EOT 327 – Deborah Granick

Lise Nox speaks to Deborah Granick, NP, about mental health as it relates to COVID-19, work-life balance and maintaining relationships.

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Lise Nox  0:00  

The views and opinions expressed during Eye on the Triangle do not represent WKNC or students media.

Lise Nox  0:11  

Hi, this is Lise Nox and you’re listening to Eye on the Triangle. In today’s episode, I had the chance to talk with Deborah Granik, a mental health professional and more precisely a licensed social worker and a psychiatrist nurse practitioner working for Monarch. In a few words Monarch is a North Carolina statewide provider of comprehensive specialty mental health and human services. I’m personally really invested in making mental health matters less taboo. I love having open discussions regarding mental health struggles. So I was really grateful to be able to have this conversation with Debbie. In this episode, we talked about the mental health struggles that the Covid-19 pandemic brought up like work life balance, or how to deal with personal life issues and collective grief at the same time, or maintaining healthy relationships at a distance or setting boundaries. And a lot of other really interesting things. Before we get to the episode, I just like to say if you’re a student at NC State University, and you’re struggling with mental health in any way, you can always reach out to NC State’s Counseling Center to set up an appointment. No matter who you are, where you are, you’re not alone. And you can always ask for help, it does get better. And it starts with breaking the silence talking about it and reaching out for help. That being said, enjoy this episode. Yeah, thank you so much for being on the show. 

Debbie Granick  1:23  
My pleasure. 

Lise Nox  1:24  
Really glad you’re here today. I just figured that with the pandemic and everything that we’ve been going through as a collective for the past year and 2021, there has been so many issues related to mental health that have just, you know, been brought up and being 

Debbie Granick  1:39  

Lise Nox  1:39  
Finally discussed for the first time in a very long time because people have been kind of ignoring all those things related to mental health because you know, when we’re talking about like work life balance and burnout or boundaries with the people you live with, or you know, writing messages elation, or depression, anxiety, it’s like, Yes, all the things that people live with on a daily basis, and they never do anything to actually take care of your mental health,

Debbie Granick  2:01  
Right and without a pandemic, there’s so many natural distractions from all those things, you go out, you go to a bar, you go to friends houses, like all these, you go to the gym. And so I agree, I think the pandemic brought some things up for people, but it also for people who maybe always have those things I get maybe maybe created new mental health issues, or it just exposed mental health concerns that were already there because people couldn’t get away from them or solve them for themselves in the way that they usually do. 

Lise Nox  2:30  
Yeah. And I’ve had personally my own mother had to take a few days off work because she was being completely overworked. And she had she was like diagnosed with burnout. Like she right out. Because there was this idea that since when you’re like you’re at home, 24 seven people just assume you’re available 24/7 

Debbie Granick  2:47  
That’s right, 

Lise Nox  2:48  
To do you whatever they want you to do and she was never really able to say no, or set, you know, any healthy boundaries around where she thought she was supposed to do it all and just like, get everything done as quickly as possible. Because I have time I’m home so I can do everything they asked me to do. I feel like this has been one of the most challenging years for everyone in terms of work life balance, you know, whether we’re talking people working from home, or students like me having online class.

Debbie Granick  3:13  
Right, I agree. And you know, when like, for class, when things are tape recorded, you’re like, oh, I’ll watch it tonight. I don’t want to do it from one to three, like when you would have during your normal class time. But you know what, at night, you don’t realize you actually kind of treasure that time at night to hang out and watch Netflix or whatever. And so it’s the same I think with the work life balance. I think a lot of people when you’re at a job place and you leave at 6pm, there’s a natural, naturally built in to kind of protect your home time, but at home at two o’clock, you’re like I’m sick of working, I’ll just do it later. And then that burnout happens because there’s no none of those boundaries. 

Lise Nox  3:45  
Yeah, your personal life and your work life and every thing else in your life is completely like the strike

Debbie Granick  3:52  
It melds

Lise Nox  3:53  
Yeah, everything is blurred out because there’s no difference between the 2. So you’re a licensed clinical social worker, and a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Monarch.

Debbie Granick  4:02  
So my job consists of talking to people who are struggling with mental health in some capacity. And for the most part using medications, my role is to help them with the medication part of their mental health to find things that help them feel better. I integrate in some counseling and we always stress the non pharmacological approaches to helping people feel better as well. You know, all those normal good health things. So I’m kind of in a combined role focusing mostly on the medication part, but also trying to integrate in some some counseling 

Lise Nox  4:35  
Did you have to go from seeing your patients in real life to having consultations over zoom?

