Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Natasha Jeneen Thomas

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Natasha Thomas.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Natasha and I’m from Daytona Beach, Florida. I’ve been living in the metro Atlanta area for the past 11 years.

Cool beans. Are you employed outside of writing?

I am! I have worked as a psychiatrist for eleven years. I treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and psychotic disorders. But my specialty areas are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and peripartum mood and anxiety disorders. Those are disturbances in mood that happen during pregnancy or in the postpartum period.

Over the course of doing this work, I’ve learned the postpartum period is much longer than the six weeks women are usually taught to consider postpartum. I walk with women through their entire pregnancies and at least the first year of their baby’s life to make sure they adjust well and their mental health is supported.

I start treating people at age 15 and have patients in their eighties!

Wow! You are doing such important work.

Now, I just finished binge-watching this (I’m late to the party), so you know I gotta ask, with you being in Atlanta and in the medical space…

39588

…are you a fan of Married to Medicine, and have you met any of the women from the show?

So funny you asked about Married to Medicine! I’ve never met any of the ladies. But being a psychiatrist, I have met and share patients with Dr. Lunceford (Quad’s husband). He works at a local inpatient facility. So at times when patients aren’t doing well and have to be hospitalized, they’ve been under his care. During those times, he typically reaches out to me so we can collaborate on their outpatient treatment after their hospital discharge.

In addition, Dr. Damon Kimes (Dr. Heavenly’s husband) is an absolute joy to share patients with. He is extremely compassionate to the mental health needs of his patients that also have issues with pain management. Having the opportunity to collaborate with local docs is one of my favorite things about building a medical network here!

That is so cool! See, I knew I was watching that show for a reason, lol. And Chile, they fight like real sisters, and the shade!

37700

Any siblings Natasha?

I technically am an only child. I have a very close cousin and very close friend. They have been my “sister” and “brother” since I was two years old. They were both raised as only children, too. So, though I grew up without siblings at my home, I have never really felt alone.

That’s precious. Speaking of growing up, what was your childhood dream?

When I was six years old, I developed a strong interest in biology. And this came from reading the children’s encyclopedia series my parents ordered for me. The last book was a guide for parents to understand their children’s health. It was the most interesting part of the entire series to me. But interestingly, I decided in fourth grade that I would attend Yale Law School. I have no idea where that aspiration came from. That lasted a few years, but science just continued to interest me so much that I began to consider medicine around age twelve if memory serves me correctly. By the time I was getting ready to attend college, I started feeling the pull to write. My mother and father encouraged both – but medicine first!

I was a very daydreamy and quirky child. So, from that angle, I had dreamt of doing everything from finding Smurfs in the tree in my backyard to oddly wanting to become a maternity model in the JC Penney’s catalog. That’s the most bizarre realization I’ve ever had about my childhood dreams! Oh goodness.

Lol. That’s what we want to hear! We want you to dig deep. What’s your favorite color?

Green. Kelly green to be exact!

Nice! Favorite food?

I am a true seafood lover. Fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab – I mean, I could just go on and on. My favorite meal, altogether, would be white rice, with fish and collard greens. Interestingly, I was told that was the exact favorite meal of my grandfather, who passed away before I had the chance to meet him.

I love that about genetics. How we could inherit a trait from family outside of our mothers and fathers.

Family-Medicine-eBook-Cvr (2)

You mentioned the pull to write, so let’s go there. What genre do you write and why?

I write psychological suspense. I guess, with what I do for a living, it’s not all that mysterious why I have chosen that genre. I’m fascinated by the human mind. Absolutely. What happens to the psyche through one’s life story is incredible, and nothing intrigues me as much. Whether I’m reading, writing, or watching movies or TV, suspense and thrillers with a psychological component are always my favorites. I think we learn a lot about ourselves that we may not want to express when we consume thrillers and suspense. They give us an opportunity to look at our moral compasses and question what, if any, absolute truths we hold.

I love the education your are giving us right now. Do you blog? Does blogging help with writing?

I actually feel like it’s the reverse for me; writing helps me blog. I started a mental health blog called Hope Grove in 2018. It was inspired by the cool work I get to do with my patients, and many of the questions they ask me. I figured if they had these questions, others would as well. That’s especially true for those who, for whatever reason, do not have access to mental health care. And even though the questions drive my blog postings, sometimes I would feel it required a real push to finish a topic.

