It was an inspiring week by being recognized as a top social media influencer!
“I complied my top 5 favorite twitter accounts that have helped me define my passions!” ~Madison Roberge, Interdisciplinary Studies Major at Plymouth State University
It was an honor to interview Dr. Ramin Javahery, here is our important discussion on “Humility in Medicine:”
Dr. Denise: This is the Dr. Denise Show. I’m Dr. Denise McDermott, an Adult and Child Psychiatrist, specializing in an integrated approach to mental health. I believe in prescribing the least amount of medication, coupled with a comprehensive treatment plan. My goal is to empower you to thrive and I take a multidimensional approach to wellness, not illness. You are not your symptoms. Call upon your best and highest self to embrace your mental health. On this program you will meet many doctors, experts and pioneers who have helped pave the way to shift the paradigm of getting rid of the stigma of mental illness in our society. This show was created for those of you who would like new ways of thinking and understanding about mental health and helping your loved ones to thrive and cope in empowered ways.
Today I’m excited and honored to interview Dr. Ramin Javahery. He is a Board Certified Neurosurgeon. His education began at UCLA where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in English Literature. During his undergraduate years, he also engaged in research in the field of Molecular Biology. He went on to medical school at USC and became Editor-in-Chief of the USC Journal of Medicine. Beyond his academic pursuits, he was also interested in humanitarian activities and organized the USC-Rwanda Relief Fund to send money to the victims of the Rwandan genocide. At this time he is Chief of Adult and Pediatric Neurosurgery at Miller Children’s Hospital, where he practices both Adult and
Pediatric Neurosurgery, as well as Spine Surgery. His interest in patients extends beyond curing their diseases. He has passion about caring for patients and is a member of the ethics committee at Long Beach Memorial.
Dr. Javahery:: Good morning!
Dr. Denise: Good Morning Ramin, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Dr. Javahery:: Thank you for having me.
Dr. Denise: How much time do we have today? I want to respect your surgery schedule.
Dr. Javahery:: I have patients at 10am so we have plenty of time.
Dr. Denise: OK, fantastic! Ok, so everyone, I’m so excited and honored we have Dr. Ramin Javahery, Chief Neurosurgeon at Miller’s Hospital here for an interview and he and I met very fortunately on social media. We actually, it turns out, Ramin, it looks like we’re neighbors.
Dr. Javahery:: We are?
Dr. Denise: Yah. I live in Manhattan Beach too.
Dr. Javahery:: Then we are neighbors.
Dr. Denise: Did your kids get a good start to their school week?
Dr. Javahery:: My kids actually go to school at Chadwick so they don’t start for another two weeks.
Dr. Denise: Oh, ok. We’ve got one at Rolling Hills Prep, one that’s on their way to college and another one at Pacific. So we’ve kind of got a lot going on.
Dr. Javahery:: That does seem like a lot.
Dr. Denise: Yah, but a lot of good stuff too. So I really appreciate you being on the show. Can you give us a little bit of background on your path to being a Neurosurgeon and also some of your other humanitarian activities, just to give us an idea of who you are and what you do?
Dr. Javahery:: Sure, I, let me just start by saying that there are really two types of doctors I think, doctors who enter the field as scientists who want a practical application of that field and doctors who want to do things that are good for humanity and pick medicine as the path. And those doctors may not be scientifically minded; it’s more of a desire for connectivity and being a humanitarian in some ways. And I think for me it was more of that path. I was an English Lit major in college and I really couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, I had thought about going into ah, the law or going into business and it just never resonated with me, I wanted to find something that allowed me to be connected to people, to do things that made a difference in people’s lives. And my dad happened to be a surgeon and it kept calling to me and it was, despite my father’s best efforts that I went into medicine. He actually consistently tried to dissuade me from going into health care as a field.
Dr. Denise: You know I have to say something about that, my uncle, Raymond Vahl, Dr. Vahl is a Dermatologist in the Chicago area and I experienced the same thing. My uncle was like, I don’t know, medicine’s changing, you don’t get the sort of the essence of the art of medicine and he really, really kind of did the same thing, so I find that very interesting. And it sounds like on your path, which was similar to mine, you know, I love surgery, you know I got an A on surgery, I was into Ophthalmology stuff, I was one of those people, sounds like you, that had so many interests, but I followed my path of being more of an innate healer that I really wanted to make a difference in a care-giving profession and so I was really interested when I read your bio and saw that you were an English Literature major and you were editor at USC, so it sounds like you’ve always had a lot of interests and you kind of then, how did you things, how did you listen, not listen to your father? How did that happen?
Dr. Javahery:: So, it’s interesting. I think that my perspective about health care was really because of my dad, despite what he said, you know, the old adage, look at what people do, not what they say. And I lived in a home where my father was respected and loving in his community because of what he did, through his work. And that seemed unique to me. No other profession, I mean there are other professions, but no profession that was open to me at the time seemed to have that where, again, a trite cliché, where you can do good and do well at the same time was available to me. And, but it wasn’t just to do well that was the animating factor, it was that I didn’t think that I would be a successful enough businessman to have a Gates Foundation. I didn’t think that I would necessarily be able to do as much good on a daily basis if I was a lawyer even if I was in a philanthropic organization as I could as a physician. Literally on a daily basis I can affect people for the better. And, more importantly, than that is that the community that you build in health care with your patients and their families is much more robust, I think, than in almost in any other position. Just think about the fact that you walk into an office and you see a physician and without having anything told to you about their background, who they are, what they believe, you trust them. That innate faith in the person that’s in the office that you’re seeing is remarkable and it’s a um, it’s a privilege that physicians have and we should work extremely hard to preserve it, not, and I think that some of the problems that we see are because there’s a certain amount of abuse of the inherent faith that society places in physicians by certain physicians and I think that, we should fight that, but it also means that we are such a privileged group and it makes our jobs very satisfying.
Dr. Denise: Well, the, what you are talking about is very much the doctor patient
Dr. Javahery:: Absolutely
Dr. Denise: and I know that in the line of work I do as an adult and child psychiatrist, I always enjoyed the whole picture of a person. I was not someone who could see myself in a clinic where I had five to ten minutes to say are you depressed are you sad are you this and so I took a leap of faith and I started my private practice when I was finishing up. It looks like you and I have the UCLA connection. I was finishing up my Child Psychiatry at UCLA and I was like, you know what, I am just going to go for it, I want to be able to practice medicine in the way that I want to, create the office environment and really I decided not to do a managed care route because I didn’t want to lose the art of medicine and I’m in a unique situation, I know with surgery there’s different challenges and I think we need to address that because I think you want to talk about the doctor- patient relationship and how doctors and patients can have the best relationship whether you’re in managed care or you’re in a kind of fee for service or a private practice. But what you’re talking about when I actually look at my schedule my patient schedule every day and I really connect I have some people that come to me for therapy some for med management some for a second opinion. I have people in my practice that I’ve had for 15 years. I might only see them twice a year cause they’re just thriving. But there is a real connection and the essence and the art of connecting. When you say humanitarian I look at things as we’re really connecting soul to soul. And so I think it’s such a privilege and such an honor and I think it’s such an important time for us as doctors to be role models. And I’d love to get your take on what it’s like being a surgeon and I know you wanted to talk about the doctor-patient relationship and the future of medicine. I’d love to hear your A quote from history:” It when you want to find a diagnosis go to the patient if you’re confused go back to the patient.” It’s really the patient that is the key, the patient is the place you have to go and the doctor- patient relationship is the key to it. And I think one of the things that is lost in the healthcare reform and the conversation about healthcare reform is that everything we talk about seems to be diminishing the doctor-patient relationship and part of the problem is that much of it is animated by this progression and it’s not the health care reform under President Obama wasn’t a change it was just a natural progression of what’s been happening which is that health care went from mostly small mom and pop small businesses and then academic institutions to more and more big business, large, I mean large multi-billion dollar corporations that own the facilities and own the physicians. I think that is, I can’t stop that. I don’t think anybody can. I think that we have to involve doctors in the process and at least make people understand that there is a cost when you eviscerate the bonds between patients and doctors, and the again another cliché; nobody cleans a rental car. When doctors don’t own their patients, when the patient belongs to the system and the doctors aren’t individually responsible, then there’s really nobody responsible, you need to own your patients they have to feel that at the end of the day you are going to be responsible for what happens to them because that feeling of responsibility, which is inherent in a doctor-patient relationship, will encourage you to be a better physician and encourage the patients to trust you. I think that that bond is being broken and I will say one thing about the whole health care reform system; it lacks humility. One of the things I love about being doctors and one of the things I hate, I hated about when I was first going into surgery, about a lot of the surgeons I met was humility. The lack of it and the surgeons I met and the prevalence of it among most good physicians. I think that, one of the real assets. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Dr. Denise: No, I just want to jump in because I’m so aligned with you. I actually, I did a tweet that said ego is the enemy.
Dr. Javahery:: Yes.
Dr. Denise: I really wish all of our children, because I’m a child psychiatrist, and I think about health and prevention and people being empowered with their health and kind of having self-awareness. And, can you imagine, I know in our schools here in Manhattan Beach they’re doing a lot of integrated kindness and care and character, but can you imagine a world where our children were being taught about what ego is, what humility is, learning how to say they’re sorry and also feeling almost honored and privileged? I was raised that if you have gifts, and you know everyone has their different spiritual beliefs or their higher power their God their source or maybe in just this lifetime they don’t believe and there’s the high morality. But I believe if you have a level of intelligence and compassion I think if you’re able to take care of yourself and your family and you have more left over and you have the ability to be a surgeon or a doctor or a humanitarian in any way, we want to be of service to others. And you know not everyone has the same capabilities. I have a lot of humility because I work with a lot of children with learning issues, ADD, autism spectrum and those people are working, you know, at a different more strenuous rate just to get through their day. So if someone has the intelligence to get through medical school on pretty much any different type of profession in medicine and someone’s coming to be helped you want to make sure, I do agree with you, there needs to be humility. And also I think it’s so important to meet our patients where they’re at. And I think I’m just so excited to have you on the show because I feel like you’re a kindred spirit. I bet you spend a lot of time really connecting, educating your patients, making them feel like they’re empowered. Would you, can you speak to this?
Dr. Javahery:: So I do think we have a similar perspective on this. I think the belief that I am flawed and that I am not, me meaning anybody, that I as a person am flawed and that I shouldn’t think too highly of myself because there’s always there’s always someone smarter, there’s always someone better educated, there’s always someone better looking, there’s always someone taller, thinner, more attractive, whatever it may be. We should all have a little bit more humility because, we are, we all have our flaws and I think that walking with that understanding makes us much more compassionate to everybody else around us. Again, the cliché, he who has no sins cast the first stone. We seem to be living in a world where people are so confident of the truth of what they believe, that they are almost blind themselves to the ability to connect with other human beings. I read a book, the name of which I don’t want to share because the name of it will kind of temper the perspective, but what the book said is that it was about Miller-Urey Gnostics which were the Christian version of modern day Islamic fundamentalists at the turn of the first millennium when they were, they believed that Christiandom was not Christian enough and then needed to be more adherent to the laws of Christianity so that there would be the second coming, and the quote is that, “the believer knows that he believes, the zealot believes that he knows,” and this blind faith in our own knowledge is completely antithetical to what being a good doctor is. Doctors are inherently insecure we question, we have M & M’s and we criticize each other and we’re confrontational with one another.
Dr. Denise: So that for everyone out there in M & M is morbidity and mortality correct?
Dr. Javahery:: Yes.
Dr. Denise: When you have conferences when something doesn’t go quite right and doctors want to learn like what could we have done better. So that’s what Dr. Javahery: was talking about.
Dr. Javahery:: Sorry about that. Yah…
Dr. Denise: That’s ok. No problem.
Dr. Javahery:: I got into the weeds.
Dr. Denise: No, but what I want to say though, we’re talking about compassion, we’re talking about love, we’re talking about humility. And so when I was in medical school, I have to admit, the first year of med school I actually went and saw a therapist and you know why?
Dr. Javahery:: Why?
Dr. Denise: I thought people weren’t kind enough. I actually went and talked to a therapist and I said I thought 80% of people, by the way I don’t want it say that I have this exact number right, I just like to do estimates, I thought 80 to 90% of the people were smart enough to be there, but only 40% felt kind and compassionate enough. I was a little bit disappointed I know as a young I went straight from undergrad right into med school so I had to do a couple of therapy sessions because I’m like, oh my God, these people are mean like how are they going to grow up in like four years and turn kinder. So I just wanted to share that just came back to me when you’re talking about, you know, maybe this kind of segues into young doctors. But I have this idea that doctors, you know, are supposed to be healers, they’re supposed to be helpful. And this does tie in with your ego discussion. I saw a lot of ego at my medical school.
Dr. Javahery:: I did too. I was. I was a little bit taken aback by the egos in the in the world of neurosurgery when I was first applying for residency. I was truly shocked because growing up my dad was a surgeon but he was a very humble man. And I always thought, physicians, and especially surgeons is more like just privates in an army where we just did the grunt work. We just worked and worked and did good things for people and that’s what we did. And I didn’t view, this is funny because I didn’t view doc. as surgeons as, the smartest. I always thought I was always impressed by the cognitive ability of internal medicine docs. But I viewed surgeons as just, we, we took it. We just were tough and we worked and we were kind of manual labors in the world of health care. And as such we should be humble and, in our deficiencies. And take pride in just the fact that we worked hard. And when I was applying I saw so much ego and it was, I agree, off-putting and going back to this issue of humility. I think on a global scale what we can do as physicians is first police ourselves and remind each other that humility in what we do is a necessity, it’s not a flaw. And then take that and apply it to the bigger issues of reforming the health care insurance market, access to care, because I think those things do need to be changed they need to be fixed, but they should be fixed maintaining a doctor-patient relationship and they need to be fixed with a certain amount of humility about what it is that on a macro scale we can never anticipate occurring on a micro level when you change macro policies. And, I think again, people who work in the trenches like I do have should have a voice and should participate in the health care reform because I think all too often people who have, who do public health and who do large scale analysis don’t really pay attention to the ground level affects on patients and their families and the relationship between the patients and doctors.
