Skip to comments.Overcoming post-election stress trauma (PEST)
Posted on 10/13/2010 3:32:14 PM PDT by Libloather
Overcoming post-election stress trauma
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 12:00 AM
Ma. Andrea S. Tirazona
When the early results of the recently concluded elections started trickling in, I felt a rush of excitement as I saw the numbers tipping in Noynoys direction. On the other hand, I was shocked at Binays early lead.
Before anything else, let me point out that this is not an article as to whether or not Noynoy was the right choice for president, nor is this a debate as to whether or not the election was a clean and honest one. This is about seeing things from another point of view. While the millions of Noynoy supporters celebrated and were jubilant about his apparent success, those on the other side of the fence found themselves facing a gamut of emotions ranging from shock, disbelief, anger, and for some, grief.
As for me, I found myself strangely fascinated with the diverse reactions of people on Facebook and Twitter. I was amused with some, disgusted at others, agitated by a few, and frustrated at those that seemed to me, in my narrow-minded perspective, sour-graping. What especially got my goat was seeing those posts likening Aquino and Binay to Homer and Apu from the cartoon The Simpsons.
I was there on my high horse, thinking that people were overreacting to something that did not warrant such reactions to begin with. I was comparing it to my disappointment that the one candidate I was supporting did not win a senatorial seat. Granted that presidents and senators are not the same, in my opinion (at least back then) was sorry na lang, ganun talaga, talo e (thats too bad, but thats just the way it goes, you win some, you lose some).
Then I paused for a minute and tried to see things in a broader and more open mindset. I realized that while I may have thought these reactions were irrational, they were not. What drove home the point further to me was how I felt last Thursday when Lee Dewyzes name was called out over Crystal Bowersoxs during the finale of the television show American Idol. It dawned on me that if something as trivial as a reality show can trigger such feelings, how much greater would the grief of a disappointing REALITY be?
After making that analogy, I began to understand their grief. And to some degree, I too began to feel the weight of the sadness this electoral process has caused.
Whether it was directed at the loss of the candidate they supported or to the continuing dirty politics and seemingly hopeless electoral process in the Philippines, many felt the stunning blow of the results of the countrys first automated elections. Even some of those who supported Aquino grieved for the loss of his running mate, Senator Mar Roxas, while some grieved for losing senatorial bets.
Throughout the day, and the days that followed, statements of disappointment, numbness, and frustration continued to prevail. Many tears were shed and voters questioned whether their votes even mattered. An apt analogy for the feeling of grief in the stunning aftermath of the election is that it is like the loss of a dream. What makes the grief even more intense are the allegations of cheating and fraud in an election where many invested their hearts and souls.
The dying of a flickering flame
Grief is defined by the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders as intense and painful emotions experienced when someone or something a person cares about either dies or is lost. It can take away any glimmer of hope one holds on to, leaving them feeling lost, numb, and at times, confused. Others may feel helpless in the face of grief while others experience feelings of hopelessness and defeat.
Grief comes in many forms and may be due to a host of different reasons. Albeit death may be the most tangible and clearly understood cause of grief, it is important to understand that it can also be caused by tangible losses, which may be due to unemployment, tragedy, and similar factors, as well as intangible losses such as the loss of expectations or failure of plans.
The experience of grief is likewise different between people who experience them. Symptoms of grief can include shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, guilt, and fear. Physical manifestations may also be experienced, such as insomnia or increased sleep, fatigue, changes in appetite, and other somatic complaints such as headaches, nausea, and stomach pains.
While the feeling of grief may mimic symptoms of depression, there are slight differences between the two, particularly in regards to the pervasiveness and severity of the feelings of sadness, numbness or emptiness. In grief, the feeling comes and goes, much like waves. One who is grieving may be able to find pockets of pleasure or enjoyment throughout the day, for example, while one who is clinically depressed will not be able to.
Rekindling the spark of hope
After the 2004 US Presidential elections, the term Post Election Stress Trauma (PEST) was coined in reference to the feeling of sadness, fear, and frustration some individuals felt after an unexpected turnout in that election. Though not an accepted or valid psychological diagnosis, PEST plays upon the premise of Elisabeth Kubler-Rosss stages of grief.
The grieving process is described in a five-step model which one goes through in the face of bereavement or loss. This article identifies the stages of PEST as Numbness (mechanical functioning and social insulation), Denial (this isnt happening to me!), Bargaining (If only, then I will be OK), Depression (moping around, no motivation, Acceptance (Im ready for whatever comes). While Kubler-Rosss model stops at acceptance, the author recognizes that after acceptance comes reorganization, which is a re-entry into a more normal pre-campaign life.
Cathy Babao-Guballa further shared the Three Rs of grief recovery in a recent article she wrote. These are Recognize, Reorganize, and Reinvest. In the process of healing, it has to begin with the recognition, and if I may add --- acceptance, of the fact that the loss has happened, whatever it may be. Not only does one accept the construct of the loss, but one also accepts that while they are saddened or hurt by it, it is time to move on.
The next step to recovery is a period of reorganization. Some may call this creating a new normal. In psychological terms, it can be termed "reframing ones cognition." From here, one can break down previous conceptions and start to rebuild new ones that are more valid, given present circumstances.
Lastly is the period of reinvesting. In relation to the present presidential election, this is the time when we reinvest our efforts and support the winning president. Here we reinvest ourselves and focus on the bigger picture, rather than being stuck at what might have been.
Breaking free from grief may be a difficult process, especially while one is stuck in its sticky web. Dealing with grief and with someone who is in the grieving process can be trying and frustrating as well. It is important to remember, however, that while you may not understand anothers grief, this feeling is real to the person experiencing it and simply telling them to move on may not be enough. Dropping judgment and opening your mind to be a resource for support is the only way you can help them make it out of that darkness towards a new tomorrow.
Yes, indeed, 'unexpected.'
Democrats expected leftist thugs, Soros money, and Mickey Mouse's voting for him to allow Kerry to steal the Ohio election from President Bush, but WE didn't let them.
And that's what we 'expected' all along. :P
The writer sounds like a fifth grader making a report to her class on the importance of understanding emotions.
Dumb, dumber, and... drool.
I’m more of a “count our chickens after they hatch” kind of guy..
I was thinking the answer to PEST, would be DEET...
But then again turning the lights on and watching the democrats scatter is just as fun...
Miss Tirazona, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.