Debbie Granick  4:42  
I did. I very abruptly went from 100% of my client visits being in person to 100% of them being via telehealth, and it was a very quick transition. I think the biggest challenge at first was technology both for us but also for our patients and monarch serves a population that’s very mixed demographically and financially. And many people don’t have access to computers or great Wi Fi or, you know, phones with video capacity. And so I think for lower income people, that transition was even harder, I think, to telehealth, we take for granted that when we say telehealth, that everyone can sit in a quiet place and have a visit. You know, that was another thing actually, is that everyone’s at home. So you’ve got a mom that you’re asking to talk about her depression in front of her 14 year old daughter or eating disorder or her drinking problem. And that also posed a tremendous number of problems. It’s just privacy. You know, I talked to a lot of people in their cars. 

Lise Nox  5:38  
Oh, wow.

Debbie Granick  5:40  

Lise Nox  5:41  
That’s a solution. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I never really thought about this thing of, you know, having difficulty accessing the right technology because I just have a laptop, I have earphones or whatever,

Debbie Granick  5:51  
Right? It’s a very kind of middle upper middle class assumption that you can make that seamless transition to telehealth.

Lise Nox  5:58  
So this was hard for your patients. But what was it like for you? So how did you approach your patients differently over zoom or like through computer?

Debbie Granick  6:06  
I just missed that physical connection, seeing someone a few feet in front of me. And I think it makes empathy easier when you’re together and you’re looking at someone, I also think that the private space of a therapy office is very therapeutic to people to separate like what you were saying about work life balance, to separate from their normal life for a few minutes and step into a therapist or nurse practitioners office for that 25 minutes where there’s no distractions, and it’s you in that professional versus you’re like, in the middle of your your home life. And then you’re like jumping into the bathroom to talk to your provider for a few minutes, or whatever. I think it was a less therapeutic experience kind of on both ends. And you know, for me to like to be working. I mean, I have an office and things like that, but I had dogs somewhere I had kids going to school, online at home. And so your brain is just not as as free to just relax into the moment and truly connect to that person. So I think that was hard on both ends for the providers and for the patients. But I also think over the course of what turned out to be a year and a half. We all got better at it. Yeah, I think we all I think we all got better at it. But we did have to set some boundaries. No, I had to sometimes say to say to a patient, hey, when we talk, can you like be out of bed and be dressed? You know, can you not be driving your car just to try and protect that therapeutic boundary that makes you more available to be engaged in your in your therapy?

Lise Nox  7:24  
You mentioned that a lot of people who are your patients for monarch are very diverse in terms of their income, or in terms of demography, I was thinking earlier about how 2020 and 2021 were rough for everyone, obviously, while we’re all going through this pandemic BIPOC specifically had also to go through this thing of dealing with collective grief of you know, the Black Lives Matter movement. Yes, the horrific death on all over social media. And so did you have patients who had to deal with, you know, their own personal struggle and this collective grief?

Debbie Granick  7:59  
So much, I can barely begin to answer that. Because I think part of the mental health struggle this year was in addition to everyone’s normal, you know, we all struggle, you know, sometimes with anxiety, depression, whatever. And then there’s those of us that struggle more. But during those struggles, we often take for granted certain things that I feel like in this past year kind of start to crumble, like we take for granted that that we can trust the news we take for granted that we can trust certain government agencies, we take for granted that our represented officials that we’re going to feel like they’re out to, to a certain degree, hopefully help us much less like actually do harm to us, right. And I think over the course of the year, we all came to realize like, Hey, we don’t know what to believe. We just don’t know what to believe. Because each side every different fraction was trying to convince us that we were being lied to or that we couldn’t trust anyone or whatever. And that I think more than anything degrades our communal mental health. You know, I was thinking about when we learn about history, and we learn about everyone was watching people land on the moon, everyone was watching when Kennedy was shot, there was no collective everyone was doing anything during 2020 there was a focus on people that vote this way are doing that people that are this color are doing that. And and I think, you know, even in the really hard times, like a president is being shot. It’s calming and nurturing and, and helpful for us to know that we’re all kind of watching and mourning and experiencing this together even if you didn’t vote for that President, right. But just so evident during this pandemic, and all the politics that happened with it was not only are we suffering, not only are we suffering alone, but we’re suffering in communities that we don’t know who cares about us and who doesn’t. And that there might be people that we thought cared about us who now we’ve learned don’t care about us because we just saw them downtown at a rally of some kind that doesn’t represent what we believe. I think it was really very, very hard in that way. And And interestingly and almost kind of funny, I guess, you know, like people that struggle for example, with delusions or paranoia. Um, that we that we recognize as No, this is this is not normal. This is paranoia, we had to kind of question that, like, if someone says, I’m freaking out, I’m paranoid that the police are out to get me, well, maybe two years ago, I would have been like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, the police are there to help you. Right? Like, I think you’re having a delusion. I mean, I wouldn’t really say it quite like that. But right. But this year, I’m like, Well, yeah, I could see you feeling that way. Because of what you’re watching on TV, you know, because of what’s happening. And because of what’s happening in your community, you are right, you know, so I think there were some like, just different kind of things that happened like that. I don’t know if that answers your question. 

