The Beginning of the End

I sat bawling on the orange carpet of the school age children’s unit, screaming “I can’t do it, I can’t do it!” The denim-clad form of M., the program director, stood over me, chanting “You have to do it.  You have to do it.”  My vision was blurred, and not just from the tears; my head swam, and I couldn’t keep my balance.

The morning after a sleepless night of an on-call intern.  A night filled with spinal taps, I.V. starts, sepsis workups, flying trips to the delivery room to save babies in trouble.  And now it was time for morning rounds, and I couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t do it.  My brain wouldn’t work.  My body rebelled.  I couldn’t do it.

M. tried a different tactic.  “Don’t you care about your patients?  Don’t you care?”

There was nothing to say but “No, not now.  Right now I don’t care.  I don’t care right now!”

“Well you have to care!”

I struggled to my feet, wobbling, and staggered over to the nurses’ station to get my charts.  I had at least been able to make pre-rounds at 5 am, gathering all the data from the night: patients’ temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, fluid and solid intake, urine and stool output, any problems or procedures overnight, social issues, discharge planning.  And a progress note from the night.  I dumped these into the chart rack, and the day shift interns and residents, along with M. who was on ward attending physician duty, pushed the chart rack cart around the ward, stopping outside each patient’s room.  My role then was to present all the data and initiate discussion on the progress of the patient, and propose the direction of treatment.  I managed to get through that ritual by the skin of my teeth, then staggered to the house officers’ lounge and collapsed, even though my work day was not over until sign-out rounds at 5 pm.

M. came and found me, and gave me a sharp lecture on the subject of my failings as an intern, and how I would be on probation for the next three months.  I had nothing to say.

I think that M.’s attitude was motivated more by desperation than meanness.  Our program of 21 interns was down by three, leaving us with only 18.  One had contracted hepatitis; one had died in a car crash; and one was on indefinite leave because he had accidentally administered an overdose of a chemotherapy drug to a child who then died.  So instead of taking every third night call like we were supposed to, we were taking every other night call, and sometimes “every-every” night call.

I didn’t know at that time that I had Bipolar Illness.  I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder as an undergraduate, and had had a bad bout with it in medical school.  And I was seeing a psychiatrist during my internship, who prescribed a med to take at bedtime, since after call I was so revved-up I couldn’t sleep.   But since I could only take the medicine every other day at best, it didn’t do much, and as you can imagine, having undiagnosed Bipolar, an antidepressant not only was not going to do much, but it very well could have aggravated my symptoms.

I’ve always wondered why they never noticed that I was sick and needed help.  Instead they treated me like a bad girl, like a problem child.  I was sent to the department chairman to be lectured on my work ethic.  I sat there stony-faced, taking my licks.  I vowed to try harder, to do better, to shut up and take it like a big girl.  I did.  But every night when I came home (the nights I got to come home, that is), I walked into the house and straight to the bed, and hid under the covers, unable to sleep, unable to function.

My poor husband did what he knew to do best: he cooked me sumptuous dinners, which I could not touch for the nausea that accompanied the exhaustion.  My small son clamored for my attention, and I begged my husband to do something with him so that he would leave me alone.

I’m not saying that it wasn’t hard for the rest of the interns and residents.  Everyone had their over-the-top moments.  There was one guy who volunteered for helicopter transport call, something I was envious about because I thought it would be exciting.  But J. would come on the ward after doing transports all night after working the day before, and have violent tantrums, throwing charts and yelling at the nurses.  No one disciplined him.  He was a hero.

At last my marriage gave out and we separated.  That was actually a relief, because at least I didn’t have to try to juggle residency and marriage.  I had tried to help my husband acclimate to the unique demands of a house officer’s husband, but he wasn’t interested in therapy or in joining the house officers’ husbands’ support group, and I ended up feeling like I had two children to take care of.  So when he moved out, I had only one child and that was a relief.

So at the end of my residency I was given an award:  “Most Improved Resident.”  I was kind of proud of it, but mostly bitter, because that “improvement” had cost me so much.   And I still didn’t know what was wrong with me; only that I never felt quite right.  Suppressing my feelings had made me into an automaton.  My family was destroyed.  I suffered from physical illness: I was diagnosed with Lupus, I ruptured five discs in my spine, had emergency surgery on my neck, and wore a molded plastic brace that extended from my armpits to my groin, 23 3/4 hours a day; and still I willed myself to finish the program.  Two of my colleagues left because it was too strenuous: one bailed out into dermatology, and one, who knew she suffered from Major Depressive Disorder, went into a Psychiatry program and thrived there.  But I had tunnel vision, and now being a single mother, I just couldn’t do anything but put one foot in front of the other.

