a big new feature and how to cope with seasonal affective disorder

The big story is that I have a big story out!

Jeffrey Young, who called himself the “Rock Doc” is a Tennessee nurse practitioner whom federal prosecutors accuse of overprescribing opioids, threatening his enemies, and, most troublingly, exchanging prescription pills for sexual favors. He did all this while trying to pitch a reality show about his “rock-and-roll” lifestyle.

The most surprising part? Many of his former patients stick by him, saying that despite his antics, he was the best option they had for medical care. The reason why speaks volumes about the problems with American healthcare today.

I urge you to read it. Journalism die-hards might appreciate some of the backstory: To report this piece, I traveled to Jackson, Tennessee, where the Rock Doc was based. I interviewed people around town, former employees and business partners, former patients, friends, and enemies. But many people wouldn’t speak to me, so I relied on thousands of pages of court testimony and depositions to learn more about Young’s case. I also documented his many Facebook posts, Periscope videos, and other social media detritus before it disappeared off the internet. It was a huge undertaking, and I’m very grateful to my publication for putting their resources behind it.

The story has already been featured on Longform.org, so put it in your Pocket or whatever other app you use to read your long articles. Oh, and subscribe to The Atlantic because spending years on a story is really expensive!


The less big news is that I have seasonal affective disorder. This means that in the winter months my brain doesn’t produce enough serotonin, causing my mood to fall off a cliff like a pitiful little unsuspecting coyote. For those of you who don’t know what this is like, here’s a rundown of a recent Saturday:

I woke up crying, then cried for a couple hours. I watched a movie to take my mind off the crying, and it worked! I felt well enough to take … a nap. I woke up from the nap and went to the grocery store. When I came home, my boyfriend and I read part of a book meant to improve our relationship, but instead that made me cry more. I did the elliptical for 45 minutes, which wore me out enough to fall asleep again.

Yay! Such a fun day.

But, good news, I have discovered a way to recover a simulacrum of sanity when you feel like the wind is personally insulting you and your fingers and toes are going numb inside your house.

Like most people on the East Coast, I live in a tiny, too-expensive house that gets virtually no sunlight because it was built before people knew how to make normal-sized windows. However, like most people on the East Coast, I also have a storm door, which is a glass door that goes in front of our door to protect (?) our door (?) from storms (?) Honestly I have no idea why this is a better idea for a house feature than, say, a mudroom or built-in lights, neither of which we have, but we have it. Our door is protected!

So, what I’ve been doing is cranking the heat up, then, for the hour a day that we get sun on the front of our house in the winter, I open up the front door and sit behind the storm door in a camping chair. Essentially, it feels like you’re in a greenhouse — it’s hot, the sun is shining on you, you’re basking in it, and you *kind of* can forget that it’s Awful Season.

The only downside is that you are sitting directly behind your front door in a chair, facing your stoop. You will terrify the Amazon guy. You will terrify the mail man. You will cause the neighbors to question your sanity. But sun time is worth it.

(P.S. This has nothing to do with the book I realize, but the book is filled with more life hacks like this.)


I haven’t done much media lately so instead I’ll recommend a favorite podcast: Song Exploder, in which artists talk about how they made their favorite songs. It’s good even if you don’t care about music, I swear! And check out the Netflix show!

My favorite so far is probably the Young Folks episode of the podcast. ‘Till next time, young folks