(This post originally appears at miamitimesonline.com as a part of the “A Local Voice on Mental Health” column)
Growing up with two parents who were natives of Mississippi taught me a lot about mental illness — unbeknownst to me — until I was a student studying to become a medical doctor. I realized that my father was a narcissist and my mother endured depression as a result of being reared in Jonestown, Mississippi. I was a daddy’s girl, and my parents were married until my mother died at age 51, from a succession of illnesses as a result of her diabetes, hypertension and cigarette smoking habit.
At age 23 when I matriculated in medical school, I had dreams to deliver babies. However, something else stole my attention. During my rotation in psychiatry and neurology, I found illnesses that afflict the brain much more intriguing. The patients seemed helpless and this tugged on my heart. I felt pity that for some of these brain diseases, like schizophrenia, there was no cure, but only ways to keep them calm and less psychotic.
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