Episode 19: Healing from trauma

Ep. 19

Welcome to Uninhibited, a podcast with the mission to discuss taboo, multicultural, multi-generational, and multi-layered topics that matter to women. 

Our host, Dr. Makunda Abdul Mbacke, is an Ivy-League trained OBGYN, practicing medicine in rural America. She is a mother, career professional, part of Generation X, and so much more.


0:45 -Dr. Makunda welcomes listeners with an introduction to today’s guest, Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” Stanley, author of Widen the Window: Training Your Brain and Body to Thrive During Stress and Recover from Trauma, and a longtime friend of Dr. Makunda.

2:15 - Liz shares about her background, starting with her being the ninth generation of her family to serve in the military. She went to Yale on an ROTC scholarship and went on two deployments and finally had to confront many years of trauma in graduate school. Her book is a navigation of her own recovery, the science of trauma and recovery, and how this all came together in the creation of Liz’s resilience training for others.

6:10 - Dr, Makunda asks what Liz experienced when it all became too much, and the process of realizing her physical and emotional traumas. The physical manifestations of stress and trauma can be astounding, which emphasizes the importance of mental health and wellness. It took Liz and her doctors years to figure out all the contributing factors that affected her health.

9:00 - “It’s a strong metaphor - I didn’t want to see what was in my life.” Liz comments on how her physical conditions, like temporarily losing her eyesight, were indicative of larger issues in her life. 

10:30 - Liz explains the experience of not being believed by medical professionals when she went to them for help. It was devastating and traumatic not to be believed, but also led Liz to a path of owning her decisions and her body, trying non-traditional techniques and approaches to healing herself. However, she doesn’t fault the doctors at all - they were working with the tools and knowledge they had at the time.

15:00 - Dr. Makunda asks Liz to explain the thinking brain vs. the survival brain, a concept that she dives into in her book. The thinking brain controls reasoning, planning, willpower, and explicit decision-making - it’s the narrator of our daily lives. The survival brain is the evolutionary older parts of the brain that controls emotions and reactions, our unconscious and automatic thought and reaction. Our thinking brain can go offline in trauma and stress, while the survival brain is always on, always learning, always remembering, so our brains operate very differently when we are experiencing a stress event.

20:00 - Liz details the condition of survival brain hijacking, where the thinking brain is overridden by the survival brain and self-medicating and self-harming behavior can become more prevalent, but true mental and physical healing is not being achieved. 

21:05 - Dr. Makunda asks Liz about the Mindfulness Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT) that she developed and why it was necessary. There was a need for people who had experienced mental and physical trauma to navigate meditation and mindfulness differently, and address the survival brain’s responses. The most important aspect is for people to continually practice the exercises, to help the brain retrain itself.

26:50 - “Mindfulness really does need to be taught in a trauma-sensitive or trauma-informed manner, and there’s starting to be some movement towards that direction, because that’s not the way that the mass media often portrays it.” - Liz’s statement that meditation and mindfulness practice is really not as easy as the media can make it seem.

28:45 - Dr Makunda and Liz discuss how meditation and mindfulness practice can help with younger and teenage populations, especially as there is more attention on childhood stress and trauma, and a wider acceptance that early childhood experiences can plant the seeds of behavioral issues and emotional resiliency later in life. 

33:27 - Dr. Makunda asks if adversity can create grit and determination in people and actually contribute to success, as both Makunda and Liz have both experienced in their lives. Without adversity, can we develop resiliency and push for greater achievements, more success? Liz offers her perspective on this challenging question. There are so many layers to how an individual may experience adversity, stress, trauma, and how that person may get through and internalize the situation.

41:07 - Dr. Makunda asks Liz how we can practice healthy behaviors in the current climate of living under stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19. Financial uncertainty, losing jobs, disrupted routines, limited movement can be very disrupting and distressing. However, Liz emphasizes that this is a “new beginnings” time, a structural time where we can work on new habits and make choices to build resilience while we are navigating uncertainty. 

43:50 - Liz shares some mental and physical wellbeing tips for listeners to reinforce their survival brains while in COVID-19 lockdown. She recommends getting enough sleep, disengaging from the crisis media, finding a way to exercise or move your body every day, to focus on diet and balanced eating, making time to connect virtually with others to socialize, but also making space for alone time as well. 

49:10 - Liz leaves listeners with this - you always have a choice about where you are directing your attention. We can learn to train our attention to que the body and survival brain to feel space. Download Liz’s 5-minute guided exercise from her website to get started on your mindfulness practice. 