That residency was the beginning of my career as a pediatrician, but it was also the beginning of the end of that same career.

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112 Comments

  1. Wow. You have a compelling story here. Thanks for sharing it.

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  2. You may have felt weak at the time, but you obviously possess an insurmountable amount of strength. Thank you for sharing. I will definitely read more of your blog. Jiltaroo

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    • Thank you, dear. I consider every day a triumph. Every morning when I look in the mirror and I’m still on the planet, I say, well, old thing, you’ve made it through another night.

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    • Thanks, Jiltaroo. I appreciate your reading and commenting. More to come!

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  3. Great story and great writing. I look forward to reading more.

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  4. Very nice article…..Made me feel sad. Keep writing you are unique !

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  5. I agree. You have told your story in a compelling way. You know, quite aside from bipolarity, some teaching hospitals are dysfunctional workplaces full of a-holes where interns are gathered (and abused) because management is too cheap to pay for a proper level of staffing. You’ve obviously done well with what you had to work from.

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    • Well, there’s a lot more to that story. I think I might be telling it in dribs and drabs here soon…. And thank you for the compliment!

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  6. That is a HUGE amount of pressure to cope with! I really respect you for even trying to do that!

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    • Thank you! It’s one of the measuring sticks by which I know I’m definitely crazy. Who but a crazy person would ever do that???

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  7. This sounds inhumane, if you ask me. Must have been a really hard period. I have worked with residents, and know it can be hard, but nothing as bad as what you talk about. To have an undiagnosed psychiatric condition in addition; Phew! You can probably rest for five years now, without feeling bad about it at all:)

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    • Right on. It IS inhumane. And its purpose is to teach doctors-in-training that they are above “normal” humans–that they are “superhumans” who don’t need the needs of “lay people”: sleep, food, social contact, home life, health–all that ‘superfluous” stuff that we don’t need because we “made the cut.” I’ve been resting for over ten years, and I miss it terribly. Now that’s really sick!

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      • Well, superhumans are stuff for children’s fairytales, or adults nightmares. There is something very wrong with the system if this is thought to be the way of doing it: Breaking things down, so the fittest survive ? Most likely the people not able
        To feel anything or who care too
        Much, extremes that can both be good or bad, depending on the circumstances. Sound like you need to make a safe place in your head, where you rest ever now and then:)

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        • You’ve hit the nail squarely on the head, Mirrorgirl. It’s a lot like training for the Navy Seals, where the character of the soldier is completely disassembled and the challenge, if he can stand it that far, is to manage to put the pieces back together again. The only problem: he’s no longer who he was. He’s an automaton who still thinks on his feet, but otherwise he’s a widget. If I had had that safe place I would have survived, but the mental illness was too much in combination with the hazing. Thanks for your insightful comment!

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  8. It felt slightly wrong to click the “like” button on this post because that period in your life must have been horrendously tough and ‘unlikeable’. But your compelling, powerful writing deserves to be liked. I’m sorry you went through such a terrible time and I hope things are better for you now.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

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    • I know what you mean. I wish there was a “don’t like!” button, not because we don’t like the piece, but because the piece is about something we definitely don’t like. Thanks for your empathy, and thanks for the congrats! All the best to you!

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  9. I am so impressed with your courage and moved by your story. Sometimes a diagnosis is a freeing thing, if only because at last, someone understands. What you have achieved is amazing under any circumstances!

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    • ((blush)) Thank you, Lisa. The diagnosis did explain a lot of things, but what I have achieved….well, that’s a story remaining to be told. Stay tuned.

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  10. It never ceases to fascinate me how much pain and abuse people will agree to based on the established judgement of others. We, myself included, seem to settle for a few crumbs of accolade and prestige after a long trial of absolute torture and agony that we know damned well serves neither us nor the people we hope to help. The medical system–particularly its method of education–is so FUBAR, it’s basically medieval. We will (hopefully) look back on it in a hundred years and shake our heads sadly, mumbling, “How did human beings ever tolerate that kind of crap?” I could fill ten WordPress sites with proof, both mine and others’, including scientists’ and doctors’ professional observations and experiences. The system produces so much stress, the medical staff involved end up needing as much treatment as their patients. That’s a pretty slick revenue generating business, come to think of it.