Dr. Denise: I agree with you and I think I’d love to meet with you outside of the show to discuss ways we can do that, but one thing that we’re also talking about, for any young physicians listening and also for patients, but for young new physicians, I think they have to have they have to make you have to make the decision, like you and I did, and it sounds like you are just naturally this is kind of innately who you are. But if you’re somewhere in-between the science and the healer you describe two types and you’re maybe a little bit of both, really standing in your own truth as an M.D. and making sure that you decide that your patient-doctor relationship is sacred and that, meaning you are, that is your patient, that is your doctor, and that no matter what managed care is telling you, that you need to sort of stand up if you don’t agree, that you need to shorten your appointments or you need to do this coding or whatever you need to do, stand true and also try to do whatever you need to do for good self-care. We all need to do this good fitness, good nutrition, because I think when doctors and anyone’s overworked you can get a bit jaded and sometimes you can just go along with the program. And so you need to really still stand in your truth and it looks like this is a good time to talk, and I know there’s a couple of other topics we want to get to, but you’re on the Ethics Committee.
Dr. Javahery:: Yes
Dr. Denise: So it sounds like what you’re talking about is something you’re so passionate about can you tell us a little bit about your work on the Ethics Committee?
Dr. Javahery:: Yeah. I joined the Ethics Committee because I was so disturbed by a lot of the ways that patients were being treated by physicians. One of my pet peeves and then one of the things that I always bring up with families and I’ve never heard anybody else talk about it, but I see them practice this in the wrong way is the difference between moral and medical futility of care. So we live in a world where doctors don’t think about what they do in a moral paradigm, but it is, and yet they approach patients and give them moral advice believing that it is purely medical advice; I’ll give you an example: a patient comes in with a bleed in their brain, a hemorrhage, the patient is 80 years old. The bleed is devastating, but if we do everything we can as a physician that patient will survive, they will survive with a pretty poor quality of life, but they will nevertheless survive. The physicians go in the room. And talk to the family and say well this is futile to do anything and therefore we would recommend withdrawal of care. Now, the family may believe that it is futile and that the quality of life that that person will have is not worth fighting for or they may disagree. And, but that is their choice. The physician in that situation is making a decision about moral futility not medical futility. You can help medically. You just don’t agree with the outcome morally. We should be more humble. We should present it, and I do often, I go listen, the strategic goal here is the moral perspective you bring. If this is a quality of life that you find acceptable, on a tactical level, I’ll fight the fight for you because medically I can make a difference, but I have to tell you, and I’ve said this to patients, I’m, from a moral perspective wouldn’t fight it. My moral code tells me that this is not a fight worth fighting. But I will fight for you if you feel that this is what you want for your family. And it is such an empowering conversation. I can’t tell you how many people will say wow I get it. No let’s not fight it, in a circumstance where they were, they were defensive prior to my conversation with them. And I think that one of the things that I do with the Ethics Committee is I constantly try to push back against the moral blindness of a lot of physicians when they try to impose their morality on the families of patients especially in a culture, in a multicultural environment like ours where, you know, you’ve got often white upper middle class physicians who are religious, but maybe more on the periphery of religiosity and we’re dealing often with, in my case, I mean they’re very heavily Hispanic population, very Catholic and very religious who don’t view, it doesn’t have to be Catholic, you can be in an Orthodox Jewish environment where they are very reticent to withdraw care or to diminish the care that their family receives, and that creates conflict. Well it’s not your job to change this person’s morality, if they believe this is a life worth living, even if I don’t, my job isn’t to teach them my morality my job is to care for them and as long as it’s not medically futile, I will do as my patients families request because that is my, it’s my oath.
Dr. Denise: So everyone I think what I love about what Dr. Javahery: is talking about is really meeting the family. There’s the medical outcome of yes I can keep this person alive. But then respecting the person having a conversation where you respect them soul to soul, person to person, human to human, and you look at what their beliefs are, but you do what a doctor needs to do is have compassion and also patient education. So you’re letting someone know. If we do this here’s the quality of life. And you’re really educating and telling someone here all the possibilities. But you’re not telling someone well they’re goner, or this. And so I’m wondering, can you give all the listeners out there that might be going into like a surgery situation maybe some tips on how If they could talk to their surgeon depending on their surgeon’s style like what tips you would give people? And how to have that conversation?
Dr. Javahery:: So one of the things I tell all my patients is that any doctor who’s afraid of a second opinion is a doctor you should be afraid to see.
Dr. Denise: I love that. Thank you. I do too. Go ahead. I’m like, go ahead see as many because you want them to feel good. So keep going. So first of all a second opinion is something that no one should be afraid of, we should encourage that.
Dr. Javahery:: Right. Because either I’m wrong and you get a second opinion and it opens my eyes to a bad, an error in my judgment or you get a second opinion and it corroborate what I had said and you are more faithful in what I have to say. you believe more strongly in what I have to say.
Dr. Denise: Or there is even a third option right, that there’s a little bit of both. I’ve had that people go and get like three or four different opinions for really complex surgeries in my practice and they come to see me for the psychological piece of what to do.
Dr. Javahery:: No absolutely. I think as all good health care there is a collaborative aspect to it. But what I was going to say in terms of your question about what families should do. I tell them this and the reason I say this is that families should, or patients and their families should not only seek a second opinion if they are looking for more medical information you should also feel connected to your physician because at the end of the day what I do as a surgeon is an extraordinarily intimate act. I enter people’s bodies. That’s not a small issue. Forget about the technical ability or whether I do a good job or not. Just think about it. Do you like this person enough to have them violate your, your being. If you don’t find some of that you do feel is you’re OK with letting them into your body. This is, it’s kind of like dating, find someone that you are in sync with. If it’s not me, fine, find somebody that you’re comfortable with because every surgeon will have complications. Everyone, if there’s a doctor who tells you a surgeon tells you that they’ve never had a complication they’re lying, everybody does and you want to feel that if there is a complication you have faith that this doctor did the best for you they could, and that the complication was unavoidable. So I think that connection with a physician is important that emotional link that you speak the same language, that you view life through the same prism of life experiences, morality, ethics, all of those things that matters. Now, some people it matters less, some people are just, you know, they go I don’t care as long as he’s a good doctor if doesn’t affect me, more power to you, then that’s as much of an issue. But, whatever your metrics are for trusting your physician, if you find a doctor that doesn’t fit it, don’t be afraid to find someone who does.
Dr. Denise: I completely agree and we’re talking about the therapeutic alliance, and when someone comes to us, I believe that we are all a part of our own healing, so whether someone is coming to me and they have depression or anxiety, or if they’re coming to you for a surgical procedure, yes but we’re facilitators of health and well being, we need to have that partnership and the hope and belief and the relationship, because the outcomes are so much better. In fact, I don’t know which journal I read, but a lot of surgeons, when people are sort of like, “I know I’m going to die, I know I’m going to die..” sometimes you’re like I don’t know if I want to work with that patient. I want to be very specific here, there are situations where the surgery is so complex where there’s a high chance of dangerous surgery, but my point is we need to engage our patients in the healing process and the hope. So when someone comes to me and says nothing can help my depression, and I’ve worked with them for four times, but they keep repeating that thought to themselves and they’re maybe not engaging in exercise, good nutrition, cognitive therapy, mindfulness, then I don’t have a partnership for them to engage in their health and well-being. So, I think it works both ways, I think we want our patients to find doctors that they trust and care, and I will say and I’m sure you can agree that there are different character styles in medicine. Just like there are in law, and everything, and there can be an exceptional surgeon, that maybe is a bit shy, and is an outstanding surgeon, but maybe doesn’t like to do a lot of the talking, but it still doesn’t mean they’re not compassionate, so you can pick up on their vibe that they’re very caring, but maybe they don’t talk as much to their patients because they’re ready for the next thing. Would you agree that there sometimes there’s that style, too?
Dr. Javahery:: Oh, yeah, I think that the, our judgments about people are tempered by our experiences, and sometimes people who are shy come off as aloof, totally agree. And especially for patients who are looking for someone to comfort them through the process, if you’re shy and don’t reach out to the patient, it can come off that way, I.. my perspectives are generalities, I don’t profess to say on every specific case they are applicable, there are going to be exceptions. Just like, you know, when I was dating, there were girls who thought that I was one thing, even though I would just happen to be shy about dating, and they were not interested, and the same thing applies to the doctor-patient relationship, you may think that someone is aloof just because they’re shy. But, can I just make a… I want to share a story about the doctor-patient relationship because I think it really animated it in my perspective. Since I was in residency, and there was a woman who had broken her back, she was paralyzed, we operated on her, stabilized her back, but obviously made no change in her paralysis, she was a former nurse and had some respiratory issues, she would have recovered if we were fully aggressive in her care, she decided to request that we remove her chest tubes, and she would go on hospice, and, meaning that she was going to die, and she was would have died because she still had respiratory issues, she had gotten pneumonia, and eventually passed away. But, she wanted to die because she didn’t want to live as a paraplegic. And I remember, nobody else broached the subject with her, her son, I did, I went in the room and I said, “Listen, life, you know, just because you can’t walk, doesn’t mean that you can’t be productive, my dad died of ALS and he was paralyzed, and it was… I felt very strongly that human beings exist between their ears, not below their necks, and that our physical abilities should not define our humanity…” And I told them this, and I told the son, “Listen, I’ll do what you ask, I’ll do what she asks, but I have to tell you it makes me sad, that I think you guys are doing, from my perspective, the wrong thing, but I will definitely help you, I mean I won’t stand in your way, I just have to tell you, I think that you’re not giving life a chance here.” So, she eventually did this and died. The son came back and said, “I so much appreciate that you were honest with us, that although you disagreed, you told us what you felt, and we did what we felt was right, but at least there was an honest conversation.” And I think that that was really significant in my life, because it told me that I can disagree with people, and they will still respect me if.. If I do so honestly and with respect, again, with humility.
Dr. Denise: Absolutely, so we’re talking about respecting another individual’s world view, soul view, and that you, you have the advantage as an M.D. of also seeing people feel that way, about, “Oh my Gosh, I might be paralyzed,” but then you see on the other side people thriving, and so do I, I see people go through unbelievable medical issues, surviving cancer, surviving things, and finding out that their inner world or their mindset, that they’ve actually enjoyed life to an even greater extent, but at the same time, we have to respect another individual’s viewpoint, so giving options and sort of being true to your feelings, but not saying you have to make this decision because I feel this way, really also, I believe everyone allows for the doctor-patient relationship to be vulnerable, and to be real and authentic and not from a distance. When you start talking about statistics, but also feelings, that allows our patients to kind of open up and share their feelings more so I think that was a great example and I really appreciate you giving that.
Dr. Javahery:: Yeah, I think…Thank you. I think that overall these issues, like you said, humility, respecting other people… makes us better physicians, and, you know, if you go back historically, physicians were respected way before we could actually help people, for centuries. We had very little in our armamentarium to help most patients, most of our patients died, and there was a few cases where we could help, there was some things, but the mortality for surgery was so high, diseases were often untreatable, but people still respected us, why?
Dr. Denise: Well, there was innate desire to be a healer. There was an innate desire to connect with another soul and help them thrive and have the best life.
Dr. Javahery:: I agree, and I think it was also a perspective that linked us to the clergy. You know, miracles don’t happen all the time, yet people believe in the value of clergy, why? Because they were guides, they helped you through a process. Whether or not you achieved the goal that you desire, a miracle or whatever, or health from the doctor, was secondary to you were a guide through the process. And too often, physicians, because we so much rely on our ability to heal, we forget about our ability to comfort and to guide people through the disease process. If I guide you through a disease process, no matter the outcome, if my job is to guide people through a disease process, no matter the outcome, I, and the patients, always win. Even if the disease takes that patient, if my job is only to cure, the patients lose, I lose. But if my job is to cure, and to guide, there’s always victory in that process…
Dr. Denise: Can I say something? What you’re saying is so fantastic, because we’re- the world’s using a lot of buzz words these days, and what you’re really talking about is the journey, not the end point, so we’re talking about not just the material result, does the person live or not from the OR, we’re talking about the process of, the engagement, and we did the best we could, but we also honored someone’s belief system, so we’re really respecting someone’s mindset, and their kind of the unspoken energy exchange between two people, so we’ve got the human, material realm science, but what we’re really talking about is also post material connection, the unseen energy exchange of, you know, we can use words like compassion, humility, and so I agree, I completely agree with you.
Dr. Javahery:: Oh, good.
Dr. Denise: And I think it’s fantastic, and I wanted to ask you because we have a little bit more time, I think that one of the topics you wanted to address, I know that you work with children, you work with teens, you work with adults and I saw on Twitter, I saw one of your cases about a six-year-old who, you know, you removed a tumor on their brain stem, and you’re dealing with post-op recovery, with healing, so can you give us a little bit of an idea of your treatment philosophy on pain management? And how you educate your patients and how they can be an active participant in their recovery?
