FaLL 2022 | Vol. 4


Official newsletter of Synergy Strive Coaching & The Psychiatric Practice of Steven M. Gordon & Associates

What's In This Issue:

  • The Chain of Human Dignity
  • Back to School 2022:  Making Connections
  • Diagnosis & Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Meet our newest team members!

Great News! 


Synergy Strive is now accepting Cigna Health Insurance in addition to Carefirst and Johns Hopkins Employee Health Plans.

It's Fall, Y'all!


The end of summer and beginning of fall marks a significant transition for approximately 73 million Americans.  During August and September, nearly a quarter of the population goes "back to school."  For many American families, this means resuming an often hectic schedule of carpools, homework, sports, clubs, internships, and other extracurricular activities.  Even when parents and students are excited about the possibilities of a new school year, the transition can be overwhelming.  Add a pandemic, inflation, and a teacher shortage into the mix, and suddenly, everyone's stress levels are off the charts.


In this issue, we'll discuss the current emotional climate amongst school aged kids and teens, and how to help.  Synergy Strive owner, Steven Gordon, shares his thoughts on self-nurturing while struggling with external and internal stressors.  Dr. Amanda Eblin, DNP, PMHNP-BC, examines a commonly "self-misdiagnosed" psychiatric disorder that is actually rare and can be debilitating.  Finally, we'll introduce our TWO newest team members!


Synergy Strive wishes you a healthy and smooth transition into a productive and fulfilling fall!

The Chain of Human Dignity

Written by Steven M Gordon, PMHCNS/NP-BC


Chain of Human Dignity: Giving to Others when You have Nothing to Give


The kids are getting ready to go back to school, you are amping up at work, sports activities are getting more ready to rule your schedule and you have multiple other responsibilities, demands, and schedules are packed!  It’s the FALL!!  

Here's a concept: edifying or giving to yourself so you can take care of those around you; self nurturing.

The Chain of Human Dignity has infinite links, but your link begins with you, which is balanced by your internal stress as well as your external stressors. During this time of year the transition is very short from the summer of vacationing, sending the kids to camp, having a more relaxed work schedule as well as the kids not having a rigid schedule or routine, sleeping in and staying up late. 

Then one day you wake up, and everything completely changes!  You are fighting the kids to wake up, you're forcing them to eat breakfast, and getting them to school. At work, the deadlines suddenly appear, and the expectation to work late inevitably follows. You get a call from the school nurse, and you know how that goes. Your partner is not available, and the external stressors just keep going.  Don’t forget about homework, after school activities, sports, and wait - dinner, too?? It just keeps going. The external stressors continue and continue, and this constant external stress intensifies our internal stress. 

Internal stress can become very destructive to not only us, our family, those we interact with on a daily basis, but it can also create medical problems. Another secondary problem to internal stress is that we often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to handle internal stressors. When we are overwhelmed by external stressors, it is important for us to find coping mechanisms to help refocus our emotions with an anchor. Always remember:  we are our first link of the Chain of Human Dignity. 

What is an anchor? Some people use meditation as an anchor. Some people have a hobby as an anchor. Some people spend time with friends or exercise as an anchor. Some people find being a member of a church community as an anchor. Some people spend time in nature as an anchor. An anchor is a foundational activity we can all turn to that is something we find edifying, fulfilling, or comforting.  An anchor “grounds” us away from the external stressors, so we can be emotionally filled in order to handle all stressors life throws at us on a consistent basis. 

Sometimes stressors become so overwhelming that we need to seek out a therapist to help guide us back. The Chain of Human Dignity is about us giving a smile, encouragement, or uplifting compliments with one another in all of our interactions whether it’s with your child’s teacher, a school counselor, the checkout person at the grocery store, or even yourself.  We are ALL a part of the human connection. Remember, we can’t give to others unless we give to ourselves.

Diagnosis Digest:  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

written by Dr. Amanda Eblin, DNP, PMHNP-BC


Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, affects approximately 2-3% of the population. It is often characterized as an obsessive thought, followed by a compulsive behavior. These compulsions decompress internal pressure which often feels like anxiety, but can sometimes be much more serious in nature, yet relieving for those struggling with obsessive thoughts. 

Obsessions can be activated by intrusive thoughts, and are often unwanted in those diagnosed with OCD. The content of these thoughts can range from concerns regarding germs, thoughts of harming someone else or themselves, obsessive thoughts that are sexual in nature, or reccurring images that are disturbing in a nature. This is a limited list, and thoughts can vary in type, frequency, and intensity from person to person.

Many of us have probably joked or heard each other joke from time to time, “Oh that’s my OCD,” or if they are a perfectionist “I have OCD.”  This is most likely not the case. OCD is a proven genetically linked mental health issue that can be very life disrupting for those who have it. 

Those with OCD will try to stop the thoughts through mental behaviors such as ignoring them, suppressing them, neutralizing the thought with a different thought, or through repetitive behaviors called compulsions. Compulsions and mental behaviors to stop these thoughts can vary per individual, but can consist of counting, praying, checking, repetition of words or actions, picking, and wiping, just to name a few. Often these compulsions will affect relationships, work, school, and daily functioning. 

There are strong evidence-based treatment options for those struggling with OCD. The most common methods are through psychotherapy and psychopharmacology. One of the strongest psychotherapy treatment options for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are currently five FDA approved drugs for OCD, and these include: Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox and Anafranil.

If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is struggling with OCD symptoms, reach out to one of our providers today! Help is readily available to you and your family/friends!