    I only set foot in a medical building if I’m gushing blood. The last time I was gushing blood thanks to a mountain bike, asphalt, and gravity, I ended up having to settle the nerves of the Attending Physician with humor just to get him off the ledge and back to reality so he could treat me. He was so strung out with stress, he barely knew I was there. I laughed, told him dirty jokes, clapped him lightly on the shoulder to clue him in that a person was in the room with him, and let him know it was okay because I was on to him: I knew he was human, not a robot. I did all this with a concussion and flaky vision, a stage II shoulder separation, and bruised ribs so painful I though my lungs would implode. But after ten minutes of hard work, I finally had a doctor treating me, not a zombie two centimeters from the edge. From the relief and surprise on his face, I can guarantee you I was the ONLY person to do that for him all year. That’s effed up.

    We need more voices shouting about this and rattling golden doors.

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    • Wow. What a great comment. I had to read it through several times because you told so much truth in it. Kudos to you for going the distance to wake your doctor up! Sounds like you’re just the person to do it, having been injured taking a serious tumble on (or off) a mountain bike. I hope the former doc-o-matic remembers you and wakes up from time to time.

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  11. I am amazed that you held on as long as you did. Unless one is affected with the disease, it is impossible to convey the agony and isolation one feels.
    Thanks for writing about your journey. I wish you the very best. When it is dark, please remember that others walk in shoes, similar. We do our best with that which we are given and at times it may feel as if we have failed. We are momentarily sidelined, although we feel forever doomed. Surely no life is ever in jest.
    Peace along your path is wished for you. Again, thank you.

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    • Thank you for your kind words. I only held on for as long as I did because I am a very stubborn person, and I have a morbid fear of failure. My sense of duty often outweighs my common sense, and then there was the stigma to deal with: mental illness was not permitted.

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      • I couldn’t write about my mental illness until recently, also. I did so, in hopes that it would help others. Stigma kills a persons damaged soul, as if it has not already suffered enough.
        If you wish to read my post it can be archived on my site. It’s the May 31st, 2013 post, titled, “Etched upon my heart”. http://www.coffeegrounded.wordpress.com

        I wish you the very best. Your post is an inspiration.
        Margie

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  12. well i had a similar problem with my PTSD i kept going and going till i almost completely broke down. i was so on edge i put 6 people on the floor in the last year and was constantly getting in verbal altercations. i finally decided it was no different than any other military problem. so i layed out a goal and a plan to get there. kept it in my pocket on a 3×5 card and referred to it often if it wasn’t an action leading to the goal i didn’t do it. i can truly appreciate the feeling of just cant do it anymore. stop by im sure we can relate on many topics

    http://animatus.org/

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    • I just read your post “Why I do what I did” and I am totally in love. You’re an amazing guy, a hero in my eyes. Yes, you have PTSD, sounds like you got it bad. But I’m blown away by the way you are managing it. You’re an inspiration and I hope lots of people go and read your website. Be well and take good care.

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  13. What a story! Now that you made Freshly Pressed, this must have brought some happiness to you, right?

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    • Thank you! Yes, Freshly Pressed is an honor and it does make me happy. Most of all it gives me incentive to keep writing and sharing my stories. I hope that in sharing my stories I might help someone else, someone who could relate to them, and find some peace in knowing they’re not the only one.

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing! I also battle daily with my mental illness (bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts) while trying to be the best practicing Christrian that I can be. It is so difficult and I feel like giving up all the time. It is wonderful to know that there are others out there who know what I am going through. Thank you again!

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    • You’re welcome, and welcome to my little corner of the “Mentals” blogosphere. You are sincerely invited to come and share your struggles. Here you will find a warm and welcoming community of people who struggle with mental illness just like you and I. For me this community and its supportiveness has made a huge difference in how I feel and my level of function. Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. Well written and compelling. I am a person with bipolar……………..but I’m strange (aren’t we all). I never had ANY symptoms until I was 42 —- seriously. I have done well overall – one bout in a hospital. I need to write about that. I was so inspired by the people I met there and in an outpatient program. I have it so easy compared to them. I try to be out there with my illness. However, I’m getting divorced and my husband – soon ex…………………….was using my bipolar and anxiety to try to push me over the edge – seriously. He failed. I signed up to get updates on my email regarding your blog. I hope that works.

