Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. I'm Casey Howe, senior meditation and Dharma teacher for insight
Speaker 1 00:00:07 LA and I'm Dr. Monisha Basa psychiatrist in our little podcasting studio in orange county, California. We bring wisdom from the couch and the cushion to your real life questions and struggles. So grab a cup of tea and join us. We're so glad you're here. Welcome back to the more happiness, less suffering podcast as always. We are so grateful to have you with us. And today we are really thrilled to have one of my dear friends and colleagues, um, Dr. Somia dovey here with us. And, uh, yeah, so Mia is one of those people that she and I just have a lot of points of overlap and connection. I think we initially got to know one another through Instagram, but, um, I was thrilled to find out that she is also a psychiatrist and a writer, and, um, she had her debut novel come out. Uh, how long ago was that? Somia
Speaker 2 00:01:09 Almost a year. So it was July of 20, 20.
Speaker 1 00:01:12 Awesome. Um, yeah, almost a year ago called well behaved Indian women, um, which was such a fantastic and beautiful book. Um, and we'll talk a little bit more about this as we go on, but, um, just as a south Asian female, it was so wonderful to see myself represented in so many ways, um, in this story. Um, but we'll, we'll get more into that. Um, so yeah, so Mia is a writer and a psychiatrist and a mental health advocate, and we are so fortunate that she is spending some time with us today. I'm sharing a little bit more about herself and her work. So thank you for joining us. Somia
Speaker 2 00:01:52 Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to chat.
Speaker 3 00:01:56 That's awesome. So
Speaker 1 00:01:57 Let's start with just the basics. Where are you, um, where are you speaking to us from today?
Speaker 2 00:02:03 So I am in Brooklyn where I just moved with my husband and our one-year-old son, uh, for most, for all of 2020. Uh, and then a little bit of this year, we were actually living with my parents in Atlanta with four generations of adults. So it was my grandparents, parents, siblings, and our babies. So interesting time. And we just recently settled back actually into a new place in New York where we were before, but just in the new apartment in Brooklyn. Wow.
Speaker 1 00:02:32 That must've been quite a transition.
Speaker 2 00:02:35 Oh, it was, you know, and I just learned so much over the past year and I think every single person I've spoken to has just been through so much over the past year in so many different ways, but definitely living with different people and family brought out so much. I found that in one day I could be an angsty teenager one minute and the next minute I could be my 20 something self and then the next minute could be a know it all new mom. And so it was very interesting to just go back as an adult and see different dynamics come up over the year and, and learn so much.
Speaker 1 00:03:08 Right, right. Yeah. I always talk about how, when we kind of find ourselves living back with our parents, for whatever reason, everybody finds themselves often regressing back to old roles and old patterns.
Speaker 2 00:03:23 It's so true. It is so, so true.
Speaker 1 00:03:26 Yeah. So, um, did you grow up in the Atlanta area?
Speaker 2 00:03:30 I did. So I was born in Baroda India and then we lived and my parents and I lived in New Jersey for a little bit, but most of my, my childhood and upbringing was in Atlanta. And then I came to New York for my residency training actually. So I did my psychiatry residency at Mount Sinai, Beth Israel hospital in the east village. And we've, we've just love it here and have wanted to stay here since, so it looks like New York is probably in the longterm for us. Wow.
Speaker 1 00:04:01 Wonderful, wonderful. Yeah. So fun fact Baroda is also where my family's from in India. And, um, that was one of the points of connection after I read well-behaved Indian women, because Baroda is a part of the story. Um, and you and I kind of connected, um, especially in terms of our grandmothers and Baroda, and I think we even shared a joke at one point that maybe our grandmothers might've met on the streets of Baroda.
Speaker 2 00:04:31 I know totally. I always felt so connected to you, even though we met on Instagram, but I just felt like we had so much in common. And then when you told me that, I just thought, wow, this is so cool. And in some ways I'm not as surprised as I thought I'd be, because we just seem to have so many great parallels. And I love that.
Speaker 1 00:04:49 Yeah, me too. Me too. Yeah. I feel, I feel very blessed. Um, and, and it was one of the things that was so beautiful about reading well-behaved Indian women is yeah. Just those moments of recognition, you know, whether it was, uh, you know, kind of the familiarity of the ways that you describe, you know, some of the, some of India or just, um, just the quirks of what it means to, to grow up as a south Asian woman, um, in the United States and seeing myself reflected in so many of those stories, um, was, was so powerful for me. Um, so yeah, we would love to hear a little bit more about how, kind of, what the process was like for you, um, in terms of how this book came to be in the world, you know, what your process was of, um, of writing it and, and kind of getting it out there and yeah, just your overall journey with, with the story of these three generations of, of south Asian women.
