Creativity, Mania and Finding Your Sweet Spot

This week I had the honor of interviewing poet, author, and mental health advocate, Yashi Brown. I met Yashi initially on Twitter as her “Gifted with Bipolar” video HuffPost grabbed my attention immediately. She passionately illustrates and raises awareness about her experience with mood symptoms that started in her teens that culminated in a hospitalization at UCLA in her 20’s where she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type I.

“There is no health without mental health,”  – Yashi Brown

I could not agree more. A healthy mind sets the foundation for wellbeing for all of “US.”

What is Bipolar Disorder? In Western medicine the term and diagnosis of bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes a change in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. Bipolar Disorder is a category that includes three different conditions- bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar disorders can be treated, and people with these illnesses can lead full and productive lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population. Early intervention, patient education and a multifaceted treatment approach can help each individual to go from a mental health crisis to stabilization and then thriving. It is important to remember to take a biological, psychological, and social approach coupled with all paths to wellbeing for each individual to find their unique thrive plan.

To read more on Bipolar Disorders:

One of the toughest parts of facing mental health challenges for individuals and for “US” as a society is the unspoken shame and stigma around the labels and even the use of the word disorder. I value Western medicine and value an organized and scientific way about talking about human behavior, I just do not view my patients as “disordered.” We are all neurodiverse. Yashi and I discussed the importance of validating the illness part of having mood symptoms coupled with embracing that we all have our own unique neurostyle. Getting over the self inflicted stigma was crucial for Yashi to be able to reach her thrive plan, what she calls “her sweet spot.” Ingredients that make up her thrive plan include regular exercise, balanced nutrition, meditation, support from loved ones, her writing and last but not least- a good night’s sleep! Finding a doctor she trusted along with a combination of medication was just the start of her recovery. Talking about her illness became an instrumental part of her healing from the self inflicted stigma. Yashi was determined to share her story and has been passionately acting as a mental health advocate on a national level.

Here is my interview with Yashi Brown.

Some of the most creative people I work with in my private practice have had bouts of depression with a paralyzing melancholy that can shift into a manic episode quickly. Getting the right combination of medication, psychoeducation, therapy and loving support are essential to getting stabilized in a timely manner. It is really common once someone is feeling back to “their normal” to question, “Do I even have bipolar disorder?” One teen in my practice was feeling great so she went off her medication, left her house without telling anyone and rollerbladed for ten hours in a state of euphoria that made her realize the importance of staying on track with her treatment plan. It is also common for a person who has experienced the highs of a manic episode to request, “Dr. McDermott, please do not overmedicate the creativity out of me.” I cannot emphasize how important it is to form a trusting relationship with your doctor or therapist so you can have those vulnerable conversations that will allow you to reach your “individual thrive zone.”

Thank you Yashi for inspiring us this week with your heartfelt interview and reading your poetry on the show! Her book of poetry, “Black Daisy in a White Limousine” is an urban anthology of modern challenges, passages, spirituality, sexuality, love and family. It can be found on amazon. For more information on Yashi Brown: Continue reading…

Our Pilgrimage to India

Dr. Sonnee Weedn and I sat down to discuss our transformative pilgrimage to India Autumn 2016. In October 2016 we attended His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama’s International Body Mind Life Conference of Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan Medical Society. We were accompanied by Humanitarian Tibetan Buddhist monk Lama Tenzin Choegyal on our voyage to Dharmsala, India to the conference and to his home in Dehradun to spend time with the loving children of the CED (Children’s Education Development) Society.

Embrace Your Neurostyle

We are living at an amazing time in history. Truly. Our understanding that we are multidimensional beings is just starting to become part of the mainstream vernacular. We all perceive and process our environment in our own unique way. An awareness of our own unique “neurostyle’’ allows us to thrive throughout our lifetime. When working with children, teens and adults I value input from many disciplines for each individual behavioral plan. This week on my podcast I had the honor of interviewing my dear friend and colleague, Deborah Ely Budding, Ph.D., a board certified neuropsychologist, author and teacher. She and I have taken an integrative approach while working together since 2001 and I value her expertise, wit, compassion and “bottom line” style immensely.


What is a neuropsychologist?


“It is a psychologist plus plus. It involves receiving a Ph.D. in psychology as well as a two year neuropsychology program with board certification,” Deb described this week on my podcast. Often times when a child or teen requires an IEP (Individual Education Plan) to excel in school psychoeducation testing is needed which provides general IQ test, academic testing etc. Neuropsychology testing provides a more detailed context of measuring executive function, working memory and provides a “brain road map” by gathering data of different brain functions. Dr. Budding specializes in the sensorimotor development and subcortical contributions to neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, learning disabilities, mood and anxiety disorders, and pervasive developmental (autism spectrum) disorders. Dr. Budding discussed the evolution of our brain and referenced her favorite Ted Talk 7/2011 with neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert: “The Real Reasons for Brains”: .


