Good Self Care is Not Selfish

“You’ve got to be kidding” is a common response from women when I talk to them about resting. Even young women who’ve never lived independently often do not understand real rest. It isn’t about sleep. It’s about being calm, fully present, and awake to your life. Entire books have been written about women doing too much. We multitask madly, worry about everything, feel guilty about everything, and take care of everybody else better than we do ourselves. These are generalities, but they’re also realities for many women. I’ve seen it more times than I can count over my decades of psychiatric practice. Full time job, full time mothering, partnering, homemaking, and a dozen other things equals one worn out woman with zero sense of herself. Know ye this: Taking care of yourself is not selfish!

True rest is hard to come by in our world of overstimulation and excess. When we have three seconds, we grab our phones to answer an email or send a text. Our days go by faster and faster as we stuff them ever fuller. Sometimes we stay busy to avoid pain—the busy defense. As in, “I’m not anxious. I’m too busy to be anxious.” Or, “I’m not sad. I have too much to do.” Or, “I can’t be depressed. Look how much I get done.”

Physical hunger, emotional hunger, intellectual hunger (boredom), relational hunger (loneliness), and spiritual hunger leave us empty. When we feel empty, we try to fill the hole with an endless, meaningless stream of stuff—drugs, alcohol, food, control over food, perfection, sex, money, relationships, clothes…. None of it covers the emptiness of not living mindfully from our real selves….

Body, mind, and spirit need rest to function. Choose one rest day per week and practice resting. Yes, I’m serious. Don’t read, don’t sleep, don’t listen to music, don’t talk or text or answer the phone. Put the phone in the other room and turn it off if that’s what it takes. The point is to do nothing. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you don’t clock-watch. Sit in a pleasant, quiet place—preferably outside or near a window. Lift your eyes up and out toward the bigger world. Without judging, notice small details—sky, birds, trees, scents, sounds—whatever is there. Just notice. Don’t do anything about it, with it, or to it. When the timer goes off, sit quietly as long as you need and take that peace and quiet with you through your day.

**Excerpted from “90 Ways in 90 Days: A Personal Workshop for Women with Disordered Eating” by Deborah V. Gross, MD. Now available on Amazon

Dr. Deborah Gross is licensed to practice psychiatry in all of Pathway Healthcare office locations (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas). She treats men and women.

Co-Occurring Disorders and Domestic Violence

Co-Occurring Disorders As It Relates to Domestic Violence

October is domestic violence awareness month and it is important to bring to light the issues that cause domestic violence. Domestic violence is much more than physical assault. Domestic violence can also include non-physical behaviors such as: emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse, and elder abuse.

As a society, we are doing a much better job at not turning a blind eye to domestic violence and the stigma associated with it. However, it is simply not enough to focus on the actions of the perpetrator, but we must also understand what causes the behavior and what the outcomes might be. As we continue to study things such as trauma, PTSD, mental health disorders and substance use disorders, we are continuing to find the relationship between domestic violence and co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

As we begin to better understand the correlation between the co-occurring disorders, we can see how there is hope in treating both those who are victims of domestic violence and the people who commit domestic violence. As we study the disease of addiction and mental health, we can determine what genetic and environmental factors contribute to these diseases and how they may present in each person. For instance, a child who was brought up in a home that experienced violence and/or active substance use (drugs or alcohol), would be at an increased risk of becoming a victim or a perpetrator of domestic violence (based on ACE scores).

“The World Health Organization reports that women who reported partner violence at least once in their lifetime are nearly 3 times as likely to have suicidal thoughts and 4 times as likely to attempt suicide. Compared to those who have never been abused, survivors are 6 times as likely to have a substance use disorder.”[1]

Therefore, it is important for a person who has experienced or is experiencing domestic violence to undergo an evaluation by a psychiatrist or licensed counselor to determine the amount of trauma one has experienced and how that may be affecting or could affect decision making or one’s mental health. Additionally, simply incarcerating the offender without properly treating the offender, may result in a re-offense because underlying issues have not been addressed or dealt with.

If children are involved as witnesses to the domestic violence or are also suffering some level of the violence, they will also need evaluation and treatment so to not perpetuate the cycle of abuse (whether as a victim or a perpetrator).

It is important to note, however, that domestic violence isn’t necessarily caused by the substance use, but it can contribute to the violence. Some perpetrators may use drugs or alcohol before committing an act of domestic violence. Substance use and mental health disorders affect a person’s control in some way. Not being able to clearly control one’s behavior and not being able to comprehend the consequences of one’s behavior contributes to domestic violence. Additionally, because people often act differently when under the influence of drugs or alcohol or during a mental health episode, the domestic violence issues can look different for different people, and different from past situations.