Speaker 2 00:05:49 Oh, sure. Well, first I really appreciate what you said about the representation and the identification, because it was those two things that actually really made me want to write a book. I grew up reading a lot, um, often feeling like an outsider, just because I didn't know how to make sense of having two different cultures and having grandparents speaking one language, but parents and then people at school speaking another. And, and so books really helped me feel like I understood the world around me a little bit better. I loved the Baby-Sitters club series and I also enjoyed sweet valley high and sweet valley twins, but it wasn't until high school that I realized that, you know, I really love these books, but I don't necessarily see myself wholly in them. And what would that be like? What would it feel like to read a book where I identified with what the characters were going through?
Speaker 2 00:06:42 Because I mean, actually for starters, the babysitters club, they were hanging out on weeknights at each other's houses, not allowed to do that. So right. To say that those characters were way cooler than I was allowed to be. And so I wanted to know what it was like, you know, for, for other people. And I started looking for books with characters that seemed more similar to my friends and my family and the people in my community, and really struggled to find that many books and that struggle continued throughout college. And so at the very end of college where I thought, well, what if I try to write a story myself, that, that has some of those themes that keep coming up in conversations with, with friends and family members and what would that look like and what would that take? So that really was that first kind of inkling of maybe this can be something I do and put into the world to contribute in some way.
Speaker 2 00:07:33 I very nicely thought that that was all it took just to have an idea that sounded cool. And then a year after I would be sending people copies of my book and I was, I was put into my place, uh, which I very much needed to be. So I'm so grateful for that. But to, you know, summarize, I started writing in 2008 and I didn't get a publishing deal until 2018. So over those 10 years, um, I got rejected over 200 times actually from, from agents. And it really was such a journey. Um, in that time I went to med school and residency as well. So I just learned so much about what it took to create a career and what it meant to really learn from failing. And I think until that point, because I was so dedicated to the medical path, the only ways I had evaluated myself, um, you know, were by grades and feedback from supervisors and mentors.
Speaker 2 00:08:29 So writing really was the first time that, that I felt like I had failed in something that I had tried to create on my own and that there was nobody really giving me a pat on the back. If I wrote a paragraph that I liked or a page that I liked. So I think on a personal level, it was a really good learning lesson to do that. But one really great benefit of just getting rejected so many times is that a lot of the rejections came with feedback about what didn't resonate with that particular agent, the story. And I would sometimes look at 10 rejection letters at a time or 20 and see if there were any common themes and those helped so much in helping me make the story better and in revising over that decade.
Speaker 1 00:09:09 Wow. That's amazing. And I so appreciate you sharing that part of the journey with us. So, you know, because I think on the receiving end of things, you know, we, we sometimes just see the shiny end product, right? Like the success or the accomplishment. And we don't actually see the 10 years behind it or the 200 rejections. And we think it's so important for us to share those hard parts because it helps all of us to keep going,
Speaker 2 00:09:39 Oh, thank you. I totally agree. I remember feeling that way myself, when I would see anybody's shiny end point and an outcome. And, and I, it would be, it would take a series of reminders for me to say to myself that, Hey, there was probably a lot of work put behind the scenes for what I'm seeing. And, you know, so often I think our world celebrates the outcome and the results, but the effort is what makes us and what teaches us and what helps us grow. So I totally agree with you and I appreciate people being more open about sharing their various journeys along the way, regardless of, of what it may be, because I think that makes us all feel less alone in what we're doing and, and what we're hoping for.
Speaker 0 00:10:21 Yeah. And speaking to how that, like you mentioned that the effort is what makes us, how was it for you, the actual, uh, the writing part of the book? Is that something you said you're into books for a long period of time. Uh, but as far as writing, like a full length novel, uh, yeah. How was that for you becoming a storyteller?
Speaker 2 00:10:47 That was, uh, that was a unique experience compared to how I had viewed education up until that point, because I always thought, you know, I sit in a class, I take tests, I take quizzes and then I get a grade back. And that's, what's my feedback to show that I'm doing a good or mediocre or a bad job, but writing was the first time I was teaching myself as I went along. And from the beginning, I actually just wanted to know for myself that I could hit the right, the words, the end. I just wanted to know that if I made a commitment to write a book, I could write a draft. Even if it wasn't a good draft and I could make it to the end for the sake of doing it. Because up until that point, I had never done anything like that before where all that mattered was the actual process and the actual, just doing.
Speaker 2 00:11:30 So I think, again, it just taught me so much about the value of finding meaning in that and finding purpose in that. So even year after year, when those rejections came, it was always the writing that, that helped me keep going, because I believe that the story still needed to be out there. I still, even, even five, six years into the rejections, I still was struggling to find stories with south Asian. And so I could using that as, as a signal that, Hey, there's still space, there's still space. Um, there were definitely points where I considered giving up actually, uh, right before I found my agent, I told my husband the month before that I was done for good and I put it away for a month. And I realized that I think for, for anybody I've met with a passion for what they do, they can take time away from it.
Speaker 2 00:12:17 Um, they can take time to recuperate, to rest and to rejuvenate. But I think that if it really is something that's deep, deeply planted within them, they return to it. They always return to it. And it might not always be in the same way. It might be in a different capacity, but I think it's something that just lives in us. And that's definitely what I felt for writing that I could take time away from the story. I could, I can take a pause, but I still always wanted to return to it after some point in time.
