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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Stress

On 15 February 2017, the American Psychological Association (APA) sent a press release following the 2017 APA report "Stress in America: Coping with Change". The introduction is very clear: "two-thirds of Americans say they are stressed about the future of our nation, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans".

This news does not surprise me at all. For some time, the prospect of a Trump Administration even increased my Dutch stress levels. Since 20 January 2017, the continued failure of the Trump presidency is a source of ridicule and laughter (eg, Borowitz Report, Conan O'Brien's spoof phone calls between Barack Obama And Donald Trump, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert).

On Wikipedia's list of nicknames of US Presidents, Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, is referred to as "The Great Communicator". Following Trump's attacks on "so-called judges", the President's official nickname (POTUS) has already changed to SCROTUS: So-Called Ruler of The United States. The Great Comedian would also be an excellent nickname for Trump.

Laughter is a medicine for stress relief (eg, Huffington Post, Mayo Clinic, WebMD). I thoroughly enjoy each new failure of the Trump presidency while also feeling some pity towards the USA. Still, as Andy Borowitz said on FB: "The chaos, failure and embarrassment of Donald J. Trump's first week in office are only surprising if you are unfamiliar with his business career."

The 2017 general elections in Europe (eg, FR, GER, NL) may become a source of similar stress as some European countries may start mirroring Trump's USA - or TrumpLand. Possible candidates are Marine Le Pen (France) and Geert Wilders (The Netherlands). Germany is likely to remain stable for now. However, the outcome of the Dutch (15 March) and French (23 April - 7 May) elections may have a bearing on the German outcome on 24 September 2017.

My personal stress levels have been much higher this week. Initially, I blamed the winter weather and my lack of physical exercise. A letter from the Dutch tax authorities asking for an explanation for my lack of taxable income didn't help either. Initially, this tax letter infuriated me as Dutch contractors / freelancers do not qualify for any Dutch welfare benefits, unlike illegal foreign labour migrants. After several days, I sent a polite reply explaining my situation.

The real reason for my stress levels is a different one. Last Monday, the penny suddenly dropped during a private conversation. I have met someone and I like her a lot. However, a part of her is sabotaging what she and I have. More and more, I believe that I may be losing this fight in which I'm not even a player but just a bystander, witnessing a war inside someone else.

I cannot laugh this stress away. A nagging mild pain has entered my lower back. Today, it has moved from my back to my neck which is a bad sign. It's the same spot that caused my 2013 severe burn-out. I must offload these stress levels but I'm reluctant to arrive at the only logical conclusion.

The Logical Song (1979) by Supertramp - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world's asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.

Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical,
Liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won't you sign up your name, we'd like to feel you're
Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!

At night, when all the world's asleep,
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.