After the 2016 election, one woman I know spent two weeks in bed eating Oreo cookies three meals a day. I didn’t lose my grip quite so completely — although if it had occurred to me that was a genuine option, I might have been tempted. Like millions of my fellow Americans, I continue to struggle with post-election stress that even my usual remedies — wine, chocolate, and comedy films — can’t completely cure. I sometimes worry about being so worried, which obviously does nothing to alleviate matters.
So I was particularly glad to have the opportunity recently to interview a medical professional and fellow Resister: Patricia Salber, MD, MBA. An internist and ER physician, Pat currently works as a health consultant and writer. Her blog, The Doctor Weighs In, began covering obesity and weight loss in 2005, expanded to general wellness, and now includes a healthy dose of articles about government policies that impact our physical wellbeing. She continuously monitors the news stream, keeping the president’s shenanigans under close observation.
“When we wake up in the morning,” she told me, “my husband and I say, ‘What did he do last night? Did he resign yet? Did he make any crazy tweets?’”
Pat and I agreed we should strive for a balance between being news junkies and sticking our heads in the sand. It’s not easy. Too much news turns us into jittery, hyperventilating insomniacs, but totally ignoring it is as dangerous as saying, “Damn, I just broke my leg! Guess I’ll go to bed and hope it’s better in the morning.” Putting our heads under the covers, with or without Oreos, isn’t going to make us safer in the long run. At some point, the trauma needs to be dealt with.
The hard truth is: You should be worried. We all should. Sweeping changes in public policy are creating dangerous health hazards. For instance, the US pulled out of the Paris climate accords — but hey, who needs breathable air, anyway? And now contraception is under heavy attack. Apparently those who don’t remember the 1950s are trying to recreate them — back alley abortions, Jim Crow laws, and all. Pat writes about many of these worrying topics on her blog.
Climate Change and Human Health: It’s a Killer
The Anti-Contraception Agenda is Fueled by Fake Science
The Stale and Failed Health Policies of Republican ACA Replacement Plans
U.S. Healthcare Ranks Dead Last Compared to 11 High-income Countries
10 Stupid Things Politicians Said About Healthcare Recently
I loved this last article, which neatly demonstrates how incredibly clueless some lawmakers are. When a constituent objected to the Republican healthcare plan because it would leave millions without coverage, Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, snapped back, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.” Really? Tell that to the 45,000 Americans who died each year due to lack of healthcare before Obamacare passed. Fake news? Nope, a Harvard study.
We all have to be skeptical these days, with the epidemic of false facts and fake science going around. Much of it is generated by the new government appointees running family planning and other health programs. Here are just a few things they've said publicly (and I am not making this up):
Contraceptives are anti-family, medically irresponsible, and don’t work.
Abortion causes breast cancer.
Contraceptives cause miscarriages and break your uterus.
Condoms don’t protect against HIV.
The best remedy I’ve found is working for the Resistance. “Writing is one of my forms of Resistance,” Pat told me. I’m with her. Every time some outrageous statement comes out of the Oval Office, or some vicious whacko gets put in charge of an important government agency affecting millions of lives, I sit down and write a blog post and make another video about Women of the American Resistance. Taking even that modest action makes me feel better. Because if we're not clear about what's going on, how can we make a realistic diagnosis of the problem so we can work on solutions together?
But that’s just one way to get active. Many of my friends in blue states struggle with the challenge of finding meaningful work for the cause. “I’ve called all my reps, mostly to thank them for their last vote. Now what do I do?” they ask me.
Resistance takes many, many forms. Sure, grassroots organizing is an essential element, but so is every kind of volunteerism that supports community services that are under attack. Worried about women’s reproductive healthcare? Climate change? Civil rights? LGBT legislation? Refugees and immigrants? Find a volunteer opportunity near you. Here are few general resources to get you started. (And I hope I don’t have to mention that no one is sponsoring these links.)
While you’re exploring options and, with luck, finding meaningful volunteer work, remember to take good care of yourself. We all need to carve out small pockets of old-fashioned normality in the midst of the bizarre “new normal” we’re now inhabiting. I keep waiting to wake up and find it’s all been a ghastly nightmare. Until then, we’ll always have Oreos.
This video is Episode 8 of my ongoing series Women of the American Resistance. You can view the complete series here on this website, on YouTube, and American Resistance Sevilla; many episodes appear on my other blog Enjoy Living Abroad, Americans Resisting Overseas and various social media sites. Please feel free to repost this video or link to this content. My goal is to tell the world about these remarkable American women and the work they're doing to help fix the mess we're in.
Karen McCann is a bestselling author whose travel tips and adventure stories have appeared in Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, and Lonely Planet. She is a founding member of American Resistance Sevilla.