Lise Nox  8:15  
But yeah, it’s very interesting, because I was thinking about how all those social justice issues were mostly covered on social media. This has been also another personal but also collective challenge, you know, your relationship to social media during the pandemic, where it’s like, you get just so many things regarding social justice issues, or anything like that on social media all day. So you kind of like get into this Doom Scrolling kind of habit where it’s like, oh, I need to stay informed, I need to know what’s happening, I need to know how to help. And so you kind of get stuck in this vicious cycle of I need to stay informed, I want to help, I want to share resources, but also I am just completely overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. And I can’t take any more, 

Debbie Granick  11:12  
Right, that’s it, I think people just got to those breaking points and and then and then something else would happen. And something else would happen. And we’d be raw from a mass shooting, and then we’d be raw from a you know, a police shooting, and then we’d be raw from a, you know, rally. I mean, like, it just kept coming and coming and coming. And then you know, our leadership our political leadership was not what our country needed at the time to come together. That’s, that’s all that can be said it could have been done so much better. So what could have been a unifying potentially opportunity for people to come together and say, Hey, we all need to help each other to support each other, while experiencing something as a community that’s difficult. Instead, everybody looked inward and turned against each other. And I think when we are afraid for our own safety, we are less inclined to help others. And so our leadership kept telling us to be afraid for our own safety. And so as a community, we all just focused on ourselves. And I think that what we learned is that that’s not human nature, that doesn’t work well, for us. Most everybody is coming out of the last year and a half feeling deeply exhausted, because we are not made to just sit alone and feel fearful, you know, we are created as pack animals that that need each other. And so I think we’re feeling the effects of that with like a communal exhaustion. 

Lise Nox  12:30  
Yeah. Do you think we’re all going to have some kind of collective PTSD? 

Debbie Granick  12:36  
I do. I really do. I think, 

Lise Nox  12:40  
How’s it going to show up? Like, just,

Debbie Granick  12:41  
I don’t I don’t know how it’s gonna show up. But I think I think what came out? I don’t know why I don’t want to get political on this. Or, you know, but I just how it came out that what we took for granted that I mean, can I say something political, I don’t know. 

Lise Nox  12:54  
You’re free too!

Debbie Granick  12:55  
 No. I mean, like that I would have taken for granted that someone who I knew or loved or cared about would not have supported a certain political candidate, or would have supported, you know, Black Lives Matter protesters downtown or something. And then to hear them say something either negative about that, or positive about leadership that I very much disagreed with, I think there were a lot of like, shocking things that came out where we again, realize that what we thought we took for granted what we thought, you know, people kind of were in line with us, or what just make sense to us, that we realized doesn’t just make sense to other people. It’s like that causes a certain amount of trauma we take you know, but to realize that our perspectives, but we assume is kind of common thought or common emotion is not, I think it’s kind of traumatizing, you know, and I’m a white person. So this is just this isn’t even taking into account the communal trauma of the black community to realize how alone in many ways they really were, when they thought we’re thinking, hey, maybe there’ll be more people to come kind of help us out or support our cause. And just to be so supremely disappointed, I think is very traumatizing. 

Lise Nox  14:01  
Do you have any advice or I don’t know, tool that you could give to BIPOC or you know, anyone who has been dealing with PTSD or the aftermath of all the violence that they had to put up with during 2020?

Debbie Granick  14:14  
I would say a couple of things. So on the on the micro level, meaning on the personal level, I guess one thing I feel is that the more in line Our lives are with what our values are, the more healing our life can be. So for example, if I asked you what are your top five values and you say church, family, time alone reading a book, going to school and my dog, and then I say okay, well When’s the last time you you know, hung out with your dog, went to church, spent time alone reading, took a class you liked whatever you’re like, gosh, not a long time. That’s, that’s not gonna be working for you. Right? So the more we can connect the life we’re leading with the values that we share, the more healing the divides that we have that we hold, the more healing it’s going to be. So the first question is like, what is important to me? What are my values and what can I do to be integrated those more fully into the life I’m actually leading every single day. So that’d be one. And then the other, I think, is to reach, you know, to reach out, I think we’ve all turned very inwards, we’re all feeling kind of a little damaged and raw and fearful and rejected. And I think we’ve got to start reaching back out again, and making those connections to the people that help us heal, and that help us feel safe you know that we’re not alone. 

