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Healing and Empowerment for Women

Category Archives: Psychiatry


A homeless man burst into tears when I said, “It is an honor to serve you, sir!”

The man had thanked me for “coming out tonight (New Year’s Eve) to put on a dinner/New Year’s Eve party  at Austin Street Centre, a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas.

It was an honor to serve him and the other men and women at the shelter.

If you are a person of faith, any faith, you know this already.

My church has put on a New Year’s Eve party at the shelter for 20 years. I have been privileged to be part of it for the last 4 years.

I always staff the “bun station”. My church provides “sloppy joes” as part of the party. I put hamburger buns on plates and add a packet of plastic silverware. I hand them to the residents with a loving “God bless you, sir” or “God bless you ma’am”.

I receive so many blessings in return. Explicit and implicit. Some of the men and women I served last night were psychotic. They couldn’t process my words. But their spirits did.

Before this, from 2002-2008, I worked with homeless mentally ill persons in downtown Dallas every Tuesday and Thursday.

On Thursday nights I did a clinic at Austin Street Centre starting at 5 p.m. If it were raining or cold, the shelter would be full and I might work until 10 p.m. If the weather were more pleasant, the homeless would choose to sleep outside and there were fewer patients for me to see.

I loved working with the homeless.

I miss it very much.

There are no atheists in a homeless shelter. There is little pretense.

The homeless have one goal: to get their lives back.

Did you know that 15% of the homeless living in shelters go to work every day? The minimum wage does not allow for luxuries like housing and medical insurance.

Mother Teresa said that the US was the most poverty stricken nation in the world. Not fiscally, but in the poverty of neglect of humans.

Is there someone who you can call today and say that you love them or are thinking of them?

Do it.

Pick up the phone right now.

Reach out and touch someone.

It will bless you incredibly.

Do you know the Legend of the Starfish?

English: A Starfish from the Aegean See

English: A Starfish from the Aegean See (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A woman is walking along the shore at low tide. She picks up every stranded starfish she sees and throws it back into the sea. A man is walking along the shore inthe opposite direction. He comes along side of her and asks her what she is doing.

He scoffs at her answer.

“You cannot save them all,” he says, “it doesn’t matter”.

She looks into his eyes and then throws the starfish in her hand back into deep water.

“It matters to that one,” she replies.

Is there someone in your life who you can serve today with a phone call?

Do it.

It will matter to that one.


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From 2002-2006 I had the incredible privilege of working with homeless, mentally ill persons in downtown Dallas two days a week.

Homeless Services had no official “team leader”, but on the days I worked I was the de facto team leader.

Each Tuesday and Thursday morning I’d send out an email to the whole team, using “Starfishers,” as my salutation.

I’d remind the team that although we could not “save” every patient we served that day, we could save some of them.

And we could touch them all; we could make each and every one of them feel that they matter. We could look into their eyes, listen to their stories and honor their feelings.

In my Starfisher emails I told the team stories of patients who had triumphed over addiction and homelessness. I encouraged them in their noble mission.

When I left, the team gave me a wonderful snow globe:


I will admit that I tear up sometimes when I see it.

The rotating center star says “You are a Star” and the inscription is to “Dr. Susan Delaney, The Ultimate Starfisher”. The music box plays “I Believe I Can Fly“.

I hope that you will look around you today for beached “starfish”. Look around you for the abused, the lost and the lonely. Pick one of them up and share your love with them.

It matters to that one.


Gabriella, a four-year old Bichon, is my trained therapy dog. She comes to my Psychiatry office several days a week. The patients love her.

She loves sitting in their laps. We are still working on her pausing for a moment before she leaps into their laps!

She is a happy, kind-hearted dog. I have a few patients who refuse to come in unless she is here.


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This is one of the polymer clay bunnies that I make for my patients who are over-functioning, i.e., hopping in there with their two cents.

Intrepid readers of this blog will note that this bunny is a.) made from the scrap clay from “A Day of Clay” and 2.) the technique is identical to that used when making bunny dinner rolls, “Fresh Baked Easter Bunnies”.

You could take a weekend workshop to understand co-dependency, but I can give it to you in two words: under-funtioning and over-functioning. The addict under- functions and those around the addict begin to over-function to take up the slack.

Unfortunately over-functioning undermines your mental health. A LOT.

I make these bunnies to remind my patients not to hop in there with their two cents. I suggest that they place two copper pennies in front of the rabbit to remind them of this. I also suggest that they go to Al-Anon.

These bunnies have been wildly popular with my patients. They surprise me by always choose the marbled ones over the plain ones (you can see the pink ones and the white ones in an earlier post). They put them where they most need this reminder. With two cents. Which they keep.

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“AP Stylebook” Adds Entry on Mental Illness for Journalists

The Associated Press (AP) has added a new entry about mental illness to their “Stylebook,” clarifying how journalists should refer to mental illness and people with a mental illness in articles and stories, and admonishing reporters and editors to avoid stigmatizing terms and phrases.

The entry includes the following instructions: “Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story,” and “Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and verify statements to that effect. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent do not suffer from mental illness.”

The “AP Stylebook” is widely used by writers, journalists, and editors for a broad array of publication types, and the new entry reflects a remarkable sensitivity to the way public perception of mental illness can be shaped by modern journalism.

The sad truth is that the mentally ill are more likely to be VICTIMS of violence than they are to be violent.

Let us cherish our mentally ill, not stigmatize them. Let’s make it easy and possible for them to get the treatment they need.

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I was about to go out for lunch and I noticed that the basket of rubber duckies in my waiting room was lit by a sunbeam. I whipped out my iPhone and snapped this photo. The Easter ducky was most lit up.

his ears burning

the Easter ducky



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