Check out Liz’s website - https://elizabeth-stanley.com/

Get her book - Widen the Window: Training Your Brain and Body to Thrive During Stress and Recover from Trauma.

Gain access to the MMFT® Contact Points Exercise - https://elizabeth-stanley.com/resources/

More Episodes


Episode 17: COVID 19 in the African-American community

Ep. 17
Welcome to Uninhibited, a podcast with the mission to discuss taboo, multicultural, multi-generational, and multi-layered topics that matter to women. Our host, Dr. Makunda Abdul Mbacke, is an Ivy-League trained OBGYN, practicing medicine in rural America. She is a mother, career professional, part of Generation X, and so much more.---00:48 - Dr. Makunda opens the episode by introducing her two guests and the topic for today, the impact of COVID-19 in underserved communities. Shani Gaylord works for the Virginia Department of Health, Youth Health Equity Institute, and is a passionate community member that cares for public health and sharing reliable knowledge. Sable K. Nelson Dyer is the Acting Director of the Office of Health Equity at the VA Department of Health, and currently serves as the chair of the Health Equity Working Group that is responding to the Virginia COVID-19 crisis. 3:45 - Dr. Makunda brings up how the news brought attention to the higher death rates in black and brown communities, and asks Shani and Sable to weigh in on why COVID-19 is ravaging these populations at a higher rate. Shani speaks to the socio-economic patterns in America’s history that place minorities at higher risk, such as working in essential roles and living in more multi-generational situations. Sable agrees that COVID-19 has only emphasized health, social, and resource inequities that existed before the virus. 10:46 - Shani shares something good to come from all this, which is that healthcare has expanded to cover more people who are without insurance and access. COVID-19 testing and paid sick time during this time is a critical way to include vulnerable and underserved populations who are affected by the pandemic. The group discusses the concept of “weathering” in black communities, and the heightened levels of stress and health issues that black people have to face that makes them more susceptible to illness. 15:05 - Dr. Makunda asks her guests to speak on institutional racism and its effects on black communities. Shani shares background and definition of the concept, while Sable and Dr. Makunda share examples of institutional racism in action.25:57 - Dr. Makunda talks about the conspiracy theories and misinformation around COVID-19, like the early statements that African Americans couldn’t get the disease. This put many people in vulnerable populations at risk, especially because access to higher quality resources is more limited within minority communities. Shani brings up that this negatively affects data collection and can reinforce misconceptions about how the disease is impacting the population.31:45 - Shani speaks to her knowledge on unequal data collection on the demographics of COVID-19 infection and death across healthcare providers. There is discussion around how and why this is occurring and how it is impacting health and public policy.37:55 - Dr. Makunda poses another controversial question: Just because the government says we can reopen, does that mean it’s safe to go out. Shani and Sable chime in on their impressions on if safe reopening can occur from a governmental and individual viewpoint.44:10 - Sable brings up the misconception that younger people have that COVID-19 cannot sicken them badly. There are COVID-19 cases that are showing up in children, and there are deaths and long-term post-infection impacts in younger people. There is also a huge risk that people in younger age groups can be carriers and spread the virus even more. 47:31 - Sable also discusses confusion around what kind of masks to wear, the importance of wearing a mask, and if it even makes a difference. Dr. Makunda lends her professional knowledge to explain how critical masks are in minimizing the spread of the virus. 49:15 - Dr. Makunda asks if Shani and Sable think there is enough testing occurring and what they’ve seen in their communities. Shani says there isn’t enough testing and has personal experiences that people are being dissuaded from getting tested. Sable agrees that in order to get a test in the Virginia area, you need to have a prescription and be exhibiting visible COVID-19 symptoms. This does not appropriately protect underserved communities from becoming hotspots of infection.57:15 - Dr. Makunda talks about the states that are starting to reopen, asking what their community should do as they prepare to phase back into reopening. Shani emphasizes getting tested and sticking to healthy practices, like good hand washing and social distancing. 58:25 - The group discusses special considerations and potential concerns when a vaccine is developed. Shani thinks there will be skepticism and mistrust around a vaccine, as they often take years to develop. Sable agrees and encourages following the data and cautiously proceeding in taking advantage of a vaccine once one has been developed. 1:04:15 - Dr. Makunda asks “Where do we go now?”, inquiring how we can change the systems in place and create positive change moving forward. Sable thinks that COVID-19 has highlighted a lot of potential for change for marginalized communities to receive funding and resources to support those who need it. Shani agrees, seeing that relationships with political and community organizations have strengthened, and the virtual reach we now have can extend to more people. 

