Here’s a brief story from a few years ago. Ok, a couple of decades ago. Anyway, I was a student [intern] at a fairly renowned psychiatric hospital and the chief of the psychiatry division, a rather charismatic and bright fellow, was taking us on rounds. All of the sudden, out of nowhere comes this raging patient who parks his face right in front of the chief’s. He starts shouting, “how come you won’t tell me the secret? How come you told John and he’s better now and getting out? How come you won’t let me know the secret? What’s the secret to getting better? What’s the secret, tell me.”

Here’s a little background on myself at this point to put this in perspective. First off, since childhood I always had the impression I would be “told more about something” or let in on “the family secret” when I was older. You know the drill. So, my immediate flashback had to do with the notion that there was always some secret, some magical answer, drug, formula, whatever, that would be revealed to me “one day.” Then, when you become an accountant they bring you into a room full of accountants and tell you the accountant secret, or you finish law school and they tell you about the secret handshake, or you pass your flight test and they tell you the secret pilot code. Got it? Ok, back to the story.

Now the chief of psychiatry, without moving so much as a muscle or batting an eye lash asks the patient, so you want to know the secret, the secret to mental health, the secret to getting better?” Meanwhile us interns are soiling our underwear about now. “Yes”, screams the patient, “tell me, tell me.” Without hesitation, the chief replies, “ok, you want to know the truth, the secret?” Again, yes, tell me, please tell me the secret.” The chief looks directly in his eyes and says - “hard work.”

To me this was so profound. Why? Because like most of us who are predisposed to some form of an addiction or compulsive behavior somehow believe there is a quick fix, answer, remedy, solution to what ails us. Maybe we think it will be this new drug, this new pill, this new diet, this new relationship, this new therapist, and on and on we go. It wasn’t until several years later that I came to realize just how right this teacher was. Fact is he was talking to all of us. If you really want to now the secret and you’re ready to learn the truth, then be prepared to do the work. As the saying goes, “faith moves mountains but be sure and bring a shovel.”

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Lerner is the founder and executive director of the Milestones in Recovery Eating Disorders Program located in Cooper City, Florida. A graduate of Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Lerner is a licensed and board certified clinical psychologist who has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders since 1980. He has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs that include The NPR Report, 20/20, Discovery Health, and ABC’s Nightline as well authored several publications related to eating disorders in the professional literature, national magazines, and newspapers including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Miami Herald, Orlando and Hollywood Sun Sentinels. An active member of the professional community here in South Florida since finishing his training, Dr. Lerner makes his home in Davie with his wife Michele and daughters Janelle and Danielle and their dog, Reggie.