"Oh, a storm is threatening My very life today If I don't get some shelter Ooh yeah, I'm gonna fade away." -The Rolling Stones Shelter. It's a safe-sounding word, a comforting word, a good ending to the story word. We have all needed shelter at one time or another in life if just to lay our head on a pillow for the night and sleep to be able to face another day. What is shelter, ...

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As we had our all agency meeting at work the other day, involving mental health employees from all three of our sites and from all types of job descriptions, I was struck by something that came up as we discussed issues of cultural diversity. We had had a good presentation on diversity and how it was germane to the people that we serve everyday. Then, a few folks made observations ...

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I grew up in a small mill village in northwest Georgia. When things did not go right, someone got sick, or we had an accident, or we needed a sports physical, we would head around the circle to the entrance to the mill complex, just across the grassy field from my house, and see Dr. Harry Dawson. Dr. Dawson was that old omnipresent breed of physician who had a small ...

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I had a brief, quiet, intense conversation with a friend today. She had just lost another friend, a close one, to a sudden and tragic accident. “How are you doing?” I asked. “OK,” she replied as she turned to go up the hallway. In a second, I knew better. “No, not OK.” Her usually bright smile was strained, her voice soft, her features drawn. That brief exchange, the sharing of feelings about trauma to ...

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One question I get asked a lot lately is this: “Is it OK  for me to use CBD oil?” First of all, CBD oil and associated preparations are types of alternative medications, medicines that might not be mainstream or readily prescribed by doctors, but are nevertheless used by many people on their own. Alcohol and marijuana are two substances that are often used as “medicines” by those that think they function ...

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It happens all too often. You have not been taking good care of yourself. You don’t eat, you sleep poorly, and you neglect your medical health. Over months or sometimes years, you begin to isolate yourself from your friends and family. You can’t seem to hold a job. You lose interest in once pleasurable activities. Your thinking becomes odd, your thoughts distorted and fragmented and strange. No one knows about that ...

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“No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from I cannot forget the people who love me Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town …” - John Mellencamp When I began my psychiatric training in earnest thirty-three years ago after a challenging rotating internship, the indoctrination that began was regimented, sanctioned, scripted and complete. I knew from a very young age, training-wise, that my job was to ask a ...

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The ad is compelling. A surfer rides a blue wave, seen from below in crystal clear reflection. The Apple Watch on his left arm cuts through the surf, elegant, sparkling ripples trailing behind. Suddenly, it breaks the surface, and the screen lights up, announcing an incoming call. Let’s face it, shall we? We are always connected. We are always wired in. We are always on. We have become a world of interconnected people, ...

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My car has one hundred seventeen thousand miles on it after just three and a half years. It has taken me back and forth from here to Atlanta more times than I can remember, to the beach, to the mountains I love to hike, and across the country in a seven thousand mile trip four falls ago. It runs well, just like new as a matter of fact. I have ...

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Two sisters (religious order, not biological relation, as far as I know) live in one of the condos across from us. They are very nice, older ladies, warm and pleasant, always ready with a kind word and a smile as they see others in the complex come and go. They seem, at least on casual observation, to lead very busy lives. They rise early, heading out to do whatever it ...

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“I attribute my success to this-I never gave or took any excuse.” -Florence Nightingale I was publically thanked today for doing my job. No, really. By two of my coworkers, actually. It sort of took me aback just a bit. Over the past Christmas holiday a couple of patients, being human as we all are, forgot to get their medications squared away before the clinic was going to close for a total of ...

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I use an ongoing spreadsheet to keep track of and to report my demographics and stats for each telepsychiatry consult shift I do. I’ve done thousands of consults in over two dozen South Carolina emergency departments over the last half-dozen years. We have now gone over thirty thousand consults as a group. It never ceases to amaze me, as I fire up my computer, log on to my systems and bring ...

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He was a small but very intelligent and articulate young man. I had seen him before, but it had been quite a while. He came to me complaining (as did his family) that he was having some trouble controlling his anger, dealing with quarrelsome students at school, and not always getting his assignments inside or outside of school completed in a timely manner. We discussed the usual ways to approach this, I ...

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He came in for his routine yearly visit with me, stable for the most part in that he was living with his chronic psychotic illness and moving through the world in a fairly normal, logical way most days. He was in his mid-twenties, neat and clean. He was attending to his personal hygiene and wearing rumpled but passable casual clothes. His hair was combed, but it had not been cut ...

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I listened to a Planet Money podcast recently titled, Burnout.  It dealt with the origin and characteristics of burnout, and I would highly recommend it. You’ve all heard the term and have a vague knowledge of what burnout is, I’m sure. You may have experienced it yourself. It affects call center employees (as in the podcast), all sorts of service workers, doctors and other health care providers and countless others. Looking back ...

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She is tall, thin and wears torn jeans like a mannequin. A silky top flows around her, masking the thin torso, the exposed ribs. Her hair is long, fine and the ends are perfect. Her face is smooth, drawn, a bit careworn, but that is why she is here. She carries herself with an aristocratic bearing that is not learned but genetically endowed over generations. She is rich, entitled and ...

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My father worked as a middle manager in the textile industry for many years after he graduated with a degree in textile engineering from Georgia Tech in Atlanta. As far as I know, he was the first to graduate from college in his family. I can only imagine how exciting it was for him to leave the little town of Cochran, travel to the big city of Atlanta, work to ...

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I went into medicine because I wanted to learn about the craft, become proficient at healing disease and easing suffering, and because I genuinely liked getting to know more about my patients and hearing their stories. These reasons for going into medicine as a career and staying in medicine as a vocation have not changed significantly through the last three decades. The problem we are faced with pretty often nowadays is ...

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You’ve all heard it. Those ads about that wonderful product that will change your life. The new kind of mattress that will finally give you a good night’s sleep every night. The new electric car. The superfood. They go on about them for thirty seconds or a minute, you are enthralled, and you dream of going right out and purchasing. Ah, marketing, how powerful you are. How much we want ...

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One of the episodes of the Walking Dead was titled “JSS.” In this brutal episode, one learned by the end of the show that one of the characters, then others after her, had learned that all they could expect to do for the moment was JSS, or just survive somehow. I met a patient recently who embodied that mantra. Small, petite, with stringy hair and sun-browned skin, she did not look the ...

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