When tycoon and self-proclaimed "good-looking guy" Donald Trump threw his hairpiece in the race for the White House, so many people never thought we'd reach this point.

"Sticking with my prediction," conservative analyst Bill Kristol tweeted in December 2015. "Trump will win no caucuses or primaries, and will run behind Ron Paul 2012 in IA and NH."

"Trump is generating a lot controversy, but he is not taken seriously as a potential president," a New Hampshire Republican insider told Politico in August. "I have heard from many people who say 'I love him! Love what he’s saying!' But when I ask if they would really vote for him, they say, 'hell no.'"


Yet ... we've watched together in shock as Donald Trump has said the most inexplicable things and continued his unfathomable rise to GOP frontrunner. Now, with his landslide victory on Super Tuesday, we've all been riding the same emotional roller coaster.

Deep down, you probably recognize this pattern of feelings. You don't like it, but you know it all too well.

It's called the five stages of grief:


Photo via iStock.

Don't worry. It's normal to have these feelings.

The saving grace? You're definitely not alone.

And despite how it may seem after Super Tuesday, there's actually a serious, honest-to-goodness light at the end of the tunnel! For real!

Let's do this:

1. First, we were in denial.

Photo by Mark Walheiser/Getty Images.

When Donald Trump descended the gold escalator in a gold building adorned with his own name to declare his candidacy, we thought it was all a big joke.

It had to be a joke, right?

(This has to be a joke.)

Donald Trump couldn't really be running for president.

Donald Trump isn't really leading in the polls. No way. It's just a mirage.


He'll be gone in a month, we told ourselves.

Once they (whoever they are) figure out what a terrible businessman he actually is, he'll go away. After all, we're talking about the guy who sold his brand of steaks (steaks!) exclusively through a retailer best known for free massage chairs at the mall. The guy who could have been worth $10 billion more if he'd just taken the money he inherited and invested it in basic index funds instead of plowing it into failed real estate deal after failed real estate deal. The guy who is, according to some reports, exaggerating his own net worth by a full 100% — in part by valuing his own name at $3 billion.

Once they hear all the horrible things he's said about women, he'll disappear. Like the time he suggested Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever" after the first Republican debate. Or when he said his favorite part of the movie "Pulp Fiction" was when a male character told his girlfriend to shut up.


Once they hear all the horrible things he's said about minorities, we told ourselves, there's no way anyone would vote for him. This is a guy who tweeted a graphic that claimed 81% of white homicide victims were killed by black perpetrators — a totally baseless, pants-on-fire lie.

Once they hear about his fraudulent university — currently being investigated by the state of New York for scamming students — he'll slink away in disgrace.

Everyone within 50 miles of Manhattan knows what a joke this guy is, we told ourselves at night. The rest of the country will wise up soon enough once they get to know him.

We comforted ourselves with the knowledge that Nate Silver didn't think he had a chance, and that Nate Silver almost always get it right.


There is no way anyone could actually vote for Donald Trump in real life. No way in hell. The American people are rational and smart, we repeated to ourselves like a mantra. They won't be fooled. They'll get it.

We went back to sleep.

2. Then, we got angry.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Donald Trump won New Hampshire, and we were pissed. Royally pissed.

"Donald Trump won New Hampshire?" we asked incredulously. "Like, won won?"

(What the hell?)

Moderate, libertarian New Hampshire just voted for a racist who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States — as if the First Amendment is just a suggestion? For a con man who wants to build a wall along the border and promises — without a shred of evidence or logic — that Mexico will pay for it? For a preening narcissist who talks relentlessly about how nice his own hands are? (His own hands!)

How could anyone believe this obvious BS? How could anyone vote for him? It's infuriating! Why isn't everybody pissed off about this? We wanted — no, needed — to know.

"Wait, did Uncle Jim vote for him? He did, didn't he? Uncle Jim voted for Donald Trump?! Screw him forever," we said indignantly. "His invitation to the wedding just got lost in the mail!"

