Election anxiety is in full swing as the coundown to November 4th begins, and some readers are suffering from full-blown obsession:
I am glued to cable news channels, casual conversations with friends always touch on the election topic as we share our excitement about the possible outcome if Obama wins. I feel not only hopeful but assured that our country can change. - Mo Ellis, Fairfield, Iowa.
My name is Susan, and I am a poll-aholic. I mainline polls morning, noon and night. I channel-surf to find and follow them on TV. I clip them out of newspapers. I click onto them online. I'm a whack job when Obama's numbers go down. I get high when Obama surges ahead. I feel so much better when he is scoring higher with young, African-American and older voters. I wish I lived next door to Chuck Todd, the numbers guy at MSNBC. If I lived next door to Chuckie T, I would volunteer to be his sidekick and I would never go home again. - Susan Lapinski, New York, New York.
Totally stressed out about the election and have been for months and months...like 22...ever since the primaries began. I'm doing what I always do - what Midwesterners tend to do - stoic to the end - working harder and getting less sleep. In fact, I'm not sure I have been sleeping. I haven't slept in my bed in weeks. I sleep on the sofa in my office where I can take catnaps, wake up in the middle of the night and turn on the DVR and scan thru all the political shows, late night talk shows, etc. to see what's happening or happened a few hours ago...then check the computer for fast-breaking news. - Bev Davis, Hurley, New York.
I've thrown my early morning chanting/exercise routine out the window to write a daily countdown called "Reasons to Elect Barack Obama." I began on day 50 with "Reason Number 50..." and just published Number 7 today. These are circulated via email, and I also put them up on MySpace as mini-blogs, status messages and bulletins. It's been a minor hit. Still, I'll be glad to get back to my usual morning routine. - Vittoria Conn, Larchmont, New York.
Let's face it, I'm obsessed. I've had to take drastic measures to scale back the amount of time I'm following the race and well, my facebook page is full of links to election stories, jokes, videos, etc. - Melissa Clymer, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Even as a Canadian, I don't stop thinking about the election from the moment I get up till the moment I actually fall asleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning. I finally decided, one week prior to the election, to watch a lot of comedy. Yet I find myself hitting the remote every two seconds to check on CNN and MSNBC. I'm so glad I don't have FOX News or I'd throw the remote through the TV. I'm turning off the talking heads because their hot air is actually steaming up my eyeglasses. Today I've made up my mind to finally do some grocery shopping and head out to see a movie. However, this is still an untested coping mechanism because, as is evidenced by this email, I'm still sitting here dishevelled and unshowered in my housecoat and slippers writing to you guys south of the border. - Hindy Abelson, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
That said, their obsession has had one positive effect -- it's brought out the inner activist in many!
It is the first time my wife and I (we are both in our 60s) have gotten involved in a political campaign. When we got our so-called economic stimulus check, we put the same amount in a check for Obama. My wife was so torqued at Palin encouraging racial hatred at her rallies that my wife volunteered to do phone calls from our local Obama HQ and has been doing so every day for a few weeks now and will continue until the election. - gwpriester, Placitas, New Mexico.
My family and I have been very politically active this year, hosting many house parties (for GOTV in the primaries, convention watch party, etc), and attending rallies and other events. I've marched in 3 parades, and I've helped distribute yard signs. I've taken part in the local college Democrats "Storm the Dorm" GOTV effort, and my family and I attended watch parties for each debate. As a result, we've made many new friends and acquaintances! - Karl Keene, Moorhead, Minnesota.
I have become much more politically involved and I never thought of myself as a political person except to cast my vote in every election. I've donated for the first time. I've talked to people, perfect strangers, bus stop moms and coffee shop regulars. I've read blogs and internet articles and browsed the circulars. I've read two of a candidates books and have been a news-addict of sorts. I've volunteered at the local office running voter registrations to the county commission. I've prepared meals for the regular office staff and volunteers, I've coordinated meals for them. It seems as if I eat, sleep, breathe, and drink a vanilla latte all for the Obama campaign. The election has given me hope to tell my children that we stand on the brink of real possibility. I am excited. - Taye' Foster Bradshaw, Kirkwood, Missouri.
This is the first election I have ever donated money. I started with Hillary, and slowly came around to Obama after the spiteful speeches at the Republican Convention turned me off to the message they were talking about, and what they were actually saying. Since then, my opinion of Sarah Palin has dropped even further, and John McCain has become a parody of the former McCain, the honorable one. You can almost see the pain in his eyes as he recites what he knows are lies. - Susan Gessford, Midland, Michigan.
The election has brought out the poet in me. Actually, what I do has a technical name: prosimetric mytho-poetic expression. - Dave "knowbuddhau" Parker, Oak Harbor, Washington.
But for some people, the side effects have been more eerie than inspiring:
I have weird dreams that I'm at home or in my community and George Bush wants to be my friend. I don't want to be rude, but I'm at a loss about what to do. I wake up in a sweat. I think this is because "W"'s ranch is about 30 minutes as the crow flies and I'm terrified he's gonna move back here!! - Melissa Balsam, Cedar Park, Texas.