Dr. Javahery:: Yeah, so this goes, my philosophy about pain goes back to, to my mentor in residency, Dr. Heros, he’s the, he was the Chairman at University of Miami where I did my residency. And he used to tell us stories about the old days of Neurosurgery, and one of the stories is, that, back 30 years ago, 40 years ago, there was a very vibrant field in Neurosurgery which no longer, which is no longer as vibrant. And this field, this part of Neurosurgery was basically surgery pain management, it was surgical management of pain. There was a surgery that they did, not very often, but when patients had incapacitating pain, it was called cingulotomy, bilateral cingulotomy. The cingulate gyrus is one of the gyri in the brain that is part of the circuit that controls our emotional response to pain, and it’s basically, what that means is it controls suffering. If people were, had incapacitating pain, the surgery would be to disrupt both cingulate gyruses and what would happen is that the pain would still be there, and he would describe, I’ve never actually seen a patient like this, I only know the stories that Dr. Heros said and he’s, his veracity is unassailable. He would say, these patients, you would do the cingulatomies, and they would wake up and he would go, “Are you in pain?” And they would say,”Yes.” And he would say, “Well, does it bother you?” And they would say, “No.” And it was this epiphany for me that pain and suffering are distinct and they shouldn’t be brought together. That pain is a body’s physical response to a noxious or dangerous stimuli, like a, sharp object, heat, fire, things like that. We all have that same nervous response, goes up the sensory nerves into our spinal chord into our thalami and then to our consciousness, that’s pain. Suffering is the emotional overlay on our pain, that emotional overlay is adjustable-
Dr. Denise: I agree.
Dr. Javahery:: You can, sorry…
Dr. Denise: No, I love it, it’s the mind body connection, so I want to hear your perspective as surgeon and then I see and hear that in my office.
Dr. Javahery:: So, my, my, what I tell patients is you can do it surgically, you can disconnect that surgically or you can do it emotionally. We all walk in life with a certain amount of emotional reserve, the more you exhaust your emotional reserve, the more you will suffer. The less you… The more emotional reserve you have in life, the less you will suffer for the same amount of pain. I have patients, two patients, same surgery, one patient is in agony, riving, the other patient, you walk in the room and they’re smiling, and you go, “How much pain do you have?” And they go, “Oh, I’ve got pain doctor but it’s OK.” It is the emotional response, and you can teach people to have a more measured response, and you can encourage them to build more emotional reserve to face those difficult physical ailments. And part of that I think is encouraging patients emotionally to have more connectivity with the people they love and the people around them. I think isolation is an extraordinary emotional suck, it basically, being isolated is an emotional vacuum cleaner, you become completely exhausted. Obviously, it’s a chicken and egg thing, do people who have chronic pain become isolated because they have chronic pain? Or do people who have more emotional issues develop chronic pain issues? I think that these are conversations you should have with your patients, because I think that once you have them, people are more aware of the intellectual tools they have to overcome their pain, and so…
Dr. Denise: Do you refer your patients or does your team at your office have someone that’s very savvy with cognitive, I know it sounds like you’re an educator and very compassionate surgeon, do you have a team approach that helps people rank their pain, and look at quality of life and holistic healing and how much sleep they’re getting, how much exercise, what’s your physical therapy, what is your wrap around service at your particular clinic with this discussion?
Dr. Javahery:: So, unfortunately, no, I don’t. Part of it is that, there’s a paucity of neuropsychologists, psychiatrists who are able to participate in these processes. If you’re in a, because I work in Long Beach, I mean I do get a lot of affluent patients, but the majority of my patients are not, I take care of Medical, patients. I, my practice is broad and therefore the patients I get often don’t have access to the psychological aspects of these things, so, I’m sorry go ahead-
Dr. Denise: No, I was just thinking that kind of something that’s not the extent of a neuropsychologist or a psychologist would be a really amazing nurse practitioner that floats between a couple different surgeons and then you haven’t sort of an empathy outcome rating scale or something where someone’s even checking in with them. Because there has been data to show that, you know there’s apps and things that have been created, and when people feel that someone’s connected and they care, that helps them feel engaged in what they need to do to heal, and then they have less pain because they are more hopeful, and they’re not lonely. So maybe with that patient population that you’re talking about, and this is by the way, something that’s more of a global solution, it’s not something that’s such an easy fix .I know change takes time, however, if you had a very engaging nurse practioner or it doesn’t have to be that, it could be a social worker that floats that kind of just checks on people. It would be really interesting to see the outcome, and maybe the faster recovery and less pain.
Dr. Javahery:: I would love to have somebody that could do that, and we’ve been, I’ve been trying to get funds from the hospital for a variety of things, like a research nurse, and all these other things, I got to tell you, it’s, in the world of, you know…
Dr. Denise: Corporate redtape, medical…
Dr. Javahery:: Yeah, big corporate no- even though it’s a non-profit, it’s still a corporation. It’s financially at the end of the day. And the majority of children’s hospitals are run off of Medical CCS dollars, there’s very little, unless you have a private foundation funding it, to pay for all of these things. And I think that in my world, at least in the pediatrics side, there is, a lot of the onus falls to the parents to kind of provide that support structure for their children. We do have neuroscientists for the oncology program, but, like, I have a hard time getting my traumatic head injury kids into a supportive environment, but I do think you’re right, we should get somebody.
Dr. Denise: Well, I just had another idea too, and again, talk about this more on a phone call or I’ll meet with you at some point, but you’re such an innate healer on top of being a surgeon, and I think our patients really connect. Like I know when I, I’m going to tell you this, I’ve had a lot since the, and I’m not trying to make this political, the current world milieu environment, in all my years, I’ve been in practice for 20 years, and I’ve had more people that have been suicidal this year than any other year in practice. And I’ve had 12 people under age 18 that have wanted to kill themselves, and I had to, right before I went on vacation, ‘cause I had to make sure I had the emotional reserve. Now, I have 14 people who are no longer suicidal, I think we need to, like when I call my patient back, like, I thought, “Oh, my goodness, that week,” and I just have this, I’m really in tune with my patients and when they hear my voice, immediately they’re like, “Oh my God, I had hope, that feels great.” I’m wondering, Dr. Javahery:, because you’re so compassionate and kind, maybe part of your follow up is just getting a beautiful voice recording that you tell people there’s this recording thing that you do, it doesn’t mean that it forgoes them going to see someone, but that you really care about them, and it’s not realistic for you to call every patient back yourself all the time, but maybe there could be something, because I think when they hear your voice, and your care, there’s a level of healing, it reinstates the connection and we know that there’s so much healing that goes on that’s not just the knife healing, or the here’s your meds healing, there’s the actual, “Wow my doctor really cares.” So I’m wondering if there’s not the funding to get the full on neuropsychologist or nurse practioner, there can be some other protocol put in place because, I would think, if your patients even heard your voice more frequently, that would help engage them in the process of healing. You know?
Dr. Javahery:: Well, it’s funny you say that because I actually.. You know, even though I’m busy, I do.. If my patients call, I try to get back to them. My office knows to let me know. And I have another theory, I don’t, most of your listeners may not know this, there is a physiologic term about the heart muscles, it’s called the Starling Curve, it’s basically it’s a theory about how best heart muscles contract, and then the preload and afterload. Preload means how much do you stretch the muscle, and afterload means how much does that muscle contract and there is an optimal preload, meaning an optimal amount of stretch for a muscle that allows it to give you the best contraction on the back end. If you don’t stretch the muscle enough, the preload is too low, the muscle doesn’t contract well. If the preload is too high, you stretch the muscle too far, the muscle can’t contract well. Just think about when you lift the barbell, the easiest point is at the midpoint of your arm you can, you have the best strength, that is your optimal preload, doctors are the same way, we have an optimal preload. There’s a certain number of patients that allows us to be the best version of ourselves…
Dr. Denise: I love that, keep going… I agree with you.
Dr. Javahery:: If we have to few patients, we’re not good we don’t have enough practice to be good at what we do. If we have too many patients, it dilutes our ability to do our job well and be committed to each patient individually. So that’s what’s happening with the corporatization of health care, your doctors are seeing too many patients in order to, which prevents them from doing a good job for each individual patient. I don’t do that. I have, we run a private practice, I don’t have, it’s not a mill, on office day I may see…
Dr. Denise: Can I say something? Way to go! Yay! I do the same thing, so keep going, cause I had to do a waitlist, not because I don’t want to help people but because I wanted the current patients in my practice, and I’ll be very honest, I told someone, “The acuity of what’s going on in my current practice doesn’t allow me to take someone on, but here’s a great referral,” and then I put people on waitlist, because I believe what you’re saying, we can’t, you want to stand up strong and have your A game as much as one can in everyday when we’re working with our patients.
Dr. Javahery:: Yeah, absolutely. I think that I, our practice, I’ll see like 12 or 13 patients in a day, maybe14, but I can’t see more than that because then I’ll be rushing them in and out of the office and that’s not fair. The…forget about fairness, it’s not good medicine. So, that allows me to be much more available for my patients, now, I have the advantage over you in that my, I have episodic relationships. I see patients, and there’s a blip in time where they’re really, really sick and I’ll take care of them and then everything settles down and I’ll see them once a year and those once a year visits are short, brief, they’re OK with it, they know I care.
So, they know to trust me because I’ve committed to them in the past. But, overall, I get what you’re saying and I feel it. I don’t overdue it because I don’t want to be, I don’t want to be an economy of scale kind of person, and I don’t want to ramp up the number of patients to make more money. I make money based on the quality of my work, not the volume of my work. And I don’t need to make 20% more money by providing 30% less quality of care. I’d rather do my best work and make less money.
Dr. Denise: Well, and I think that this is a conversation where often times you’re in the field helping your patients, we’re on the front lines helping our patients, and I think a lot more doctors, and then you get on these committees, and then there’s bureaucracy. ‘Cause I’ve been on committees where I’m like, “Why am I on this committee? They’re not getting much done. They just kind of want to say they’re on a committee.” But this type of thinking, this mindset, the kind of a patient, compassionate, humble , and ethical mindset is something that I think needs to be taught in medical school, and then it would be really incredible if doctors took back medicine a bit more, and that we didn’t allow it to be so corporate, that’s like a whole other podcast, but I think that it’s really fantastic to hear that you’ve done that, and hopefully I’ve had some people that have come to me for supervision or mentoring that are young new psychiatrists, I think it’s very important that in all fields of medicine that people stay true to the best quality care and really the best doctor-patient relationship.
Dr. Javahery:: Totally. My mentor Dr. Heros used to say, we were so busy, we would not get our notes done often and he goes, “I don’t care about the notes. As long as you provide good care, everything else is B.S.” and he would say, you basic-, “If you do good care for my patients, you’re basically bullet proof. Nothing will hurt you. No one will criticize you, and I’ll stand in their way. I don’t care if the hospital says you didn’t do your discharge summaries, you didn’t do your notes on this day, you do good work, you take care of the patients, everything else is secondary.” And I would say to most doctors who are coming out, if you’re afraid of the hospital or the insurance companies or lawyers or whatever, just concentrate on being a good doctor, it will make you bullet proof.
Dr. Denise: Have you thought about writing a book about this? For surgeons, for young surgeons, almost like a How-to, some quick tips, and then you know, kind of every surgeon needs to have this book before they go out there.
Dr. Javahery:: I haven’t thought about that, no.
Dr. Denise: You might want to do that because we are living in such a fast forward economy and this is why, I’m doing my private practice but I’m growing my following and I’m meeting fantastic people all around the world, and I think we are here to inspire one another and I really, truly think, I’m not saying you have to do this right away, but can you imagine if there was some book that you did with great bullet points that the medical school could have? It would really help. I really think that our young doctors need to hear that. They need to hear that you can practice medicine like you’re practicing surgery and I am practicing psychiatry. And then also we have to give back, like you are, you’re working with Medical, so I give back with some sliding scale and also by the social media stuff I’m doing by providing education. So, I don’t know, I think it would be cool, I mean, the title could be Bullet Proof. Bullet Proof Surgery or something. I think people would love that, I really think so. The way…the clarity with the way you speak, about humility and compassion and just giving exercises, and examples would be fantastic.
Dr. Javahery:: I’ll think about it. I enjoy the process of thinking through life, and thinking about the methodology of how to be the better version of myself. If people, if you think that people would want to hear more of it, I’d be interested, I just hadn’t really thought about it that much. My wife makes fun of all my theories by the way.
Dr. Denise: What kind of medicine does your wife practice?
Dr. Javahery:: My wife’s a dermatologist.
Dr. Denise: Oh, you know what’s great about you is I feel like you’re a Psychiatrist Neurosurgeon. You’re a mindset Neurosurgeon. You, and I guess I’d love to talk with you off-air just about your belief systems, but I feel very aligned and I think you really understand and I’m so happy with that incredible mentor Dr. Heros, he sounds fantastic.
Dr. Javahery:: He is.
Dr. Denise: Wow. You had a gold standard doctor, and I think that’s what we need patients to realize that there’s hope out there, that there’s doctors out there, that it’s not just here’s your prescription, or here’s your surgery or here’s this. In fact, my patients know that the last thing I want to do is prescribe a medicine, I’m not afraid to do it, of course, usually by the time people come to me, that is possibly what’s needed, but I talk with them about lifestyle, medicine, holistic thinking, I empower them, one doc- one patient really thought her last psychiatrist was like a God, there was such a pedestal and I was like, “Whoa. I’m like, I don’t know if any..” I said, “I just want you to know that the fact that you made the decision to feel well, and to get better, you’re your own biggest fan.” And so I think empowering people and I think that’s what our society needs to realize, that you are a big part of your own healing process and that there are doctors out there…that most people that go into medicine don’t go into it just for the money, would you agree with that these days?
