Free Flow Psychiatry 

Step into the flow.  Embrace your truth.  Discover serenity & peace.

Today is the day that I let go...and enter the flow

remember when I was in medical school, shadowing a psychiatrist in Connecticut.  He told me "whatever you do, don't get into 15 min med checks all day." 

I also remember a prominent old-school, tweed wearing, pipe smoking child psychiatrist at the Mayo clinic who lectured us on the importance of psychiatrists doing psychotherapy despite the industry pushing us towards 15 minute med checks in the name of monetary gain; often masquerading as efficient delivery of care in the setting of limited mental health resources.

I chose a residency that was psycho-dynamically oriented and encouraged us to do therapy and medication management together.  I should have been on the right path towards engaging people around the breadth of their mental wellness challenges.

When I started my first industry job (in what I will call corporate psychiatry) I discussed sleep, exercise, diet, mindfulness, and attempted to integrate psychotherapy principles into every patient visit.  Though as the number of patients in the practice grew, along with the phone calls, instant messages and e-mails, so too did my bandwidth dwindle.  Unfortunately, my attempted holistic approach became increasingly conventional.

One year out of residency, I found myself having brief conversations about medication dosages with less and less emphasis on psycho-social determinants of mental health.  I felt exhausted, my clients felt less empathy towards them and the health system I worked for kept throwing more and more clients at me.  I was physically, emotionally and spiritually sick and quickly becoming burned out. 

I realized that if the very manner in which I am working to treat my clients is making me ill, than how could I possibly ask them to be well.

Something needed to change.  I realized that I had begun living in fear of paying off my loans, of a lack of abundance in my life, and that I had developed a lack of love and caring that affected not only my job, but my marriage and my ability to be a good father.  I realized that I had begun to hide in the shadows of my psyche rather than face my fears head on.  

After a particularly hard hitting physical illness, I knew that I wasn't responding to stressors as I had in the past and that I had lost my ability to cope.  How could I ask my clients to do the same?

I remembered my training in Naturopathic medicine; that illness is the expression of the healing force, attempting to rectify an imbalance and not able to find resolution due to a blockage in the physical, emotional or spiritual system.  I remembered my Classical Chinese medicine training, that when there is inability for the Qi to flow through a part of the energetic system, that excess and deficiency will occur.  

I examined my own life to recognize that my being had become grossly imbalanced.  Excess emotional intolerance for friends and family, excess food intake, irritability, coupled with a deficiency of energy, sexual desire or ability to spontaneously seek joy in the activities that used to light up my soul. 

In basic DSM-V psychiatry terms, I was depressed.  Then I recognized that I had fallen into the traps from which so many people in our modern world suffer.  I had allowed my desire to be the perfect expected version of the role set before me, without considering my own intuition and heartfelt desires.

It reminded me of the Herman Hesse book "Siddharta" in which the ascetic went into business and became successful only to realize the damage that the abundance of monetary wealth did to his spiritual and physical health.  So I decided to found Free Flow Psychiatry with the idea of finding a balance for myself and the clients that I serve. 

Let this website and its stories serve as a reminder for all those who go through their own personal struggles to find balance, that there is a path, albeit frequently a different one for everyone.  As Siddharta said to Gotama the Buddha after he had found enlightenment (poorly paraphrased from the above novel), "I can see that you have found enlightenment, but I do not feel your path will bring me enlightenment.  I must find my own way."  Let us endeavor to support one another in finding our own paths.

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