Just write it! Before I finally started writing the book I spent so much time thinking about what other people would think. If they’d like the content, the illustrations, whether or not it would have a positive impact on readers. I wish someone told me to stop thinking and start writing. Now that I have, I’m so proud of what was created.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Anjani Amladi.
Dr. Anjani Amladi a.k.a. “Dr. A” is an expert in adult and child/adolescent psychiatry. She has extensive experience treating a wide variety of psychiatric diagnoses including but not limited to: depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, eating disorders and has presented nationally on several of these topics. She is the upcoming author of several children’s picture books including When the World Got Sick, which helps children and caregivers talk about the hardship COVID has brought into daily life.Anjani Amladi is a medical doctor who specializes in both adult and child/adolescent Psychiatry. She has always been interested in the brain, human behavior, and mental health so becoming a Psychiatrist seemed like a natural fit for her when deciding what specialty to pursue when in medical school. Helping children and families process and manage the stress of the pandemic has been a challenging but also rewarding part of her career.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in the California Bay Area by two loving parents. My mother is from Hawaii and my father emigrated from India to attend college and graduate school in the United States. Growing up my parents were very big on travel and thought it was important to expose me to different parts of the world. By the time I turned 14 I had been to at least 5 countries, and continued to travel as an adult. Many of the countries I travelled to were developing nations. Homelessness, poverty, illness, and food insecurity were all things I became aware of at a young age. As I grew up it became clear to me that I wanted to help with these issues. Becoming a physician felt like the most natural and meaningful way to address all of these issues in one profession. Part of medical training is being exposed to multiple specialties including: internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, neurology, psychiatry, and radiology. After rotating in each of these specialties in medical school, psychiatry quickly became my favorite. I became a psychiatrist because I enjoy this particular kind of helping. Psychiatry is complex, complicated, interesting, meaningful, and at times quite difficult. There is no “one size fits all” method of treating patients. We learn about our patients by talking to them, listening to them, and understanding how their symptoms affect their daily lives. We have the privilege of spending time with our patients, getting to know them, and bearing witness to their experiences as human beings. Patients sometimes tell us things about themselves and their lives that they have never told anyone before. Psychiatrists are keepers of secrets, trauma, hurt, pain, and anguish. There is no greater responsibility or honor to hold these feeling for our patients and actively work with them to reduce their suffering. While I deeply enjoy working with adults, I absolutely love working with children. The majority of my practice is seeing children and their families, but I also continue to see adults.
I was born and raised in the California Bay Area by two loving parents. My mother is from Hawaii and my father emigrated from India to attend college and graduate school in the United States. Growing up my parents were very big on travel and thought it was important to expose me to different parts of the world. By the time I turned 14 I had been to at least 5 countries, continued to travel as an adult.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
This quote not only applies to love, but life in general. Sometimes we settle into relationships or situations that are not good for us, often due to fear. Fear of starting over, being alone, not being successful, and the list goes on. Sometimes it can feel like we just bend to the whim of our surroundings, when in reality we have more control over the outcome of our lives than we think. We have the power to enter or exit relationships, push for a promotion, start a new business, write a book, etc. We so very often settle for what we think we deserve because we are afraid to embrace the idea that we may deserve better, and are even more afraid to ask for it. This is a culture that we need to change.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
It became clear to me around the age of 10 years old that my parents were no longer happily married. Around that time several of my childhood best friend’s parents were also amid divorce and they often shared stories of the challenges of switching houses every few days and being around parents who constantly fought. I also had two older sisters who got married and then divorced several years later. My Mom has been married 4 times, and all of my aunties on my Mom’s side with the exception of one have been divorced at least once. So it’sIt’s fair to say that growing up I didn’t have a great template about what “real” love looked like. The only think I could infer about marriages was that they were destined to fail.
“P.S. I Love You” was a film that made me rethink the way I viewed relationships. Granted, the Hollywoodized dramatization of what a real relationship looked like was taken into consideration when I watched the film, but it did get me thinking about whether real love was possible. It opened the door to the possibility of not only finding true love, but keeping it as well.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I’m an adult and child/ and adolescent psychiatrist, but the majority of my practice is seeing children. and I see a population of kids that struggle with symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar, trauma, etc. I was seeing kids in all types of settings including inpatient hospitals, outpatient clinics, the emergency department, intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, on the consultation service, in group homes and residential treatment centers, and in juvenile hall for consultation, medication management and for therapy.
My practice was busy even before the pandemic, but after the pandemic started affecting everyday life the need for mental health providers in this population drastically increased. The hardest part of the pandemic was being relegated to working remotely because seeing kids and families in person is the most rewarding part of my job.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
One of the most heartbreaking things about this pandemic is seeing how it has affected my patients and their families. I would regularly get asked for resources to help kids better manage this drastic change in everyday life but despite daily research I was coming up short. I felt like I had nothing left to offer and that feeling of helplessness was difficult for me. So instead of giving up, I decided to create what I was unable to find.