Speaker 1 00:12:43 And is that how you didn't give up in that moment? You know, when you, when you sort of had that, that conversation with your husband saying, you know, this is it, I think I'm giving up. Was it sort of that, you know, passion within you that you feel is kind of what brought you back to the story? Or how did you end up navigating that, that moment?
Speaker 2 00:13:04 Definitely. So I took a month off. It was my third year of residency and I took a month off from even looking at the manuscript and then I returned to it after a month of not looking at it at all. And that was the first time I had done that. Um, since I started the book, so I had never taken that month from ever looking at it. And when I came back to it, I realized it needed a rewrite to just make it a little bit more compelling. So I spent the next month rewriting it and then try it again for a new agent. And I actually ended up getting several offers on that round. So I went from never getting any offers to all of a sudden getting offers. And that told me something, something had clicked at that point in time. Another part of it is that I think for a very long time, I lived in fear of failure.
Speaker 2 00:13:47 I always thought that it represented this greater thing. If I failed at something, if something didn't work out that I was not only letting myself down, but I was letting my parents down and I was letting other people down who had believed in me. And the good thing about getting rejected so many times is that I think it really helped me decide what was I basing my relationship with failure off of. Was it just all fear-based or was there a curiosity component that deserve to be looked at and deserve to be dug into a little bit more? So over time, the rejection is actually stung less and less because I didn't see them as such a personal big thing. I saw them as just a direct, Hey, this isn't the right thing for us right now for this reason. And that I think that helps a lot as well. Hmm.
Speaker 0 00:14:33 And so, and so now fast forwarding, the book has done extremely well, and I'm sure now you get to take in a lot of wonderful feedback. How does that feel now? I'm hearing from your readers in such a way
Speaker 2 00:14:52 It's been so wonderful. I think that, you know, people have just been so kind and I love readers. I just love people who read and I always have, and, and I think that people who read, tend to have curiosity about what makes people tick, what makes them driven, what makes them love, what makes them do things. And so I've done a lot of book clubs with readers over the past year, and it's been really fun to hear about their responses, to the story. And I've heard a spectrum, you know, not, not every single person in the book clubs has said, I really loved it. I actually, of course it was a, it was an auntie, which I just love, but I did this book club with a big group of aunties in India. That's virtual Bitcoins, a book club. And one of them said, you know, I didn't really like nothing to me at all. Okay. So I'm glad you wrote about her, but I wouldn't be friends with her in real life.
Speaker 2 00:15:42 And I told her, you know, thank you for saying that, because I think that that's totally valid to have a variety of responses and feelings to her character, just like we would a person in any other setting. And, and I appreciate you bringing that forward because I think every perspective has been valuable for me to see. There also has been a bit of pressure and I've seen this happen in different creative forms, you know, whether that's movies or shows other books, but sometimes there's a pressure when there aren't enough, uh, works of art that represent a particular demographic. Sometimes there can be a pressure to, to encompass everyone in that demographic. And that's just not, in my opinion, that's just not possible because there are infinite experiences and types of people within any group. However, we define the group. And so one thing I really hope I see more of in the coming years is just more stories, um, from a variety of creators, because, because I think we do need that as readers, as people who take in any form of entertainment so that there isn't this idea that, okay, if you're writing this one south Asian box, then it's supposed to look like all south Asian people and it's supposed to represent all their lives because that's a pressure that I don't think gets put on books with white characters, because there's just thought to be such an array of experiences that I hope we get there for, for other books as well.
Speaker 2 00:16:54 Right.
Speaker 1 00:16:54 Right. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so what was it like for you? I mean, just as a south Asian woman yourself, I mean, obviously you, you took both a traditional path and a non-traditional path. Like you still became a doctor, you know, you're a psychiatrist and, and you, you became a writer. And so, you know, in terms of your own personal journey as, as a creative person and trying to, um, navigate maybe some non-traditional, um, wanting or desires for yourself, you know, in terms of becoming a writer, how did you navigate both of those worlds and how was that received, you know, within your family and within the community that surrounded you?
Speaker 2 00:17:39 It was to be honest, it was quite a challenge at first because I think that there was a little bit of a back and forth. I felt like as a kid and a little older, even as a teenager, I was encouraged to have a lot of interests and encouraged to enjoy different subjects in school and different activities out of school. But once I entered college and beyond, I felt a pressure to specialize and focus on just one thing. So often when I would tell people, you know, whether it was my parents or my family, friends that, oh, I want to be a doctor and a writer, people would say, well, you're going to have to pick one and then leave the other one as a hobby. And nobody's a doctor as a hobby. So I guess you're a writer as a hobby. And I remember thinking, well, how come when we're growing up?