Dr. Budding is called upon to work with the most complex clinical questions in her private practice. The qualitative and integrative input that the testing and reports provide, helps guide the treatment plan and allows for a “unified understanding” for parents, educators, psychiatrists, neurologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and other members who are involved in creating a collective comprehensive treatment plan for the patient. Dr. Budding and I meet together to give feedback to the families we work with so an integrative understanding and treatment plan can be agreed upon and executed. The “light bulb” goes on for many people in understanding the way their child processes sensory information which allows an understanding of their neurology or as I like to say, “neurostyle.” We discuss many clinical examples of the benefits of a neuropsychiatric assessment on the podcast.

To listen: (Dr. Deborah Budding Podast on the Dr. Denise Show).


Here are some of the most common tips we share with the parents we see:

1.) Stop expecting your kid to be “Johnny on the spot.”
2.) Multistep reminders are helpful.
3.) Get in your child’s space, make eye contact, or tap their shoulder gently so you know they received the information.
4.) Time management awareness is crucial. Using timers throughout the day is a great tool.
5.) Giving your child a roadmap of the day is important. Verbal and written reminders provide a mental framework for the plans of the day.
6.) Sensory breaks are helpful: time in nature, a walk, a bath, reading a book, or your child’s preferred “relax routine.”
7.) Awareness of your child’s neurostyle is empowering for you and your child.
8.) Pace your activities for your child’s (or yours!) sensory style. Ex: A child might not be able to handle loud noises and need to skip fireworks.
9.) Remember to have empathy for different neurostyles.
10.) Making eye contact and processing information at the same time can be difficult for your child, prioritize what is most realistic for your child to thrive.
11.) Often times it is crucial to distinguish between tantrums (usually manipulative) vs. sensory meltdowns (not a willful choice). Gathering this data can be tricky and can require a savvy therapist or behaviorist. You can then set realistic behavioral expectations at school, home and in other environments for your child.
12.) Choosing activities that promote your child’s sensorimotor developmental needs can be a great way to provide integrative interventions. Karate, rock climbing, swimming and other activities might be recommended as part of the “thrive plan.”

Let’s work together to promote the idea for ourselves and our children:


Thanks again Dr. Budding for all of our years of collaboration and for this week’s interview!

Dr. Denise



Licensed Psychologist, specializing in sport psychology, Dr. Steven Hannant shares how he helps people learn how to use the power of the mind to achieve Peak Performance.

Steven N. Hannant (“Dr.Steve”), Doctor of Psychology and Licensed Psychologist, practices in Eastern North Carolina working primarily with children, adolescents, and special populations of all ages (e.g., ID/DD and ASD). He owns and operates Psychological Mobile Services, PA with offices in Wilson, NC (Wilson Private Practice) and Clayton, NC (Clayton Private Practice). Dr. Steve completed a Post-Doctoral Master of Science in Psychopharmacology and is interested in the evolving field of Medical Psychology. He specializes in psychological testing, evaluations, consulting, and working with the special needs population of all ages. In addition to treating the mental health diagnoses, Dr. Steve works with professional athletes on mental preparation and training. His doctoral dissertation and research study was with elite Mixed Martial Artists (MMA), titled “Mental Preparation of Elite Athletes: A Qualitative Study.” The athletes that participated in the study have competed in the largest MMA organizations in the world including the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). His current work includes producing free online mental training programs for professional and amateur athletes and the general population via


Professor, author, holistic education advocate, Dr. Edward Mooney, Ed.D. shares how he learned how to thrive after being close to being a teenage dropout.

As a professor of education, Edward Mooney, Jr., draws from decades of experience as a public school teacher in his quest to prepare the next generation of teachers. He passionately believes that the relationship between an instructor and a student can change lives. Two of those relationships changed his.

Edward was born in Massachusetts but moved with his family to California before kindergarten. As the years passed his father turned to alcohol; he became physically abusive.

In high school Eddie wanted to drop out, due to the abuse. Two teachers reached out to him; Eddie felt that life was overwhelming. The teachers showed caring to a hurting boy. Eddie graduated, on time. He went on to earn Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts and Doctor of Education degrees. Along the way he picked up a teaching credential.