I wrote my a children’s book, When the World Got Sick, on Covid to helpto provide information in an age appropriate manner to kids. The ultimate goal was to supply parents, caregivers, teachers, therapists, and other providers with a tangible resource to help facilitate this difficult conversation with children who are struggling to understand the changes that are happening around them.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I saw the toll the pandemic was taking on my patients and their families and I wanted to help. I felt strongly that if I was unable to find resources to help them, then I should create one myself. So I did.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Amazing! Creating a children’s book is certainly more difficult than I thought it would be, but I have had so much fun on this journey. In the last 6 months I have learned a lot about writing, illustrating, publishing and marketing. I loved every moment of this project, so much so that I have decided to write a few more children’s books which are in the process of being created.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am so fortunate to be surrounded by incredible people. There is no one person who helped get me to this point, there are many. Friends, family, colleagues, my patients, their families, my husband, the list goes on. Every person who has witnessed this journey has played a role in making this project come to life. One thing I have learned about this process is that small gestures make a big difference. Whether it’s words of encouragement, support, editing, illustrations, help creating the book, etc. every kind gesture that has been shown to me has had a profound impact on me and the outcome of this endeavor and I am so grateful.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I learned to believe in myself more. I’ve always loved to write, and have always wanted to write a book, but never thought that was in the cards for me given how busy my career keeps me. Sometimes life throws you a fastball and you either rise to the occasion and catch it, or miss the opportunity.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
5 things I wish someone had told me before I started writing my book:
1. Just write it! Before I finally started writing the book I spent so much time thinking about what other people would think. If they’d like the content, the illustrations, whether or not it would have a positive impact on readers. I wish someone told me to stop thinking and start writing. Now that I have, I’m so proud of what was created.
2. How much help there is for new writers. I had no idea how supportive the writing community is, especially of new writers. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to write a book but had absolutely no clue where to start. One day I literally Googled “how to write and publish a children’s book” and the rest is history.
3. Patience is a virtue. Once I sat down and wrote the manuscript for the book, the entire process took me about a day. What I wasn’t prepared for was how long all the other steps would take. Editing, illustrations, graphic design, formatting, marketing, and publishing took quite some time. I was so excited about the potential of a final product that I had to remind myself to enjoy the journey. It was totally worth the wait.
4. A book is more than just a book. I didn’t know that a book could become a tool for career advancement. I’ve never thought of myself as a brand or an industry leader. But when I wrote and published this book I started noticing that new doors were opening up for me.
5. Writing one book makes you want to write more. Throughout the process of writing and publishing my first book, I learned so much. I’ve acquired new skills, have more confidence in my ability as an author, and am even more motivated to create children’s books that have a positive and meaningful impact on young readers. I’m actually in the process of writing several more children’s books right now.
I’m not sure this really applies to me.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I have learned to scale back my consumption of media, particularly the news. Watching TV, listening to the radio, subscribing to podcasts all became too much for me and started affecting my sleep, my mood, and my outlook on life. It is important to me to stay informed, especially since policy, particularly health policy directly affects my patients and their families. Instead of streaming media I’ve switched to browsing headlines and choosing what I read from there. I find that gives me a greater sense of control over the media I consume which has allowed me to both stay informed, but also take care of myself.
I also make it a point to get some exercise. I find that on the days I don’t exercise I am more stressed and less resilient. Exercise helps me to relax, recharge, and helps me to stay sharp both physically and mentally. My husband and I also have a small farm going on at our house. We have a rescue cow, llamas, pot belly pigs, pygmy goats, dogs, and cats which keep us busy. There are also endless snuggles available which also helps me decompress after a long day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
My most fervent wish is to decrease stigma associated with mental health. Although I am primarily a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I also see adults. I regularly see adults who have struggled in silence for years due to concerns about what their friends or families might think of them if they went to see a mental health provider. What I wish more than anything is for mental health to be treated as seriously as physical health. People suffer in many ways, not all of which are visible. There is merit to mental health struggles, and most importantly there is help available.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Given this historic election, I would love to meet Senator Kamala Harris. Like me she was born and raised in California, is of Indian heritage, is the daughter of immigrants, and has dedicated her life to trying to make the world a better place. I am fortunate to have many female role models in my life, but none that look like me. So toTo meet a woman like her who has managed to shatter many glass ceilings throughout her career would be inspiring, not to mention be the honor of a lifetime.
How can our readers follow you online?
I can be found on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @anjaniamladimd and also on my personal website www.anjaniamladimd.com.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!