Episode 16: What's done in the dark

Ep. 16
Welcome to Uninhibited, a podcast with the mission to discuss taboo, multicultural, multi-generational, and multi-layered topics that matter to women. Our host, Dr. Makunda Abdul Mbacke, is an Ivy-League trained OBGYN, practicing medicine in rural America. She is a mother, career professional, part of Generation X, and so much more.---00:48 Dr. Makunda welcomes today’s guest, Anita Kopacz, a mother, writer, speaker, and a survivor of sexual molestation as a young child who is willing to share her story and journey. Anita starts the episode by sharing more about herself, her background, and her work. 3:05 - Dr. Makunda asks Anita about how she developed the awareness of the abuse that she went through as a child, and how that realization affected her as an adult. Anita expressed that it took a long time and having her own children to fully realize the trauma of what she went through, and experienced a lot of guilt and shame from that experience.5:25 - Anita expresses that she needed to heal herself from her trauma because it was not only negatively effecting her children, but she was also not enjoying sex, having flashbacks from her molestation, and had other negative experiences around sex.7:11 - Dr. Makunda asks Anita who the first person was that she shared her molestation with. While in college, Anita shared her experience for the first time with her two older sisters. However, she recalls a memory of watching Oprah at a young age and fully took on the ownership and shame of her experience because of the confusing feelings that her molestation caused.9:26 - Anita explains that she began to share her experience more with other people as she grew up. She told her mother in her late twenties, and had to navigate talking through the experience with her father when he found out through her social media. 14:12 - Dr. Makunda inquires how the interactions began and if Anita noticed any grooming habits during the time her molestation took place. Anita explains that her abuser is in her family so there were perhaps grooming habits that she didn’t notice. While she was in training, Ainta addressed her abuser and they had a direct conversation about the experience, where he apologized to her and shared the experience of his own molestation.19:20 - Anita and Dr. Makunda discuss how to positively influence, help, and protect their children, especially with the growing movement of allowing children to be autonomous and decide if they do or don’t want to hug or kiss family members. If a child doesn’t want to physically interact with someone, then don’t force it.23:43 - Anita talks about her relationship with her partner and how he was included in her healing process, especially because intimacy is a critical part of how he feels love, but sex was difficult for her for a long time. They had to work through it together.26:20 - Dr. Makunda asks Anita to share about her pathway to healing, acknowledging that healing is not linear or necessarily an easy path. Anita felt that her healing was not just for her - it was for her children and her partner too, and she felt drawn to document her journey in order to help others. She also incorporated artistic elements and body-focused trauma therapy as tools to help with her healing. 30:50 - Dr. Makunda asks Anita about the sessions that she had with Christopher, the body trauma therapist, and Anita elaborates on how her therapy progressed. They discuss how much of healing is based in trust and addressing the physical trauma within her body slowly.35:33 - Ainta explains how her healing progressed from therapy to the experience of having her body painted, which was intensely emotional but an important step in her healing and her process to becoming a sexual and trauma coach.39:30 - Dr. Makunda asks how someone with less resources than Anita be able to take on their sexual trauma in a similar way. Are there programs available to these populations? Anita speaks about the Center for Safety and Change in New City, NY are able to provide call-in services and support for anyone who needs it. The Center also has a safehouse that is available for individuals located outside of New York to seek refuge at. However, in most major cities, there are local resources that are available to people suffering from trauma. 42:18 - Dr. Makunda asks Ainta what she thinks is the most important aspect about breaking the cycle of abuse in society. Ainta credits speaking up about abuse and giving it a voice helps to call attention to the issue and stop the action. We also need to be ready to do the work of healing and working through those experiences, and people need to believe each other when we talk about this type of pain!47:20 - To wrap up, Anita shares about the Zero F’s Given campaign that she created to bring awareness to those who have experienced sexual violence. Zero F’s day is set for June 7th where people will be brought together for performances, speakers, healing yoga, and togetherness. 80% of the proceeds from Zero F’s merch sales go towards supporting the Center for Safety and Change!-----Check out the Center for Safety and Change.You can call their 24 hour hotline for help - 845-634-3344.Find out more about the Zero F’s campaign and buy your Zero F’s Given Merch!

