“It has taken me a full year to integrate the reality of him being a president in a way that I don’t come across as either so full of rage that no one can hear my words, or so sad that I can’t articulate the level of pain. It’s taken a year for me to get my equilibrium back, to come back up to the surface.”
“I seriously worry whether I personally will be able to live through [his presidency] and whether the nation will be able to live through it and survive,” O’Donnell added. “It’s a terrifying concept, on the brink of nuclear war with a madman in charge.”
O’Donnell went on to detail how she felt the day after the election, which happened to fall on a shoot day for the pilot of her new Showtime series, SMILF.
“I was in pure unadulterated [shock], as if I had fallen through the ice on a lake; I was underneath the water and I couldn’t even see the surface,” O’Donnell said. “It was a severe shock to my entire essence and my beliefs in the order in the world, and also the PTSD of having been an abused kid in a family.”
Of course, O’Donnell is used to experiencing abuse from Trump. Her feud with the 71-year-old former Celebrity Apprentice host began back in 2006, when she called him a “snake oil salesman” and brought up his former bankruptcies and ongoing lawsuits during a ‘Hot Topics’ segment while co-hosting The View.
The comments made Trump furious, and he hit back hard, telling PEOPLE at the time that “Rosie’s a loser. A real loser. I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie.”
He has since made frequent digs about her weight, appearance, sexual orientation and career success — including during one of the 2016 presidential debates, in which he doubled down on calling her a “fat pig”.
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O’Donnell has sent out her fair share of jabs at the president over the years too, especially on her politically-driven Twitter feed. But she feels the public and the media turned a blind eye to the bullying she was receiving from the now-president.
“Unbeknownst to me, for reasons I can’t really still figure out, he was allowed with impunity to brutally assault me and my character for a decade,” O’Donnell said. “No one — not the National Organization for Women, not Gloria Steinem, no one — stood up and said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ “
The comedian pointed out that she’s far from the president’s only target, referencing Trump’s attacks on James Comey and his recent feud with the widow of the soldier killed in Niger: “There’s no one that he won’t attack or debase.”
O’Donnell also expressed frustration for feeling like she was largely ignored for “speaking the truth” about him on The View, which is part of the reason she’s struggled so much with Trump’s election.
“I was completely unprepared,” she said. “To think that the man who had abused me so viciously and with impunity for over a decade was now running the country … It was very trippy to think that the man who is now in that job is the one who was so brutal to me for speaking the truth about him a decade ago.”
The mother of five is stronger now, after a year of therapy and working to live with the reality of Trump. Being in that place made it easier for her to film SMILF, in which she plays a possibly closeted working-class mother in Boston whose daughter [creator and star Frankie Shaw] is a single mother herself.
“I wasn’t in shock in anymore,” O’Donnell said, explaining that she reshot scenes from the pilot because she wasn’t happy with her performance that day. “As much as I am devastated, disappointed, disheartened, and depressed by the reality of it, I wasn’t in pure panic mode like I was that day [after the election].”
SMILF premieres on Showtime Nov. 5.