When Everything Seems To Be Going Wrong, Redux


Photo: Robert S. Donovan

In a previous post, The True Cause Of Depression, I discussed how having multiple problems at once seems to cause more stress than having only one or two. I likened the handling of challenges to balancing a “plate” of a certain size and suggested if we pile too many problems onto it, not only do we risk having it topple over, we often find ourselves wanting to pitch the whole thing on purpose. Continue reading…

Why Raising Children Is So Hard

Photo: limaoscarjuliet

You don’t really know what an experience is like, of course, until you have it yourself.  I remember thinking to myself when my wife and I first began discussing the idea of having children that this was especially true regarding parenthood.  In the past I’d been able to predict with reasonable accuracy a number of novel experiences based on previous similar experiences, but no experience I’d yet had seemed even close to the experience of having a child (sorry, owning a pet doesn’t come close). Continue reading…


“He was just…” My patient groped for the right words.  “…pretty great.”

She was talking about her boyfriend—or rather, her ex-boyfriend.  He’d recently ended their relationship, and she’d come to me now, several months later, unable to shake herself out of the funk in which she’d been left by his leaving.

Surprisingly, she harbored no ill feelings toward him for breaking up with her. Continue reading…

The Importance Of Good Influences

mimicWhile I was growing up, my brothers (I’m the eldest of four boys—I know:  my poor mother) often chided me for being so much like my father.  I suppose it was inevitable that I would be; firstborn children tend to be rule followers (if you believe in the significance of birth order) and I fit the stereotype.  Some boys use their fathers to push against as they struggle to establish their own independent identities.  I used mine as a role model.

My decision to do this was largely, though not entirely, unconscious. Continue reading…

How To Manage Anger


Photo: darkpatator

Years ago, a hulk of a man came to see me with a lump in his neck.  He was as big as the lump was small, standing at least six and half feet tall with shoulders that seemed almost as broad.  His lump, in contrast, was only 2 cm wide.

Wide enough, however, to warrant concern.  It was firm rather than rubbery, fixed rather than mobile, and non-tender rather than painful—all hallmarks of something potentially malignant.  He’d noticed it only one month prior to coming to see me, which made me think it had grown rapidly, another bad sign.  He’d had no infection during that time that he could recall. Continue reading…

Letting Go

sonLast week my 18 month-old son, Cruise, started Montessori preschool.  The first three days my wife and I dropped him off he cried so hard he could hardly catch his breath, his chest heaving in great racking sobs.  By the fourth day, however, we were listening to him repeat his teacher’s name every few minutes on the way over, and when we dropped him off and gently prodded him into the classroom, he entered, stood, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and stared curiously at all the other toddlers crying around him.  When we came to pick him up at the end of the day, we watched him through the classroom’s observation windows sitting in a little toddler chair eating a piece of cantaloupe with the other toddlers, also in chairs, and drinking juice out of a plastic cup by himself for the very first time.  Rather than burst into tears when he saw us realizing we’d been separated from him all day, he ran up to me, wrapped his arms around mine, and smiled. Continue reading…

When Everything Seems To Be Going Wrong


Photo: Robert S. Donovan

For me, this last week has been a little rough.  I’ve been working as an attending physician on an inpatient service populated with incredibly sick patients, several of whom are intensely angry about their diseases and are projecting their anger toward me and the team of residents with whom I work.  The medical informatics project on which I’m the physician sponsor has just gone live with its most ambitious and radical portion and many physicians are nervous and resistant and are acting out in negative ways.  I’m struggling to find the time to practice Buddhism, to work on my book and this blog, fulfill my work responsibilities, my relationship responsibilities to both my wife and son, continue a regular program of exercise, get adequate sleep, and relax.  In short, in the last week my life has felt a bit out of control and a little overwhelming. Continue reading…