The only way to end the cycle is to admit there is a problem and get help. Both parties are affected and one party cannot fix the other by staying in the situation when there is danger involved. Professional help can help determine what is triggering the need for drugs and/or alcohol, as well as diagnose any underlying mental health issues. Once these issues are discovered, a plan of action can be put in place to help everyone involved.

There is hope and we help people. If you are experiencing domestic violence or have experienced past domestic violence, we want to help you find healing and get on a healthy path. We offer individual treatment plans on an outpatient basis to find what is best for you. We also offer family counseling. We have a team of professionals who can help with medical needs, including treatment for substance use and alcohol use, and mental health needs, including psychiatrists and licensed counselors.

We have offices in four states (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas) spread across fourteen locations. We accept most insurance plans, Medicare, Medicaid and cash pay. We are accepting new patients in all our offices. Call 844.728.4929 or visit www.pathwayhealthcare.comfor more information.

If you are not the one suffering from domestic violence but you know someone who is, please share this with them and let them know there is help and hope available.


Suicide and Self-Care: Protect Your Risk From One With the Other

Suicide and Self-Care: Protect Your Risk From One With the Other


Everyday we are faced with any number of stressors that can stretch us emotionally, mentally and physically. Knowing beforehand that these stressors can affect us helps us better understand how to deal with the stressors. Proper self-care is important to keep us healthy. Self-care is not selfish care. It is actually care that will help us help not only ourselves better, but also help others.

Below are some options for proper self-care:

  1. Find a therapist, counselor or psychologist whom you trust and feel free to speak with. Often times, having a trusted non-biased person to talk to about your fears, your struggles, your questions, and your doubts can bring these issues to light so they can be addressed in a safe manner. The more we bottle our feelings and think they have no value or need to be addressed, the larger the crisis can become internally. Be honest with the medical professional you choose. If you only give them part of the story, they can’t help you fully. Remember, they are there to help you because they want to, not because they have to.
  2. Make the time to do something physical: take a walk, a bike ride, exercise, yoga, stretching, hit some golf balls, tennis balls or baseballs to relieve stress and anxiety. Physical activities release endorphins that can help with mental health clarity.
  3. Find stories of hope. Many times when you are struggling with anxiety and hopelessness you feel completely alone. However, there are many who have walked in your shoes and have survived and are thriving. Discover what gave them this hope to live. Don’t dwell on negative stories, but instead find hope in the positive ones.
  4. Find resources that can help you. For many people, stressful times trigger emotional and mental health responses that do not happen when “life is normal.” Unemployment, a health crisis or diagnosis, a move, the loss of a friendship or marriage, or the sickness of a loved one can be hard to balance and manage alone. However, know that there are many resources available to help. 
  5. Do not stop taking prescribed medication. If you are feeling unstable emotionally or mentally at the moment, do not stop taking or increase your dosage without first talking with your medical professional. Sometimes it may be necessary to adjust your medication, but do not make that choice alone. Again, remember, your medical professional is there to help you.
  6. Helpers find help; don’t burn-out. Many people find themselves to be helpers; always helping others but rarely helping themselves. Without proper self-care, helpers can be buried under the weight of it all. Know that you can only help others when you have been helped yourself. Proper self-care is important for the helpers, too.

Even in the darkest of times, there is always hope. Do not try and suffer alone. We would love to be a part of the team that helps you navigate proper self-care. Call us today at 844.728.4929 to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our licensed counselors or psychologists. We are all in this together.

(The suicide prevention line for confidential support available 24/7 for everyone in the United States (1-800-273-8255)).


A Statement From Our CEO for Our Military Members and Their Families


I know that these are hard times for everyone and our veterans and active duty military, and their families, have not been immune from difficulties. Fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and despair are rampant, and an urgent crisis.

I want to remind you there is hope. Please do not struggle alone.

If you need help, call someone – reach out to one of our Pathway Healthcare offices, or some other mental health resource. Help is available and hope remains.

With all sincerity,

Scott Olson

Co-Founder/CEO and United States Air Force Veteran

The Effects of Summer Heat on Mental Health 

Summer…the sun, the fun, the warmth and the heat. It seems like that’s all you hear as soon as the first snows start to melt. It’s a traditional time for vacations. School is out for families. Flexibility and relaxation are the name of the game.

However, for some people, summer is not fun. Research shows that summer heat is correlated with increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions for mental health issues. So, the question is, why? If summer is so warm and relaxing, why are there so many problems with people’s mental health?

