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!