Lise Nox  15:22  
I’ve been able to connect with all my friends and my family and people who live really far away from me. And this has been definitely something that I was very grateful for, during the pandemic, to be able to connect to all those people I care about, at the same time, I just got so exhausted and tired of not having this, you know, physical connection, even when I would like hang out with my friends. It’s like, Oh, we can’t really hug because, you know, there’s COVID and, and this frustration, and this, yeah, just piled up all year, have this social interaction we used to have even though we have the technology, and we have the math, and we have, you know, the tests that we have to take every week to show we’re not infected with COVID. But it’s definitely been really challenging to have a normal, obviously, a normal social life. And also just how do you, you know, maintain a healthy relationship when you might need to do just, you know, the basic thing you’re supposed to do in a relationship, quality time, physical touch, you know, all these things, right? This is really, really challenging. And I feel like a lot of people have resorted to social media to kind of make up for the lack of social interaction. Social media is a very, never ending cycle of dopamine, you just get dopamine and dopamine. And it’s very addictive, when you’re just stuck at home all day, on your phone or on your computer. And the only thing you can rely on is  social media and the dopamine.

Debbie Granick  16:41  
I like this phrase that is don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides, because you might be feeling you know, kind of sad or isolated, or alone or rejected or whatever. And then you get on your social media, and everybody looks so happy and great, but that’s their outsides. That’s what they’re putting out there for the world to see. So social media was very connecting for many of us. But at the same time, it really traumatized us with a lot of the stuff we were already experiencing, you know, like feeling alone, or feeling that we’re the only one who believes politically or socially or morally, how we believe or, you know, getting on and seeing, oh, my God, I can’t believe that person is posting that and just being so filled with this rage that has nowhere to go, that was really challenging, I had, well, that’s always challenging, but it is especially challenging in the last year and a half, because people felt so secure putting things out on social media that maybe they wouldn’t necessarily have said to someone if they were having that in person interaction, you know, so I think social media serves a purpose. But I would, at this point, probably be telling people go to where your people are, you know, if your people are at a fundraiser for the hungry, or if your people are doing some kind of social action project, or if your people are at a church or a synagogue, or in a certain kind of class, like go be with your people where you can kind of relax and reconnect and feel that that you’re not alone. And also, I also think, like take the energy, I think a lot of us have this energy to make the world better and to heal. And so it’s like, what can I do with that energy? What little project can I get involved in that will make me feel like I’m doing one piece of the puzzle. You know, I was with a group of women the other day, and we were making these little bags of kind of things we can keep in our cars to hand to someone that who might be like on a street corner or asking for money or something. And they just were bags that had some snacks and water and tissues and some things like that you can be having a bad day. And you pull up to a stoplight and you hand someone this and say hey, I hope your day gets better. And they say, Oh my gosh, thank you so much for caring for thinking of me and you both leave the interaction feeling a little bit better, you know, so I just think, we all need to kind of engage in each other, engage in our community helping and healing and trying to build some bridges back that have been messed up.

Lise Nox  18:51  
So what your saying is that there’s a basically a balance to find between taking care of yourself and staying aligned with your values and what makes you happy and what makes you feel you know, safe and love, self care. Like you have to balance it out with reaching out to other people and making sure that other people are feeling that they’re being taken care of and that they’re feeling safe and they’re being loved. It’s like this balance we have to find and maybe this pandemic was the, you know, this eye opening experience of Oh, maybe all this time, we never really learned how to love each other or care for each other because we’re all just so caught up in our daily lives. And now that we’re forced to spend an entire year either alone or stuck with people we you know, we didn’t really have a choice to be stuck with.

Debbie Granick  19:34  
I mean, I think also in stepping back that we can all re engage a little more intentionally with the relationships that give us energy versus those that take it away. You know, I think we all now have opportunity to re pick our friends and re pick who we’re going to go out with on Saturday night because we’ve been doing nothing so those are the gifts of intentionality that we have now that we can kind of look back and say you know actually appreciated not having to see so and so every week or every couple weeks where I realized that that relationship was really draining, it wasn’t filling me, it was depleting me, and I’m not going to re engage in that relationship. And I think those are good decisions to make. At this point, too, I feel like you can mostly implement with your friendships or you know, like relationships at work or your social life. But what about when you have family members that you don’t really get along with? You don’t really have a choice to like, not be related to this person.

Debbie Granick  20:26  
 Correct, right? 

Lise Nox  20:27  
Responsibility towards your family in this community house. So right? how do you set this intention when it’s your family member, you don’t reall get along with.

Debbie Granick  20:35  
Right. You’re right. So you can’t choose to have relationship, but you can choose the nature of the relationship, you can choose the boundaries of the relationship, you can choose, you know, the limits, or you know, so I think, and that’s a whole other conversation about managing challenging relationships. But you know, when you’re dealing with a toddler, there’s this phrase, like, you can have choices, but then limits right, you can have any staff that’s in this drawer, but mom puts the snacks in the drawer and none of the snacks are doughnuts, right, but you can pick any you want. So it’s kind of like with your family, it’s like, I have to see them three times a year. But within those three visits, I have options, those options are going to include blank by blank that helps me keep my sanity when we’re all together.