Episode 15: COVID19 and the Church

Ep. 15
Welcome to Uninhibited, a podcast with the mission to discuss taboo, multicultural, multi-generational, and multi-layered topics that matter to women. Our host, Dr. Makunda Abdul-Mbacke, is an Ivy-League trained OBGYN, practicing medicine in rural America. She is a mother, career professional, part of Generation X, and so much more.---*This podcast episode is a recording of a Facebook Live event.00:50 - Our episode opens with Reverend Keishawn R. Niblett, who is hosting the episode and interviewing Dr. Mbacke about the COVID-19 response in their local and faith communities, and what responsibilities we as individuals have to minimize the impact of the virus.2:15 - Dr. Mbacke starts with an introduction of herself, her professional background, and explains how COVID-19 in particular is catching her attention because of its negative effects on the black community. 5:27 - Reverend Keishawn asks if and how the local, rural healthcare system will be able to cope with a COVID-19 spike if it were to happen in their community. Dr. Mbacke explains that confirmed cases are just confirmations that the virus is already there, and there are probably many more people that are experiencing mild symptoms or are asymptomatic carriers. She explains that flattening the curve is to help the healthcare system, but there is still a shortage of PPE, ventilators, and hospital beds, especially in their smaller community.12:14 - Reverend Keishawn references a question posed in the chat about the availability of COVID-19 testing in the area. Dr. Mbacke says there are a few tests available at local doctor’s offices, as well as a testing clinic set up by the Department of Health at the Martinsville Speedway. Patients are also being screened for the virus before any surgical procedures.16:35 - The Reverend speaks about the Governor’s stay-at-home order and what limitations are now carefully being lifted. There are requirements that businesses and churches have to have in place in order to operate, and he asks Dr. Mbacke about how this may affect how people worship. She explains that life will definitely be different for a while, at least before a vaccine is developed, and the guidelines of the 50% occupancy are not the only rules to follow. Social distancing and staying with your home-unit is still critical in those types of gatherings.26:22 - Reverend Keishawn asks what resources to point people to for accurate information about COVID-19? Dr. Mbacke recommends referencing the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC website for accurate and up-to-date information about the virus, the spread, and what scientists are working on. They discuss the importance of understanding this information and following the Governor’s orders to ensure that everyone does their part to keep the community safe.28:16 - A listener chimes in with a statement for discussion about the safety of returning to church and how to care for each other by worshipping differently. He questions why there is pressure to reopen the state when there are still people getting sick. Dr. Mbacke agrees with the speaker’s point that the pressure to reopen is driven more by economics rather than science, and discusses how the response to reopening across the nation has been mixed.35:15 - Reverend Keishawn reads a chat question asking if there is a cost for COVID-19 testing and if insurance will cover it. Dr. Mbacke explains that the President has promised everyone who needs a test can get tested and insurance should cover these tests. However, there are not yet enough tests for anyone to get tested; usually, you have to exhibit symptoms or have close contact with an infected person to qualify for testing.36:42 - Another question concerns how long someone may be an asymptomatic carrier, not showing symptoms but still spreading the virus. Dr. Mbacke says there is definitely proof of asymptomatic transmission, but the window of how long someone may be contagious is still unknown.39:27 - Someone asks a question about healthy people wearing masks and potential cross contamination that can occur with wearing gloves in public. With exception of the N95 masks reserved for healthcare workers, Dr. Mbacke encourages the general public to wear cloth masks that cover the mouth and nose, even if you feel healthy. Wearing a mask protects your health and also the health of the people around you. As for gloves, you are easily exposed to cross contamination if you are not changing your gloves regularly, but these are critical supplies that first responders need first and foremost. 46:55 - Another question regards food safety and what to be aware of. Dr. Mbacke cautions against eating food that is exposed to respiratory droplets that can be expelled simply by talking. For example, it is best to avoid birthday party food and buffet style dinners that traditionally bring together lots of people. With grocery store food, there may be germs or virus cells living on the food packaging, but contamination on actual, cooked food is low. 50:25 - Dr. Mbacke asks the Reverend about his concerns about tithe in church and cautions around collecting cash. He explains that there is some movement towards digital giving, but also that church members are working to ensure that any cash donations are properly handled and sanitized. He emphasizes safety over everything and foresees online giving becoming the new way forward.52:30 - Reverend Keishawn thanks Dr. Mbacke for her time and her professional guidance on how to safely move forward in this situation. Dr. Mbacke ends with a reminder to us all that we must support each other during this time to prevent the spread of sickness, and that there is hope and a cure being worked on.1:00:27 - One final question asks if you can be reinfected once you have had COVID-19. Dr. Mbacke explains that it is still too early to know this for certain, but other countries like South Korea are looking into this as their country reopens and infections are spiking again. There is the potential that the virus can lay dormant for a while before resurfacing, but there are too many unknowns with COVID at this time. ---For guidance on COVID-19 requirements and limitations, please reference the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC Website. Find Uninhibited at:FacebookInstagram @uninhibited.podcast