I’m back!

It’s been a rough couple months, but now that I’ve finally dragged myself out of the winter blues I hope to be posting more often.  This is how I feel today 🙂


I watched some of the Olympics yesterday.  I’m always so impressed by the athletes as some of them are still teenagers!  I wonder sometimes if the kids have that much drive in them, or if the parents are putting on the pressure though.  Having seen how many parents force their kids to play piano or go into STEM fields, it wouldn’t surprise me if others “encourage” their children to play sports.   Regardless, the smiles when they get on the podium are just endearing and I hope just competing at that level is worth it to them.



Image source: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39617


Lying to the doc

I don’t know why I do this.

I saw my psychiatrist for the first time in a couple months for medication refills.  She asked me if I was depressed or anxious.  I am probably (okay maybe more than probably) a bit of both.  But I said no.

I think she might’ve gotten a sense that I could be.  I admitted to being exhausted, yet having insomnia.  But I didn’t say the rest:  I feel like I’m failing at school.  Needing every ounce of energy to get myself out of bed.  Dreading work.  Granted, all of this could be attributed to being in one’s 3rd year of medical school and be a perfectly normal response.

I don’t know how I held it together in her office.  I’m so anxious on the wards, when presenting patients, and when I get home because I know so little.  My chest hurts and sometimes I burst into tears.  Like when I got feedback from my attending the other day.

I don’t know what to do.  I think I’m going to try and ride through it.  I just need to hold on until spring.  Then I’ll be happy again, like I always do.

The power of words


The Office of Management and Budgets has reportedly told the CDC not to use a set of words in their budget proposals.  These include “vulnerable”, “diversity”, “entitlement”, “evidence-based”, “transgender”, “fetus”, and “science-based”.  (Clarification: there’s written evidence that they were told to substitute alternatives for the first three words – the other four were supposedly suggested in-person.)

That is just ridiculous.  But on the other hand, it tells us that the Trump administration is afraid of words.  They recognize words are powerful and that speech can shape what people think and believe.  Slogans like “Make America Great Again” clearly are what got Trump elected into office.  Fortunately, it is human nature to want what you can’t have, and that by banning the use of words in one setting, it will likely make people use them more in another.

Genetics of bipolar disorder

I have a few (distant) relatives with bipolar disorder.  From what I’ve learned in medical school, this is not uncommon.  Many diseases have a genetic component, and psychiatric disorders are not exempt.

The branch of the NIH that studies mental illnesses (NIMH) has funded research looking at genetic and molecular mechanisms for years now but I feel like little headway has been made.  Unlike with many endocrine or cardiovascular diseases, we still don’t have a good laboratory test to diagnose depression or bipolar disorder.  We don’t know how many of our psychiatric drugs work.  Lamotrigine is used for both seizures and bipolar disorder.  Seroquel is used for schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder.  But why?  Clearly they are very different illnesses.  Sure, sometimes we know which receptor (or set of receptors) the drugs target, but how does that translate to relieving the manic or depressive symptoms?

It’s frustrating because I think psychiatric illnesses get labeled as separate from other “physical” diseases partly because we don’t know the mechanisms behind the disorder.  They are seen as less legitimate by a lot of the public.  We can’t just “snap out” of depression any more than other people can magically stop their heart attacks.  If I end up choosing to go into psychiatry, I hope that research will catch up so that I could more effectively help my patients.