Lise Nox  21:12  
I feel like it’s very reassuring to hear you say that for a lot of people who are gonna be listening to this episode and thinking, wow, I spent all of 2020s stuck at home with a family I really don’t get along with and now that I hear you know, the terms personal boundaries, which is something I have never really heard of before. 2020 words like boundaries. What do you mean like just, you know, telling people? No, okay, sure, whatever. But now that I’m learning about how to take care of myself in a time where everything else is calling my name all the time, it’s like, oh, yes, boundaries, right. So I’m actually reading a book right now. And it’s called set boundaries, find peace by a therapist, who works in Turlock, North Carolina. And it’s really interesting, she talks about how to implement those boundaries with the people you care about your family, your co workers, and all this kind of thing. And it’s been really interesting. So I don’t know if you’ve ever like really worked on the subject of boundaries, like with your patient very specifically,

Debbie Granick  22:00  
I do think that comes up a lot in mental health, I think we have to be really careful with that concept. Because I think it’s really easy to say have boundaries but like what you’re saying, it’s not always so easy to implement. And then we don’t want someone to have guilt or shame or rage or distress, because they’re not able to implement what’s in a book. Right? So because our reality is that we do live in community, and it is a struggle. So I think it’s really unique to each person. And I think it’s, I want to validate that it’s a very difficult thing for us all to do to find that line. And there are two, I usually work with my patients to identify like, what is the what are the couple biggest priorities here? Right, like, what are the what are the boundary crossings that most impact your day to day health, well being emotional balance and pick one or two areas to kind of focus on for your boundaries? Because otherwise, you’ll go crazy, right? But yeah, it’s annoying. For example, I don’t know what an example would be. But like, you might have five annoying things that happen. But the one that really makes you crazy is when you know, someone walks in when you’re asleep or something. So that’s the one boundary I’m going to focus on. And instead of being upset about it, I’m going to really think intentionally about what can I actually do to fix this situation, we’ll just do that one. And then when one thing is really protected, maybe other things don’t seem quite as bad. 

Lise Nox  23:20  
Another thing I wanted to talk about with you, which seems very central to COVID, and the pandemic is the question of grief, you have like someone from your family, or you know, someone you care about that died from COVID, or you know, anyone you know, who had someone pass away from this disease. There’s this first question of like, Okay, how do you deal with grief when it’s barely possible to organize a proper funeral or to meet up with other family members, and everything is going on at home and at work, and you have to deal with so many things at the same time, and you have to deal with someone passing away from the very same virus that has been keeping you stuck at home for a year. Did you have any patients that deal with this kind of grief?

Debbie Granick  23:59  
I did. And I think what we talked about a lot is grief is messy, and grief doesn’t always look a certain way or feel a certain way. And even though we grow up with certain grieving rituals, they are just socially constructed rituals. They’re not you know, we do have options and how to make how to adjust them to what we need in our current life. You know, so I think what’s challenging is to recognize Oh yeah, I guess that was just my family tradition or my faith tradition to do blank blank blank after someone dies but we have to adjust it we just have to make these changes you know, and if that means we have to wait a certain amount of time or gather more technologically than in person or pray a little bit different than that’s what we have to do but I think the the baseline I always tell people is that grief doesn’t look the same feel the same for everybody in all situations. Sometimes it looks like crying. Sometimes it looks like rage. Sometimes it looks like drinking too much. Sometimes it looks like going out more with your friends. Sometimes it looks like sleeping all the time. Sometimes it looks like never sleeping and all that is okay. And all that is real and we can work with it as long as we just put it out there and say, here’s what I need help with. But yeah, I think a lot of traditional mourning rituals were really messed up by this for sure. They’re also though, and I’m not trying to deny the negative. But I would say There have also been some positives that have come out of it, people were able to have funerals with family members from all around the entire world, because the funerals were put on zoom. So recognizing identifying and being thankful and expressing gratitude for some of the those things that come out, I think was important to to recognize it. Well, it sucked to not be able to do this, but this was actually a good thing that came out of it that we wouldn’t have been able to do.

Lise Nox  25:34  
trying to see the positive without, you know, falling into this, you know, toxic positivity kind of thing. 

Debbie Granick  25:38  
But nope, that’s right. 

Lise Nox  25:39  
Seeing the positive. still being grateful for the little things that you can get out of a very negative situation. This is very important, just like the Yes. If you all hold on to it’s like, okay, yeah, we weren’t able to set up a funeral. But at least I, you know, talk to my aunt that lives in Spain, and I haven’t talked to her in 10 years. And now I you know.

Debbie Granick  25:59  
That’s right? That’s right, I have a private practice where I just do therapy. And this came up a lot. And one of the phrases that we use a lot in therapy is and also instead of, but also because someone’s if you say, well, this sucks, but you’re kind of negating the, the thing that sucks, but instead use the phrase, and like, this sucks. And also, the good thing happened, of being able to talk to my aunt, kind of recognizing that we can have negative and positive emotion existing simultaneously. And there was a lot of that there was a lot of that that went on in this past year. 

