More than any campaign in recent memory, Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency has messed with our psychic wellbeing. Therapists are seeing waves of patients seeking help for Trump-induced mental disturbances. The candidate has been something of a human trigger; women have seen themselves in Trump’s accusers as his behavior resurfaces long-buried memories of sexual abuse and assault. His affinity with white nationalists, Nazis, and anti-Islam extremists are enough to make anyone hated by those constituencies (that’s the majority of us) fear for their lives under a Trump regime.
For the past year, our days have ticked slowly by under the looming shadow of Trump’s rise, and that dread has carried over into dreamland. Atlas Obscura readers recently shared stories of their night terrors on the site, disturbing dreams that found men on motorcycles dragging Trump’s social-media detractors behind their vehicles and angry mobs chasing women to try and remove their uteruses.
Here at Slate, we’ve done an OK job keeping sane while covering the increasingly demoralizing state of our union. (You can read about our coping strategies here.) But our subconscious selves are running in circles, tearing out their hair, rending their garments, and screaming bloody murder. To wit, the terrifying scenes that follow are actual nightmares we’ve had during this election cycle.
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A month or two ago, I dreamed that Kate McKinnon and I were watching Hillary Clinton do stand-up comedy at a county fair. Meanwhile, an old man near the entrance was putting live puppies in a deep fryer. They emerged alive, but with their fur all matted with crunchy fried bits. Just this weekend, I dreamed that Donald Trump was president and my partner and I were sent to a North Korean work camp. (Whether he’d rounded us up because we’re gay or women or rabid progressives was unclear.) The only bright spot was that Slate culture editor Dan Kois was assigned to be our “camp counselor” and helped us find empty floor space for sleeping. —Christina Cauterucci, Double X staff writer
My dream started off aimlessly—the kind where you’re wandering around in a familiar setting and random people from different parts of the entirety of your life pop in and out and engage in uncanny interactions. But then I ultimately wound up in a bar or restaurant, and my dream turned into the stuff that nightmares are made of—I learned that Trump had just been declared the winner, and I felt angry, sad, disgusted, and overwhelmed by dread. It all got really real. And then, before I could watch the world around me swiftly disintegrate into a fiery, terrifying ’50s-era dystopia, I was thankfully able to jerk myself awake. —Aisha Harris, culture writer
I had a dream Julia [Turner, Slate’s editor in chief] cancelled my beat and reassigned me to cover dentistry full-time. The rare job anxiety and tooth anxiety combo dream—very rare, only possible under the Sign of Donald. —Henry Grabar, Moneybox writer
I was an aide in the Trump administration and he was about to declare war on Turkey. In the dream I was in the backseat of an SUV behind Trump (I never saw his face, just the back of his head) and while all this was going on, I got a call from my wife saying that she had found out we were having twins. This was bittersweet because in the world of the dream I was pretty sure I was about to be drafted and would have to fight in the war against Turkey. —Joshua Keating, international affairs writer
After Trump’s election, my husband, who is British, and I decided to move back to the U.K. We traveled there by ship with our 2-year-old daughter (who is American like me), but when we arrived, we discovered that because of some vagary of Brexit, my daughter and I could not obtain legal entry into the U.K. We tried to arrange passage back to the U.S., only to discover that Trump had signed an executive order barring re-entry to any Americans who decided to emigrate, rendering my daughter and me stateless; immigration authorities in the U.K. told us we would have to live at sea for the rest of our lives. At the end of the dream, I am standing on the dock where the ship disembarked, paralyzed with panic as I look at my daughter, thinking, Oh God, please forgive me, what have I done? —Jessica Winter, features editor
I had my first “skydiving but there is no parachute” nightmare last night. No Trump-actual in nightmare. I’ve never even been skydiving! —Greg Lavallee, director of technology
I lived in a mountain colony ruled by Trump. He started throwing disabled people off the mountain, like, trebuchet-ing them. Everybody became very miserable and tried to jump off the mountain. I think that was over the summer. More recently, I dreamed that I was Hillary Clinton’s female assistant. I was at summer camp. I had a miscarriage, on her behalf. It was her miscarriage, but I had it. The miscarriage was throwing up blood and toys and part of a plastic face. It was horrifying. —Andrew Kahn, assistant interactives editor
I had a nightmare this week that Donald Trump came to my parents’ house and was berating my mom in front of our whole family. He was making her cry and I couldn’t stop him, shut him up, or kick him out. It was horrifying. —Seth Maxon, nights and weekends homepage editor
I don’t ever recall having recurring dreams, but this one has haunted my sleep repeatedly the past two months: I’m in my apartment a few miles northwest of the White House. Trump is president. I get a knock on my door or a text from a friend telling me I have some number of minutes (varies between zero and 15) to grab my things and leave Washington. Sometimes I have enough gas to flee by car; sometimes I can only shove a few things in my hiking pack and start running. Each time I agonize over whether to take the quilt my great-grandmother and grandmother made me. I usually wake up shortly after I lock my apartment door, heading in an uncertain direction through deserted streets. I always wake up filled with an unshakeable sense of dread. —Megan Wiegand, copy chief
I haven’t had any literal Trump dreams that I can recall, probably because I am able to channel my anxiety into writing about the election. But I did wake up on Saturday night at 4 a.m. worried about what might happen if Trump won, and when I went back to sleep I had a dream in which I was staring at myself naked in a mirror. and in the dream I had become morbidly obese and had lost most of the hair on my body. —Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slatest editor
I’ve been dreaming about Donald Trump for weeks. In the most recent one, I’m sitting in a conference room with a bunch of other people, mostly editors I’ve worked with at other jobs. We’re meeting to craft an op-ed against Trump. What do you know, Trump is also sitting there at the table, with one of his handlers. There’s an animated conversation going on about how to properly capture how terrible Trump is in writing. Suddenly, the woman speaking realizes Trump is actually sitting there. She stops talking. There’s silence. Everyone just stares at Trump. He looks furious, but also says nothing, and sorts of shrinks into his chair. I wake up feeling all the awful things I usually feel when I dream of Trump—namely, saddened at the state our country—but I also feel a little lighter. You see, in this dream, Trump looks small. —Susan Matthews, science editor