I have found that writing a post has flowed much easier since I’ve been working on my novel. I think that’s because I’ve been working with a different part of my brain, my imagination, and that tends to mobilize me in general. I also am an intermediate level Haitian Kreyol speaker. I have found my use of the language drastically improved since I’ve been writing my novel. It makes sense but I wasn’t expecting that to happen!

Why is writing important to you?

Oh, that’s a big question. Writing is my outlet. But it is also the way that I take all my life’s experiences and distill them down into bite-sized pieces that I can process and understand. Just like everyone else, I have pain, regrets, doubt, successes, joy – so many emotions to turn over and over in my head. Writing helps me do that in a healthy way. And to turn some of my life lessons into a story that benefits myself and my readers is a gift. The writing of others is also massively important to me. Through the work of greats like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Edwidge Danticat, and Nikki Giovanni, I started to see writing as a window and a healer. Can you imagine a world without it? I’d certainly rather not!

I love it.

In your own words, what is love?

Love is honesty – honesty that allows you to see yourself and grow into your highest potential.

Thank you, Natasha, for spending this time with us.We enjoyed you!


Natasha Thomas - Book Cover-083 (2)
Natasha Thomas, 2021

Natasha Jeneen Thomas is a Florida-born psychiatrist and psychological suspense writer. She has spent the past eleven years in private psychiatric practice exploring the individual and collective story and the power of perception. Witnessing life from the vantage point of the human psyche’s inner workings, Natasha sees the state of the world as a reflection of the stories we tell ourselves – and allow ourselves to believe.

Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science from Spelman College, studied medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and completed residency training in psychiatry at the University of Maryland and Sheppard & Enoch Pratt hospitals. In 2010, she moved to Metro Atlanta to work as an outpatient psychiatrist and has the continued honor of providing clinical care as owner & CEO of Hope Grove Psychiatry, PC. When she is not doctoring or writing, she enjoys her family, home, or corner of the couch.

Be Sure to Follow Natasha on Social Media!

Social Media Handles:
Facebook  – @natashajeneenthomasauthor
Instagram – @natashajeneenthomasauthor
Twitter – @JeneenAuthor
 

…and preorder her Psychological Suspense Thriller coming this fall!

 
Family-Medicine-eBook-Cvr (2)
 

About the Book:

Therese Hughes-Baldwin arrives in Boca Raton with hopes of joining the most prestigious dance company in South Florida. But instead of finding ballet success, she suffers an embarrassing heartbreak and takes a boring barista job. She also inadvertently gains the attention of the woman who stalks her on every train ride she takes.

When Therese’s favorite café customer, Dr. Dara Clemens, offers an escape to her beachside mansion, Therese can hardly say “yes” quickly enough. With her suitcase in hand and best friend Phoebe by her side, she heads to the Clemens’ oceanfront getaway. The home is gorgeous. The beach is, too. So is the stranger Therese gives her number to at the bar.

But there are voices in the vents. And there are people who stare. And Therese faces a sinking feeling that something is hauntingly off about Phoebe’s behavior. As Therese questions the motivations of those around her, she opens the door to a reality she never thought she’d find.


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Dr. George Cleveland Hall

This week, I spoke briefly on Dr. George Cleveland Hall, for whom the Hall Public Library in Chicago is named. I talked about the Hall Branch as the place I got my first library card and all the historical things I didn’t know that happened there. To read this post, click here.

Today, we are digging a little deeper into this man’s background, Dr. George Cleveland Hall.

As I dug into his story, I found Hall was a pretty big deal, and I am surprised there isn’t more information on him because this man was phenomenal and a significant influence on Chicago.

Dr. George Cleveland Hall was born on February 22, 1864. Not only was Cleveland a doctor, but he was also head of the Urban League and “one of the five founding members and the first president of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), currently known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).” (William Smither)

In 1886, Hall graduated from Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University and studied medicine at Bennett Medical College and in 1896 graduated from Harvey Medical College.

Cleveland was a surgeon at Provident Hospital, the first private hospital in the state of Illinois to provide internship opportunities for black physicians, the first to establish a school of nursing to train black women, one of the first black hospitals to offer postgraduate courses and residences for black physicians, and the first black hospital approved by the American College of Surgeons for full graduate training in surgery.

Okay, Chicago!

George Cleveland Hall
Public domain image

In 1911 Cleveland founded the Cook County Physicians’ Association of Chicago, the organization of black doctors in the city.