Speaker 2 00:18:25 We're told to enjoy all these different things. And so many people I know, enjoy multiple things. And then they just have to put those things away and just focus on one. It just, it just never made sense to me. And I went to Georgia tech for undergrad and it was an engineering school and nobody there really cared so much about liberal arts education just wasn't focused so much on it. So I focused on my pre-med courses and, and went along with things that way, but I just kept missing reading and writing so much that I think it was actually after being away from them for years, that I realized that if it goes on this way, I'm going to be really unhappy pretty soon. And I'm going to feel very unfulfilled. And it's interesting because I've heard from a lot of readers actually, who are pre-med or are in medicine or in healthcare fields or in a variety of fields.
Speaker 2 00:19:13 And they said, oh, well, I really have this, this thing I'd like to do too. And so we'll get into a conversation about, well, how can that work? Because if you, if you have a desire to do it, maybe that means it's, it's, it's worth putting some time into exploring it further, because I do think sometimes there's this idea that we can't, we can't manage or have, or cultivate multiple passions. And I don't know if that's always the case. I think a lot of people do have a lot of things they love and would like to find different ways to incorporate those things into their lives. My parents definitely were very worried at first about, about writing in general. I think to them, they thought that they, we didn't know, we don't know any writers at all. And so they thought this is not what one does for a job, and this is not sustainable.
Speaker 2 00:19:54 This is very risky and they're not necessarily wrong about some of those things, but it's definitely been a learning lesson for all of us. Um, the, the journey that I've been on. And when my book launched last year, I was in Atlanta and it was a virtual launch. And they told me, you know, you've taught us a lot because of this. We, we, we learned from start to here because of this. And that was such an incredible thing for them to say, because I, I never thought that I would hear that from them. And I really, really appreciated them being open to seeing a different way.
Speaker 1 00:20:24 Yeah, absolutely. And so much of that, you know, obviously resonates with me too, you know, in terms of trying to find a way to prioritize the, these creative parts of ourselves alongside the training and practice of medicine can be really challenging. And I think as time goes on, I've, I've almost seen them as kind of that writing helps me to navigate probably some of the challenges of psychiatry and, um, maybe even helps to support my resilience as a psychiatrist. And, and then also the, the other way around too, that I think, you know, being a psychiatrist and obviously really learning how to sit with people's narratives and stories over time has also made me a better writer. And so the two now eventually I think have really kind of come together in this really beautiful way, but I definitely understand what you're saying that along the, along the way or along the path, it almost felt like how are these two going to peacefully co-exist or, or live together within me?
Speaker 2 00:21:32 Oh, no, totally. And, and I agree with you, I'm, I'm biased, but I think psychiatrists do tend to have a lot of creative curiosity. I feel like I've met a lot of psychiatrists who, who are really interested in other art forms and that tends to compliment that same curiosity they have for people. Did you always have, did you always write as well even before, because I feel like you integrate it so seamlessly. I love it. I love it. Every time you share something, I just jumped on it because it does feel like it compliments your work. It really does.
Speaker 1 00:22:05 Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much. Um, you know, I didn't always right. I, I, I had a teacher in eighth grade who, um, who shared, you know, with me that she thought I was a good writer at one point, and that was the first time that I had actually ever heard that. Um, and I think, you know, maybe my interest in writing got sparked a little bit more in college. Um, and then in medical school, I enjoyed writing, um, you know, kind of reflectively about some of the experiences that we had in medical school along the way. And I realized at that time that writing about our experiences really helps us to make sense of them and helped me to kind of process and digest and ultimately make meaning of all these things that we were seeing, you know, in medical school. And so I think that's when it really kind of started to come together for me as sort of like, oh, this is a way for me to, uh, actually be with my career in a deeper way, be with my patients in a deeper way.
Speaker 1 00:23:11 Um, and so, yeah, I would say that my, my love of writing and my desire to write kind of evolved alongside my professional development as a physician and as a psychiatrist. Um, and, and, you know, I think that I still feel sort of this conflict at times where, where there are some times where I feel more pulled towards kind of wanting it to be simple, like, yeah, I'm just a psychiatrist or no, I can really commit to writing and just to be a writer, you know, and really feel like I can call myself one of those things. But, um, you know, I think, I think there's also beauty and sort of, uh, the multifaceted nature of who we are. And so I think it's been part of my own practice of, of learning how those different aspects can, can actually co-exist and, and it's okay to be all of those, all of those things. Maybe not all maybe sometimes at the same time, maybe sometimes at different times. And, and of course, becoming a mom adds a whole other dimension that you're then trying to somehow integrate into, into the mix, you know?
Speaker 2 00:24:16 Oh, no, of course, of course. I think though, that that is a big part of why your reflections resonate because you are encompassing things that you're processing. And I think so many of us are processing those things too. So when we read them, when you're sharing them that they really do strike this cord of familiarity.
