THRIVE Volume 5

WINTER 2022 | Vol. 5


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

What’s In This Issue:

  • The Chain of Human Dignity
  • Holiday Guide to Self-Care with Depression & Anxiety
  • Meet our newest team members!

Great News! 


Synergy Strive is now accepting Cigna/Evernorth Health Insurance in addition to Carefirst BCBS and Johns Hopkins EHP and USFHP.

HELP for the Holidays!


It’s that time of year again!  ‘Tis the season for greeting cards, light displays, family gatherings, holiday parties, and so much more.  Millions of Americans look forward to the holidays so much, they begin shopping and decorating long before December.  For others, the holidays can be excruciatingly long, lonely, and downright depressing.  Maybe they have painful memories of previous holidays.  Maybe they’ve recently lost a loved one.  Perhaps they don’t celebrate, and feel left out.  It can be an emotional time for all.


In this issue, we’ll look out how we can best care for ourselves while also trying to lift others around us, all while trying to navigate what can be an extremely stressful time for many.   We’ll also introduce you to three new talented clinicians who have joined Synergy Strive!  We hope the information in this newsletter helps you find some joy in the season.  Remember though:  your mental health, and those of your loved ones, comes first.  If you are struggling, or know someone who is struggling, please reach out for help.

Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!

The Chain of Human Dignity

Written by Steven M Gordon, PMHCNS/NP-BC


Chain of Human Dignity: Holidays of Hope

Holidays!! What does that mean in your heart, emotions, soul, and mental health? This is a time that can bring joy, love, connectedness, and nurturance for many as they celebrate faith and renewal. For many others, this season brings darkness, loneliness, anger, and despair.  My challenge is to restore HOPE in human connections and relationships. 

Consider the possibility of edifying, or nurturing, yourself while taking care of those around you who are in need or who may be hurting, lonely, sad or in despair. In the process, those with whom you share an act of kindness will give back to you through their own connectedness, love and joy. Helping others, making others smile, uplifting someone’s spirit all can edify ourselves, giving us a sense of purpose while activating others’ HOPE as well as our own. 

The Chain of Human Dignity has infinite links. Your link is balanced by internal stress and external stressors (work, family, etc.) which may be amplified by additional stressors during the holidays. It’s time to buy gifts, decorate the house, attend holiday parties, bake treats, coordinate celebrations, and send greetings.  Food and gift shopping may be extra stressful due to higher prices and smaller budgets.  Maybe the whole family is reuniting for the first time after the pandemic. How will everyone interact and celebrate with each other since the election?!  While the holidays can offer joy and togetherness, it can also come with a great deal of stress and anxiety.

Internal stress can become very destructive to not only us, but also to our families, as well as those we interact with on a daily basis. Internal stress can also create or exacerbate medical problems, making the holidays even more unpleasant. You may feel you have very little to give to others,  or are at your wit’s end. But remember, you are one link in the Chain of Human Dignity.  It only takes one smile, one kind word of encouragement, one good deed to light someone else’s internal light of hope, and then this light can be passed on and on.  This will ultimately give you a sense of peace if you allow your heart to be open to it. 

HOPE. We all have hope inside which energizes us to wake up every morning to start our day.  This hope ignites the flame of resiliency within us. Some of us during this holiday season have the ability to feel joy, laughter, love, connectedness, and nurturance. However, some are struggling, so this is how the Chain of Human Dignity works; passing our internal hope to another in order to fan their internal flame of hope.

The Chain of Human Dignity links us all together by our interactions day to day. The Chain of Human Dignity is about us giving a smile, encouragement, saying hello, offering a helping hand or uplifting compliments 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. 

Happy Holidays


Steve Gordon

Holiday Guide to Self-Care with Depression & Anxiety

written by Dr. Miriam Sperling, DNP, PMHNP-BC


The holiday season is often represented as a time of joy and celebration, but for some this time of year can also create stress and worry particularly for those with depression and anxiety. Between all the cooking, gift shopping, cleaning, and hosting, the endless list of to do’s can be especially overwhelming and leave one feeling exhausted. Getting through the season while not becoming depleted and managing one’s symptoms of depression and anxiety is a difficult balancing act. Maintaining your basic health needs and prioritizing yourself care is one way that can help you stay feeling mentally and emotionally stable during the holiday season so you can hopefully enjoy its delights! Here are some simple self-care tips and strategies you can use to help you stay on top of your mental and physical health. 

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep helps us regulate our bodies and rejuvenate our minds so it’s important to stick with your sleep routine to ensure you get enough sleep and avoid too many late nights. During the holidays we tend to forgo our usual schedules and stay up late spending time with friends or family catching up on quality time or binging shows and movies late into hours of the night. However, it’s best to maintain your usual sleep schedule so when you return to post-holiday mode you still feel your best.

