I was asked to present information about mental health to a lay audience. This is both an exciting and daunting task. I imagine it’s like asking someone to talk about fish. There are so many kinds of fish! They live in many habitats! Some of them look more like snakes than fish! There are so many directions to go. I have given a “psychiatry 101” talk to many non-clinical audiences in ...

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The chief complaint was belly pain. He described the pain as both dull and crampy. It came and went, but bothered him the most on the same night of each week. The notes from the primary care doctor show a thoughtful search for the underlying cause. There were comments about activity logs, blood tests, and imaging studies. Months later, it remained a mystery: He still had belly pain. The investigations did ...

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I didn’t know that he and I were on the same train. At the Othello stop, I got out of the last car and walked towards the front of the train. The morning chill seeped through my coat and I slid my hands into my pockets. “Dr. Yang!” The doors of the train were still open, and there he was: A baggy black hoodie was pulled up over his head, but it ...

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The nights from that time run together in my memory: The cuffs of my scrub pants getting caught on the heels of my clogs because my pants were sagging; stuffing dry graham crackers I stole from the nursing stations into my mouth at 4 a.m. to stay awake while writing notes; what seemed like my pager buzzing against my hip every five minutes; feeling the enormous specter of unending work ...

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I don’t miss making the phone calls in the middle of the night. “Hi, this is Dr. Yang calling from the psychiatric emergency service. May I speak to Mr. or Mrs. Doe?” “Yeah, this is Mr. Doe,” he’d reply, his voice thick and slow with sleep. “I’m sorry to call so late. Your son is here at the hospital.” Take a breath and slow down for the next part. “He’s alive and doing OK at ...

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“Oh, you’re a psychiatrist? I hope you won’t analyze me!” I never know what people actually mean when they say that upon learning that I work as a psychiatrist. I think they’re saying, “I hope you’re not going to spend our time together trying to discern my flaws.” Nobody wants people to seek out, highlight, and exploit their vulnerabilities and faults, so I can understand that. Of course, that’s not what psychiatrists do. Anyway, ...

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"Expressers significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel." – Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation The past 30 days have been unusual because of the number of professional gestures of gratitude I’ve received:

  • I received a clinical faculty award from psychiatry residents for my teaching efforts.
  • An hospital administrator ...

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I still feel a little anxiety whenever I ask someone about suicide. I have no fear when asking The Question -- “Have you been thinking about killing yourself?” -- but sometimes I find that I’m not breathing while I await the answer. What if this person says “yes”? This anxiety persists even though it’s literally part of my job to ask this question. Despite having asked this question thousands of times, I still ...

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There were about nine of us waiting to cross the street. Several were Asian; there were also a few black and brown men. A van approached the curb to turn. It was one of those vans with a back door that slides along a track. That back door was wide open, even though the van was in motion. As it pulled closer, we saw that there were three young white men ...

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To the intern on the trauma surgery service when I was a medical student: Thanks for occasionally wearing leather pants to work. Thanks for smiling and having a sense of humor despite having to round on thirty patients. Thanks for teaching us medical students while running a significant sleep deficit. To the internal medicine resident who wanted to become a cardiologist: Thank you for indulging me and telling me how you ...

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