Dr. Javahery:: Oh, I totally agree with it. I didn’t go into it for the money. I remember I had a job opportunity that was at the time worth, I was going to get paid significantly more than I’m making now and this was 25 years ago and I didn’t take it because I really feel that I do better at this. And I got to tell you that it’s made me such a better person to be a doctor, and I am so fortunate because, I was as a teenager kind of moody, and I had a depressive personality, and I was angry, I’d lived through the Iranian revolution and all this stuff. And my dad and my grandfather were in prison in Iran and were beaten and I was kind of like angry, and I found that I was, I’d become a better person because I’ve been in medicine and it’s given me perspective. I would describe it, there’s a Farsi expression that says, “Health is a crown worn by the healthy that only the sick can see.” And..
Dr. Denise: I’m smiling by the way about everything you’re sharing. I’m just smiling. I know that we’re on an audio show, but I am just so excited to hear what you’re saying.
Dr. Javahery:: And I, and I was blind to it. And, I, being a doctor opened my eyes to how stupid I was as an adolescent to be depressed about things that I couldn’t change and that were not that important. And now I, you go, “Well, don’t you get depressed about what you do?” I go, “No!” And, yes, the things I deal with are sad, but I have no right, no right to be sad. Because it’s an insult to people who have real problems if I walk around depressed. These, there are people who have it really bad in this world, and for me to be moping when I have so many blessings is an insult and I will not give myself that level of self indulgence. And I try to teach my children and my family the same lessons, and I would have never have learned this if I wasn’t a physician. So, no, it’s not about the money. It’s about the ability to be the better version of yourself.
Dr. Denise: Can I say that with what you, you’ve said, be the better version of yourself, I think that’s a fantastic way for us to wrap up our interview, because that is where we’re in alignment and that’s how we met. I think, if we’re raising our children at a very young age, you know, what’s my neurostyle? I came up with the word neurostyle, like how do I think? Am I shy? Happy? Am I this? And so having a level of mindfulness, of being in the present moment when our young children realize that they have to love themselves, and self love that’s not a selfish love, but a healthy self love, then you’re actually able to align with the best version of yourself. I think the biggest thing for us being able to be the best version of ourselves is coming from a place of love, humility and service, to ourselves and to our neighbors.
Dr. Javahery:: Yeah, no I totally agree and because I, my dad used to say a lot of things, the most important thing is to love other people. And I used to make fun of him when I was a teenager, and I was like, “What do you mean? What’s love?”
Dr. Denise: Oh, my, that would be an interesting conversation with our 16 year old right now..
Dr. Javahery:: Exactly, Are you just quoting the Beatles? What does this mean exactly? And I remember a few years later I realized what he meant. Because, what is the definition of love? Love is the ability of a human being to care for another human being as much as they care for themselves. That is love. In my view, that’s what love means. Now, there are people that you love more than yourself, like my wife, my kids, I love them more than I love myself. Everybody else I can love, maybe, I’m not perfect, so maybe close to as much as I love myself, but the goal is to care for others as much as you care for yourself. And if you do that, that’s love. And if you bring that feeling to your outward relationships, then you will, I think, be the better version of yourself. And, they will be better versions of themselves because your ethics and your morality will change other people.
Dr. Denise: I agree with you. We’re talking about the tsunami or ripple effect of love resonating back and forth between one another. So, I really appreciate our discussion on kindness, compassion, and the doctor-patient relationship. I’m very excited that you are one of my neighbors, and I want to make sure I connect with you after the show’s released, and, is there anything else you want to say? I just, I’ve been, it’s been so great to have you, and maybe I can have you on the show again.
Dr. Javahery:: Sure, if you’d like. No, I think I’ve spoken too much already, and you can’t shut me up sometimes.
Dr. Denise: Thank you so much and you have a great day seeing all your patients, and it’s been an honor to have you on the show today.
Dr. Javahery:: Well, thanks for having me and take care.
Dr. Denise: Thanks you.
Dr. Denise: Thank you joining us today on the Dr. Denise Show. If you are interested in more mental health tips, tools, and discussions, I’m also on the web, at DrDeniseMD.com and I’m also on Twitter @DrDeniseMD and on Facebook. Ok, thank you again everyone, have a nice week, bye-bye!
With all the news about Harvey Weinstein, WE, as a society, are all talking about sexual assault and sexual harassment. Dr. Denise and Cathleen discuss the current topics ideas, and strategies for staying sane.
Harvey Kraft is a spiritual archeologist, which means that he is a skilled interpreter of ancient sacred literature. His lifetime of research has focused on unearthing the original teachings of the Buddha and the meaning of Buddhist wisdom. He is the author of a thought-provoking epic title The Buddha from Babylon: The Lost History and Cosmic Vision of Siddhartha, double Gold Prize Winner of the USA Best Book Awards in the categories of Eastern Religions and World History (non-fiction). This is a seminal work about Siddhartha Gautama that challenges traditional legends and unveils newly discovered evidence about the lifetime of the great sage and the cosmic scope of his profound 2500-year old teachings.
He has also written a visionary sci-fi fiction ebook The Waker: Portal of Perfect Light, in which he explored the birth of a Buddha on another planet. Recently, Mr. Kraft has been writing what he calls “wisdom verses” which he is posting almost daily on LinkedIn.
Mr. Kraft lives in California. His writings emerge from the inspiration of his late daughter Lani.
Dr. Denise: Hi everybody it’s Dr. Denise. The show is going to have a different format with everything going on in the world and the unimaginable tragedy in Las Vegas. I thought we’d just discuss some tips and tools and how to stay sane when we’re going through feelings of grief, loss, and processing unbelievable atrocities for humanity. So I’ve invited Cathleen O’Toole back on the show today and we’re going to give her a call.
Dr. Denise: Good afternoon.
Cathleen: Good afternoon Dr. Denise.
Dr. Denise: Wow. So Cathleen is back on the show and we were talking earlier today and it’s just so near and dear to both of our hearts and for all of us with what’s going on in the world just how do we stay sane. And Cathleen has a unique background in journalism. So can you give us a little background on who you are and we can jump right in and talk about what we’re going to talk about today.
Cathleen: So I am a retired broadcast journalist and I’ve spent 21 years in television newsrooms and have covered all sorts of stories. Happy and sad and a lot of sad difficult stories cross our desks like the one that happened in this country this week.
Dr. Denise: I woke up to Cathleen texting me and just want to take a moment to offer love and condolences to the lives lost in Las Vegas and to all those that are in recovery. And also from a mental health standpoint the trauma that you endure when you witness something like that.
Cathleen: Right, to fill people in as to where we’re at when we are having this discussion right now the death toll from Las Vegas stands at fifty eight humans lost Dr. Denise. It’s the deadliest such attack in American history and we are learning stories of a husband gunned down shielding his wife. A woman carrying her wheelchair bound sister away from the carnage. As law enforcement is running towards it. The shooter we now know is dead after coordinating a methodical assault with cameras even in his hotel room and a stockpile of weapons. The FBI has just interviewed this man’s girlfriend as agents try to piece together what the rest of the world wants to know and that’s why why we all ask ourselves as we hear this. You know staccato of that gunfire Dr. Denise soul shattering and maybe some of us had been brave enough to even watch that video of people running, ducking, confused letting their primordial instincts take over. Why? How do we make sense of it? How do we live in a world like this. Dr. Denise?
Dr. Denise: Well I don’t know how to answer that. I think that it’s just unimaginable. And I think that right when you were recapping I can tell you I felt the chill when you were describing the loss of the lives in a very primal way. I just felt the suffering I felt the sadness and I think it’s so important that when we’re sitting down and watching news or going through our social media or even this morning I was working out at the gym and it’s just on every single channel and I think one thing that Cathleen and I spoke about is we do need to get the news we need to know what’s going on. But I’m very passionate about our mindset and our mental health and like how much news is enough and how do we get the quality of news and the quantity of news that we don’t end up traumatizing ourselves over and over again.
Cathleen: So we, how do we do it Dr. Denise? Do we…we kind of take our own temperature if you will right?
Dr. Denise: Yeah I think everyone has to know what their own neurostyle is. When I say neurostyle I mean the way we process and perceive information. Some people can watch the news and maybe their pulse doesn’t go up or they don’t think it’s affecting their brain. They can go on their way. I had a patient this morning that was in tears. She was like I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to know what’s going on. And she has a lot of anxiety and I think she’s handling it great and she and I specifically for her you know we all have different levels of awareness. And so for me personally when I watch the news I try not to watch gunshots I’m not telling you to not watch gunshots but it’s basically we have to know our own threshold for pain and fear tolerance. And I will tell you, my professional opinion is find one or two news stations and just get the data and then I think we can all feel really like helpless like learned helplessness like what is going on with humanity? I mean do you ever experience that?
Cathleen: Yeah I mean you know even I I’ve had friends who even think I’m not bringing a child into this world because of humanity. I’ve had friends say that to me. And even as adults we can say like how do we put one foot in front of another in a world like this?
Dr. Denise: No absolutely and there’s going to be a vigil tonight. We lost two people in Manhattan Beach, a teacher and a police officer. And you know, a lot of the administration and other teachers were at the concert and so there’s a real loss right here in our own community and I think part of being human is there is going to be loss, there is going to be suffering. However I think that prevention is something that we need to think about as a society and we need to you know some things are just not preventable. You know there’s fluke things that happen and your like, look you’ve got to be kidding me. But I think that there needs to be a lot of discussion moving forward. And I know this is a big, big ticket item here and I don’t want to make this about this but you know we need to look at the different gun control and we need to limit. I mean a lot of the countries in the world that don’t have access to guns don’t have the kind of violence we have here in the United States.
Cathleen: So right, that’s a big ticket that we could spend the next two months talking about. What about for the student next door who’s heading off to high school and you know she might think I don’t really have a lot of control over gun control laws and how can I, how can I help? It’s not like this is that this is a hurricane and I can send pallets of water. You know, how can I what can I do.? How can I turn this grief, and this like stomach curdling feeling, into anything positive?
Dr. Denise: Well I was feeling that my heart’s been very heavy. And yesterday, one example that I did when I was just mourning the loss and thinking about all the suffering that’s happening after this unimaginable, I said to myself, “come on you need to get out and some fresh air, you need to take a break from thinking about it.” So one thing we need to remember is we need to be masters of our own inner world and our mindset. And we have to know ourselves well enough if we’re thinking about something which can be called ruminating when we think about something over and over again. Do I need to go get some fresh air, take a walk, call a friend, make someone smile? Switch to comedy. You know, and there is, you can donate blood. There’s all kinds of things you can do to feel like not that you’re helpless that just you know so you can send in prayers love to you know your mind is really powerful and pausing and reflecting when there has been a loss life is if that’s your in your nature to be mindful of that that could be very helpful. And then I think really having gratitude for your children and for your own family and just giving them tons of love.
Cathleen: Right. Yeah. So on Monday after I texted you and I didn’t get to speak with you yet but I came out of the chiropractors office and I was just like this was just hitting me. And I think also it depends on what else is going on in your life, right? At one point one month you can be OK I can handle something like this with a little bit more vigor then like the next month you’ve got a couple of personal issues…if I’m making sense. So I left. I left the doctor’s appointment and I looked at myself in the mirror and I had all this makeup on my face. And then I spoke with you and you said these words about turning, turning, like turning the light on inside of me. And like you know just trying to emit light to everyone I met and you can explain it better than I can. What you said.
Dr. Denise: Well I think that we need to remember that we’re human beings, but we’re also, we carry an energy, and there’s so much, so many feelings and thoughts that are happening that we can have ways where we can… I was at a Jack Canfield lecture was lik, OK I wrote imagine a waterfall around you and then if you read many different books in quantum physics and things there’s ways of envisioning white light it actually creates like an energy buffer. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to feel your feelings it’s not going to mean you’re not upset or sad or fearful. However, you’re actually practicing with intention to not take on the magnitude of the sadness or the anger you’re still going to feel your feelings and then you have some more power to then almost ask yourself like I think I remember on the phone you’re like I’m just still sad.
So if you need to let yourself be sad for a half day or an hour or five minutes be the keeper of your thoughts and really focus and have intention and then you can make a decision like OK I just want to shift this into neutrality and is there anything positive I can do to help someone. So you’re an active participant in changing the way you think, feel and act. And I know it might sound, you know until you start doing this automatically, it might sound like really you can do that, but it’s just it’s something that if you have a ritual you can do I do something like this in between seeing clients I mean I’ll go from one patient that you know has anorexia that’s weighing 78 pounds that’s an adult to someone else that just got an A on her report card because their ADHD is treated,right? So, I think we all do this throughout our life. We go through different almost like snapshots. And so I have a way of making sure I’m really focused on the, the person or the situation right in front of me and I of course I feel sad that someone’s not able to eat and I offer my medical advice and my healing advice. And then I make sure I shut the door before I see the next client. I take a deep breath, and I actually clear it, like Sunday and I send them love and light like please I hope you’re going to have a better week and we can do that for ourselves moment to moment too. We don’t have to keep watching, you got to, if you’re someone who get sucked in, which we all do. My gosh there there’s times when I’ve been on social media and I’m like you’ve been logged on how long, right? I do this right too and I think we need to self regulate how much news or how much social media we’re able to tolerate in that given moment which is just being mindful and being self aware.
Cathleen: So the last thing really important question that I wanted to ask you as it pertains to something like this is what about our children? I mean those of us who encounter children in our lives whether we’re a schoolteacher or a parent. How do we handle this with kids? I know the age matters right?