2.  Eat Healthy & Stay Hydrated

The tasty holiday foods we prepare such as turkey, stuffing, ham, potatoes, cookies and pies are traditional and should be enjoyed this time of year. Let’s not forget though to balance our diets with other healthy options such as fresh fruits and veggie salads so that our bodies are properly fueled and receiving all the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally.  

Staying hydrated with water is also essential to help our bodies flush out toxins and regulate our digestive systems. Try passing on the heavily sweetened drinks such as soda and opt for water instead. Avoid or strictly moderate how much alcohol you drink. Many medications prescribed to treat depression and anxiety do not mix well with alcohol and can worsen your symptoms. Speak to your provider or local pharmacist for more information about your medications and alcohol consumption to ensure your safety. 


       3.  Be Active

Make attempts to fit in exercise when you are able. Weather permitting, even just a brisk walk outside is beneficial in helping release excess tension in our bodies and helps alleviate stress and anxiety. The fresh air can also be invigorating and help one clear their mind; be sure to dress warmly!


      4.  Maintain Your Personal Boundaries

 Getting together with family and friends for the holidays can be exciting but at times tense. Politely decline outings or invitations if you do not feel up to it and are maxed out on social stimulation. Be assertive but kind when it comes to managing your time and do not let others pressure you into uncomfortable social situations. Avoid intense political conversations or heated debates which create negative feelings and can exacerbate your depression or anxiety. 


      5.  Schedule “Me” Time

 We often hear that it’s the season of giving, yet we forget to give back to ourselves and meet our mental and emotional needs. Putting aside time for quiet rest and relaxation such as taking a long bath or hot shower at the end of day is not selfish; its self-care. It’s also important to reach out and seek help if your depression and anxiety symptoms worsen. If you feel an impending crisis do not hesitate to seek help or support.  In an emergency call 911. According to “Calling 988 will connect callers directly to the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline which encompasses all behavioral crisis services, to include all mental health and substance use (problems with drug and alcohol use).” Just a note about those you may know spending the holidays alone: If you know a family member, friend, or neighbor who is going to be alone this holiday season, sharing a warm greeting or checking in on them is certainly in the holiday spirit and can spread cheer. 

Dr Fatmata Binta Bah, DNP, PMHNP-BC

Dr. “Binta” Bah achieved her Doctorate in Nursing Practice specializing in Psychiatric Mental Health from the University of Maryland School of Nursing in May 2022. As part of her training, she was awarded the Behavioral Health Workforce Integration Support and Education Fellowship. In an effort to give back, Dr. Bah teaches as an adjunct faculty member of this prestigious medical program. Prior to specializing in psychiatry and behavioral health, she earned her MSN, BSN, and LPN in Family Practice nursing.
Dr. Bah chose to specialize in psychiatric medication management and therapy because she is passionate about erasing the stigma around mental illness through patient education and collaboration. She has over 9 years experience working as an inpatient psychiatric nurse and Nurse Team Leader at St Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C. In 2020, Dr. Bah served on the Performance Improvement Committee and was nominated for Employee of the Year.
Dr. Bah believes in providing care that is guided by respect and self-acceptance, by openly discussing stigmas, and by collaborating with patients to reach and regain optimal health. When she’s not working with patients or students, Dr. Bah is a busy mother of three and helps with her mother’s small business.

Dr. Christine Ro, DNP, PMHNP-BC

SS Christine
Dr. Christine Ro is a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She holds a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Salisbury University. She began her nursing career in an inpatient medical detox unit treating patients with substance use disorders. Since then, she’s gained additional experience in treating patients across the lifespan, including children and adolescents, with various mental health needs.
Dr. Ro prioritizes the development of a therapeutic relationship with her patients. During her post-graduate studies, she was chosen to participate in a Health Resources and Services Administration funded fellowship program that focused on providing multidisciplinary and culturally competent care for underserved communities. She believes this was an opportunity that highlighted the importance of enhancing the rapport between provider and patient by wholly understanding each patients’ unique needs. Dr. Ro strives to utilize her experience, education and expertise to provide evidence-based, quality care to meet the needs of her patients.

Stephanie Gillis, PMHNP-BC, MS-FNP

Stephanie Gillis headshot
Stephanie Rae Gillis is a Maryland licensed and registered Nurse Practitioner board certified in Psychiatry/Mental Health and Family Medicine. Stephanie graduated magna cum laude from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and earned her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, where she continued on as an adjunct clinical faculty instructor for the graduate and undergraduate nursing programs. She went on to complete a post-graduate psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner program at Maryville University as well as a Psychopharmacology Master Program through the Neuroscience Education Institute.
Stephanie’s goal is to provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based, empathic, and non-judgmental mental health care possible. Stephanie also provides supportive therapy for patients. She is an LGBTQ allied practitioner and treats patients ages 10 and older with depressive, anxiety, and mood disorders, ADHD, PTSD, and OCD.
When she’s not working, Stephanie loves spending time with her young daughter on outdoor adventures with their puppy, Violet.