    Here I am known as Sherlock1955 ………….my blog is about an unreal phenomenon……that is real and my husband got me stuck smack dab in the middle of it. Ah well, life is NOT boring. Thank you!

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    • Thank you. Sounds like you got hit hard, but have a wonderful attitude. I’m so sorry your husband is playing head-games. He’ll get his–they always do. Looking forward to reading your blog, sounds very interesting!

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  16. First of all, Laura – thank you for sharing this. So many things that you have said here ring true for me, although I can’t begin to imagine how difficult life and circumstances must have been and most probably still are for you. I am only starting to come to grips with this mental illness, and it has put life into serious perspective for me, but in very painful ways. It feels like the beginning of the end, but I am hopeful that it will become the beginning of another beginning too. I wish that for you too. Best wishes.

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    • Thank you so much, Nadia, for your kind wishes and sharing a bit of your story. It is indeed the end of one era of one’s life, and the beginning of another. It can be a rollercoaster, a real struggle, but as one friend of mine wryly says, “It builds character.” I wish you an easy journey.

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  17. I hope you are okay now?

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    • Well, I would’t go so far as to say that, but I’m working on it. I’ve built a different kind of life for myself, mostly around writing. My memoir is 320 pages long so far! Thanks for asking and be well!

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  18. Thank you for so honest story. It was so familiar to me because I too have the mental diagnosis. While reading your eloquent report I recognized myself despite all differences between us. You wrote straightly (without hiding under the metaphors) and that was like the healing to me in some sense. I would like you would check my site. Dare to hope that would be the mutual and the fruitful joy through the comments. So welcome to http://arthiker.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/eloquent-silence-of-tomas-karkalas/

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  19. First of all, congrats on your successes :). I was also diagnosed initially with major depression (17 at the time) and spent seven year in and out of hospitals— it was only after my first manic episode at twenty years old that I was re-diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’ve been on more medications than I can remember, and I finally found a combo that works for me (Seroquel, Zoloft, and Lamictal). It was only after being hospitalized six years ago that I decided to make a commitment towards getting better; slowly but surely, I improved and haven’t been “locked up” since then! I credit my recovery to being on a proper medication regimen, going to therapy, attending a psychosocial day program (clubhouse model), and setting/achieving goals such as employment and going to school. It took me eleven years of hard work and starting out with one class at a time, but I earned my associate’s degree in criminal justice and now I’m nearly finished with my bachelor’s degree at a senior college— and I definitely plan on taking the GRE and going to graduate school. I think that our struggles in life make us stronger in the future. I wish you all good things!

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    • Wow, your story is really amazing! You’ve come such a long way, in a relatively short time. I’m sure that you’re going to help a lot of people in your career. I wish you great success and good health always!

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  20. Your a very brave woman to have share this with all of us and I am sure you just inspired someone to act as you and share !
    Be well 🙂

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    • Thank you so much! I hope we can all come together and inspire one another to keep reaching for the light, even when it seems really dark inside.

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  21. Thank you for sharing your powerful and important story! Beautifully told and moving. I look forward to more…

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  22. I feel extremely sorry for you. Your story is touching.

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  23. I applaud you …and one step at a time is all it takes

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  24. Holy mackerel! I can’t help but feel like you’re fortunate to have survived that stressful period. I look forward to reading more.

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  25. Thank you for this

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  26. great post! what did you do to remedy the bipolar disorder?

    i was only diagnosed early this year and have been suffering for about 8 years now… it has been a rough road…

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    • Thank you! Ah yes, bipolar. You don’t remedy it. You dance with it. I’ve been dancing with it for about fifty years now. It doesn’t go away, so you have to learn to tune in to yourself and pay very close attention. You need a really good psychiatrist, a great therapist, a good social support system, deal with any addictions, decide what to do about toxic people in your environment, surround yourself with positive energy and beauty. That’s all I can think of right now. Oh, and have a list of phone numbers tacked up somewhere, people to call if you start feeling out-of-control. And get involved with communities of mental health bloggers like Canvas of the Minds. There are some badges on my blog for connecting with mental health bloggers, so just click on them. It’s been very helpful for me. Take good care and be really well!