Donald Trump isn't qualified to run a Wendy's, we told each other. And yet, despite how many people lost money in his ill-conceived, often sketchy real estate ventures, despite launching a mortgage company in 2006 — just two years before the housing bubble burst — despite four of his businesses filing for bankruptcy, thousands of people actually believe he's a good businessman? Why? Because he fired Meat Loaf and Lil Jon on "Celebrity Apprentice"?

How could America be so blind?

That's it — if he wins again, we're moving to Canada.

3. Next, we started bargaining.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

This was when we realized: Donald Trump wasn't funny anymore.

There had to be a way to stop him.

There ... has to be. Right?

Sure, Trump won South Carolina by 10 points. So what if he won Nevada by even more? That's just three states. Three out of 50. This thing isn't over yet. Can't somebody stop him?

Take him out, conservative billionaires! Ad blitz him into the ground, RNC! Destroy him, John Oliver!

Please? Anyone? We're not actually about to put Donald freaking Trump — former "Miss USA" pageant owner — in charge of our country, right? Right?!

We started to feel pretty desperate. "Just tell us what we need to do!" we said to ourselves. "If we're Republicans, we'll donate to whoever can beat him. If we're Democrats, we'll change our registration! We'll vote for John Kasich. We'll vote for Ted Cruz. We'll vote for a guinea pig!"

Make the cage full of wood chips great again. Photo by Jean/Flickr.

Just let it be a dream, we hoped.

Just make it go away.

4. Then, depression set in.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

"Oh God," we thought.

This is happening, isn't it? It's really happening. Look at his numbers. Look how many states Trump just won on Super Tuesday. It's undeniable now.

"Donald Trump is probably going to be the Republican nominee for president of the United States," we realized, as a giant, gaping pit of despair opened up in our stomachs. "There is now a 50-50 chance that Donald Trump is going to be the most powerful person in the most powerful nation on Earth."

Donald Trump. The man who called Mexicans who come to the U.S. "rapists." The man who refused to denounce the KKK when he had a chance. The KKK!


It is possible — likely, even — that a guy who was too incompetent and racist to successfully manage a beauty pageant could be in charge of hundreds of nuclear weapons less than a year from now.

Who can even stop him?

Hillary can't beat him, we worried. Too many people hate Hillary.

Bernie can't beat him either, we panicked. Sure, Bernie's numbers might look good now, but if he wins, it's going to be: "Socialist socialist raise taxes Stalin communist raise taxes USSR atheist socialist," 24/7.

It's over. It's all over.

Nothing left to do but go back to bed. Forever.

5. And lastly, we had to accept reality.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

Now, with the dust settling on yet another massive Trump victory on Super Tuesday, only one question remains: Could we be OK with a Trump candidacy? Like, actually OK?

Yeah. Sure. Why not. It's not the end of the world, right?

Donald Trump might be president for the next four years? Fine. We can handle it. We can accept a lot of things. We can accept disappointment. We can accept the inevitability of our own deaths. We can accept Iggy Azalea—

But ... no. You know what?

No.

We don't have to accept this.

Not in a million years.

That's right. Backing this train up. Back to anger. Before anger. Before denial.

Back to hope. Pure, blind, possibly naive hope. If there's one thing Americans do better than anyone else, it's hope, dammit.

Donald Trump is not America. Lots of people may seem to support him — for now, at least. But he's not you. He's not me. He's not even Uncle Jim, no matter what Uncle Jim thinks.

He can't be.

You know why?

America is still a country that doesn't discriminate against anyone because of religion.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/Getty Images.

America is still a country that allows everyone to marry the person they love.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

America is still a country that believes in the words on the Statue of Liberty — a country that welcomes immigrants and refugees with open arms.

Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty Images.

America is a country that doesn't have to be made great again. Because it already is great.

Photo by Toru Yamanaka/Getty Images.

It's true. Today, Donald Trump is one step closer to the Oval Office than he was yesterday. There's no denying that.

Photo by Mark Walheiser/Getty Images.

But from now until November, the rational majority of us — Republican, Democrat, Independent — can work our asses off to make sure he never, ever, ever gets there.

Let's go.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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