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After election day, a creeping sense of angst

South Boston barbers (from left) Milton Castro, Wellington Mandez, and Luis Cru watched Hillary Clinton’s speech Wednesday.John Tlumacki/Globe staff/Globe Staff

Psychologists fielded calls from anxious patients. Yoga classes doubled in size. Churches opened sanctuaries to distraught congregants. And women’s groups asked what Donald Trump’s victory means for them.

Much of deep-blue Massachusetts grappled with a depressing case of post-election blues Wednesday. Here in the Bay State, where Hillary Clinton won a higher percentage than all but three states, the distance from the American heartland has rarely seemed so long.​

What followed, for many in the state, seemed closer to the aftermath of a natural disaster than a presidential election.

“It’s like a collective trauma for a lot of people,” said Lisa Y. Livshin, a Newton psychologist and Tufts Medical School faculty member.


Psychologist Jason Evan Mihalko of Cambridge said he started getting texts from patients in the middle of the night as the election results came in — people scared and overwhelmed by Trump’s impending victory.

“People of color, women, trauma survivors, LGBT people are having a physiological flight-or-fight response,” Mihalko said. “A lot of the rhetoric has been very negative. People in those groups are experiencing it as a threat.”

On Wednesday night, thousands of Trump protesters marched through Boston to a rally on Boston Common. (Page B6)

A neighborhood website in Jamaica Plain contained a sampling of the angst. One woman wrote, “I am feeling very traumatized from the shock, as I know many of us are. I feel the need of a support group to talk about what has happened.”

Another wrote, “Unfortunately, I am not only emotionally traumatized but am coming down with a cold.”

Dawn Cisewski, an assistant teaching professor at Northeastern University, said some students were feeling so distressed that they did not come to class Wednesday.

And at YogaWorks, a studio in the Back Bay, people seeking solace on a mat began arriving at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, 40 minutes before the first class.


“The phone has been ringing off the hook — Are you open? Can I get in a class?” said Samantha Valletta, who opened the door to find the first wave of a deluge of customers in need of stress relief.

Not all voters needed a diversion from distress — Trump gained 33.5 percent of the vote in Massachusetts, much of it in the middle of the state. But the 60.8 percent who voted for Clinton trailed only Hawaii, California, and Vermont among the bluest of the blue.

Their needs extended to the spiritual, which the Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, interim minister of the First Church in Jamaica Plain, addressed by opening the doors to the Unitarian Universalist church from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“This is a time for folks just to come and take a deep breath. Some people are hurting, maybe more than some,” Robinson-Harris said. “It’s been particularly difficult for parents who are trying to find words to explain to their children how someone who says the things that Mr. Trump said and the things he is alleged to have done — and in some cases we know that he did — how to make sense of that.”

For women’s organizations across Massachusetts, the expectation of celebrating the first US woman president had been dashed in sudden, startling fashion.

“We’re hearing from members who are disappointed and anxious,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, chief executive officer of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. Now, she said, they need to reflect and regroup.


“We have been prepared to work under adverse situations, and we absolutely will come together to hold our firewall to protect our shared values,” said Barajas-Román, whose organization helps prepare women for elected office.

In the heart of Roxbury, reaction to Trump’s victory ranged from dejection to a shrug of the shoulders.

When asked what the next four years might bring, 74-year-old Henry Winbush had a quick, one-word answer: “Hell.”

“I’m terrified,” he said near Dudley Station. “We’ve got a person that’s exhibited racism, and he’s advocating violence.”

Nearby, as she waited to board a bus, Na’ima Bell of Hyde Park said she is not concerned.

“He doesn’t have all the power, which is why I don’t understand why people are so worried,” said Bell, 18, who chose Clinton with her first presidential vote. “He played the game really well. That’s why he won.”

Across the state, in Northampton, bearded Paul Vidich tried to lighten the gloom felt by many in that liberal enclave. Dressed in a zebra costume, the 27-year-old carpenter parked, fed the meter, and his tail swished behind him.

Then, he said, he got into the bed of his truck and proceeded to make giant bubbles. Soon, a small group gathered in awe.

Cat Sargent, a social worker, watched Vidich pull his rope wand through the air.

“I’m very grateful he’s here,” said Sargent, 54, who paused as tears welled in her eyes. “I’m really scared. I’m reaching for understanding and compassion. It’s really hard not to demonize people who elect a man who’s said the things [Trump] has said, but I know they aren’t demons.”


At Mike’s City Diner in the South End of Boston, Monica Burckhardt, 22, said Clinton’s loss should serve as a wake-up call for her supporters.

“If what [Trump] is proposing — like the wall and banning Muslims — if those actually happen, if he follows through with what he has proposed, then I am hoping — and I am being an optimist — I hope it will have an impact” on how people react, Burckhardt said.

Steve Annear, Dugan Arnett, and Cristela Guerra of the Globe staff contributed to this report. MacQuarrie can be reached at brian.macquarrie@globe.com.