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      • Can you expand on your experience with toxic people in your environment and positive energy? i quit a job not too long ago that took me to a breaking point bc there was so much toxicity…

        how do you mediate for toxic people? how do you deal with them in a workplace rather than casual environments?

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  27. Hey. I just stopped by your blog because I have a huge interest in mental health. I’m a nursing student and dealt with many mentally ill patients, including bipolar disorder. The remedies you mentioned above are phenominal, and although easier said than done sometimes, you’re doing such a great job. Thank you for sharing that story, I can’t wait to read more.

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    • Thank you! I wish you great success in your career. Nurses make all the difference! There is no remedy better than kindness, and a nurse has the opportunity to heal with kindness, more than anyone else. Be well and take good care of yourself!

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  28. I’ve got bipolar, but manageable, at least IMO. I think (for myself) that it came down to me not being hard on myself & things in my personal life get done when they get done. The hard part is living and dealing with other folks like bosses, bills, or things that have due dates. Sometimes I wonder if this change has brought about more anger into my life, i.e. that I can or can’t do something at a specific time, makes me mad.
    Thanks for the information & congrats on being freshly pressed!!!

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    • Great that you’re able to manage your BP. You’re right, the things that are not under your direct control (like bosses) create stressors that can stretch your ability to cope. But going out into nature with a camera–now THAT’s a great coping mechanism, isn’t it??? You’re welcome and thanks! Oh, BTW, during Morel season I can be found carrying a small frying pan, a bit of oil, a couple of eggs, and a camp stove in my daypack….nothing better than a FRESH Morel omelette! And sauteed with white wine they’re divine…don’t get me started on Morels, I’ll write a book LOL

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  29. You have so much strength and courage I struggle with mental illness but like you just put one foot in front of the other.

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    • Thank you. I really don’t have so much strength and courage. Wait a minute: maybe it takes strength and courage to just keep putting one foot in front of the other? To get through the next day, hour, minute, second, nanosecond?

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  30. Hello, I wandered into your blog by searching “The Newly Pressed” section of wordpress and I’m glad I found it. I always search suicide, depression, grief, or loss because those are the tags I use in my blog. I think I will try mental illness next and maybe I’ll find some good blogs like this.

    The reason I have such tags is because I started a blog about the loss of my 23 year old daughter 4-11-13 to suicide. (started the blog in May). She was just starting her 3rd year of medical school at Wake Forest School of Medicine in NC. She never once in her life showed depression to me or her friends her entire life. (except she mentioned being depressed once to her boyfriend the week before she died but he thought we knew. We didn’t). She was a bright shining star and she was a super achiever all her life. Made As all throughout her school years and accomplished so many things. Not only that, she was a great person and the most wonderful daughter anyone could ask for. She had always wanted to be a doctor and was doing well in med school. She only talked about good things in med school. Anyway, we were stunned at what happened because we knew nothing of her being depressed. She left us a suicide note that told us she had been depressed all her life but didn’t tell us to protect us from it. I can only imagine the isolation she had in keeping something like that a secret. We are absolutely devastated beyond words and we will never be the same again. My life essentially stopped when she died. The only way I can cope is to write about it and I hope you will visit my site.

    The reason I comment here is that I don’t know if my daughter was bi-polar (she showed no signs) or depressed (she hid her signs) and she was a medical student so your story resonated with me thinking of what you had in common, med school and mental illness. I’m glad you found help (though I’ve not read that part yet, but assume you have). I wish my daughter had sought help. I would have done anything for her.

    Good luck to you and thank you for this blog.
    Rhonda Elkins

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    • Dear Rhonda, I am so so sorry. That is the worst thing that could happen to any parent. Your poor daughter must have been in such agonizing pain, and feeling that she couldn’t tell anyone, she was in a double bind. Your grief is so fresh, I’m amazed you’re writing about it. That’s an incredibly healthy thing to do. I will definitely visit your blog.

      Your story is one that should be shared as widely as possible. It shows in huge red letters what stigma does. If our society was not so stigmatizing against anyone with any kind of mental health issue, so many wonderful lives would be saved. It’s just that the images that kids are fed about depression, by the media and by “kid culture,” teach them that depression is for “losers.” So the kids respond by achieving more and more and showing themselves and everybody else what a bright star they are, so that nobody will know what darkness lies beneath the surface. And they ARE bright stars. That’s part of the awful tragedy. The kids who don’t get into drinking and drugs and misbehavior, who rise straight to the top, and then….what heartbreak. Sending you hugs….let’s stay in touch, can we?