Lise Nox  26:34  
It’s just making space for everything that comes up. 

Debbie Granick  26:37  
That’s right.

Lise Nox  26:38  
Yeah, the pandemic has been a really easy for people to just fall into this very vicious and dark cycle of nothing matters anymore. The world is ending. 

Debbie Granick  26:46  
Absolutely. Right. Absolutely. Or the world is a terrible place. Why should I invest in it? This is awful. Like, are you watching TV, all these things are terrible going on. And you know, like, with the back to the boundaries thing you were saying, I think a lot of people ended up shutting down a lot of those social media, the television, the radio, because they’re just like, I’m maxed out. And I think that’s okay, too. You know, like, we all have to be protective of our own functioning. But at some point, it might be more important to just shut it out for a couple weeks and say, Yeah, I won’t know what’s going on in the world. But I if I do, I won’t be able to function. 

Lise Nox  27:16  
We’ve been talking about like how people have to set personal boundaries with their family members or significant other or any person that you live with, or people who had like a really hard time having alone time did you have to deal with any patient who spent pretty much their entire year alone, you know, people who suffer from loneliness, and they’re already struggling with mental health issues and they had to go through all this alone, like, how, how does that work out for a person?

Debbie Granick  27:41  
I think both extremes for that with were horrible. There are people that went through it alone. There are also people who live in group homes, mental rehab centers, sobriety centers, where they were homeless shelters, where they were forced to live surrounded by people shut in together for long periods of time. And then there were single people, older people who were just really alone and would say, I have literally gone weeks without human touch. I don’t think there’s any other way. Anything to say about that. Except I think there was a lot of suffering. Yeah, I think there was a lot of suffering, and a lot of needing to find other ways to get to get needs met, you know, a lot of saying, Yeah, like, what are you experiencing? And is there any other way to get some of those some of those needs met? I mean, luckily, I feel like we’re coming out of this. And at this point, we can look at the path forward and ask ourselves, what do I need now? what’s what’s missing? What’s still not feeling good? What do I need now? And really choosing with intention, again, representing my deepest values? What do I need to make part of my life to get me up and going, how I want to I want to go and I do think there was a lot of trauma from the past that I try and encourage I use this imagery of like driving a car and I say like that trauma, that depression that anxiety is in the car. But is there a way to live your life without it driving the car, you know, like we have to make room for it is the passenger seat in the backseat it’s not going away. But can it not be the driving force of all the choices you’re making going forward or your emotional well being going forward that those choices are made more by a desire to move forward, but not being able to totally shut down what you’ve been through in the last year, year and a half.

Lise Nox  29:16  
That’s a very beautiful metaphor, I remember reading a metaphor about depression that was like, You think you’re stuck in a hole? Really, you’re just stuck in a tunnel and you have to keep walking till you get to the light, right now your in the dark but you know, like an imagery or like metaphor around mental health usually really helps picturing some kind of hope that you can hold on to is yes, yes. What do you want to talk about? No, yeah, I was gonna say you seem to be working with a lot of very diverse patients, like, you know, BIPOC, homeless people, people who are in sobriety homes or you know, is this something specific to Monarch like you get, you know?

Debbie Granick  29:50  
yeah, monarch monarch serves the population in Wake County that does not have health insurance. It has like the contract for our area to serve people without health insurance. So that includes a lot of people kind of stuck in that economic area of not enough money or not solid enough employment to have commercial health insurance, but not qualifying for any kind of state assistance. So it often gets, you know, a low income population. And then a good chunk of my clients are in sober living centers or in recovery living in homeless shelters. Yeah, yeah.

Lise Nox  30:25  
It’s really amazing. It’s just very, because it just like warms my heart to know that there are companies or, you know, organizations that actually help people who need help with their mental health, you know.

Debbie Granick  30:36  
that’s right. Like this. That’s right. And Monarch is going to help you whether you have money or not. So and that’s its mission and its goal for mental health, intellectual disabilities, has centers all across the state, and the people that work there are uniquely gifted and beautiful people, very committed to serving a population that is often overlooked or unimportant to some other health agency. So I’m feel really honored to work there.

Lise Nox  31:03  
Yeah. How did you end up working for Mark? Um, how did you find them? And like, how did you think, Oh, yeah, this is what I want to do, you know, help people in need? 

