Carrying—and Caring for—Emotional Baggage in the New Year, Including a Televised Cardiac Arrest


Are you carrying emotional baggage from 2022?

briefcase, baggage

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Depending on the outcome of the televised cardiac arrest of a professional football player last night, loved ones and the viewing public will need to process some trauma and grief in order to not be emotionally haunted by the event. Given that it was one of the periodic public traumas or losses that ripples out to so many others, it would seem appropriate to at least bring in a mental health crisis team to talk to the football team and related others as soon as possible.

As one calendar year turns into the promise of another, major losses are often triggered and require adequate grieving. For me, I am carrying the heavy load of grief for the sudden death of my lifetime best friend. Loved ones, friends, and supportive communities can do so much to support the process. Fortunately, I had taken a long trip to visit him in October.

Serendipitously, on the day of New Year’s Eve, on the top of my sock drawer I saw a new pair, a Hanukah present from my wife. Now, finding these is not just any old pair of socks, but more like the equivalent of biting into a Proustian madeleine cookie. Just like in clinical psychiatry, they have some deeper meaning. They are turquoise blue and gray with black letters spelling out “Emotional Baggage.” There are 2 pictures on the sides that look to me like a worried and an angry piece of luggage.

Follow up in clinical psychiatry is necessary to access quality of care for our patients’ emotional baggage, but so challenging to do so well. It necessitates tracking how patients have done over time, whether after stopping treatment or continuing treatment indefinitely.

The same holds true for these columns. Follow up on the issues is sometimes easy, sometimes not.

Moreover, as difficult as double-blind follow-ups on clinical psychiatry are to do, they are practically impossible in society. If the government, say, makes a recommendation about pandemic vaccination or masking, it is doing so for the whole country, not randomly dividing it in half. We cannot elect 2 presidents for the country and then compare their results, can we?

To do what we can regarding follow up in these columns, we will begin a series of societal emotional baggage updates from 2022 that is either evolving or resolved in some way. Perhaps opening up and inspecting these carry-ons will also provide some perspective on the value of our coverage.

Have you been emotionally tripped up in 2022, and what emotional baggage are you then bringing into 2023? Did you happen to miss highly anticipated family get togethers and lose checked baggage with the breakdown of flight schedules during the climate instability and airline insufficiency? How are you planning to deal with it? If you need any reminders to recover this baggage, buy a pair of these socks for some solid psychological footing.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

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