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      • Oh my gosh, you’ve hit the nail on so many heads more than anyone I’ve connected with! Yes, I do believe with all my heart that she didn’t tell anyone she was depressed due to the stigma of it. She was used to success and was probably scared to tell anyone because people may have thought less of her, and she could not have that. She had to have been scared to tell us too because we thought she was perfect. I feel exactly like you do and was getting ready to enter an entry to my blog entitled “Why can’t we just have something good” (or something like that) that talks of the shining stars that are not on drugs, are not dealers, who are not thieves who try to be something with their life, and sometimes only to suffer something like this and end tragically. I may still write about it. I write alot as you may see from my blog because I am consumed with grief. I never pushed my daughter to do anything, she was driven, but I feel she didn’t want us to think less of her by admitting she was depressed. We would not have thought less of her. I too suffer from depression, but unlike her I sought help. We have even talked about it many times, but she never admitted her problem. Stigma. That’s the culprit. I believe she would be here now if she had not been scared of the stigma. She must have also been scared of what it would do to her education. Yes, let’s definitely stay in touch. Thank you so much for commenting back to me.

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        • Whew, I’m glad I wasn’t off the mark. I always worry about saying the wrong thing, especially when someone is in such pain as you are. This might be the wrong time to ask, but I’ve got a new project in the works, interviewing people who have been affected by mental illness and its effects as a result of stigma. Would you consider being interviewed? It’s a written question-and-answer format.

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  31. You should be very proud of what you accomplished! In the midst of everything you pulled through, and wrote an excellent account. I fell into a bout of depression in my last career, and no one understood how it was affecting me. They would rather have shipped me off and not dealt with this, than work with me to become the best person possible. But through pain and suffering will come success! Best wishes!

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    • Thank you! That’s a very telling remark: “through pain and suffering will come success.” It reminds me of the story of Job in the Bible. I’ve always found it a very difficult story to read. But it shows us that if we stubbornly refuse to let suffering overcome us, we will eventually surface into the light. I have a hard time remembering that. Thanks for reminding me.

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  32. I just recently was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder last January. And yet even my doctor asked me if I thought it was bipolar. Well how would I know? But I do find I am able to relate and admire your strength to share your story. Your sharing will inspire others to research and get the professional help they need. Thank you.

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    • One thing that you can and should do is to have a comprehensive battery of psychological testing, which will help to arrive at a real diagnosis, rather than guessing. It made all the difference for me. And if your psychiatrist will not order this for you, fire him/her and get one who will.

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  33. “I’ve always wondered why they never noticed that I was sick and needed help. Instead they treated me like a bad girl, like a problem child.” I wonder the same thing about my family. I’m nothing but a problem to them. 😥 Sorry to hear you’re struggling.

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    • I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope your family wakes up one day very soon to see what a treasure they have. In the meantime, if you can, surround yourself with people who love and value you. Do you have any animals?

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  34. I’m picking up what you’re putting down, though I haven’t had anywhere near as hard a time or as many challenges as you. I took a break from medicine not only because of the situations you describe, but the lack of meaning that for me, often comes with med. I felt I was losing everything I liked about myself and in return, the level of job satisfaction or feeling that you’re “changing a life” is pretty low in that acute care kind of medicine.

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    • Hah, another doc-o-matic. Welcome to the nuthatch! Yah, the “treat-em-and-street-em” kind of medicine isn’t very satisfying in the developing relationships department, but I love the ER because it’s kind of like eating popcorn. Oh, I know, that’s a terrible attitude. And I did my share of primary care and loved it. It’s the administrators I got in trouble with, because of their damned stupid policies: ten patients, twelve patients an hour in an office setting? Are you shittin’ me? and then, in pediatrics, some kid comes in for a cold and you see the burn marks, the belt marks, the signs of sexual abuse, and **poof** there goes the afternoon schedule…and of course you don’t care about that, because you’re the doctor and you care about the patient, not the bottom line, but you still get hauled onto the carpet for that, and that’s when I want a hand grenade. Oops, I’m ranting again. Sorry. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, but be careful you’re not out of practice for more than 24 months straight or they won’t let you back in. I found that out the hard way. Volunteer at a clinic half a day a week. I’m locked out now, and I hate not practicing. Oh well, now I have time to write….

