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An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

A healthy body is the result of genetics, healthy habits, and health checkups. The same can be said for our mental health. A healthy mind is the result of genetics, healthy habits, and mental health check ins.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Pamela Prince Pyle.

Dr. Pamela Prince Pyle is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Physician, Chair of the Board of Africa New Life Ministries in Rwanda, Museum of the Bible Women of Legacy Ambassador, author, and international speaker. She speaks and writes on the topics of global health equity, women’s discipleship, and ingredients which make for a good death. Her website is meant to be a resource for navigating the healthcare world once you have been labeled “patient” and discovering that A Good Death is Not an Event, but a Lifestyle.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I had an interest in medicine when I was younger but did not believe I could afford the extended education. However, a financial aid counselor helped me with scholarships and loans and I graduated second in my medical school class. I chose internal medicine because of the complexity of diseases that affect people in different ways, and I wanted to help solve that complexity for the patient. I especially like working in hospitals and have for most of my career since 1989.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I have had many interesting patients for different reasons but one story that I published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine was related to a snake charmer. Yes, a snake charmer. This man had a van full of snakes and would set up in parking lots to do an illegal side show of his prowess with snakes.

Unfortunately, a King Cobra wasn’t in the mood and took a strike at him. Their venom causes muscle paralysis and people die from respiratory failure. In his case we immediately put him on a ventilator, and I had to search for anti-venom (most zoos will carry) but the closest one to us in South Carolina was the Bronx Zoo and they had to life-flight it down. It is about $3000 per bottle, and you give 30 or more bottles depending on weight.

Within an hour of receiving the anti-venom the snake charmer woke up, pulled out all his tubes and left Against Medical Advice (AMA) because he didn’t want to be responsible for the bill and not be arrested for his side show. This case was the first successfully treated King Cobra bite in the US at the time.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting?

I don’t have a humorous story, but a terrifying story was the first day of starting residency. One day you are called Pamela and the next you are called Doctor. I did not get smarter in that one day, but now I was expected to be smarter. I was given a long white coat and pocket protector to go with this new title and make decisions regarding patient’s health, life, and death.

What lesson or take-away did you learn from that? Rarely, does life drop you into this dichotomy of roles which are changed in a twenty-four-hour period. Fortunately, it wasn’t as dramatic as we thought.

While I was a newbie Doctor as well as my graduating classmates, we weren’t stranded. Nurses, who had significantly more experience with patient care and with fearful interns gently guided us to become the person our name tags declared that we were.

My lesson became, “If I don’t know the answer, look it up or ask someone else.” Medicine is one area that you don’t want to fake it until you make it.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am always grateful for my husband who is a great encourager, but I am grateful for the financial aid counselor I mentioned above as the one who made it possible for me to afford school.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

The work environment for clinicians had become more difficult. Greater regulatory requirements and less income producing streams are available. Doctors are then forced to see more patients just to keep the doors open. This diminishes one of the joys of medicine, time with patients. The pandemic has affected the mental health of clinicians with higher rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Self-care must be scheduled into each week. Therapy should be considered for those suffering with mental health symptoms.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Relational time together moves a group of people who work together to be a true team.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?

A healthy body is the result of genetics, healthy habits, and health checkups. The same can be said for our mental health. A healthy mind is the result of genetics, healthy habits, and mental health check ins.

1. We can’t change our genetics; however, we can become aware of them. Studies between monozygotic (identical) vs. dizygotic (fraternal) twins have revealed a higher incidence of some mental disorders in the identical versus the fraternal twins. Bipolar disorders and schizophrenia are two examples of mental health issues that are more common in the identical twin versus the fraternal twins. However, the identical twins did not have one hundred percent equal expressions of either issue. This indicates environmental factors also affect the outcome for any individual. Understanding our family mental health tree is not meant to define our future, however, it is an opportunity to observe and manage our own environments that favor mental wellness.

2. Healthy Habit #1 — Diet

Nutritional Psychiatry is an advancing discipline in the care of mental health. Studies reveal that processed foods and refined sugars impair brain function including production of serotonin (our emotional feel-good hormone). Traditional diets such as the Mediterranean Diet versus a typical “Western” diet results in a 25% to 35% reduction in risk of depression.

The SMILES trial was one of the earliest interventional studies looking at the impact of a healthy diet in adults with major depressive disorder. The patients that were in the dietary intervention arm had meals which emphasized fruits, vegetable, whole grains, oily fish, extra virgin olive oil, legumes, and raw nuts. There was a significant improvement in depression symptoms with the intervention group after twelve weeks with all other variables confounded.

The greatest first step in our dietary journey to mental wellness is to eradicate processed foods.

3. Healthy Habit #2 — Exercise

We intuitively know that exercise is beneficial to our physical health. However, the benefits to our mental health are just as significant. Research has revealed that exercise is nearly as effective as anti-depressants in the treatment for Major Depressive Disorder.

The spectrum of symptoms associated with anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Schizophrenia have improved with introduction of exercise into the healthcare regiment.

Exercise benefits extend to prevention of mental health disorders and contribute to mental wellness. One study reviewed different types of exercise and noted the greatest effects were seen in team sports followed closely by cycling and aerobic exercise. In this study they found that exercising forty-five minutes for three to five times per week made the biggest difference. However, even walking had a positive effect on mental health.

In my thirties I began to have a real passion for running marathons. A friend who had a desire to join me but had not been a runner or even exerciser at the time. We began by walking one mailbox to the next followed by running one mailbox interval. It was a great experience for us both and we ran the Marine Corps Marathon together. Starting a fitness program can begin with that simple step of the mailbox interval, whether literal or figurative.

