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Opinion | Margery Eagan

How to cope with Trump Derangement Syndrome

President Trump spoke at the Department of Health and Human Services. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

My name is Margery, and I suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

I am powerless over the president, who has wormed his way into my brain.

I am hopeful that a power greater than myself — like a big blue wave next Tuesday — could restore me to sanity.

I take comfort in this: I am not alone.

“My dentist informed me I need to wear a bite guard because I’m clenching my teeth while sleeping,” fellow sufferer Jeff Herman, of West Warwick, R.I., told me about his preelection anxiety. “It’s because of Trump. By the time he’s out of office, I’ll be gumming my dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.”


Another sufferer, Ivy Gawron of Western Massachusetts, said, “The last time I went to bed soundly before a vote/decision, I woke up to a Donald Trump presidency.” To cope with her jitters, she said she has “been comfort eating a lot more. But mostly, I just panic.”

An Andover mother of two told me she pictures herself getting arrested at the Tewksbury Market Basket for losing it all and screaming at Trumpsters in the checkout line: “Get your head out of the sand!” Since Trump won, she has sought counseling and gone to church for the first time. But she’s not doing particularly well right now. “Today I cried when I heard that ‘I Am Woman’ piece on NPR.”

She was referring to a story on Helen Reddy’s cheesy anthem, released back in 1971, a far more hopeful time.

It’s true. Trump’s approval ratings are nearly the highest since the start of his presidency — an ominous preelection sign.

But let’s keep some perspective here. It’s not like Mack trucks have mowed down our families. No matter what happens next Tuesday, the sun will still rise, I hope. They can’t send us all off to reeducation camps. Yet.


Suppose it’s a big red wave instead? What’s the worst? Oil rigs off Cape Cod? A Supreme Court packed with more men who aren’t, let’s face it, all that keen on women’s lib?

But all of this does validate my fellow sufferers’ low-level dread, the kind that sits in your gut and takes away your appetite, that gnawing sense that this president doen’t care for us but cares only for the crowds at his rallies who shout “lock her up.”

Once upon a time, you could go for days, even weeks, without thinking about the president of the United States. Now? There’s no escaping him.

Once you could take comfort in that famed Winston Churchill quote: “Count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” Now? The law of the jungle is let loose upon the land.

Once you could also count on constitutional checks and balances: one branch, or both, would rein in a dangerous executive. But as Donna Church put it, “Our government was designed to work with people of good faith . . . now they’re not working for what’s best for the country, and there’s nobody there to stop them.”

Kate Kavanagh of Concord told me she’s as anxious and exhausted as anyone in the Trump resistance. But she’s ditched the hand-wringing to volunteer — for Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke in Texas, for environmental projects, and Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot, which would study ways to limit money in politics.


She noted, philosophically speaking, that volunteering is “someplace where you can make a difference.” She noted, practically speaking, that it’s far healthier than sitting home, alone, an unhinged basket case trying not to “claw your eyes out” before America — keep hope alive! — becomes America again.

Margery Eagan is cohost of WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio.” Her column appears regularly in the Globe.