Ask Dr. Pat

The World Is Not Coming to an End

Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Dear Dr. Pat:

I had unending family and work related responsibilities from Thanksgiving until the second week of January this year.  I generally enjoy doing all the work for holidays even though I work full time, have a husband and daughters who are 15. This year there was extra tension in the extended family since one of my brothers has a different political point of view and generally made everyone tense as he went on and on about “elites” and so on.

I bring this up because I can’t seem to recover from this set of holidays like I have in the past. I am 47 and have always been healthy.  Since the onset of this year’s holidays, I stopped exercising, ate more than I should, gained 10 pounds in almost three months and am having trouble sleeping.  I get home later these days since I seem to need more time to finish everything at work. Then there is dinner to prepare and eat late, a kitchen to clean and the next day to get ready for. My sleep is disrupted several times each night now and I have trouble falling back asleep because I worry about everything that I did not used to think about:  loss of health care, contraception options that could affect my daughters and about the anger that is tearing families and communities apart in this hateful political environment.  I wake up tired and am not as sharp as I have been at work and I am worried that I will lose my job.

I find that I cry often and feel almost hopeless. I know it is irrational but I have begun to think that the world I have known is coming to an end. What can I do to find my old self?

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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. January 23, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Thank you all for joining in the conversation. We make every effort to have women’s voices heard in the big conversations of the day. Do share this post that offers some reassurance that women on both sides of the political aisle have options to be involved in the process. Not to be too preachy about this, but we are all Americans and our country will work best when we take time to really listen to those who are different from us and empathise with their experience and concerns.
    Kate has more going on in her life than politics, however. And most women can empathize with “no time for self care”. I hope that this post helps each of you to focus this January on setting health and wellness goals.
    We remain grateful for your support,
    Dr. Pat

  • hillsmom January 23, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Well said Dr. Pat, but I think Kate needs to know she’s not the only one with feelings of dread. The outpouring Saturday was a step in the right direction regarding things to come. I know I did feel energized especially after hearing Gloria Steinem speak. (Now I’m going to call my senators and will continue to do so every day.
    The phone # is 202-225-3121 should any care to join other women who wish to be heard.)

  • Chris Lombardi January 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Dr. Pat, your voice this a.m. was exactly what I needed. We all need it, to survive the work to come.

    Thanks so much.

  • Julie January 23, 2017 at 9:34 am

    All your suggestions are spot-on. However, I doubt she can take a week off. She’s already worried that things aren’t getting done at her job. Because she might not have the vacation time or approval from her employer, she might not implement any of these changes. Advice that could fit her schedule would have been more helpful.