Speaker 1 00:24:33 Well, thank you. Yeah, I really, I really appreciate that. And, you know, one thing that, that Casey and I talk a lot about when we, when we talk about creativity and I'm curious to get your perspective on this, as you know, I don't think either of us think about creativity as something that you're born with, or that you are, or you aren't, or even something that one has to be good at, you know, that it can be very much sort of a deeper personal practice, even a spiritual practice, um, of sorts, you know, I know Casey talks a lot about how he uses poetry to kind of crystallize insights that, that, you know, are arrived through meditation and mindfulness. And so, um, what, uh, what is your, your particular perspective on, you know, um, kind of the creative process and the creative practice and, and whether that's something that's accessible to everybody and, um, and how it sort of, uh, has evolved for you over time?
Speaker 2 00:25:33 Oh, great. Great question. I think the creative process or side of us is accessible to everybody. I do. I just think the way that it manifests might be different for each person, and it might even be different for the same person at different points in time. And depending on all these other factors going on in their day-to-day lives, but I really see it as almost this different state of mind that, that someone's in. I think, um, I don't know who created this definition of flow, but kind of being in a trance of what you're doing and, and lost in your work and losing track of time and just losing, losing yourself to this different way of thinking and being that really is what creativity feels like for me. I felt that when I danced and saying, and then, and then written as well, so it's definitely manifested in different forms in my life.
Speaker 2 00:26:19 And I'm very blessed that my parents introduced me to a variety of art forms when I was younger. But when you said that, that comment actually about your teacher telling you, you were a good writer, I thought, wow, isn't it something that, that sometimes it's our teachers who show us certain things and tell us what we may be good at and what potential we may have. And that's how we kind of know if something sparks an interest in us. So I think growing up a lot of people did, um, did introduce me to a lot of different art forms and, and, and enrolled me in different things. And so I'm very grateful for that exposure. And of course, just having that habit of reading really helped a lot, but, uh, similar to what you were saying about medical school and residency, I would say writing was the way that I made sense of the days and my life and processing things.
Speaker 2 00:27:06 And so the creative process didn't look like singing or dancing. Then it shifted over into really just free writing and reflecting on what had happened and, and trying to just cope with it all, um, and to make it manageable, to make it feel manageable. So I, creativity definitely had a different face for me over the years, but I think that's the really beautiful thing about it that it's so flexible, it's so fluid. Um, but I do think that it really helps with, with quieting our minds down and with putting us just in a different state, because I see it as just kind of a connection to something greater. It almost feels spiritual at times. Um, just being lost in, in a certain process.
Speaker 0 00:27:45 Yeah. It definitely has a meditative quality to it. Yeah. That I, I mean, I put it in, you know, it's, it's not a, of course meditation itself. Um, but I definitely put in that category of my inner work time, you know, by place to get a place a certain amount of time every day. And I, I like to do, I used to put like goals. Like, I, I want to write so much or this and that, but now I just like, just writing, like, I don't have any goals. Maybe if you're writing a book, I'm sure. You're like, okay, I got to get through so much, but, um, but yeah, sometimes I come up with nothing, quote, unquote, you know, nothing useful, but I don't really care, you know, it's, it's about, yeah, just, just being with that, uh, like you said, that state of that state of mind, or it could be a state of heart state of being, uh, it's so nice and that kind of stay open like that. Um, I see it as it's so receptive in nature, like feminine in nature, you know, it's um, does a Zen saying, um, or Zen that kind of notion of don't know mind, you know, which is like this beautiful place that we can just go into don't know mind and creativity is like that for me, I of, I don't know,
Speaker 2 00:29:16 Don't know mind and see what goes, you know? Yeah. No, I love that. That's such a great description of it too. And you know, when you said the part about not having a goal for writing, I think there are kind of two sides to it. You know, I understand having the goal to get to a certain metric and see if there's a tangible amount of words or whatever it is that have been written. But, but I really do think that having that open-ended no judgment seeing what comes out and what doesn't come out. There's so much power to that too, because I do think that that state feels more akin to the receptive part that you were talking about, just that openness
Speaker 1 00:29:53 And, and also, you know, Casey, you mentioned like, you know, quote unquote, nothing useful coming. And it's also like, who knows, you know, because sometimes I feel like we share things, you know, on social media or whatever that, you know, maybe we're like, oh, it's not right. You know, I don't know if this is really gonna resonate with anybody. And then we find that it really does strike a chord and we might get a lot of feedback or, or maybe even just one or two people who happen to really feel like, wow, that was really impactful or, you know, made a difference for me. And then I know sometimes for me, I share something that I personally am like, wow, I think this is really good. Yeah. I thought it was nice, but yeah, for sure.