Edward followed in the footsteps of those teachers. He taught science and social studies, mostly in high schools in California, including at the setting of the 2015 movie, “McFarland USA.” No, he was not in the film.

Edward currently lives in Redding, California. His interests include maps, travel, flag collecting (called “vexillology”), writing, computers, web page development and camping (not to mention chocolate). He is married with five children and six grandchildren.

Four of his novels have been published. One outlines the struggles he went through as a young person – “Toy Jeeps: A Father’s Legacy.” It was released in the 1990’s, and he hopes to soon find a new publisher for a re-release. “The Pearls of the Stone Man,” is about a retired teacher reaching out to teens in trouble. It was published by Sourcebooks (ISBN 978-978-14022-38314).

His motto as an educator is, “To reach a child’s mind, first reach a child’s heart.” – Edward Mooney, Jr.

Yashi Brown

Poet, author, and mental health advocate, Yashi Brown shares how she healed the self imposed stigma of bipolar disorder.

Yashi Brown is a poet, author, public speaker, and avid mental health advocate. Yoshi began taking poetry seriously upon experiencing the symptoms of bipolar disorder in her late teens.

She has interviewed with prominent news outlets and print publications including TODAY Show, Huffpost Rise, CNN (Insession), CBS, ABC News and Ebony/Jet publications. Her focus is healing self-imposed stigma, bringing attention to the early signs of mental illness, and the amazing reality of recovery. Her upcoming poetry book, Black Daisy in a White Limousine, is a collection of poems eloquently chronicling life’s triumphs, challenges, and issues affecting our generation. With simplicity, imagination and captivating vulnerability, her poems invite the reader into these private moments.

Yashi was also invited by the Obama Administration to participate in the National Dialogue on Mental Illness and is currently an advocate featured on She’s vocal about how her support system of family, friends, poetry and her deep spirituality are the keys to her success.

French writer, meditation teacher, photographer and director, Michel Pascal discusses why “Meditation for Daily Stress” is different than all other ways of meditation.

Michel Pascal is a french writer, meditation teacher, singer, composer, photographer and director for spiritual documentaries. He is the photographer and co-writer of «Instants Sacrés» a book by His Holiness the Dalai-Lama (2008 Prisma Media, Geo National Geographic in Europe).

Before moving to the US, Michel lived in the largest monastery in Himalayas, Kopan Monastery in Nepal. The high master Chepa Dorje Rimpoche (descendant of Marpa) was his meditation teacher during 15 years. Michel has written 16 books in french about spirituality.

He has created Meditation for Daily Stress, a new way of meditation, mix a pure acknowledge from Buddhism Nygmapa (Pow’a, Tonglen) and new medical research in neurosciences, associated with Dr Mario Beauregard Ph,D neuroscientist, Dr Natalie Trent Ph,D Harvard University.

In just four short months, Michel Pascal’s new meditation technique, has dramatically changed the perception of meditating in America. Its success has come surprisingly fast, being practiced at Google corporate offices in New York, Harvard University (class of Dr Natalie Trent Ph,D), Amity Foundation in Los Angeles, for parolees, homeless and displaced adults, military veterans with PTSD, substance abusers (drugs, alcohol), insomniacs, pregnant women, survivors of abuse, healthcare practitioners, hospital patients, entertainers and TV producers, celebrities, teachers at La Hoya (LA Phil), children, families, Uber drivers, etc.

As said Dr Natalie Trent Ph,D Harvard, it is a revolutionary mind training technique.  All the meditation practices (yoga, MBSR, etc.) propose we training in a quiet place (yoga studio, meditation room…). But after, when we go back in our daily life, we are stressed again. Why? Because we don’t live in these quiet places, but rather in our daily stressful situations. The key of the practice is training the brain regularly, creating a new mind-set in the subconscious that it is possible to live and work without stress. We meditate, we train our mind in our reality: our workplace, in the subway, stuck in traffic, in the midst of our daily life…How can we use visualization to stop running thoughts, work easier, with less efforts? How can we recycle from others’ moods & energies? How can we be more confident, to develop our intuition? How can we feel less stress, immediately, without effort? Listen and find out how!

The Mindfulness Prescription


I am smiling with gratitude as I write this post. Why? Dr. Lidia Zylowska, a UCLA trained psychiatrist, Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine and award winning author of the book called, “The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving your Goals” was a guest on my podcast this week. Dr. Zylowska’s body of work is to be commended as she and her colleagues at UCLA have built upon the knowledge of the great sages throughout history coupled with the work of modern day visionaries such as Professor Emeritus at University of Massachusetts Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D., founder of scientifically based Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Dr. Zylowska and I discussed the evolution of her interest in her mindfulness research and the practical applications of being mindful for overall health and wellbeing in our daily lives.