Dr. Denise: Right. I mean I think the one thing we all remember is that every parent has their own parenting style with their kids so you have to use your own judgment. I do think we need to check in with our children more when you and I were growing up Cath we didn’t have the access there was I remember it was like the 10 o’clock news is when they had a lot. Not that the 6 o’clock news didn’t have murders and different things going on but it was more of an adult time or an adult show was on.
Dr. Denise: Whereas right now our children have iPads they have any kind of iPhone access to media all the time. So I think coming up with a framework in your own home and you know there are parent regulations that you can put on some of the iPads and things but I think talking to your child is the most important thing and maybe as a family whether it’s sitting down to family dinner or I know for teenagers when you’re in the car with them they can’t get away.
Cathleen: They’re a captive audience.
Dr. Denise: They’re a captive audience. You can sort of check in with them and see did anything happen at school today? And actually as we record this podcast there was a report that there was a shooter at Mira Costa high school here in our town just like three hours ago. And the SWAT team was there and everything. And so I know like my patients this week that come in they’re going to be talking to me about what did that feel like. So I think we have to check in with our kids. And by the way there was no active shooter. Everyone’s safe, everyone’s OK. But we need to kind of have a way of having a dialogue that’s age appropriate and saying was there anything that upset you? Did you read anything on the news? I don’t think that that’s a common thing. I mean I have an eight year old who is mostly on YouTube who is not really on the news yet, but now that we’re talking about I think saying to him was there anything you saw today on your tablet that was upsetting or was just too much for you to handle?
Cathleen: Right. Right. You know it’s interesting and not to digress, but you talked about the reports of a shooter at a local high school by you and the world of journalism has changed because probably not six, seven years ago we as a journalistic profession did not report things like that that weren’t accurate like we would report bomb threats or we wouldn’t report you know a phoned in shooter thing until it was an actual event where it was also a way to try to prevent that kind of copycat thing from happening. But the whole world is changed because everything so instantaneous that kids will report this on their phones. So the media had to change and adjust to that. And so that’s why, you know, the whole landscape shifts almost daily. And you know what’s unfortunate is tragedies like this this week you know we wish we could say goodbye to them forever. And that’s the one thing that really isn’t shifting.
Dr. Denise: Yes. And then I know that this is something we’ve talked about this makes a really good point when we have instant access to Twitter and social media. I know a lot of people that just say I just don’t look at it. I don’t even look at my news. I didn’t look at the social media because they know that there’s so much coming at them which is very different. That’s a very different milieu environment of news than when we were growing up.
Cathleen: Right, right. And somehow we have to learn to navigate it. And with the help of people like you.
Dr. Denise: Yeah and so I think with I think the reason for the show is that we today this particular episode was that we’re like how do we stay sane? How do we do this? So I think we need to we need to readjust as a society and we need to have self-regulation with how much social media we allow ourselves and our children. We need to take media breaks where we check in our phone at the dinner table. I know that a lot of people do that even at parties they have a bowl and they just check in their media so that people actually converse and make eye contact because when you’re completely plugged in all the time you’re creating a fear reflex every time you see like a shooting or something, I’m not saying don’t get the facts, I’m just saying have a way to self-regulate. I think that’s another big tip.
Dr. Denise: Well I think I do want to just pause and just offer so much love and my condolences to all the lives lost and all the brave heroes that you know shielded other lives and all the first responders and also lots of wishes of healing to those who are recovering in the hospital. And then also to those who saw the psychological trauma of watching people run when that kind of unbelievable unimaginable tragedy happened in Las Vegas.
Cathleen: I’m sending my wishes and prayers as well Denise.
Dr. Denise: And thank you for being back on the show Cathleen.
Cathleen: Thanks for having me under these circumstances.
Dr. Denise: OK.
We are all feeling heavy hearted with the unimaginable tragedy that happened this week in Las Vegas. Emmy Award winning news reporter Cathleen O’Toole joins me in this episode to discuss how can we stay sane in an insane world.
Attention Parents, Teachers and Educators:
Renowned Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Jess Shatkin discusses his brilliant new release, “Born To Be Wild, Why Teens Take Risks and How We Can Help Keep them Safe!”
Nationally recognized child and adolescent psychiatrist Jess P. Shatkin, M.D., M.P.H., is one of the country’s foremost voices in child and adolescent mental health. He serves as Vice Chair for Education at the Child Study Center and Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. He has been featured in top print, radio, TV, and Internet outlets, including the New York Times, Good Morning America, Parade, New York Magazine, Health Day, CBS Evening News, New York Daily News, Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. In addition, for the past eight years Dr. Shatkin has been the host of “About Our Kids,” a two-hour call-in radio show broadcast live on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio. He lives in New York City with his wife and two teenage children. His book, “Born to be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks and How to Keep Them Safe”, is to be published on October 3, 2017. You can learn more about his work at: drjesspshatkin.com.
Cam Adair is the founder of Game Quitters, the world’s largest support community for video game addiction serving 25,000 members/month in 81 countries. His work has been featured in two TEDx talks (here and here), and in Forbes, BBC, ABC News, Vice, CBC, CTV, The Star, The Huffington Post, SiriusXM, and TV Asia, amongst many others. He’s an internationally recognized speaker, hosts the Game Quitters Podcast, and has over 1M views on YouTube. Born in Canada, he currently lives in California.
By popular request the “Take Over Episode” interview of Dr. Denise by Emmy Award Winning T.V. News Reporter Cathleen O’Toole has been transcribed.
Dr. Denise: This is the Dr. Denise Show. I’m doctor Denise McDermott, an adult and child psychiatrist, specializing in an integrated approach to mental health. I believe in prescribing the least amount of medication, coupled with a comprehensive treatment plan. My goal is to empower you to thrive and I take a multidimensional approach to wellness, not illness. You are not your symptoms. Call upon your best and highest self to embrace your mental health. On this program you will meet many doctors, experts and pioneers who have helped pave the way to shift the paradigm of getting rid of the stigma of mental illness in our society. This show was created for those of you who would like new ways of thinking and understanding about mental health and helping your loved ones to thrive and cope in empowered ways.
Today I have Cathleen O’Toole on my show. Cathleen is an Emmy Award winning television news reporter. She’s worked at stations all over Florida. Cathleen graduated from the University of Miami’s Honor’s Program with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Politics and Public Affairs. She’s interviewed past presidents, celebrities, athletes, and enjoys working with the everyday hero. I’m so excited and honored to have her on the show today. Good morning, Cathleen!
Cathleen: Good morning!
Dr. Denise: Yay! I’m so excited to have you on the show today.
Cathleen: Well, I’m excited to take over your show.
Dr. Denise: WooHoo! I love it. I love that, the takeover; we’ll call it the takeover episode. So, for everyone…
Cathleen: You got it.
Dr. Denise: So, for everyone listening, I’ve known Cath, I’m going to call her Cath, since; I’ve known her since fifth grade! You reminded me, Cath, do you want to tell everyone how we met?
Cathleen: We met in school, in elementary school, I mean the real story is that we had to take a little bus and go to a special school and that’s where we met each other.
Dr. Denise: Yeah, it’s so funny. So, Cathy and I were in the gifted program, and it was so cool, once a year they let us do a couple different electives, and I have to admit I was jealous of Cath because she was the only one that got the cool computer class, and that was like the new deal…
Cathleen: Right, computers were that novel then, you got to take a class in them and everyone was so exciting for the class.
Dr. Denise: Yes.
Cathleen: Yeah, it’s crazy now, right?
Dr. Denise: Yes, absolutely. And, I’m, I know you’re going to ask me lots of questions, but I was actually wondering if you could give everyone a little bit of an idea of your path since we graduated high school, a little bit of you and what you’ve done in your career.
Cathleen: So, um, sure. I went, I left where we graduated high school, and I’ll leave that up to you to explain all that, and I went to Miami, Florida and I attended the University of Miami. I wanted to do something that they told me that not many people get to do, I wanted to be a Broadcast Journalist. And a lot of times they warned us, this is difficult, they weren’t kidding, but I did get to do it. I had a double major in broadcasting and Politics, and I worked at TV stations all over Florida for 21 years. I recently stepped back to be at home with my small children, which is another job in and of itself that I am learning all about. I’ve been all over and interviewed all sorts of people, and met wonderful wonderful people along the way.
Dr. Denise: Yeah, and it looks like you’ve interviewed some amazing people, you’ve interviewed past presidents, and did you catch them at a Super Bowl, is that how that went down?
Cathleen: Sure, I, I just lucked into it, or maybe it was tenacity, Dr. D, I don’t know.
Dr. Denise: Yeah, let’s just say Cathy is definitely tenacious.
Cathleen: Because the place was crawling with journalists, and I was the one that was able to, I just found President Bush and President Clinton, and they were there doing some philanthropic work together, which is nice, bipartisan philanthropic work, and I interviewed them both, it was kind of a coo, and I’ve interviewed all sorts of celebrities but you know what sometimes it’s the everyday people that stick with me after all these years.
You know, the people who, one day, this man, I interviewed him, a tornado had ripped off his roof. I went back the next day to check on him, and he was like, he told me how these people came and fixed his roof overnight. You know it’s those kind of stories, sure the presidents, and politicians, and the famous entertainers, but you remember that man standing on his porch, thinking about the people who came to help him. You know those kinds of things swirl around in your brain a lot, after all these years of doing something like this.
Dr. Denise: It sounds like the real human connection, and the vulnerable stories is what you most really valued and enjoyed, it’s not that you didn’t enjoy the other part, but you don’t need fancy, you need the real.
Cathleen: Yeah, exactly.
Dr. Denise: I was actually thinking, I just had this, I wrote down a couple things, and right before we were going to talk today, I wanted to ask you, in all your years of reporting, have you seen a gradual shift in the way people were thinking, talking, and reporting about mental health matters in television?
Cathleen: Yeah, I’m not sure it’s entirely positive, but you know, I haven’t given that a lot of thought. I mean, I think, that in some respects there’s some positivity of just as a general society, understands why some people you know maybe take the courses they take or end up down the paths they take, they understand that mental illness sometimes plays a role in that. When way back when that wasn’t really given a thought. Um, you know I’m not sure how kind we are to one another, and how respectful we are of that kind of thing, and even sometimes the media can be a little bit intrusive, and make more pain in a painful situation, so it’s a really delicate balance of getting the story out and not doing any damage, right? Do no harm.
Dr. Denise: Yeah, and I think what’s really interesting is, people usually unfortunately are so voyeuristic, they want to crave and know sort of what’s going wrong instead of what’s going right. I think it’s a natural human tendency.
Cathleen: And I think that goes into self-preservation. People think that that’s such a terrible thing, you know that oh, that people want to see something bad, but I think its self-preservation. They want to see what’s going on, in order to try to keep them and their families safe. First you want to know, is my street safe, is my city safe? And then I mean it goes out from there. But, you know, I think that you’re right. People always say why doesn’t the news do more good news, and the answer is because nobody watches it.
Dr. Denise: Well, you know what? I agree with you. And I think actually that topic could be for a different show, because I actually think if we were raising our children at a very young age to think of success and tagging that with how kind am I being? Am I being a good citizen? What words am I choosing? I even thought with everything going on in the news and all ways words that are being used and misused, I would almost like to have like a rating scale, where Dr. Denise after a news show. Well what percentage kind was that? What percentage factual? How could they have done a kinder job? By the way, this isn’t being disrespectful to the news, this is getting people to think about different ways that you could have reported a story, because I believe that what we think about, what we talk about and how we act affects all of our mental health as a society, and I really, really value what you’ve done in your lifetime and I’m looking forward to having you ask me questions, but I’m also looking forward to gaining some insight from you on some other shows as to ways maybe things can shift with the way we report things and think about things.
Cathleen: You know, it would be quite an undertaking, but think about even just small successes would be significant.
Dr. Denise: I agree, that’s why, I mean, and I’m all about that. Everyone, Cath and I grew up in the Midwest, and we are hard workers so we know it takes time. Where this isn’t some grandiose, this is like you take it one step at a time, one show at a time, you meet people, you build the relationships, and you don’t expect a monumental shift, because what we’re talking about is big. But, I believe if you start with children, having a way of assessing thinking and that’s why I am such a champion of mindfulness for our children, and being really focused and aware of what your own inner voice is saying and your own self talk, and how, whether you’re with a friend that’s like more of a negative friend or more of a positive friend, or what show am I watching, this isn’t just the news? But having someone really being able to self assess, was that a healthy situation for me, mentally and physically?
Cathleen: Mmm, yeah, well, can I takeover?
Dr. Denise: Absolutely!
Cathleen: Because, people have listened to your podcast, and read your blog, and they do get a sense of who you are, Dr. D, they do. But, I think that, because we know you’re compassionate, we know so many things about you, but there’s. Let’s please pull back the curtains, and find out about you, who are you right now?
Dr. Denise: Who am I right now? I am Kieran’s mom, I am Denise McDermott psychiatrist in the South Bay, who has been doing this for a very long time, I am also very proud of blending a family, I married my husband Tom in 2013, and we met and fell in love when Tom’s children, I call my bonus children, ages nine and eleven, and so I can’t even tell you, in the textbooks one of toughest times for someone to meet someone new. So from I’m very proud of all the life lessons I’ve learned blending a family. So, and I don’t like the word stepmom everyone, I like the word Bonus Mom. Just like what we were talking about with words, stepmom makes me think of Cinderella, and I’m definitely not a stepmom. From that kind of childhood story bop.
Cathleen: Bibidy, bobidy, boo!