But Dr. Hall’s significant influence on Chicago was not just about his expertise in the medical field. He is actually most known for his civic duty and grassroots work. In 1915, he joined Carter G. Woodson and others in the founding of the ASALH at the Wabash YMCA in historical Bronzeville.

Just wow.

I cannot believe I have not heard of Dr. Hall before. His contribution to black history and medicine is groundbreaking. He is right up there with Carter G. Woodson and then some. Hall also had a close relationship with Booker T. Washington.

Cleveland received two honorary degrees, one from Lincoln University for Doctors of Laws and another from Howard for Doctor of Science. He became the first black Chicagoan appointed to the board of directors for the Chicago Public Library.

Dr. George Cleveland Hall died at sixty-six in 1930.

On January 18, 1932, Chicago city officials dedicated the George Cleveland Hall Library to Dr. Hall, the first full-service library on the city’s Southside.

This is the same library where I received my first library card.

Yass.

For More Black History Fun Facts, click here.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Dr. Sonnie Wellington Hereford III

Its late but Friday is not over people! Well, not for some of us anyway so we’re going to squeeze this article on in.

Today, we have a special fun fact for you. My maiden name is Hereford and I have a mother, brother, and sisters who still carry this last name. In fact, I’ve met very few people with this name I was not related to. Unlike Johnson, Brown or Jackson (no shade to those with these last names), Hereford is not as common. So when I came across this man online, I was noticeably interested. My mother says that my grandfather, her father, is from Alabama and that Sonnie looks like her dad. This has prompted me to do more research on the man and to plan a visit to Alabama to discover more. It’s possible we had a Civil Rights Activist in the family and didn’t know it. In 1961, Hereford was one of the plaintiffs suing the Huntsville school system to end segregation, and in 1963, his son, Sonnie Hereford IV, was one of the first four black children to enroll in a previously all-white public school in Alabama. But, let’s start from the beginning.

herefords_then_and_now2

Dr. Sonnie Wellington Hereford III was born on January 7, 1931, in Huntsville, Alabama. The family had no running water or electricity and Sonnie had to walk seven miles to school. The school, next to a garbage dump, didn’t have a library or cafeteria, much like most black schools at the time. Hereford was a farmer but developed a love for education. Even though his school had no library, the teachers were invested in him as they were in all their students. Though lacking in resources, black schooling at the time was exceptional, involving a strong community spirit and discipline. Teachers took on more than just a role as a teacher but they were also mothers, fathers, and mentors. For this, Sonnie received a good education and decided he wanted to become a doctor.

Sonnie graduated first in his class and applied to the University of Alabama for their pre-med program. However, Sonnie’s application was denied because of his color so he enrolled at Alabama A&M University instead. Hereford graduated from A&M in 2 years and went on to receive his medical degree from Meharry Medical College. He began his career at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville Alabama and went on to play important roles in the struggle for Civil Rights. Not only was he a doctor but he also helped to aid men and women attacked during the Selma to Montgomery march, welcomed Martin Luther King Jr., to the city in 1962 and helped to integrate the city at various establishments. In fact, school desegregation is what Sonnie became most known for.

Sonnie IV was among four children chosen to desegregate schooling in Alabama and on September 3, 1963, Hereford took his six-year-old son to school but they could not get in. Instead, a mob waited for them and none of the other children were admitted to the other schools either. Sonnie didn’t give up, he returned but the school was locked down and guarded every day with armed troops. Eventually, Hereford contacted the federal judge and over time an order was issued to desegregate the schools in Huntsville. On Monday, September 9, 1963, Hereford successfully enrolled his son at Fifth Avenue School making Sonnie Hereford IV the first African-American student admitted to a previously all-white public school in Alabama. That following week, Sunday, September 15, the church bombing occurred in Birmingham killing four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Sonnie Hereford continued to go on to inspire change and even co-authored a book, Beside the Troubled Waters: A Black Doctor Remembers Life, Medicine, and Civil Rights in an Alabama Town.

Sonnie died at 85 years old, two weeks before the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Sonnie Hereford Elementary School in Huntsville Alabama, named for him by the Huntsville board of education. The school ranges from Pre-K to sixth grade.

Screenshot (77)

Learn more about Sonnie at the informative video below!

https://www.facebook.com/drsonniehereford/

Huntsville Revisited – Dr. Sonnie Wellington Hereford III

Hundreds attend funeral for Dr. Sonnie Hereford III, Huntsville civil rights pioneer

Huntsville City Schools breaks ground on new Sonnie Hereford Elementary