4. Healthy Habit #4 — Sleep

Sleep is a powerful reset for our mind. It should be a time for healing but, often, we can become mental health insomniacs. All the emotions that we don’t process during the day become monsters at night. Anxiety, negative self-talk, depressive symptoms,etc. settle in as night falls. Each stage of sleep, especially REM sleep, is necessary for emotional processing of daytime emotions.

There is a bi-directional component to sleep and mental health. Most mental health disorders contribute to insomnia and insomnia worsens mental health disorders.

“What is the answer?”

Developing a sleep hygiene plan is crucial to the process. I recommend these resources as a starting point, however, many other options exist including The Insomnia Workbook.

5. Healthy Habit #5 — Mindfulness

I want to share a personal story previously printed about the benefits of mindfulness in my life.

It was an ordinary office. The couches and chairs well worn by the patients who came before me. The therapist said, “Take a seat, anywhere you would like.”

My physician mindset thought, “I imagine my choice of chair or couch are already giving insight to this well-respected counselor.” When I mention this, he laughs. “Well, sitting position, body language, greeting, they all give me a sense of the comfort of the patient in the room. I want them to be comfortable.”

This was not my first visit to a therapist for the coat of depression I had worn. Most of the time it was light, however, on this day, it was quite heavy. This was a new therapist; however, I expected a similar approach to working through my issue at hand. I was wrong.

During that first visit, he began by showing me Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of control subjects without reported depression in comparison to subjects who had depression. I sat up straight in the recliner (yes, I chose the comfy chair close to him). I could not believe the images displayed and the distinct differences of a healthy brain versus one that was trapped in depression. I was intrigued.

He then began to explain that the great majority of those who suffer from depression can be successfully treated through retraining or “re-wiring” how the brain processes negative emotions. He said, “It is not the negative emotion itself which causes depression. It is the struggle against it which can spiral an individual into negative self-talk ultimately resulting in a sense of chronic depression.”

I sat back and processed what he said. It was true, I could be having a great day and a fleeting sense of melancholy would occur. I have experienced significant depression in the past which felt as if I had been consumed in a “black hole”. I would then spend time focusing on avoidance of that “black hole”. If you have ever had depression or anxiety, I am sure that you can relate.

He then switched screens on his computer and said, “This is the good news. These are images after development of a mindfulness practice.”

I sat up again and was amazed at the differences which occurred on these fMRIs. I thought, “But, will this work for me?”

He must have read my mind because he stood up and walked over to the bookshelf. Turning back to me, he said, “I would like for you to read this book. It is called The Mindful Way Through Depression. Also, there is a companion workbook to the book and part of an eight-week program which I believe will significantly help you. We can meet as you want while you complete it.”

I believe if he had not started with the images, I might not have been so willing to try this process of becoming mindful. I am thankful he did. I went from skeptic to advocate during this time. It was a summer of change for me and a new way of thinking that benefits me to this day. I continue to share my story with those who suffer with fear, grief, anxiety, and depression. If I share my bruised authentic life, then perhaps, I may be able to help in another’s bruised authentic life.

I can share that I have had to take an active role in my mental health. A history of suicide, bipolar disorder, and depression have been a part of my family tree. Implementing these healthy habits in my life has significantly benefited my mental wellness. The work is worth the outcome.

How about teens and pre-teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre-teens to optimize their mental wellness?

I believe the most important role a parent has is to keep their child safe. One of the easiest ways to do so for teens and pre-teens is to say no to social media. Multiple studies have revealed the negative impact of social media on the mental health of our youth. Guiding our children to make this decision for themselves is even better than dictating their adherence to rules.

I believe we forget how smart children are and presenting the facts around social media and mental health is the first step in making the case for a social media exodus or at least holiday.

All the habits I described above are equally applicable to children and adolescents. Parents of adolescents can role model the benefits of healthy habits in the home. It is also crucial for parents to do a “check in” on a regular basis. Parents can become a trusted confidant with relational mindfulness and time. Returning to the concept of family dinners is a simple step towards maintaining open conversations.

We cannot ignore the ongoing impact of our children living through a pandemic. They live in a world that does not feel safe and promotes social isolation. Identifying ways to overcome that will be necessary for a long time.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

The most impactful book in my life and the best-selling book of all time is the Bible. I did not grow up with religion or spirituality but began seeking answers for the existence of God in my early thirties. I eventually came to the end of me and found faith in the process. My faith has been the greatest gift and gives me hope when the world can feel hopeless.

I am currently reading Atomic Habits and oh how I wish I had come across this book earlier in life. I highly recommend it if you desire a life of effective purpose.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe that I have been called to do just that with the phrase, “A Good Death is Not an Event, but a Lifestyle. A patient who was actively dying told me, “It’s okay, I am going to have a good death”.

The phrase stayed with me, and I began writing about the question, “Is it possible to have a good death?”

I discovered in that journey that yes, it is possible and I have a book coming out with all the ingredients. However, you can also go to my website,, and begin the journey. Because we do not know our death date, living as if it were tomorrow will create The Good Death Lifestyle. Asking ourselves these questions is the beginning to a changed life:

  • Am I truly living my moments?
  • Am I fully breathing my purpose?
  • Am I confident of my destination?

Yes, I believe we can begin a movement and I thank you for this question and platform to share my dream.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou.

Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

It is a quote that I carry in my heart as a reminder to treat people with kindness and that simple act will be the aroma I leave when I am gone.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Thegooddeathdoctor or Dr Pamela on IG, Pamela Prince Pyle on FB and you can contact me through my website,

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you so much and to you!

Dr Pamela Pyle: 5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.