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I was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1980, although I grew up in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kentucky. Currently I live in Boston with my wife, our 6-year-old son, and our dog. I am a practicing physician and have an interest in health equity. In addition, I play the violin — jazz, folk, blues, old-time, and classical music. I believe we can grow a greater sense of togetherness by building musical community.
Because of my personal experiences with bipolar disorder, I am an advocate for ending stigma and discrimination regarding mental illness. I’m not embarrassed to tell others that I am a doctor and I take lithium. It’s no different than a diabetic who requires insulin, or a person living with HIV who needs antiretroviral therapy.
Asking for help, including from medications, is a strength, not a weakness. Remember – you are not alone. You are only alone to the extent that you stay silent. Say no to shame, and yes to authenticity. We are human beings. We have courage and hope, we care about each other, and we are healing.
Recovery is a process, and staying in good health requires a team effort. I have a great psychologist and psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Physician Health Services, a nonprofit corporation founded by the Massachusetts Medical Society, monitors my behavior and helps me remain in clinical practice. I play violin in Boston’s Me2/ Orchestra, the world’s only classical music organization created for individuals with mental illnesses and the people who support them. And, I am in the process of starting a support group for physicians and other health professionals living with bipolar. I actually believe I am a better doctor because of my lived experience with manic depression.
My philosophy as a physician is that an integrative and holistic approach to health is the key to achieving wellness. We can understand the root causes of disease. We can treat the whole person, and accompany patients on their journey from illness back to health. We can use listening as a catalyst for connective presence and personal transformation. We can live in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature.
To many people, it feels like human life on this planet is at a tipping point, and we need a new paradigm of living with ourselves, with others, and with the natural world. We need to live sustainably, in relationship with Mother Earth. We need community, and empathy, to support each other. Music and the arts can help build those relationships. What is your calling, your purpose?
My interest in music and wellness is longstanding. During college I founded a Music in Hospitals program. Currently, I am a member of the International Association for Music and Medicine (IAMM), an organization which encourages and supports the use of music in medical contexts including scientific research into the benefits of music. Music can heal, just as David’s harp helped King Saul long ago.
I have spent my career providing medical care to the rural and urban poor, in the United States, Guatemala, Mozambique and other countries, as well as engaged in research on HIV and tuberculosis. Based on my experiences as a community health worker and Americorps volunteer in Rhode Island years ago, and my global work, I am a believer in social justice and antiracism in medicine. We must always remember that Black Lives Matter, immigrant lives matter, LGBTQ+ lives matter, people living with disabilities and mental illness matter – we all matter.
We are all interconnected. We need to refocus on science and pre K-12 education. COVID vaccine hesitancy demonstrates that we need improved science literacy throughout our society. Independent journalism regarding science, health, and the environment is important. Democracy, scientific freedom and freedom of speech are crucial.
My bachelor’s degree in Human Biology is from Brown University, and my medical degree is from the University of Pennsylvania. My postgraduate training is in internal medicine, from the University of California San Diego; in infectious diseases, from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and in public health, from the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently I practice as a staff physician at Upham’s Corner Health Center. I have presented at Grand Rounds about my experience and welcome the opportunity to speak about my journey toward self-acceptance. This path is sacred and healing, and as we look inward, we find compassion, creativity, and calm.
When not taking care of patients, improvising on the violin, or spending time with family, I can often be found hiking in Boston’s Arnold Arboretum. Under the tall trees is where I feel the most whole.
I am humbled by the beauty of life and am grateful to be alive.
Please contact me by email: lederer at gmail dot com