22 May 2019 0 Comments Posted By : Peggy Chan

Doctor and Daughter Duo Combat Depression with Poetry

It’s a well-known fact that in the US and worldwide, the explosion of technology and social media-- from use of cell phones to text and talk,  to use of computers to email, shop and communicate-- are vastly changing how people, particularly the youth of society (also known as Generation Y or the Millennials) are interacting with the world around them.  It is this generation of young adults that love social networking in particular. These individuals are communicating globally and locally through a plethora of social networking outlets, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  

While technology has been wonderful in its speed and ability to reach a larger than ever before audience, there are very real and potentially negative outcomes of this reliance on an ever-increasing digital world.   

As social media and technology has become increasingly more important in our daily lives, in the US and globally, we are also seeing a rise in rates of depression, anxiety, mood disorders and suicides.  In fact between 1999 and 2014, in the United States alone, the rate of suicides has increased from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people; this figure represents a 24% increase in suicide rates over this time period.  As young people rely more on social media and the internet to interact with others, socially we are now beginning to see more social isolation and negative psychological effects (i.e., cyberbullying and addictive behaviours).   

Lost in our world of computers, cell phones and tablets, is our interpersonal interactions with “real” persons, particularly our children.  To combat this negative influence of technology, Dr. Michael A. Lee, an internal medicine physician of 22 years and poet, along with his 10 year old daughter, have come up with their own unique way to help the youth of our society.  

The duo of Dr. Lee and his daughter have recently published a book of humorous poetry and sketches that will certainly draw children and young adults away from their digital world for a while.  Their book, titled Not Gonna Write Poems, contains many funny, whimsical poems that will surely make people smile and laugh.  When quizzed on why he chose to write his poetry book, Lee noted that his background as a physician was a huge inspiration—being that laughter is  good medicine for the mind and body.

“So why did I write a book of funny poetry you ask? Well as the saying goes ‘Laughter is the best medicine,’” said Dr. Lee in an interview.  “Being a physician-poet, I know first-hand that whether you’re ill or depressed, you always feel better when you can smile and laugh. That’s what my book does…it’s my cure for sadness!”

Dr. Lee has been an avid lover of poems right from his childhood, citing Shel Silverstein as his biggest inspiration in his journey to becoming an author.

“My family and I have always loved the poems/drawings of the famous poet/author Shel Silverstein. We often read his poems to our daughter before putting her to bed,” he noted.

“Finding out that Mr. Silverstein died in 1999 and that we would never be able to meet him, I decided in 2017 to try to emulate his witty, whimsical style and began writing poems to entertain my family. So that’s how my poetry book began.”“While there are many poetry books of course out there, my book, unlike some poetry books, is not meant to be mushy, serious or sad.  NOT GONNA WRITE POEMS is meant to be fun and to entertain,” said Dr. Lee.

“Kids and their parents will love the poems since they deal with many topics they can relate to: Sleepovers, homework, slime, first dates, the Boogey Monster and more.” “Also, my poetry book has many funny drawings, done by myself and my 10-year-old daughter, that add to the humorous nature of the poems.”

“Now more than ever”, Dr. Lee says, “We need our youths to be reading something that sends a positive message.  Any book, poem or story that can make folks forget their worries and troubles for a bit is something everyone should read.”  Or as Allen Ginsberg stated eloquently about poetry, “The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world.  That’s what poetry does.”

Dr. Lee’s book of witty poems and sketches will take you on such a fun-filled journey, perhaps back to your innocence and fond childhood memories.  So immerse yourself again in your youthful exuberance, shut off the cell phones and computers, and read Dr. Lee’s book. You can discover more about Dr. Michael A. Lee’s book of poetry/sketches, Not Gonna Write Poems, on his website page:  Mikeleethepoet.com.

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