Put These Things Away

My dad doesn’t miss an episode of Steven Colbert. When Lady Gaga talked about putting traumatic memories in a box, he immediately nodded in agreement. “If i didn’t put these things away, I couldn’t possibly lead a normal life,” my dad said. My dad is a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor. 

Every so often, something will trigger a reaction that pokes a hole in that box, that blurs the confines of the compartment. For my dad, it is the Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur in particular. The depression hits him so hard on those days. After this year in synagogue I told him no more. He can listen to Kol Nidre online. Enough. I see how it takes a toll. 

Brain changes after trauma are real and lasting. The hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex are hardest hit by a traumatic event.  The amygdala is particularly sensitive to trauma – it stores the memory in little pieces – rather than a full story – made of visual images, smells, sounds, tastes or touch. Trauma is also associated with changes in brain neurotransmitters like cortisol and norepinephrine, the “fight or flight” response.

Physical and psychological trauma can affect memory. Memory suppression is a natural survival mechanism humans develop to protect themselves from psychological damage. 

Diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an event that involves death or threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury or threatened sexual violation. Exposure can be directly to you or you may have been a witness or heard about this event happening to someone you are close to. In my clinical work I have found that symptoms of PTSD can arise from events that are in the realm of usual human experience such as loss, divorce, failure, rejection and bullying. 

Dr. Blasey Ford’s presentation is classic for a victim of trauma. If she walked into my office, I would have no diagnostic dilemma. The memory lapses are expected. The shame, panic, fear and avoidance are there. Her relationships, work and education were impacted by it. Seeing the perpetrator triggered her symptoms and in good conscience she had to speak up. Her ambivalence was clear – her life will never be the same. This took great courage. Yet she was ignored by men and women with personal agendas. 

This nomination is a symptom of a patriarchal society where a woman’s word doesn’t carry the weight of a man’s. Where a man’s tears are somewhat more believable because women are expected to cry. 

Everybody knows sexual assault has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power. 

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 27: Christine Blasey Ford swears in at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo by Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)

The Living Room

Did you have a room in your house you weren’t allowed in because it was too fancy?

Do you still have one?

When we were kids this same living room was off limits. Now it looks like this:

The doctor is in!

This is your chance to ask me whatever is on your mind. Sex, love, relationships, depression, panic, memory loss, travel, food, survivorship, and football. Anonymity guaranteed!

ASK ME ANYTHING

My Perfect Sunday Morning in an Imperfect World

Let me start by saying that pretty much every time I wear my Hunter boots, my day is already a 6. Love the clanging sound they make from the broken strap. They lighten up any outfit. So old school, sturdy and comfy.

 


I woke up early today after a late night flight home from Atlanta. I decided that if I’m going to watch football all day and night, I better get my ass moving before then. I splashed my face with water, made a quick cup of Lyons tea, tugged on my yoga pants and was out the door. I muddled my way through a yoga flow class, with the help a teacher with an exceptionally sexy, nurturing voice.

 


Next stop, the farmer’s market. Out go the corn and peaches, in come the pumpkins, apples and squash. With live music, gentle falling rain and earnest vendors, shopping at the market is one of the greatest simple pleasures on earth.

 


A Trader Joe’s stop was inevitable – no one has consistently been home at my house in weeks – when I say “there’s no food”, I mean there really is no food. Funny how my ‘year of no shopping’ has generalized to the supermarket too. I buy what I need. I don’t stock up.

 


Then home to throw together dinner for later – roasted vegetables. Place cut up veggies and a whole garlic in a layer on an baking pan lightly greased with olive oil. Top with drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until vegetables are just right (30-40 minutes). I eat it with a little tahini on top. I mix the tahini with lemon, a dash of soy sauce and olive oil. My cardiologist would approve.

 


Time for doppio espresso over ice as I take my seat in my woman cave. Maybe I’ll light a fire first. Can my team pull off a win? I’m trying to stay more calm and mindful during games – this is a big change for me. Can’t mess with my blood pressure like the old days.

Every minute of this day I am thankful and grateful.

These are a few of my favorite things. What is your idea of the perfect day?

Have a Lovely Weekend – Dream Crazy

This weekend I will be preparing for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which starts Sunday night. My sister is coming in from New York to attend services with my dad, mom and I. It also marks the start of my favorite season, football season. So don’t text or call me during games, unless you want to make me mad. Really mad.

 

Here are some suggestions for my readers from around the web this week…

 

Ozark started a second season on Netflix. Watch season 1 first.

 

This essay Why I Hope to Die at 75 – The Atlantic is a tough read, even cringe-worthy at times. It is written by Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an oncologist and bioethicist. There is something to be said about taking a pass on medical interventions that prolong life but reduce quality of life.

 

Check out my son’s new song, “Amy”:
https://open.spotify.com/track/5IC1hWxvXTyopP2Vgm2N33?si=86KrhgpTTQGalKeaN1-cmQ

 

Watch The Break (La Trêve), a French-language Belgian crime drama, my favorite genre.

 

This book was recommended to me, I just started it:

 

Wow, this: Why Aftercare is The BDSM Practice That Everyone Should Be Doing

 

Look up Tuscookany, cooking classes in Italy. A mother-daughter life-changing bonding trip. We may do another one…

 

Thanks to my friends who read newspapers every day and send me articles:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/opinion/americans-are-terrible-at-small-talk.html

 

Vaccinate your kids, people! Cases are on the rise here too. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45246049

 

Love this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/05/opinion/the-gift-of-menopause.html

 

Let’s learn from other countries, we are doing a terrible job here in the U.S.: https://nyti.ms/2Bysixz?smid=nytcore-ios-share

 

Only the Brits! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-devon-45414022

 

Wishing everyone a sweet, happy, healthy year!

From my heart to yours,

Love+Medicine

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