Debbie Granick  31:12  
Well, I think the price of healthcare has gotten exorbitant, you know, and I think there’s a lot of people that are left behind. And like I said, I have a private practice, I do serve people that are totally financially fine, who can afford to pay a certain amount for their therapy visits each week, and I find that rewarding, and they find that rewarding, and that’s great. But there’s a huge population that just doesn’t have that opportunity. And I think we’re only as a community as a world, we only function as well as our lowest functioning people. So we need to bring up the bottom for us all as a community or as a as a country to move up. And I don’t mean the bottom, like, why don’t we know, you know, what, you know what I’m saying, like the sickest, the people suffering the most alone or with the fewest resources. And so I found, I just felt like that was a place that I could help, you know, a place that I was really needed. And I think there was just a huge need. The the waitlists are extraordinary. The number of people who need services compared to the services available is it’s always off balance. So I just, I guess, about kind of called to be there. 

Lise Nox  32:13  
This is really, really inspiring, and really beautiful. Because I mean, obviously, you decided to work as a mental health professional. So you had already this calling of helping other people. But no, I mean, not everyone decides to go all the way and decide to join monarch or any other company or organization that actually, you know, helps people who have really low income or low resources or you know, so yeah, really beautiful. Because

Debbie Granick  32:37  
it’s, we it’s called, like community mental health, meaning it really is accessible. The goal is for it to be truly accessible to a community regardless of their economic status.

Lise Nox  32:46  
Because when Monarch reached out to WKNC, to set up an interview, I thought, oh, mental health is something that really matters to me, because I’ve had my personal struggles with it. My family members have had struggles with mental health know, pretty much everyone I know, has that struggle with it. And I thought, Oh, it would be interesting for me to let me talk about it and maybe break like a taboo around it or, you know, raise awareness. It’s just something that really matters to me to be able to talk about mental health without the taboo. Okay, yeah, And this is how they’re doing this, how they’re dealing, like, what can we do about it. 

Debbie Granick  33:19  
And you know, our mental health is amazingly the same based on our common humanity, regardless of source. I mean, it sounds so cliche, but it is regardless of skin color, and economic background and jobs, it we know, what we struggle with, is unique to who we are as, as a human race, and there’s not a whole lot in the mental health field that separates that separates us from each other in that world. So that also is very, I find that very rewarding, you know, to just involve myself in help and humanity and helping humanity. You know, it doesn’t,  nothing else really matters, we have unbelievable amounts of things that are the same between us, even when we come from totally different communities and different backgrounds. And, you know, to really sit with someone and hold their pain or help them hold their pain, to me is a really great gift. And I want to give it to my clients and i and i want for us all to give it to each other. You know, I think that’s how we, when we feel like we’re being held up a little bit, that’s what empowers us to feel like we can take a chance take a risk, you know, try and kind of move in a direction if we feel like there’s other people helping us supporting us.

Lise Nox  34:23  
So you know, like a lot of people who are going, who are going to be listening to this episode, are probably going to be students from the university, like, I feel like they belong to this very specific category of people who are going through their 20s or, you know, their young adult years or their teenage years, and they had to deal with all of the things we talked about, whether it’s about, you know, BIPOC struggles or Black Lives Matter or depression and anxiety or, you know, toxic family members or lack of boundaries. And, we’re all at an age where it’s like very hard for us to you know, have a place in this world and we’re not financially able to sustain ourselves. We still have to rely on this community you were talking about to sustain our Whether we’re talking mental health or finance or whatever, so I guess my question is do you have like advice to give to young people who had to go through this pandemic as students and who didn’t get to have normal graduation or didn’t have to have a normal school year or barely saw their friends. And you know,

Debbie Granick  35:16  
that’s a tough one. I think acceptance is kind of like it was what it was, it is what it is, you know, like, the more we try and label things like that was abnormal, or that was, I would think I would just say, let’s take away the labels. It was what it was, we had that experience that we had, let’s kind of move on from that. I don’t mean put it behind you. But it becomes a rung in the ladder. That’s all that it was, you know, it’s a rung in the ladder on your on your journey. You know, it’s like when I hear these conversations about, Oh, my gosh, we’re going to be set back a year because people missed out on school, we’re not set back like it is the year it is our world. It is what is happening. There’s no timeline out there, there’s no measuring stick out there saying that you’re behind, you know, it just is what it is. It’s the experience that we had. So step on the wrong move, keep going, you know, or step on the rock, go to the next one, that was the rock that was the 2021 2020 rock on the path, nothing can be done about it. So to me we can we can learn from the experience, we can recognize the effect that the experience had on us, but looking taking our energy and putting it into the woulda, shoulda, coulda is energy that could be spent saying, you know, what do I want? Where do I want to go? How can I use this? What’s my next step? Those are more, those are questions that we can answer and that we can do something with the other ones are, there’s no answers to those who knows what would happen if something had been different in the past? We’ll never know, 

Lise Nox  36:35  
I really liked the idea of just going back to the here and now. 

Debbie Granick  36:39  
Yeah. I like the there’s this phrase, I don’t know where I heard this. But anxiety is the workings of our imagination. And if we can recognize that, that when we’re anxious is because our imagination is spinning up all kinds of stories. And what we know is exactly what you said what we know is the here and now the more we can just connect and kind of be with that the more calming and affirming it is.