What is mindfulness?

It seems to be a buzzword these days in our modern day vernacular. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgementally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” During our interview, Dr. Zylowska spoke about mindfulness being the attunement of breath and body, the dropping into awareness, the self observing without judgement and provides many more examples and guided exercises in her amazing book. She discussed how the act of gardening and being truly present in the now is something she uses as one of her examples with her clients. I shared with her my experience of recommending meditation to a teen with ADHD, “Meditation is a trigger word for me Dr. McDermott. I cannot imagine sitting still that long ever.” When I started discussing the importance of finding your own “mindfulness style” with the teen her ears perked up. I spoke with her about how a mindfulness mantra of ‘be loving, be kind,’ was my go to phrase throughout the day and served as a “reset” into the now moment. She was relieved and said, “I thought chanting ‘OM’ sitting for an extended period of time was the only way to do this!” She decided that ‘be calm and kind’ was going to be her reset back into the now if she became too cerebral or began to ruminate or get distracted. Dr. Zylowska and I both agreed that it is important to find your own meditation and mindfulness style.

Being healthy and well requires a level of physical and emotional awareness for all of us. The act of sitting in silence or paying attention to our breath can seem overwhelming with all of our modern day interruptions that we face each day. When we are able to be in the now our ability to pay attention on a multidimensional level allows us to thrive. The long-term benefits of a mindfulness practice include reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased focus, improved cognition, broadened self awareness and more!

There are many tools out there to start a regular practice of mindfulness and meditation. Many of my patients love the headspace app which you can find on It really is “meditation made simple.” The integration of mindfulness has started in elementary schools across the United States thanks to Goldie Hawn’s Mind UP program. If your school district is interested in an integration of mindfulness into their curriculum you can direct them to: ( You can also order Dr. Zylowska’s book, which includes mindfulness exercises: There are many other tools on-line, classes to explore and you can also check out what your community has to offer!

I prescribe mindfulness as part of every mental health thrive plan for children, teens and adults.

When our children (adults included too!) are aware of how their bodies and mind feel they are self aware which can foster self-love and wellbeing. The parents and kids in my practice often here me say, “You need to be your own best friend.” I believe that self awareness and self love lead to a compassionate awareness, a “heartfulness.” When individuals thrive our society thrives.

Thank you Dr. Zylowska for being a guest this week, it was an inspiring interview on mindfulness.

Listen here: Dr. Lidia Zylowska Interview on The Dr. Denise Show


-It is never too late or too early to start your mindfulness practice.

-Being self aware coupled with compassion leads to “heartfulness.”

-The benefits of mindfulness are endless: improved focus, improved mood, reduced stress, increased creativity, improved cognition, a greater self awareness and more.

So what are you waiting for? Find your mindfulness style. Doctor’s orders!

Dr. Denise



Dr. Deborah Budding, Ph.D. is a neuropsychologist who shares how she helps patients cope with ADHD, OCD, mood and anxiety disorders.

Dr. Deborah Budding is a board certified neuropsychologist who works with children, adolescents, and adults in the Los Angeles area. She has a background in literature and magazine publishing prior to earning her Ph.D. in psychology. She is co-author of “Subcortical Structures and Cognition: Implications for Neuropsychological Assessment,” which was published in 2008, as well as peer-reviewed articles related to subcortical contributions to cognitive and emotional function, including a Consensus paper on cerebellar contributions to both movement and cognition published in 2013. She has strong interests in neuroscience, art, and video games, not necessarily in that order. Dr. Budding is a supervising faculty member at Harbor-UCLA’s neuropsychology training program and is increasingly involved in research involving transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). She has particular interest in the cerebellum’s contributions to non-motor function, in brain-behavior relationships in neurodevelopmental disorders, and in finding ways to amplify the voices of women and people of color in science education.

Lidia Zylowska, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author and Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. She shares how she teaches mindfulness when treating adult ADHD.

Lidia Zylowska, M.D. is a UCLA-trained psychiatrist, Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, and an author of an award-winning book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD:  An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals.

Dr. Zylowska’s professional background includes broad clinical experience in adult psychiatry as well as academic and writing activities.  Dr. Zylowska is internationally recognized as an expert in adult ADHD and mindfulness-based therapies.  She is a co-founding member of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center where she pioneered the application of mindfulness in ADHD and developed the Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPs) for ADHD program.   Following her research work, Dr. Zylowska divides her time between clinical care, writing and consulting.