Back to School 2022: Making Connections

written by Sherry Proctor

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As the last days of summer slowly morph into the early days of fall, we wistfully transition from relaxed schedules and routines and family vacations to the often hectic beginnings of another school year.  The start of any school year can be anxiety-inducing for students and parents alike, and given all that has transpired between the global pandemic and transitioning back to in-person learning, returning to school may be particularly challenging for many students this year.


In an effort to ease this transition, we thought it might be helpful to know what our clinicians have been seeing and hearing with children and adolescents related to both academic and social/emotional learning.  


Kristen Nagl, PMHNP-BC shared that many kids are feeling “disconnected” from their peers and adults.  Virtual learning kept many kids isolated at a time when they would normally learn so much from social interaction, and many have lost the ability to connect with friends.  Preteens and teenagers (11-18) are already prone to some of these struggles due to different rates of growth in the emotional and logical parts of the brain during adolescence.  Kristen also mentioned that kids and teens are feeling “judged” by their peers and other adults, and this sometimes causes further isolation and anxiety.  Additionally, returning to work in the office, supply chain/workforce issues, and rising inflation have increased parents’ stress levels, which in turn, can add to the stress and anxiety many kids are already experiencing returning to school.


So, how are these emotions presenting in kids and teens? Many parents are reaching out to our mental health providers because their children are experiencing behavioral issues inside and out of the classroom, anxiety, threats or instances of self-harm, self-isolation (staying in their rooms for long periods of time other than for sleeping), appetite issues (both increases and decreases), and somatic symptoms like headaches or stomaches that keep them home or in the nurse’s office.


When asked how parents can help mitigate some of these challenges, Kristen recommended spending some quality time with your children and teens, both as a family and individually.  Spending time free from stress, technology, and distractions just talking to and getting to know your child can provide some much needed respite from both their and your stressful day-to-day routines.  Try taking a walk or hike, making an arts and crafts project, cooking or baking, or simply sharing some ice cream.  “Quality” time need not be elaborate, planned, or lengthy, but it might be helpful to set some parameters and expectations to avoid conflicts (no screens, frequency, days/times that work best, etc.).  This time shows your child that you enjoy and value her company, giving her confidence in her interactions with others.


Parents can also help their child by contacting a Synergy Strive mental health provider if they suspect he or she is struggling with anxiety, depression, or notices significant changes in behavior, appetite, moods, and overall physical health.  Synergy Strive’s clinicians are trained in multiple methods of talk therapy, and to diagnose and treat patients with psychopharmacology when needed.


We wish all students, parents, staff, and teachers a wonderful and productive school year!

Dr. Miriam Sperling, DNP, PMHNP-BC

Dr. Miriam Sperling is a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse practitioner who holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Towson University and Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore. From the very beginning of her nursing career Dr. Sperling was passionate about mental health and began working within the community delivering care in an outpatient clinic for adults with substance use disorders. To further her exposure in mental health, she transitioned to working at Sheppard Pratt, an inpatient psychiatric hospital, where she spent five years caring for adults with a variety of mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.
During her graduate studies she participated in a Health Resources and Services Administration funded fellowship program where she was elected to spend one year focusing on delivering interprofessional mental health care with social workers and therapists in underserved and under-privileged communities. Dr. Sperling’s education, experiences, and trainings, have given her a broad background in serving the mental health needs of adults and has enhanced her capabilities as a clinician.
Dr. Sperling is a native resident of Maryland, and in her free time enjoys taking local trips around the Delmarva region with her husband and two children going to parks, museums, zoos, and aquariums.

Melissa Susini, Patient Services Manager

Melissa has 20 years of experience in the integrative medical field where she managed patients’ therapies as well as office operations including human resources, accounting, and marketing. She joined Synergy Strive in 2022 as the Patient Services Manager where she’ll leverage her knowledge and experience. When she’s not working, Melissa enjoys spending time with her 2 daughters, her dog Maisie, and her cat Lucy.

Hope Scope

Personal Perspectives on Mental Health


"Survival Tactics"

Written by a Synergy Strive patient

When I experienced a delusional manic episode at 26, I was faced with a decision. I had the choice of accepting my bipolar diagnosis and moving forward with treatment, or denying that anything was wrong and simply forcing myself to exist as an anxious, depressed, delusional mess until I died. That’s how it felt, at least. So I chose survival. Adaptation. Medication. Therapy. Guidance. Understanding. It wasn’t a hard decision.


To call my life since my diagnosis a roller coaster would be an understatement, but, when the pandemic hit, I noticed something. I had felt like I was in survival mode for years, just trying to be alive from day to day. Suddenly, everyone was right there with me. People were dying. People were scared. Things changed so quickly that people did not know what to do.


Masks. Social distancing Stay at home orders. Sanitation. Vaccines. Boosters. We were given answers and guidance. It wasn’t easy, though. It was confusing. There was conflicting information. There was misinformation. It was a lot. Too much. People wanted things to just go back to the way they were, but things didn’t.


I get upset. I’m an essential worker in a medical field. I have patients who downright refuse to accept that it is time for humanity to adapt. All they can focus on is returning to their old routines. They should be looking at life and it’s new challenges and asking how best to adjust.


It’s life or death. Survive.


We are the most adaptable species on Earth. We can do anything. This is a moment for all of us. A time for change. For improvement. It won’t get better if we stick to old traditions. We can’t long for the past. The old ways of the world are archaic and dated. We can be better for it, though. We can improve on the past as we move forward with life. We just need to keep living. Adapting. Surviving. No matter what. Choose the path that leads to another day.