Dr. Denise: Yeah, so I’ve been working really hard, whenever I’m not seeing patients I’m really devoted to being Kieran’s mom, and I’m also the mom that has the 48 hour play dates at my house. I’m known for being able to be like a very fun mom, but a very, very much with limits. Like I set timers, I say if you want to stay up this long, you need to do this. And so all the other moms in the neighborhood love it and know their kids are going to be doing great at our house. So, that’s who I am.
Cath, one of the things that I will just have humility with is I had infertility which I am actually incredibly grateful for, my infertility, I found out I couldn’t have my own biological children in 2006, I gave myself a chance to grieve what that really meant, it ended up meaning that my first marriage wasn’t going to be lasting, I did a lot of soul searching, and I really felt that it was time you know to be a mother, and I adopted Kieran. And I adopted Kieran at birth, and that’s a whole ‘nother story about who am I, and what that’s taught me. So, the biggest thing it’s taught me is love, and forgiveness. My first husband, it’s almost like the best divorce in Southern Cal. I have deep, deep…if you could even say that’s like a title of a book, Best Divorce in Southern Cal. My first husband had some childhood trauma, and so one of the big reasons we why are no longer married is he was really afraid to be a father, you know, so I’ve forgiven him. There was betrayal, but I didn’t look at it as a personal insult, I just sort of accepted it and you know, I’m not going to lie to anyone, of course I was sad, I was angry, but I used that sadness and anger and let myself feel it, and then I shifted it into some loving goals, which were to be married again and to have a family.
Cathleen: So, family. Take it back to when you were a little child, and your nuclear family. Where were you, how, what was your upbringing like? How has it all kind of become you today?
Dr. Denise: Well, I grew up in Schaumburg, Illinois everyone and that’s a suburb of Chicago. Cath and I both grew up in Schaumburg, and it was a really kind of, I don’t know how to put this. If you’re from the Midwest, you’ll get it, there’s people said what they meant, they smiled, they actually helped their neighbors, which is fantastic. In my own nuclear family, I am the oldest, my brother is two years younger, John, and my sister Jen is almost seven years younger, and my mom and dad both worked. My sister, I was so excited when she was born, I was at that really fun age when you’re almost seven years old and you’re having the baby because you’re like into babysitting and everything, and so when Jen came along, you know, my dad actually, he’s in the other dimension now, and he’s probably my biggest hero in this lifetime, because he was able to get sober when I was age eleven. And so that’s a big, big thing. I didn’t define myself at the time, I didn’t think of myself as the daughter of the alcoholic, I just thought of my dad as dad. However, when I was in third- fifth grade, between third and fifth grade was when his drinking, for me, was when his drinking really escalated and he almost died. When he went on a weekend away with my brother’s cub scout troop, and he wasn’t drinking. And so we all know what happens when you stop drinking when you’ve been drinking heavily, you can go into life threatening delirium tremens. My father was in…
Dr. Denise: Yeah, he actually almost died, and my brother saw him have seizures, and go to the intensive care unit. And, so I remember the call, and then, oh my goodness. There was a social worker that came to talk to us. And, I couldn’t believe she did this, now I know how wrong it was. One of the first things she said to us, “Did you know your dad could have died?” And that’s like the first words she said. It wasn’t like ten sentences in, and like with context of empathy. And so I just want you to know that that moment also shaped, there are so many layers to all this of like, of like levels of compassion, my father, everyone, fortunately battling alcoholism, getting sober, staying sober, I went to Alateen meetings, I point blank told him I was super disappointed in him, I actually, I don’t know if anyone listening has watched Fantasy Island and Love Boat.
Cathleen: Well, I have.
Dr. Denise: But, those were like the shows at the time, they kind of taught you a like little bit about adult concepts of divorce so I remember saying to my mom, “Why don’t you divorce him?” I was kind of like a real problem solver, like if he wasn’t going to stop drinking, like this needs to stop. So, when you say how does your family of origin sort of color who you are, I was the oldest, and there’s you know, there’s a lot of literature on the adult child of alcoholics being overly parentified. Fortunately, a lot of all this stuff we are talking about, my mom and my dad and I we had a very transparent relationship with and my brother and sister, so there’s been tons of healing. So, just like my infertility turned out to be a huge win, with me now being Kieran’s mother, I think my father’s sobriety and the level of compassion I have for his journey of sobriety and what it taught our family is a big part of who I am as a doctor and also really not shaming people when you talk about mental health and just having a really clear understanding that people can be suffering.
Cathleen: You know, um, you know, you’re the mental health expert, but um, one thing that I think I definitely recall about growing up and being in high school, I would imagine that many of our classmates would remember that you were a phenomenal success with your education. Now, that’s great, does that play into some of that, I mean, I’m sure, was that part of a response to some of the trauma that you went through as a third grader, fourth grader, or fifth grader? Did that ….
Dr. Denise: Well, it’s really interesting, you know what Cath, when I was in elementary school, I got straight A’s consistently, I liked getting A’s. So, I think genetically, genetics plus environment, I think I have that kind of obsessive personality style that likes to get things right and to do well. In fact, we used to have those contests in elementary school where you could write a book, and I like wanted to be an author and I wrote a little book. And so, the essence of who I am, the resiliency factor, I think what I would say is, you know, for instance, in medical school, you’re asking a really great question. When we’re going through our mental health rotations, they had us raise our hands, how many people in this room have had a parent with alcoholism; one quarter of my med school class raised their hand. Ok…
Cathleen: So do you think this is something about this is just the novice, but you know, as an adult I’ve been around. Do you think there’s something about the disorder that is in an alcoholic’s family that your brain wanted to make order, and order at school and get those questions right, and get the A’s in the column, and put some order to your life? And all those medical students as well? That’s why they were pretty successful at school?
Dr. Denise: Yeah, I think so, but the biggest thing that resonates for me, cause I would say is I am very much an adaptive perfectionist. Meaning that I was like let’s get the best grades, but let’s have the most fun, too. And for me personally, I didn’t like line up my things. I liked getting A’s because I loved to learn. And, so I also, for me personally, I can’t really speak for everyone else, but for me personally I would say I’ve always been a healer and I’ve always been a listener. It’s been an innate gift, I know I also talk a lot, too. (Laughing) Which by the way…
Cathleen: I always wondered about that.
Dr. Denise: Which by the way, I was voted most talkative and most outgoing in high school.
Cathleen: Your verbal skills …
Dr. Denise: I know, it’s really really funny everyone, in fact, this is an example, my mom used to always tell me when I was little, honey, you get so excited, you need to give other people a chance, you need to listen. So, I feel like it’s the joke of the universe that I’m now, you know paid to listen. By the way, I give tips, one of the reasons I think my psychiatry practice is different than others, not saying different than everyone’s but I have a unique style of practicing is that I’m a very solution oriented, I listen to people’s story, I really connect with them soul to soul. And then we come in with an action plan. So, back to me as a child, just kind of wrapping up, I was someone who people always called on the phone for advice. So, that was naturally who I am. My Mom and Dad used to call me little Ann Landers, people would be having relationship issues, and they would call me, and then I also remember I was so excited when I was little, I got that babysitting certificate, and I went around the neighborhood letting everyone know now I had a babysitting certificate. So I had this natural maternal influence and then also I was a lifeguard, I coached swim team, I life guarded and all the children who were the little kids who would almost drown who were the ones that I always got matched up with. So this is sort of just when you look back like whoa how did I get here? It’s really interesting; I think it’s multiple factorial, I think it’s always..
Cathleen: All these children, the little children that almost drowned, and then you think about some of the patients you’ve helped..
Dr. Denise: Oh, my goodness, it’s been a privilege and an honor, Cath, I mean, when people are going through a time when they’re feeling sad, angst or anger, my heart feels their feelings. I know we all have our different sort of gifts in life, but I’ve always been someone to really feel another person’s feelings. And to me, when people open up to you, and they share their vulnerabilities, that is such an incredible privilege, um, words I can’t even, you know words can’t even describe what a privilege it is to do the work I do, and be a part of people’s lives and to see them, you know, go from crisis to thriving, I mean words cannot even describe it.
Cathleen: So, we’re getting you know we’re getting, because one of the things I wanted to know is why psychiatry, but what you’re answering that. It was kind of, it was in you, little Ann Landers, you were with the kids who almost drowned, I mean, so when you went off to Creighton University, I recall this, I didn’t have to read your CV and then you went to medical school and you know there’s all these disciplines, you know, thoracic surgery, you could have gone every which way, it was, it was not even a difficult call was it?
Dr. Denise: No it wasn’t for me personally cause I stayed on path. I didn’t listen to what other people had to say. Because…
Cathleen: What were they telling you?
Dr. Denise: Well, first of all there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of stigma, a lot of stigma, I don’t know how it is in medical school now.. I think because neuroscience and mindfulness is sort of a sexy topic now..
Cathleen: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Denise: But I graduated in 1996 from medical school and at the time people were like almost like I’m selling out, you’re going into psychiatry?? Because I was fortunately able to get A’s on surgery, and other rotations, so when I did my psychiatry rotation, and all my rotations, people just naturally told me what’s going on in their inner world. And, so I listened to my own, I didn’t listen to what other people told me to say. You know people were really judging me like I’m going to a lesser than form of medicine, And so I will say…
Dr. Denise: For everyone out there, you’re looking at a career choice, much like you Cath, people were probably telling you at that time, why would you, you’re so bright, choose something that’s going to be so hard to do and so hard to have success. You were told that weren’t you?
Cathleen: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Denise: Right. So, I just decided that I was going to follow what I was naturally gifted with and it just happened, in my third year of med school, and by the way, I did keep an open mind. I did think about doing pediatrics, I thought about emergency medicine, there were many areas of medicine that I loved, however, all the different rotations, during internal medicine, there would be someone who they couldn’t figure out while he just lost all this weight and he wasn’t doing well. I went in and interviewed him, with my little; they have these little short coats when you’re in medical school..
Cathleen: Yeah, you get them in July when you start your..
Dr. Denise: Yeah..
Cathleen: When you first become a doctor.
Dr. Denise: You feel like you’re playing Doctor, right? So, anyway, I go in and interview this gentleman and he just opens up to me and he tells me that he’d been drinking all this time and hiding alcohol. And so I would go in and report da-da-da and everyone’s like oh my gosh really he told you that?! I’m like yeah! And so then the same thing happened in pediatrics this little girl had a tummy ache, then I went in and found out she tried to kill herself in the morning, right? And so what happened was I just naturally went towards where I was finding the most joy, and the most natural giftedness, and then I just decided not to listen to everyone else. That I was going to find role models and I was going to pursue what I wanted to pursue.
Cathleen: And what was your family like at the time? I mean, clearly they must have been bursting with pride for you to go off and do so well, and um, you becoming an MD and now you go back home to Schaumburg, Illinois and tell them I’m going to be a psychiatrist?
Dr. Denise: Well, you know um, I won’t say which family member, because I didn’t really know that we were going to go there, I just want to respect their confidentiality, but I had a family member going through a very tough time during medical school, someone that I loved very dearly was suffering with deep deep depression. And it was another part of another dimension, I was already on the path to psychiatry, but it all kind of aligned at the same time. And, that family member is thriving now, however it had a big impact on the way I viewed mental health, and how important I thought it was to have an understanding of empathy. Psychiatrists out there that weren’t just doing to grab for the prescription, that were really going to look at that, we can talk about that in a little bit. But really really connect with someone on a soul-to-soul level so I think another thing that really you know influenced this is all my life events, and you know I have a very strong faith in a higher power, and I feel that I’ve been guided.
Cathleen: So, you’re, you’re finishing and you’re about to start.. You didn’t jump in, right, into private practice?
Dr. Denise: I did.
Cathleen: You did, now that..
Dr. Denise: I did. I can tell you how that happened.
Cathleen: That seems a little, you think of like how much wisdom you’ve gained since you started, it’s crazy to think about you just jumping into the deep end of the pool.
Dr. Denise: Well you know what’s interesting about that everyone, so you go through your medical school, you do your undergrad, which I was a biology major, then medical school for four years, and then psychiatry was three years of adult psychiatry and two years of child, I did that at UCLA. So, Cath, you know my work ethic, when I was at Emory University, and UCLA, on top of my regular rotations, I did, they called it moonlighting. I don’t know how much they allow this now, but I did a lot of extra work. I would say in my five years of training, I really did more like seven. When I was at Emory University, you did individual therapy with client. I took on things like managing group therapy, couple’s therapy. I worked at a DeKalb Crisis Center where I pretty much every weekend I ran a crisis center where people would be coming in, crashing off cocaine, sometimes, one person brought a gun and wanted to shoot all of us, so I had people detoxing, people suicidal, people cutting, this is when I was doing my adult rotations, and…
Cathleen: And how old were you at the time would you guess?
Dr. Denise: How old was I? It was 1997 and ’98… So, I was 27, 28 years old.
Dr. Denise: So, I was… I threw myself not only into my training, but I did outside work where I was the one in charge, and then the same thing when I was at UCLA, I was the chief fellow but I worked up in the Los Angeles National Forest at a residential treatment facility where the kids, their parents were either in jail or in prison, a lot of the kids had severe mental health issues. And so I had a lot of autonomy and independence throughout my training separate from when I was getting supervised. And, so what happened was, Cath, I started at UCLA just working part-time while I started my private practice as a chief fellow. So, I did the the ADHD expert clinic at UCLA for a year and a half to two years, still worked up at Hathaway, which is the residential treatment facility, while I started my private practice and I went from like from five patients to 30 patients in six months. Just organically…
Cathleen: In your private practice..
