So, what’s it all about?

“What if the Hokey-Pokey really IS what it’s all about?!?”   Anon.

First off, I can assure you that expounding on the many mysteries and nuances of the Hokey-Pokey dance did not make the short list of plans for this blog.  Ring-Around-The-Rosie, on the other hand, well, we’ll see!  (wink, wink!)

Being serious, though, I have found that there are a large number of beliefs and conceptions about life, mental health, and spirituality which many, many of us hold to be true, that may not be true at all.  Certainly, if we just focus on mental illness, there are at the very least many inaccuracies people still hold to be true.  As the last 3 decades have progressed, we in the U.S. have seen a number of efforts from both public and private sources to educate folks about mental illness and its treatment.  Yet, despite such applaudable efforts (and unfortunately, in some cases because of these efforts), I still see daily examples, even in myself, of errant and misguided thinking.  Because mental illness and helping those affected by it to recover are very dear to me, there is a strong drive within to shed as much light as I can on what I have come to believe are truths about mental illness and mental health, as well as on the overarching spheres of health and living well.  I guess the previous sentence really encapsulates what I most hope to accomplish here.

This will not be a scientific treatise.  I will from time to time list reference citations if and when I draw upon a particular published article or essay or other written source.  However, I really intend for this to be an informal discussion, to lay out my personal “case” for certain ideas or against others, and to do it in as lighthearted and non-threatening a way as possible.  When we talk about things such as depression or anxiety or schizophrenia, and what they are all about, it may be inevitable that I’ll have to present some information about neurophysiology and the interplay between brain, body, and mind, but I’ll try to write in the most plain and readable language I can.

I love to laugh.  I always appreciate good fun.  I want to make this blog “good fun”.  I’m not much for crude humor, but I’m a sucker for slapstick, having cut my teeth on The Three Stooges and The Bowery Boys.  My own sense of humor lies more to the dry end of the spectrum, and you’ll likely see that as time moves along.  If anyone reading along ever has a good joke to leave in the comments section, it will be much enjoyed, I assure you!

I want to tell you a bit about my background, and the hopes I have for this little project of mine.  I am a husband, a father, and more recently, a grandfather.  I wear many hats, and have a few interests.  I have had many struggles, as has almost every person I’ve ever come to know.  I’ve made many mistakes, some of them very bad ones.  I’ve seen a number of successes, some of which have been akin to the proverbial blind squirrel stumbling across an acorn.  I’ve been blessed in innumerable ways, by my Creator, by my family, by my friends and colleagues, and by every single one of my patients.  So to a large extent the things I write spring from pure gratitude.

As I mentioned in the previous entry, I am a psychiatrist.  This means that I attended medical school, and after graduating went through a few years (in my case, four) of what is called “residency” that was geared specifically toward training in psychiatry.  Since finishing residency, I’ve done a little bit of everything, it seems.  I was in private practice, doing both inpatient and outpatient work, for a little over two years, followed by another two-plus years of full-time consulting work in nursing homes scattered throughout central Kentucky.   From there I went on to work for the state in our prison system, and spent right at four years in that occupation.  In 2004, I was hired by what is known as a community mental health center in central Kentucky, and have worked in that setting ever since.  About half of my time is spent in our community clinics, treating folks with a variety of mental health problem.  The other half is the part I love most:  working with adults and adolescents who have either intellectual disabilities (formerly known as mental retardation), developmental disabilities (autism or autism-spectrum disorders), or brain injuries, AND some form of mental illness.

Finally, I must make mention that I hold very strongly to my own personal faith, and this faith strongly colors and pervades my thinking.   Also, as you may have noticed, my work has been dominated by efforts to provide help and treatment to four very underserved, and in many ways forgotten, populations:  nursing home residents, prison inmates, rural mentally ill persons, and folks with intellectual/developmental disorders.  Because of this, I believe my perspective is a little different from that of mainstream psychiatry and most other mental health professionals.  Whether for good or ill, these two influences run through the course of my life, and in turn, everything I will say herein.  Just letting the reader know where I’m coming from.

Now, how does it all go?  Oh, yeah … you put your right foot in, you take your right foot out, you put your right foot in, and you shake it all about;  you do the hokey-pokey and you turn yourself around, and that’s what it’s all about!!!

Craig Meek, M.D.

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