Gregg Popovich just described with uncanny accuracy what millions of Americans have been feeling since Nov. 8.
The San Antonio Spurs head coach, one of the sports world’s few high-profile critics of the president, offered a stunningly spot-on diagnosis of the national mood during a press conference before Sunday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals — and he wasn’t afraid to point fingers at one figure in particular.
“Usually, things happen in the world and you got your work, and you’ve got your family, and you’ve got your friends, and you do what you do,” Popovich said. “But to this day, I feel like there’s a cloud, a pall over the whole country, in a paranoid, surreal sort of way. And it’s got nothing to do with Democrats losing the election. It’s got to do with the way one individual conducts himself, and that’s embarrassing.”
“It’s dangerous to our institutions, and what we all stand for, and what we expect the country to be. But for this individual, he’s in a game show,” he continued, without mentioning the president by name. “And everything that happens begins and ends with him, not our people or our country. Every time he talks about those things, that’s just a ruse. That’s just disingenuous, cynical, I think.”
“Trump trauma” is real — and it’s interfering with people’s daily lives.
Therapists report their offices have been inundated with patients suffering from the “cloud” that Popovich described, manifesting itself in administration-related anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
“This is so monumental because we are not in normal anymore,” therapist Randi Gottlieb, who heads the L.A. chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, told the paper in February.
Meanwhile, for Trump opponents like Popovich, there’s an additional culprit: the seemingly endless stream of news served by social media and cable TV.
“The constant state of emergency keeps people anxious and fearful,” media psychologist Pamela Rutledge recently told Yahoo News.
There are ways for individuals to cope with the “cloud” that Popovich identified.
Mental health professionals on the Internet offer lots of good, free advice, like this piece from therapist Robin Chancer, which recommends things like accepting the current reality, making room for grief, and being mindful of proactive steps to take when it subsides.
“Each time the tapes of despair and anger play in your mind, doggedly shift your focus. The mind will wander, again and again. Each time it happens, we notice the anxious thoughts, and shift our focus back. The anxious mind will scream, ‘How could our President cut Meals on Wheels? What a monster! Those poor people!’ Then, shift focus back to the good, ‘The program has seen a 500% increase in volunteers since the cuts were proposed. Maybe I could get involved!'”
In fact, taking action might be the best medicine.
Going to a rally, writing letters to your elected officials, and making phone calls might not immediately change the current political climate and circumstances, but Chancer argues that doing something proactive is preferable to wallowing in either optimism or pessimism, both of which posit a future state that’s unknowable.
President Trump may never change, but the world keeps turning under Popovich’s “cloud,” and it belongs to all of us.
Where things go from here will be decided by more just than one individual — even if that individual sits in the White House.