Speaker 2 00:30:39 No, those moments that is so relatable, we were my husband and I run a walk a few weeks ago and he put up some tweet or something. I mean, I think it was a joke cause it's supposed to be something funny and he left his phone in our apartment and we'd go out on the walk. And he said, yeah, I'm probably going viral right now. And we came, we had, we laughed and we came back and nobody, nobody, I was a little wrong about that. And I said, yeah, that happens all the time. You just
Speaker 1 00:31:05 Never know where, where things are going to land with people and what, what is going to happen to resonate. And, and I always think about the fact that, you know, there have been things that I've read that have changed, changed me and you know, it it's like, even if it's just one person, even if it makes a difference to one person it's like, I don't think that's any less valuable than if it makes a difference to a million people. You know, it's like even if one person, you know, maybe feel seen or feel, feels heard or, you know, something just happens to land in a way that that maybe feels healing or therapeutic. I think that that's a wonderful thing, you know, and, and as we said, sometimes it's even just for ourselves and, and that also counts.
Speaker 0 00:31:50 That's what I was thinking, listening to both of you, you know, speak about being a psychiatrist and, and writers is that therapeutic aspect is that, you know, you're both healers and I just see you're both healing others in different ways, you know, and writing can be so therapeutic, you know, for the reader. Right. Um, and, and then of course, how you both are helping people, um, um, in mental health, um, in, in that way. So yeah, they're very, very similar. I was reading your bio. Uh Somia and you said you wrote in your journal when you were in seventh grade, I'm going to be a psychiatrist and a writer side day.
Speaker 2 00:32:38 That's crazy. You know, it's like deep in your DNA
Speaker 0 00:32:43 That that's going to happen, but they're both that the core energy just seems very similar, you know? Um, yeah. You know, as a teacher and a sharer and, uh, yeah, just, uh, the delivery is a bit different,
Speaker 2 00:32:59 So true. So true. And I think, I think some of my, my, my favorite psychiatrists who have given me such valuable mentorship and guidance are the ones who I felt had such insight and empathy towards other people. And I've actually found the same thing to be true of my favorite writers. So I totally agree with you that there are these parallels and there are these similar traits actually, that, that go into those professions. For sure.
Speaker 1 00:33:23 Yeah. And I think one of the things that has been sort of my, my favorite aspect of trying to bring these two together is, you know, I always think about the people who, you know, really may not ever step foot into the office of a therapist or a psychiatrist and, you know, yet, you know, through books or through social media or through other forms of communication, we have a way of, of reaching those people too, you know, and I think that's been one of, one of the positives of social media. I know it's can be kind of a mixed bag, but one of the positives about social media is, is really, um, being able to share, you know, um, words and writing and, you know, different concepts pertaining to mental health that can maybe really reach people who otherwise might not have access to support or, or may not be seeking support for whatever reason. Of course it's not a substitute, but, um, just a different, a different way of connecting with people and trying to support them.
Speaker 2 00:34:22 Yeah, definitely. And I mean, we should have a chat about social media and mental health, because I think that, I think that your page is one that that really is a place that makes people feel supported and it does make people feel seen. So I know that there are so many articles and research, you know, there's a lot of research going on about the negative impacts of social media, but I do see pages like yours. And, and I think, well, this is actually making this a more comforting place. Um, this is making this a space where, where people can feel supported. So I totally totally agree with you.
Speaker 1 00:34:55 Yeah. I think, you know, it, it's, it's a real, um, I don't know, social media, it's like, it's such a, I have such conflicted feelings about it because I do see both, both sides, um, and both aspects. And, you know, I think as with anything else, I think we're just trying to stay true to ourselves in terms of our little corner of Instagram or whatever the case may be about how do I stay authentic to my, um, original intention and vision behind what I'm trying to do here and try not to get distracted by all of the other sort of influence and craziness that can, that can exist on the platform, you know, but, but, um, yeah, you have to really, I think have a lot of clarity as to why you're using it and what your core intention and purposes. Um, and, and that can be different for each person. Obviously every person is going to have a different reason and purpose for their, for their use of social media. But I think, yeah, you know, I, I find myself having to come back to that core intention very often. Otherwise it's really easy to go down a rabbit hole of comparison and, and questioning like, why am I even doing this? You know?
Speaker 2 00:36:12 Yeah. So true. There's so many different sides to it. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:36:15 I think that, you know, like content, it's not going away, you know, like it's content has been absorbed and distributed in so many different ways, obviously throughout time and social media, I don't see it going away anytime soon. Um, but yeah, so I kind of go back to the content piece, which is what kind of content can I put out? Like you mentioned <inaudible> website or Instagram feed and, you know, how, what a nurturing place it could be, what kind of content are we putting out there? It could be in, in books and on social media, which, you know, the, the books can be snippets in social media. And, and so now I'm kind of on the fence too, sometimes I think. Well, yeah, it's just nice to put something out there that that's not, there's an alternative to some of the other things that are out there.
Speaker 0 00:37:13 Um, and at the end of the day, yeah, we're going to absorb content. What kind of, those were just beans that, that, uh, there's that, uh, red hot chili peppers song. I there's a line in there and he's Anthony Kita says she's getting high off of information. And, um, I love that line. Like we get high on information. Like we are information junkies and we'd love it, but it's, you know, like the Buddha which speak about kind of right attachment, um, where we can get, you know, maybe addicted to harsh of a word, but, but really into an attached to positive things, the wholesome, you know, abandoning the unwholesome and actually getting really absorbed mentally and emotionally and into the wholesome. And we have opportunities to, to offer that to, to people like these are really good places to be, you know, where you could find a wisdom and, and, uh, you know, compassion and, and these types of things. So, you know, it all, it offers us that opportunity as well to provide those spaces.