It's even affecting some people's relationships:
I'm driving my family insane. And they agree with me (my husband has already voted early for Obama)-- they just want me to shut up about it already. - Jeanne Randall, Bodman, Portland, Oregon.
And while the Living page has been doing its darndest to give you as many Election Anxiety resources as can be found, some people just can't be helped. Perhaps you readers have some kind words of reassurance for Joe of State College, Pennsylvania, whose lengthy screed both broke and won our palpitating hearts...
It's 2:30 a.m. and here I am writing this. Just kill me now. The extreme level of anxiety that many of us are experiencing over this election is serious enough that medical journals, in the near future, will almost certainly give it a name like "Obama Syndrome" or Barack Obsesssive Disorder."
I am heartened that there has been so much discussion of the malady on HuffPost. That's got to be therapeutic for a great many of you. Not me, however. Some great recommendations have been made. Double your meds. Get involved with the campaign so you feel less helpless. Turn off the TV, radio, and political websites. Get back to nature by activities like camping. Your kidding me right? I tried antidepressants and they made me worse. I went from low functionality to comotose. So that's out. I can't get "involved" because I'm lazy. Where are the cures for lazy people? That comment may offend some of you. Sorry, but lazy is a real condition as debilitating as any other mental condition. You can't do anything to stop being lazy because you're too lazy to try anything. It's like the old "just say no" campaign. You might as well ask me to just stop breathing. How about camping? Right, I'll just change my entire personality. That's fine advice for campers. I'm not a camper and never will be. How about turning off the political shows and web sites? This is not even remotely possible. I'm obsessed with this election. It has been political heroin!
It is possible that a disproportionate number of HuffPost bloggers suffer from Obama Syndrome. We flitter around obsessively until we're drawn here as to a bug-light. But I have a feeling this condition is more widespread. The only people not possibly affected are those without a brain. God knows there are plenty of those, but there are plenty of thinkers too, people who pay attention. And those are the people who tend to actually get things done in this society. We're seeing a virtual armageddon of social and economic distress in the world. I wouldn't be surprised if some of it is the direct result of the stress caused by the last two years of this intense, all consuming, uber-election, on the thinkers, the doers, the people like I used to be.
Four years ago, my wife and I swore we would move to Mexico if Bush was re-elected. We were absolutely serious. We could no longer live in a country that would elect him twice. But we chickened out. It just seemed too hard and complicated. I swear, though, if Obama loses there will be only two choices for me, suicide or moving to Mexico. I don't really fancy moving on to "the other world" so I would move, to a better world. Can you imagine, Mexico, a better world? That's what it's come to.
I used to drink heavily. About for years ago, for health reasons, I cut back to two or three small glasses of red wine in the evenings. Since this election started I have become a full-fledged alcoholic. No, I don't wake up in the gutter wondering how I got there. I locked my wine in a padlocked trunk and gave my wife the keys. She hides them and then doles me out four glasses of wine every evening. This worked for about a week. Now I, a formerly productive person, spend much of my day searching for the key, or nagging my wife for an extra portion. No, I cannot buy a secret bottle. That's cheating. And I don't cheat on my wife. If I ever find the key, though, I will drink the entire box o' wine. That is not cheating. That is my wife's fault for not hiding the key more effectively. So, aside from obsessing about this election, I simultaneously obsess about alcohol all day long. It's probably for the better. Because there is no amount of alcohol that can dull the pain of a potential McCain presidency.
I swear I've never lived through an election like this one. It provides enough infuriating news, on a daily basis, to stress out a Buddhist monk. Like many of you, I sit at my desk but I can't focus on my work. The stress is exhausting, so I fall asleep on the couch every evening, which leaves me wide awake after midnight to watch streams of Olberman, Rachel, and surf the news sites for more things to stress about. After a few hours of sleep I wake up and begin clicking from Morning Joe, to CNN, to CSPAN. And it all starts over again.
There are only a few days remaining in this election. My greatest fear is that Obama will lose. My second greatest fear is that Obama will win, but the obsession will not go away. And I don't know what I'll do about that. There is only one thing that brings me peace. And that's Michelle Obama. I eat up any video clip or slideshow of her. She's comforting. Soothing. She makes me smile. She makes me realize this world, and this country, could be a beautiful place. Several times I've wondered how Barack is maintaining such composure under the enormous stresses of this horrific election process and then I realize the answer. It's obvious to anyone who has seen the way he and Michelle look at each other, hold hands, or embrace. Their love, and strength, actually spills over to the rest of us and, boy, am I looking forward to four years of that.
I'm not a religious man, but god don't screw this up. A year from now I do not want to be reading about president McCain from my Mexican apartment. And if that happens, I guarantee my wife will no longer have the key to that padlock. Thanks for the opportunity to share. There's so much more to say. But you already know that. Good luck everybody.
Cheer up, Joe! We do have one thing to offer, and that's plenty of Obama PDA.
And finally, we still want to hear from you! If you're suffering from Election Anxiety, let us know! How has the election impacted your life? Tell HuffPost, and we may just quote you! Tell us your stories using this Survey Monkey form.
For more posts on Election Anxiety, click here.