Dr. Denise: Yes, in my private practice.
Cathleen: What was that like seeing your first patient in your private practice? Can you remember? Clearly, we don’t want any, we’re not asking you to divulge anything.
Dr. Denise: Oh..
Cathleen: That goes without saying with all my questions.
Dr. Denise: Yeah, of course. It was exciting. I remember it was a young college age girl and so she was one of my first clients and she was suffering with some depression, some binge drinking. And so it was a really.. she ended up doing great, graduating college. So it was exciting, I was ready for it though. It’s hard to explain…
Dr. Denise: When you go through that kind of extended medical school, you got supervision, people telling you what to do, you feel like you just want to jump out of the people telling you what to do. So, it felt great to just have my own practice. And I, I really set the intention that I was going to make sure I always spent the right amount of time with people, I decided not to go and work for anyone because I didn’t want someone telling me you have X amount of minutes to make a decision to prescribe a medicine. Because I have always done a lot of therapy, second opinion. I actually did home visits, I had someone that was agoraphobic, that wouldn’t come out of their home. I actually went to their house, and we then gradually made it out of their house and we drove around the neighborhood. So, I did a lot of out of the box psychiatry things that I could do because I worked for myself.
Cathleen: And, you must have loved that..
Dr. Denise: Oh, my gosh. Absolutely. And, I still do. You can tell in my voice it’s almost like I’ve gotten even more excited about what I do.
Cathleen: So, tell me how you’re, you’re, you’re not the same person when you first had that, that, that first patient in private practice, or the first patient back at Emory, I mean, tell me how you have, tell me about your journey, you know, you’ve, we’re all marching forward. How has Dr. Denise McDermott changed throughout her, her journey.
Dr. Denise: I think being a mother, was, is the biggest shift, I’ve had a level of empathy and concern, I feel like I’m very much walking the walk, I see 60% children and 40% adults in my practice and I think that the other part of as you grow you realize as a doctor, you know the human part of your relationship, you have your professional relationship with your patients, and then you have to, you really have to use your own discernment as to how much they get to know you, the real you. And so I do what I call appropriate shares and I check in with people. So I think the most beautiful thing is just like a fine line would take time to kind of be incredible and great. It’s the same thing I think I still was a really great doctor at the beginning, however with the wisdom, and the patients, and the humility of having children, you realize what it’s like to do all these life events, and you can integrate that into your practice. So, for instance, I shared that, this was probably two years ago now, or three years ago with this one mom who was dealing with their child who was impulsive, having issues with listening, and I did an appropriate share, oh my gosh, yeah, my son threw chicken nuggets at me!
Cathleen: Right, right..
Dr. Denise: And, so I think you know being the doctor that’s professional but then using your own internal judgment, and calibration for when an appropriate share is going to help someone to really connect on the really human and vulnerable element, but still making it about them.
Cathleen: Right, right. And there are some people who are still, who are, I mean, like you said, you choose the right people, there’s some people who are going to say, “Oh, thank God! Dr. Denise has that problem!” Because, you know, I think there’s a stigma still after all these years, you know I read it on your website, that people are still, some people are afraid to even come see you or walk into your office, and then to know there’s someone like that there, who, who lives and breathes, and has a tantrum child on occasion, you know, it, it makes you human.
Dr. Denise: Absolutely. And to further answer your question, I think the other biggest shift I’ve had is in my realization and my growth through some of the life lessons that I’ve had myself with my infertility, my first husband’s infidelity, that the more we have self love, the more doors open for us and I’m not talking about self love that’s selfish self love, I’m talking about healthy self love. So, I feel like my life path has gotten me to here where I have my own level of awareness, and when I say awareness, levels of intuition, levels of empathy have grown stronger. And so the reason I am doing podcasts and more things with a global outreach is, Cath, your profession, being a news reporter, being a journalist, having written words, verbal words that reach the masses, that is the most powerful way to shift mindset. And, I’m not talking about mind control, I’m talking about using words, using thoughts, using actions to spread kindness and more love. And to me, if we have that kind of mindset as a society, individuals are going to thrive and then it’s a ripple effect, we all thrive. I mean, we’ve got the real matter, like the linear diagnosis of depression, anxiety, OCD, however if we’re in an environment that’s kinder, more accepting, less stigmatizing, people are going to get help sooner, people are going to be happier, there’s going to be less shame so I very much respect what you devoted your life to.
Cathleen: So, you, this, in my notes preparing for the interview, I wrote, Dr. McDermott MD vs. Dr. Denise, and you just touched upon it. But, you know, I don’t think, I don’t.. there’s a background to it. I mean Dr. McDermott MD, that’s redundant but you get the point, who charges X amount an hour, and sees patients in a more traditional, albeit a little less traditional than maybe some of your colleagues, in terms of your philosophy, but then to kind of deviate off from that and to go to Dr. Denise seeing less patients, I mean, right there that’s less money. I mean, clearly, clearly, there’s some strong motivation for you to make your practice a little smaller, and to pursue this very public forum for mental health.
Dr. Denise: Absolutely.
Cathleen: Yeah, I’m not asking a question per se, but I mean, some people might say…
Dr. Denise: I can’t even begin to tell you..
Cathleen: What? Some people might say what?!
Dr. Denise: By the way my own husband…
Cathleen: Some people might say what? Why would you do that?
Dr. Denise: My husband rocks, Ok, everyone. The reason why, first of all, he is my stability, he’s an incredible father. I could not do the work I’m doing where I’ve traveled to India, I wrote an e-book, I’m doing this show, I’m meeting fantastic people. So, first of all, I have to have absolute gratitude for the husband that I have. But what you just said is – he’ll say to me, Denise, what are you …he’s very much a business man, computer man, entrepreneur, self made, he’s like, talks about opportunity costs, he’s like do you know how much time this is taking, do you know?
Dr. Denise: And, so I decided that I’m definitely keeping my private practice, I love what I do, in fact I love it so much, however, I am in that stage of life because of my son, I have an my eight year old who I adopted at birth, Kieran, and I think of him as the biggest teacher in this lifetime. The reason why and I think all of our children come here we kind of match up, I think, spiritually with those who are going to give us the most life lessons, and through my son’s charisma, his high activity level, his sensory issues, I am more motivated than ever to be of service on a greater level. Meaning getting the word out, talking about things, giving life examples, being real, being authentic. And so, it is worth it. It’s kind of spiritual energy, I’m looking at things more like the altruism momentum, I wrote a tagline on twitter, “Can you imagine a world where our children measured their success by how much kindness they’re doing right?” And so I’m trying to strike the balance of, you know, I live in Southern Cal, by the way, I sold a house, I have no material possessions right now except for the cars that I own, and when I say material possessions I mean like big ticket items. I used to have two homes, and I have sold those, and I prioritized my psychiatry practice, my son, and I wanted to create space because my own level of intuition and the people that I am attracting is growing stronger, and so I wanted to have more times to have pause, so I can discern what’s the next best way I can be of service in the world. And when you’re stressed with too many bills or too much money, you’ve got to kind of simplify, and my son has learning issues, sensory issues, and it takes a lot energetically to be his mother, and so what I’ve learned is that by simplifying, very much in alignment with Buddhism, that if you’re really simplifying everything and you’re really prioritizing, love of self, love of family, love of community that you can actually accomplish a lot more and so I have to tell you Cath, I am so happy making less money because I, I want to set the foundation for the Dr. Denise, and by the way everyone the Dr. Denise thing makes me laugh. I’m Denise, however, in fact, I had a publicist…
Cathleen: You are a doctor…
Dr. Denise: I am a doctor, but the thing when I say it makes me laugh it’s only because we’re in a society that has twitter, social media, and by the way I just started really being active with social media, a little over a year ago, and I did have a social media team so I have grown from 2,000 followers on twitter to like almost 17,000, I don’t know 700, and then I’m almost at 30,000 on Facebook. So, I through my, Cath, out of my comfort zone. This is the medium that all the generations, my son, your children, that’s the way they’re communicating and we have, I believe that all of our elders that are in their 80’s, 90’s that have contributed to physics, science, mathematics, journalism, medicine, they’re fantastic, but we have to have a scaffolding way that we can share wisdom, to share our compassion, to solve the world’s problems and so I can’t even tell you, everyday is so exciting for me. I can’t even tell you how happy I am with how this whole life is just growing and expanding.
Cathleen: You know, some of the things that you, I brand them as A typical of a psychiatrist, so, but that’s just my prejudice that I bring to the, I’m acknowledging that…
Dr. Denise: But, you know what, I’ve heard that a lot, so just spill it out, what are all the things that you think are A typical, because I’ve heard that a lot.
Cathleen: Well, I mean, for instance when you talk about spiritual energy, and you talk about, I remember once I was explaining that some of the difficult part of my job is I meet so many people who are going through pain they’ve lost a child, they’ve lost a husband, someone’s been gunned down, and I said, it really weighs on me. I thought this morning about a little boy who I covered who drowned in 2007, I thought of him this morning. And I…
Dr. Denise: Wait, wait, wait, can you say his name or can you not say his name?
Cathleen: I’d rather not.
Dr.Denise: Ok, so can you just pause though.
Cathleen: But, that’s my biggest.. but what you’re going to do is where you find this because you and I spoke about this, and you explained what I should do, and here, we’re going to do it, but I didn’t find, I didn’t think this is what a psychiatrist does. So, here we go.
Dr. Denise: Well, actually, so first of all you mentioned a little boy that drowned in 2007, and you know the way I understand the universe, and I’m not asking anyone to take on my beliefs, in fact, don’t. Please think for yourself, you’re on your own path, if you don’t believe in God if you don’t worship and you’re moral, good for you. If you’re Buddhist, Christian, if you believe, you know, if you’re Muslim, Jewish, all religions have value to me, I just want everyone to know that. Everyone is on their own path. So, the way I view the universe, is that all the dimensions exist at once. We have this understanding of quantum physics. I believe in material science, but we have what’s called post material science – where we know that there are energy fields around you, around me, around all sentient beings, and that the, it’s like a whole other topic, but the concept of one mind, and the fact that we can access information off the grid, and I’ve gone away, Cath, too, cause I like to take the scientific method, I don’t like to just believe in things, I have to experience things myself. I did a course where I went away, a lot of women where I live go away and they do spa trips, which sounds like a fantastic vacation, however I went away and I did some training in what’s called remote viewing that they used during the time of the cold war, there were scientists and physicist that used what, a combination of logic and setting up almost like a way to organize your intuitive thoughts, different senses that we all have access to, and so I was able to test out, you know, what are my own abilities when given sort of an envelope with a picture in it not knowing what’s in it. And, so when I did that I realized I sort of tested the concept that time and space are sort of in this human realm, and so back to this little boy that you were thinking about, I believe that all dimensions exist at the same time and that spiritual energy of the boy, however anyone wants to talk about or discuss it, you can discuss it anyway you want, but I just want to kind of send that soul some light and love. Send you light and love, cause I believe that energy vibration still exists but just in a different realm, and so I do think you’re right, Cath. This is not what, I mean, this is not mainstream psychiatry. So, you’re right.
Cathleen: Right..I just had to be like…
Dr. Denise: Ding, Ding Ding!
Cathleen: There it is everybody! Please circle what she just said and that’s the thing that, that, I’m talking about that just, I mean, I mean, for some of us, it’s a little bit above our comprehension, but not. Like, you know, the spirit of it is um, we understand. But when you talk about having intuitive thoughts, that’s a little bit, that’s a little bit out there, right? I mean, I don’t know how else to say it but…
Dr. Denise: Well, we can all, if you want to have a…If you want to have another talk where you ask me about that journey and where I’m at, but what I want to do to normalize this for everyone, is that we all have premonitions, we all have times where we think of someone and then they give us a phone call.
Dr. Denise: We have times when we follow our gut feeling, you’ve probably had to do it so many times as a reporter. Like, what am I going to ask?
Dr. Denise: What’s the tone of the voice? What’s this person thinking? So, we have this pre contemplative understanding of things and, if you, I’m not trying to make this all about quantum physics, but we actually are our own like universes. We all have our own individual perceptions, that then color the way we actually observe something. Just like they’d say in quantum physics, if you want look at the wave, you’re going to see a wave or you can see a wave particle. There’s a lot of data on how we can influence things with thoughts. But, you know what, I’ve studied all that, I’ve done all that, we don’t need to go to that place and make it out there, you know why? ‘Cause the bottom line is love. If you’re having loving thoughts, and you have good intentions, you’re going to have incredible mental health, it’s for you as a reporter, if I were knowing what I know now, I would probably have coached you before you go out to every crime scene or every traumatic event, I would say to you, I call it either an energy jacket or a spiritual jacket, imagine some white light around yourself. Because you’re creating a buffer, cause if you think of all of us as energy beings as well, right. We’re still matter, we still have neurotransmitters, I mean I’m completely, everyone, on board with western medicine, I just want to take it further and integrate eastern thoughts and all that the modern day sages and physicists now we all know this that we’re energy beings, right? So, to protect one’s mental health, if you, and by the way, we are our own healers, so come up with your own, like you can go see a doctor see a sage, but take their information, but integrate it to what resonates with you. You have to trust your own inner voice, that’s an important thing for us to teach our children, but before you were to go on a crime scene, I would say to you, Cath, because I know you’re very caring, you know, you’re going to get that story, I would say imagine either white light around you, or a waterfall, when I was at a Jack Canfield event, he talked about putting a buffer of water around yourself because then you’re still going to feel your feelings, but you’re not going to take on the energy of the situation as much because it can affect you on a cellular level. And there’s doctors, and scientists. Well we can talk about this and we can decide if this is another show. So I like to give people just real tips that don’t have to go out there, we don’t have to talk about remote viewing, we don’t have to talk about layers of quantum physics, we can just come up with…
Cathleen: Well, uh, sure. Nobody’s saying that you know, that we don’t talk about that and I think it’s really fascinating. It, it, it’s, it, it it’s who you are right?
