There can be an immense amount of healing through storytelling
I’ve tried to heal myself through writing, filmmaking, and the creative process. I want to speak about people’s pain and create stories of inspiration.
Rodney is drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist and an individual with mental illness to embark on a new career in the arts. A licensed physician with board certifications in adult, forensic, and child and adolescent psychiatry, Rodney served as a psychiatrist at a veteran’s hospital. Working in a high-stress and, at times, dangerous environment, he experienced symptoms of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In time, Rodney went on disability leave. He then began to pursue intensive studies in the creative arts.
I had been taking acting and theater arts classes. Then I joined a filmmaking program. I’m also learning about screenwriting. I went back into this to learn how to take all the emotion from my experience as a doctor and be human again.
The focus of Rodney’s creative work is mental illness. He wants to explore the unique pressures that physicians face when working with patients. He also wants to use the creative process to educate the public about the need for mental health treatment.
It is important to hear an informed, neurobiological-based discussion on caring for our physicians in a time where psychiatry treatment is at a premium. We must learn to heal ourselves and hear an informed opinion from someone who is trained to speak to those who are not trained in psychiatry.
Rodney is currently engaged in developing film projects that could shine a light on the experiences of doctors and patients. He is poring over thousands of patient assessments and status exams to craft fictionalized stories that depict various aspects of the experience of mental illness.
I became a doctor to be a protagonist in someone’s life and try to heal them. By putting out my own words and telling other people’s stories, I might be able to continue to help people heal.
Rodney also hopes that telling these stories will help him learn and grow from his own experiences with mental illness.
I remember in college learning the ancient proverb ‘Physician, heal thyself.’ This gave me the idea that theater and film could help heal me from the secondary trauma that I experienced working with soldiers at the VA hospital and learning about the ravages of war.
In developing his writing and filmmaking skills, Rodney is building on his passion for storytelling and healing. He wants individuals with mental health issues to learn from others, tell their own stories, and confront the stigma that may be holding them back from getting needed help.
People are not their diagnoses, and they should not be fitted into categories. The stigma attached to these categories should not exist. Still, people need to have a diagnosis for treatment, but treatment does not happen if you feel stigma, shame, and guilt.