Lise Nox  37:00  
So do you have like advice tools or anything you’d like to say to people who are going to progressively go back to a normal life or you know, like a, you know, what I mean? Like a normal life in 2021? And you know, soon 2022? And even going for Really? Do you have any mental health advice or anything new, like people to know about their own mental health, something that’s not discussed enough? Or you know, just something you’d like to put out there?

Debbie Granick  37:23  
I would try not to focus on what’s normal, but just focus on what is what what is what’s going to work for you and your community. And try not to think about things with a label of is this the right thing to do? Is this the normal thing to do? But is this what seems a fit for me? Right? And is this what seems a fit for those around me. Another I guess is I do believe that we feel better, we function better when we are helping each other. And you know, whether it’s as simple as intentionally opening or holding the door open for grandma to walk through or holding the door open for someone to walk through all the way to you know, spending a day volunteering at a you know, food pantry, it doesn’t have to be a humungous big thing, it can be a small but intentional phone call to a friend, the more we can engage in those good deeds, I feel like the more those build our our chests, you know, I guess what I’m thinking is this, this vision of like a chest or a treasure box and the balance, or think of a tissue box, we’re pulling out tissues, right. And the balance of the tissues that we pull out when we need to use them needs to be refilled by new tissues. And so we always have to have our eye on that balance. And it’s not going to be perfect every day, every day is not going to be even in even out but overall in the scheme of a couple weeks, a couple months period Am I engaging in things where that take my energy, but am I refilling my energy with things that give me energy so which might be you know, yoga, or calling a friend or hanging out with a with a boyfriend or doing a good deed and then the energy out is you got to go to class you got to work out, you got to look for a job. And then these things are non negotiable, but trying to kind of keep that consciousness of you know what I’m getting burned out. I’m getting in a bad mood, whatever. I think my I think my balance is a little bit off, you know, and kind of recalibrating, and looking. I’m not I’m not getting enough, I’m not giving enough. I think that’s really important. And then I think at some point, we just have to move on from what you kind of called the stigma of mental health. You know, if I say my knee hurts, I can’t go to the track today, I should be able to say, I don’t know what’s up, I’m having kind of an anxious day. I think I need to for some time alone, you know, to try not to have it be such a hidden concept. Because then we all learn from each other 

Lise Nox  39:35  
If you are sick, you can call it work and you call for a sick day. But if you’re mentally you know, struggling, it’s like just go to work like whatever, you’re anxious, who cares. It’s like this needs to change mental health struggles need to be taken more seriously. Right? I really love what you’re so focused on community healing and thriving as a community because they feel like America tends to be very focused on the individual and I feel like this idea of community healing is more something that usually that you find usually in like Asian cultures where it’s like Buddhism or any other religion like this or any other culture where it’s like, community over the individual, whereas in America, it’s usually the individula first It’s really amazing that you’re bringing all of this up, because it’s something that we’ve been all lacking my personal opinion, so it’s a very, very refreshing to finally hear from someone like, yes, we need each other, we need to Yes, be there for each other and take care of each other. And like, you know, obviously, you can’t pour from an empty glass, you need to take care of yourself. Yes, you know, just read a lot on the internet or anywhere else about self care take care of yourself. Yes, for yourself. We never hear about like, what can you do for other people.

Debbie Granick  40:42  
Community care.

Lise Nox  40:44  
Yeah, exactly. Like self care, community care. And I feel like I read so much about self care but never anything about community care. So it’s very refreshing to finally hear someone talk about this. Thank you for bringing this 

Debbie Granick  40:55  
And that to like these, I would say that to is a balance, right? Like just like what you said, your cup, you It’s all a balance the self care, the community care. And I don’t think we function well, when we’re focused on one versus the other for long periods of time. You know, over the course of our life, we have to keep that balance in check as best as we can. 

Lise Nox  41:15  
It’s all about balance every time. 

Debbie Granick  41:16  
Yeah, but reach out any time if you have questions, or if there’s anything else I can be helped you with. And I treasure the opportunity to talk about these kinds of issues. 

Lise Nox  41:24  
Oh, yeah. 

Debbie Granick  41:25  
I feel like it’s really important for the college population, you know, especially as you guys are embarking on moving forward with so many different exciting things and in so many different directions so.

Lise Nox  41:40  
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eye on the Triangle just listened to Debbie Granick, a licensed social worker and a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner working for Monarch. She talked about the importance of community care and taking care of each other to heal collectively, but also about being in the present moment and accepting things for what they are. Just like I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, if you’re a student at NCC University and you’re struggling with mental health in any way, you can always reach out to NC State’s Counseling Center to set up an appointment. You’re not alone and it gets better. Thank you again for listening. This was Lise Nox reporting for Eye on the Triangle WKNC 88.1 and I guess I’ll see you soon. Take care.