g3kh5yiBy Collin Kelley

The hellish 2016 election cycle is almost over. Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be headed to the White House in January, and we can pause for a moment to collect our breath after a bruising, stress-inducing campaign season.

In the run-up to the election, I kept reading articles about how this election has caused post-traumatic stress disorder in many people. I’ve been a political junkie since I was a teenager, but I’ve never quite seen anything like the Clinton vs. Trump showdown. The boiling anger, reality show shenanigans and outright lies from both campaigns kept social media in a dither. I even lost a few friends over it.

I unfriended and/or unfollowed about a half dozen people on Facebook in the weeks before the election because they had somehow fallen through the trapdoor into bizarro world and were constantly posting conspiracy theory articles from fake news sites. Any mention of politics on my wall immediately led to arguments, name-calling and hurt feelings among my politically diverse array of friends.

I found myself obsessively checking poll numbers and visiting Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog multiple times a day. Watching CNN or any of the cable news shows sent my blood pressure soaring. I found myself agreeing with the funny internet meme that wished for a meteor to strike the planet and stop the political insanity. I finally said “ENOUGH!” and turned off the TV and stopped looking at my phone and laptop.

I got through the end of this election cycle by taking long walks on the Atlanta BeltLine, going out to dinner with friends, writing poetry, reading books and finally immersing myself in the world of “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix. Binge-watching good films and shows is a great antidote for the real world – especially when the real world is stranger than fiction.

I was becoming so stressed out about the election, that I also did something I’ve never done in my life: I voted early. Casting the ballot helped lift my mood; I had done my civic duty and now I could tune out the election. Waiting in line for an hour at the Buckhead Library was totally worth it.

The presidential race has been going on for two years, which is totally insane. We should adopt campaign rules like those in Britain, Canada, France and Mexico, which limit the madness to a few a months or, in some cases, a few weeks. Now that would be some campaign reform I could get behind no matter which party endorsed it.

And while there will be celebration for some and despair for others on Inauguration Day, what I’m dreading is that it signals the beginning of the 2020 presidential cycle. Definitely time for more Netflix and chill.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.