Dr. Denise: It is who I am.
Cathleen: We want to know more about you, and..
Dr. Denise: Well, so, for everyone listening, I was asked to possibly be a doctor for this institute, which I won’t go into because they’re forming it, but I thought the institute was brilliant and I thought the people forming it are, however, I felt that I was going to be the highest level of service staying Dr. Denise McDermott, MD, and really championing western medicine but also then finding other people as doctors that have been using their levels of empathy and intuition. And so, I kind of turned down a position because I thought it was a little too far ahead of its time. And, I didn’t want to get pigeon holed into only that, because I have a lot of tools that I can give people like tips on ADD, tips on anxiety, and so I can integrate my understanding of higher energy fields and how we all are but I can give real practical tips so I didn’t want people to think, “Whoa! That’s Dr. Denise, she’s only going to talk about intuition and metaphysics now.” So, I wanted to make sure that I integrated and that I had really cool different guests and that we all matter. The other thing too is that I believe we are all part of one humanity, and a collective consciousness. So, the people out there that don’t want to believe in this, they have absolute value. Everyone has value in this universe, even the people who we think, this is a judgment thought, that humans do, that people that aren’t kind, you know, for instance, there’s a lot of negativity going on in the news, in fact,
I wrote some questions for you, I don’t know if we have time, but for instance, some of the people now are teaching us the biggest lessons in history of what not to do. So, to me, you know, as a parent, if you’re watching the news with your children, and they’re using words, and you’re like, “Really, is this what the adults are doing these days?” You know I talk to my son like, Oh, when he was younger, he’s eight now, and I’d be like, “Whoa, what did that mom do? She didn’t teach that son good manners.” So, I’ll see adults not doing the right thing, and I’ll say is it kind verses unkind? And then, I also, I do teach him that we’re also animals, that we’re human, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to have rage, we’re going to have anger, people are going to want to have sex, and so I don’t make it this pretty perfect thing, where it’s all kind verses unkind, cause that’s annoying.
Cathleen: Right, right.
Dr. Denise: You can’t be that positive all the time cause that’s not even being human you know. By the way everyone, for the record, I love dropping the F bomb occasionally. It serves a lot of purpose, you get the anger out and the rage, and then I like to make imagine after I drop the F bomb, that sort of shifting into something more positive. So when I have like…
Cathleen: In front of your children?
Dr. Denise: I’ve done it by accident, and then I put myself in time out.
Cathleen: Right, right…
Dr. Denise: I don’t ever try to…
Cathleen: Hey, we all make mistakes.
Dr. Denise: Yeah, I don’t try to..
Cathleen: They know we make mistakes.
Dr. Denise: My son loves it, he’s like, “Mommy, I don’t want you to go to time out. I know you didn’t mean to do that, no..” So, yeah I probably taught him that word, everyone. So, this is an example of Dr. Denise not being perfect, and I’m good with that. But, do you want to see…
Cathleen: How is, no go ahead..
Dr. Denise: No, is there anything else? I mean you’re right, Cath..
Cathleen: I know, uh, one of the things that I am really, I really am kind of jealous of is that I have to figure out how to emulate it in my own way, is your mantra. Tell us about your mantra because it’s like so multilayered, right? Just like, the words. Tell us like, tell us, tell us the words that you repeat to yourself or your motto, what do we call it these days?
Dr. Denise: It’s just..
Dr. Denise: Well, you know what, that’s another example of I want people to call it their mission statement, cause the more people, by the way everyone, I don’t like people telling me what to do, so if I’m giving you tips, then you morph them into your own.
Cathleen: Right, right, right…
Dr. Denise: So my, actually, Cath, I think one would say love and kindness so my mantra is “Be loving & Be Kind.” Those are my reset terms throughout the day to keep me grounded and mindful and I don’t do it and I don’t want everyone to think like I do this 100 times a day and I look in the mirror and go, “Be kind and loving!” No. It’s one of those situations where it’s just naturally the state I like to stay in and so in the morning right before we get out of bed or the alarm goes off starting our day from a place of love and gratitude sets the stage for our best day. One of the big tips from many, many spiritual leaders Wayne Dyer, you know, and sages throughout history, (Buddha,etc), are that thoughts and acts of gratitude and compassion, those thoughts carry a certain vibration…
Dr. Denise: So, if you want to start your day feeling better throughout the day, even though you might have a really tough day with the children or work, I try to before my feet hit the ground, think of things that I’m grateful for, and so that helps me stay in a place to not, to be more focused and in the now and more mindful instead of letting life happen to me, I’m in control of life, and so be kind and be loving are reset thoughts. But they mean so much more to me. Just the words be kind and be loving, I actually access ancestors, my higher powers, and when I say higher powers I think of all the different sages and I actually think at times God, Buddha, you know Allah, I include all the masters and so when I say to be kind and love, love is like a capital L-O-V-E and so it’s like the highest vibration in the universe of love and so I call upon that type of thinking and that helps me to also not take on negative problems throughout the day, or if my son’s having a meltdown. And by the way, I’m still human..
Cathleen: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Denise: There’s times when I always, I try to be as mindful. I still get upset, I’m human, but I have certain terms that really work for me and that help me to hit reset. I talk to my patients about that because we have a level of awareness in order to help ourselves with our mental health.
Cathleen: What I love about your mantra be kind, be loving is because, ok, you could be reminding yourself to be that way, you know and this is probably so simplistic to you, but you could probably be reminding yourself to be that way throughout your day, but then, but then you know when you talk about self love and self talk, it’s like be kind to myself, be loving to myself, not just to everyone else because when, when I can do that to myself then it spreads exponentially, right? And then you can take it beyond what you’re going to do for others and ask the universe to be doing those things. That’s why I’m so jealous of yours, it’s so good and I like everything…
Dr. Denise: Why can’t it be yours?
Cathleen: I’ll just steal Dr. Denise’s!
Dr. Denise: No, that’s so linear. That’s so cute, are you kidding me? Be loving and be kind, that’s for all of us. When I tell people to find your own, it’s not because this is only mine, it’s because it’s for all of us.
Cathleen: No, I know
Dr. Denise: You’re so cute!
Cathleen: But I just love it, it, it…goes from every layer, from the self talk and self love to being compassionate to the world to putting bigger energy out there, you talk about the one love, right. Asking the universe to be that way, it’s so, you know, I mean, I don’t know, I’m really excited about that, but I don’t want to seem corny but I really like it.
Dr. Denise: Well, can I tell you something that I did for our interview today?
Dr. Denise: I thought of your sister Megan, and Megan is on the other side everyone, I asked Meg, I’m like Meg, I’m so excited I get to talk to Cath today, I thought that in my mind and I’m like, you know, guide us, please be here, and so, you know, I know that she’s not here physically, but I mean, don’t you feel her emotionally helping you and guiding you, and just sort of that concept of something bigger than us?
Cathleen: Yeah, yeah… I was cleaning out, I was doing this con-mari instead of tidying, you know she was a tidier, and I was, I felt my sister because my sister is saying, “Why are you hanging onto all this junk?” Like, because I want to hang onto you, Megan, I don’t want you to be gone, but if I hang onto this cup, then you won’t be gone. And I felt her being serious, “GET RID OF THAT CUP!” You know, yes, I do, I do feel her with me, that’s.. you know.. And she, the be kind and be loving I guess resonates on that level, too, right?
Dr. Denise: Absolutely. And you know I think I wanted to give people a real tangible example about my own levels of connectedness, so I was just on my newsfeed and twitter feed, and I came across this most lovely article, with a young 23 year old who had cystic fibrosis, like your sister, and it was so touching and I was thinking about Megan, and how much fun she was, I used to babysit Meg when she was little, we used to dance to Rage in the Cage, and I just loved everything about her spirit and the way she even went to law school, just your sisterhood with her, how close and everything you know about doctors and I was reading this article and I was crying, but I was crying in many ways, I was crying because I felt for you, I thought, “Oh, my gosh,” little Meg, but then I thought good for her, and her life and that the article I was reading reminded me so much of her and you, that I sent it you. And I sent it you, and what did you tell me about the timing of me sending that to you?
Cathleen: I can’t recall because I’m the mother of two small children..
Dr. Denise: Well you said that you were, you sent back to me that it was sort of an unbelievable timing, it’s just happened in the last week, but you were needing some sort of.. You were going through a normal Mommy moment, you said you were about to call me, and you said that that was something that really kind of helped. And so to me, we all have access to different signs, different premonitions and different levels of connectedness, awareness and love. So, I want to simplify some of the bigger words and just make it really clear. And that’s why be kind and be loving, it makes it that simple. Because you don’t…
Dr. Denise: It, you can make it simple it does not have to be complex.
Cathleen: Well, Dr. Denise, I am looking at your picture and as we close this up, I’ve been looking at your picture while I talk to you today and I want to know, where are you going? Where is Dr. Denise going? Where, what, what can we learn from your journey?
Dr. Denise: Well, right now..
Cathleen: You can tell we didn’t prepare these questions ahead of time.
Dr. Denise: Yeah, of course. Well, it’s really an interesting question because the old me would tell you Oh, in one year I want to do this, and in three years I want that and da-da-da, but I don’t roll that way right now, I set an intention to this universe. This is what I did. In 2015 I wrote out a spiritual mission statement. I pretty much did a shout out to the universe saying, “Please let me figure out ways of integrating kindness and compassion into more areas of medicine, but then take it one stop further, schools, this, that..” But it wasn’t just about me, I said, “Please let me along this path attract other light workers, and light just meaning loving people of all different professions to help, and we can all help together.” And, so, since then Cath, that I wrote out a very detailed mission statement and since all of this has happened, my blog, my podcast, my eBook, I was on television, I wrote a foreword to a best selling book. The where am I going? I’m staying right in the moment of now. And I’m staying true to my values and I do write out specific goals, so, like its fall and I have a bunch of really cool interviews on the lineup. I was so excited for our interview today because I’m excited to see where it will take us because Cath everyone has children, and I have a son who requires a lot of love and energy which is what we need to give our children, however, I’m super excited about the thought of doing more interviews with you. I have this Lisa Davis, who, I was just on her last show, it’s right on my website and she’s going to interview me next week and she’s got a 13 year old who has Autism and she wants to ask me a bunch of questions on the show and so we might do a couple um, series of interviews. So, where am I going is I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing and attracting really cool people and my son is going to ground me. Kieran needed to do a 100-hour reading program this summer everyone, and so I postponed about three or four interviews because I can’t do the work I’m doing to help others in the world if I am not honoring my family.
Cathleen: Of course.
Dr. Denise: So, I’m going to keep making sure that along this path, that my son who needs a lot of love and attention gets what he needs while I’m branching out to others, so I don’t know that’s a very different answer than I would have given to you five years ago.
Cathleen: Well, I mean, to stay right in the moment, I think what more and more of us are understanding about, you know, let’s not look in our rearview mirror, let’s not worry about the future. The mindfulness of the here and now, and this is one breath at a time, how we’re, how we’re living our life. Be kind, be loving, right?
Dr. Denise: Yeah, can I throw a question at you that I wrote, cause I wrote, like did this five minutes before we spoke to each other.
Cathleen: What did you do?
Denise: I wrote a question I would want to ask you.
Cathleen: Oh, boy. Ok..
Dr. Denise: If you had the opportunity to interview President Trump right now, what would be like the top two questions you would ask him?
Cathleen: Oh, wow…
Dr. Denise: Can be another interview…
Cathleen: It probably should. I’m, I’m kind of like nestled in the be kind, be loving.
Dr. Denise: You know what, let’s leave it there because what I’ve done with topics that are tough for me everyone is I just say things like the name I shall not name, or I try not to talk to it, but I think maybe one thing that might be really great, Cath, with all of your experience in the news and how we addressed and started at the beginning of the interview… We could have another interview where we talk about ways that we can shift the way we talk, or even respond to the news because if we’re the ones watching it, we can talk like no one sees this what to do and we can have a discussion about that…
Cathleen: Right, and the other thing too is it’s not just, we use the word news, but, it’s like that’s almost like an old fashioned word, the way the world has turned, I mean, a lot of the news casts are not really what’s driving the dialogue and the discourse in the country anyways. So much to talk about and the thought of trying to make things kinder just is stunning and a little bit, a little bit, could be a little daunting right? Um, you know, but…
Dr. Denise: Absolutely.
Cathleen: But I think lots of people would agree it’s necessary.
Dr. Denise: Absolutely. I’m so appreciative of our friendship and thank you for taking over the show today.
Cathleen: Yeah, thanks for letting me in the driver’s seat. I did a pretty good job if I do say so..
Dr. Denise: Awe, I love you. Ok, everyone, thank you so much for listening and Cath I love you as a friend and love everything about what you’ve done in this lifetime with your career and I’m so excited to see what we can do for other interviews, and future endeavors, friendship wise and professionally.
Cathleen: Be kind, be loving.
Dr. Denise: Ok, muah! Bye!
Dr. Denise: Thank you joining us today on the Dr. Denise Show. If you are interested in more mental health tips, tools, and discussions, I’m also on the web, at DrDeniseMD.com and I’m also on Twitter @DrDeniseMD and Facebook. Ok, thank you again everyone, have a nice week, bye-bye!