Speaker 1 00:38:27 Yeah, absolutely. It's interesting that, you know, my, my daughter now is following me on Instagram, which is which good. Now I know, and it's so interesting. Cause you know, I'm always aware of obviously of the fact that you know, that there are people out there that are absorbing this information, as you said, and this content and what impact is, you know, I feel like no matter the size of your platform or the number of followers you have, you know, we all are influencing other people in real life on social media and you know, what kind of influence do we want to have on, on the people around us and the communities around us. And, but it's so interesting now that I know my daughter is watching, you know, very, very closely. It's like, I, I feel almost like a greater responsibility to, to really make sure that, you know, I'm, I'm modeling something that I would want, want her to, to learn and see and absorb. And, um, and so yeah, it's, it's very, it's, it's a very interesting dynamic, a different one now it's kind of evolving for me in a way.
Speaker 2 00:39:32 Oh, I bet. I bet.
Speaker 1 00:39:34 Yeah. So, so, you know, so may I, you mentioned that you were, I mean, it, it amazes me that you were writing this book as a resident, you know, because I, I don't know where you would have found the time. Um, and, and now I know that you've launched this book during a pandemic and being a new mother. And so can you just share a little bit about how you actually do create the time, um, or, or prioritize, you know, the time and space for your creativity and operationally, just how you make that happen with, with all of these competing demands, whether it's, you know, motherhood or residency or, or, um, your, your career as a psychiatrist now?
Speaker 2 00:40:17 Sure. I would say it's changed in different seasons of life. So in medical school, I was part of, I went to medical college of Georgia and I was part of a new campus that they had opened where their curriculum shifted to being one exam every single week on a Friday, instead of, um, w w on the other campuses, there, there was a block exam every six weeks. And so what I would do then, um, throughout those years is I would take my exam every Friday and then Friday nights and Sunday nights were just writing time. So I blocked those off and I would never do anything else outside of write on those times, because I soon realized about myself at least that if I wrote, when I felt like it, I was never going to get a product done. And that was really my main goal at first was to just see if I could get something done and I could just hit, you know, the end of a draft and then another draft, if that's what needed to happen.
Speaker 2 00:41:07 And it of course did many, many times have to happen. And then in residency, I did a similar sort of structure, but with post-call days, uh, so when we worked at a call day on weekends, we have the next day off. So that would be my writing day. And then on the weeknights, when I wasn't on call, I would also give some times it was only 30 minutes, sometimes 15 minutes, but I would try to just block off periods of time in my schedule that I, that I didn't spend doing anything else. So I did find that it had to do something that I personally felt very committed to almost like an exercise class that I had paid for. So I would feel less likely to cancel, um, because I just did not trust myself to finish something if I didn't put it in that time.
Speaker 2 00:41:50 And after a certain point, it actually just became kind of my normal that I went between one activity to another. Now, uh, with all that being said the last year, put everything into such a different space because I had my first book, you know, nobody was waiting for it. I don't think most people probably didn't even want it at all, judging by the rejection. And suddenly I signed this contract and I have to write this second book, uh, within a year of, of, you know, the, the first being an edited and all of that. And I also gave birth during that time. So really the past year, um, was, was just chaos because I was a new mom. Our baby didn't really sleep through the night for quite some time. So we were living with my parents and grandparents, as I mentioned before, but because of actually the care structure, my parents taking care of my grandparents with COVID, we didn't have any outside, uh, outsourced help for my parents or, or for my grandparents or for our son.
Speaker 2 00:42:48 We were really all just working in shifts with one another to manage the house. And the way that ended up working out for book writing was that I wrote primarily in the middle of the night when everybody was asleep for many, many months. And I don't recommend that anyone because, um, because I, I do think that that took a toll. I think that in order for anybody to be creative, um, or even, you know, let's step away from creativity for a second, even to be fulfilled and to show up for themselves. And for other people, they have to have rest. And rest was something that I really undervalued for a very long time. And I didn't take us seriously as I think I should have. So the past year really taught me the importance of prioritizing rest as something as important and something that's blocked off. And non-negotiable because I think months of doing that really, really did have an impact. And I don't recommend that for anyone. So, you know, I know the past year was so, so difficult in so many ways for people everywhere, but I think the idea of just work and personal space and, and household maintenance and all those things being blended in one space, um, just did a lot, really did a lot for, for most people who have whom I've spoken to and for me as well.