      Reply
      • I read that whole post nodding. If you want to hear about how bad I am at dealing with administration, check out my post “Betty vs the State” – it’s about that very thing, trying to get back in to med after a break! Talk about being punished for stepping off the grid! And I agree it can be worth it to be a doctor not allowed to practise because of the time you get to write!

        Reply
        • Oh dear, you too? I’d like to start a Maverick Doctors Clinic. No appointments, no fees, walk in only, no insurance….I keep a license for that exact purpose. I’d like to shove it up their nose. The establishment, that is.

          Reply
            • Recently died at age 104, a woman ped who had a clinic in South Carolina, little building, people came in and took a number, no receptionist, no nurse, and when they left they put money in a jar, whatever they could afford. I met her when she was 102. She practiced till the day she died. No malpractice insurance, no hospital “privileges,” just good ol’ fashioned country doctor. When she was young (in her 80’s) she made house calls but cut back when she hit 95 or so. She was my hero. If I hadn’t got sick I would follow in her footsteps.

              Reply
              • Unbelievable story, I can’t even imagine it taking place, especially in our litigious nowadays…

                Reply
                • I think it could be done, especially in certain “libertarian” parts of our country. Plus she lived behind her clinic in a little old house, no mansion for sure! Old Studebaker from the ’50’s (that she no longer drove!), no signs of wealth whatsoever. If anybody had sued her she would have lost what she had just in lawyer fees, but nobody did.

                  Reply
  35. Oh and did I tell you she gave birth to five children, at home, on her own with no help? And carried them to work on her back.

    Reply
    • Did you get the chance to interview this woman? Tell the story!

      Reply
      • Oh, the wonderful doctor woman. No, I just ran into her “by chance” (I don’t believe that things happen by chance: they are all meaningful) in a country club restaurant where I was having lunch with a friend. She was at the next table and I just about fainted. I went over and told her that she was my hero, and she got very flustered. She was obviously a very humble woman. There is a newspaper article about her, if only I could remember her name. I’ll try googling 104 year old pediatrician and see what I get.

        Reply
  36. I hope to hear the rest of this story 🙂

    Reply
  37. Gosh this sounds so familiar. I’m surprised it took so long to get my diagnosis as well. I’m still climbing to the top of the mountain. I’m not near done with my treatments.

    Reply
  38. Thanks for sharing. Our friend’s son is enduring the same stress in his residency. It makes me greatly appreciate those who chose to go into medicine — the people who are there in our greatest hour of need. Just yesterday our friend told us her son received a thank you card and how uplifting it was to him. It never occurred to me to do that. Too often I am critical of doctors instead of thanking them for all they went through to be there to help me. On a recent doctor visit I put this into practice. I verbally thanked the medical student observing my doctor for all his work. He just looked at me with a blank stare and never said another word. It made me wonder just how rare the words “thank you” might be in the medical profession.

    Reply
    • That was very sweet of you. Medical students don’t get many thank-yous, and they also live in fear of their attending physician.

      I got a lot of “Thank-yous” so I feel very fortunate. Thanking your doctor can make the difference between a “blah” day and a great one! I’m glad you brought this up.

      Reply
  39. Reblogged this on Reader's Direct and commented:
    nice blog..

    Reply
  40. I have to give you all congratulations. I am diagnosed as bipolar myself and I know that before my medications I couldn’t even hold a job as a waitress. And I still struggled since. So many people with mental illness can’t even manage a marginal existence yet you have graduated from college and were working in a very demanding career. Married and with a child no less! Some day I hope to be so functional. LOL. I look forward to reading more of your story with mental illness. Its so important. For anyone purveying stories of mental illness mine can be found at http://madprophetess.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • Hi Prophetess, love the handle! I think many of us are really on that category, if only the world would listen to our special brains and quit categorizing us as abnormal. OK, so maybe we can’t function in a neurotypical world. That doesn’t mean we don’t have value. We often have supranormal talents and abilities that don’t fit on, or are obscured by our painful symptoms. Keep on keepin’ on, dear Prophetess. I’m going to keep track of you. You’re welcome here any time.

      Reply
  41. Reblogged this on My Blog.

    Reply
  42. Loved your writing…trying to learn about it all for my daughter.

    Reply
  1. Freshly Riffed 40: Pretty Sure I Won’t Be Coming In Today | A VERY STRANGE PLACE

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