There a lot of different reasons that summer, and the heat that comes with it, can be a big concern for mental health issues. Changes in schedules and routines that come with vacations and school breaks can lead to feeling overwhelmed and out of control, more than usual in some in cases. It can also mean parents have no break from the kids when school is out. Parents can quickly become exhausted. Kids who have lost their routines and structure from school might be anxious and can have more behavior issues.

Additionally, some medications, especially mental health medications, have specific warnings about being in the sun, heat, or fluid consumption to avoid dehydration, as well as warning about not drinking alcohol. This can be a lot to remember and can cause feelings of isolation. It also puts the spotlight on someone’s private health issue. A lot of people feel uncomfortable having to discuss their medical issues with friends and co-workers.

Summer heat also can mean less clothing…shorts, short sleeves and bathing suits. For a person with body image issues, being overweight or underweight, or someone with self-harm scars, this can be literally terrifying. The pressure to be outside and socialize more in the summer can also be very scary for someone with mental health issues. Additionally, if the above issues cause someone to isolate more, it can affect normal routines and make support systems less available. 

Memories of less than ideal childhood summers may also be a problem for a lot of people struggling with mental health issues. Summer is supposed to be a carefree time, at least that is what movies and television want us to believe. But for many, summers took them from the safety of a school environment and put them at home more with abusers, unstable parents, food insecurity, access to drugs and alcohol, and less accountability. People who have not worked through these triggers with professional help may not be aware that summer itself is the trigger of the decline in their mental health.

We can’t avoid summer. It comes every year whether we want it to or not. There can even be a seasonal-type depression associated with summer just like there is with winter. Some of the signs to watch for can include weight loss, minimal appetite, anxiety, irritability or insomnia.

So how can a person cope with the inevitable summer and all that it brings? Do your best to make a summer routine. Even if your normal routine is disrupted for a few months, get a new one started as soon as possible which includes some exercise, outdoor time (early or late in the day when its cooler and out of the direct sun). Drink plenty of hydrating fluids that are not filled with high levels of sugar. Wear cool, loose fitting, cotton clothing. Keep a healthy sleep schedule. Limit or abstain from alcohol consumption. Do not use illicit drugs.

Most importantly, do not isolate. Start a conversation. Talk to your doctor or mental-health professional if you have new or worsening problems with any part of your physical or mental health, including any restrictions your prescriptions might have as it relates to summer activity. NEVER STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATIONS WITHOUT DISCUSSING WITH YOUR DOCTOR.

At Pathway Healthcare, we have medical doctors, psychiatrists and licensed counselors who care about your well-being. We do our best to help you discover the source of your depression, anxiety, or other mental health condition(s), identify triggers, and find solutions to help you feel better. There is hope.

We have 14 locations in 4 states (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas) and have appointments available now. Call today 844.728.4929 or visit

Author: Shelly Southworth, BSN RN 


Stivanello, E., Chierzi, F., Marzaroli, P., Zanella, S., Miglio, R., Biavati, P., Perlangeli, V., Berardi, V., Fioritti, 

A., Pandolfi, P. (2020) Mental Health Disorders and Summer Temperature –Related Mortality: A Case Crossover Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(23)9122

Case Management Significantly Improves Recovery Through Access to Help

Those affected by substance use disorders and mental health disorders often have significant social problems that contribute to the success of their treatment outcomes. Some of these issues are: underemployment or unemployment, homelessness, alienated relationships, incarceration/probation, legal issues, medical issues, transportation issues, food insecurity, financial issues, and limited education. To address the substance use disorder or the mental health disorder singularly without addressing the social issue needs contributes to a cycle of poverty, misuse of substances, decline in mental health, and has far reaching consequences on society at large. 

The average cost of treating one person suffering from a mental health disorder in a state-run facility in the state of Mississippi, for instance, is over $48,000 per year. This only accounts for approximately a month-long stay per individual. However, when a patient is also assisted by a case manager who helps with social issues facing this same patient, that cost can be reduced significantly.

Substance use disorders and mental health disorders are found among all socioeconomic groups, however, issues such as poverty, disease, and underemployment are significantly over-represented (SAMHSA, CSAT, 1994). By engaging those who have substance use disorders and mental health disorders with people who care and help them find the necessary resources, improved relationships between patient and provider are increased and the treatment outcomes have much better results than those who are not offered case management services or actively refuse to participate in add-on care.

Pathway Healthcare’s Targeted Case Management bridges the gap for patients with the fewest resources and greatest needs. We help by coordinating high quality medical and behavioral care and granting access to community partners with social resources like food, housing, job skills training, and education. We assess, link, plan, and monitor a patient’s progress to autonomy and recovery.

If you need assistance with a substance use disorder or a mental health disorder, or need help with social issues you are experiencing because of a disorder, please contact us today at 844.728.4929 or visit