Speaker 1 00:44:02 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think you bring up some great points about, um, you know, prioritizing, prioritizing your writing time and even just small steps, you mentioned, you know, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, but committing to those 15 or 30 minutes and, you know, just making sure that you have that time carved out. Um, you know, I think that's such a powerful tool for being sustainable with anything, you know, is we often have really like, you know, big visions of wanting to write for a whole afternoon or a whole day. And the reality of, for most of us now with like, as you said, integrating so many different responsibilities and roles is that, is that type of time often doesn't present itself unless it's in the middle of the night, as you said, and that that's probably challenging for different reasons, like you mentioned. Um,
Speaker 2 00:44:53 Oh, definitely. And also, um, to add to the point about just creativity and writing that we were touching on before, I think it's possible, and I'd love to hear both of your perspectives on this. I think it's also possible to write when you're not physically writing. Um, so if there's a project or an idea that's in your head, I do think there's something to it, percolating and, and kind of simmering for a while. And while you're doing other activities, it can sometimes take on a different shape, um, or you can gain more insights on it. So that was all something that I think I learned along the way as well, that no, just sitting at my laptop and typing, wasn't always the only way to write. Sometimes ideas came and pop things came together and insights came when I, when I actually technically wasn't writing. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:45:39 I'll get insights on meditation or after meditation or yeah. At washing the dishes or
Speaker 1 00:45:44 Right. Yeah. Sometimes the least expected times. And I would imagine that with meditation yeah. That there's a receptivity, as we were talking about earlier, that's created whether that's, you know, to, to your own insights or to, to, you know, insights that we gained from outside of ourselves, you know, but yeah, that's such a beautiful way to think about it is that we can be, you know, with our creative practice, even when we're not actively doing the thing, you know, writing or painting or drawing or singing that, that there is still a way of being with our creativity, even when we're not actually, um, engaged in the activity itself.
Speaker 0 00:46:21 Yeah. That's a great point too, because, you know, Monisha and I did a little, you know, challenge of, uh, you know, just riding every day and being creative every day. And, you know, one thing I noticed is, yeah, is that creative energy, much like meditation energy, are there other things that you might do really consistently? Yeah. It stays with you. Like, and again, for me, it's that, that openness, that receptivity to, you know, kind of like this other type of listening. Right. And, and yeah, you can really get that, you know, kind of that quote unquote communication really in tune when you're consistently doing it. Um, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Speaker 1 00:47:08 Yeah. Well, so Mia, I feel like we could keep talking for hours. We're definitely going to have to bring you back to continue the conversation.
Speaker 2 00:47:16 Um, I could talk to you about for hours. We didn't even talk about your S your next
Speaker 3 00:47:19 Book. Yeah. We would love for our audience to bring you back. Yes. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:47:24 And we would love for our audience to know kind of yeah. When, when what a happy family is going to be launched when they can be expecting more information and, and also how they can find you and stay in touch, um, with all the wonderful things that you're doing. Um, what, what is the best way for, for our audience to stay connected to you?
Speaker 2 00:47:44 Well, thank you so much. Um, I'm on Twitter and Instagram at Somia J dovey, S a U N Y a J D a V E. And my website, uh, Sonya dovey.com. I'll be sharing updates about what a happy family in the coming weeks it'll be out on June 22nd. And just the quick one-liner, it's actually how a south Asian family navigates mental health. So I hope, I hope that it's an enjoyable read and I hope that it provides comfort to, to readers out there. And I'm, I'm very grateful for the support that people have given so far.
Speaker 1 00:48:17 Oh, such an important and such an important topic. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Yeah. I can't, I cannot wait and yeah, for all of our readers, I would highly recommend following a Somia on Instagram and Twitter, and also signing up for her newsletter through her website. And, um, and yeah, so Mia, we're really grateful for your time today. Um, we always wrap up our podcast with a brief little meditation, so maybe we'll go ahead and do that. And, um, and we're, we're so thrilled. Thanks again for your time. And, and can't wait to have you back.
Speaker 2 00:48:52 Oh, thank you so much. This was great. And I can't either.
Speaker 0 00:48:56 All right. Yeah. So let's just move into a quick little practice here, or I should say short, hurry up and meditate. Knock it out. Yeah. So of course, like always, if you could join us, please do. So if it's safe to do that, if you're driving or whatnot, just allowing the words to land, however they do just settling in. And we talked about a lot of creativity. We also talked about what it's like to accomplish things in a way that takes to accomplish things. One thing I want to kind of start with in this meditation is just some loving kindness to wherever you are.
Speaker 0 00:50:01 It's so easy to have comparing mind when we speak of doing and accomplishing, we compare ourselves to others, but also comparing ourselves to where we think we should be. So instead sending yourself some kindness. Okay. And I think in reality, we are right where we need to be. And we also don't know. You can have don't know mind. We don't know what's next, maybe right. Where you are right now will become the fuel for your next bestselling book. Well, your next step that becomes extremely fruitful and satisfying wishing yourself. Well, may I be at ease? May I be happy? May I be fulfilled mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, then wishing this for all beings everywhere. With that exception, may all beings be happy? Hey, all beings be free from suffering.