. I did a thing! I'm trying, I'm helping, and doing that does make me feel better & more able to do more to help. But it is also so hard, and requires me exceeding my personal limitations, and for what? My reach is so limited, for so many reasons.
My sister's cancer diagnosis two years ago was a reminder that it is less that I am better, despite my wealth of experience and coping mechanisms, and more that I have removed all possible stresses from my life; and that when stresses are irremovable, I am not better, I am very bad indeed. The day after the election I wrote, "dealing with anything while mentally ill is hard, and this is dealing with something, a big something, and I am at a loss." That compounds, every day.)