Dear Doctor: We Need to Talk About How You Treat Me and My Mental Illness

Dear Doctor,

Yes, you. The one who didn’t take the time to read my file. Yes, I know it’s big but it can tell you a lot about me.

Dear doctor, why was I not worth the time for you to read the letter from my psychiatrist, your colleague, who entrusted you with my care? You barely had the chance to look at me, let alone assess my mental health and conduct a risk assessment. When I tried to discuss my treatment plan and concerns with you, you waived them off and moved on. You took a list of my medications and questioned them, making me feel guilty for needing them, making me feel ashamed and questioned my honesty when giving you my history.

Five minutes was all the time you had for me — not the hour my psychiatrist gives to me every week. You didn’t care to hear how my depression is getting worse. You weren’t interested in how I was coping with my new medications. You didn’t see me at all. Once again, my mental illness made me invisible. In those five minutes, you made me feel worse than when I walked in. I am always asked to guarantee my safety, to reach out when things get tough and to trust those I seek help from. How am I supposed to place my trust, my life, in your hands when you aren’t even going through the paces?

It’s doctors like you who make me lose faith in our health system. It’s doctors like you who, when I am having the darkest of days, I will not reach out to for help.

Dear doctor, please step back and take a look at the patient in front of you. Make the time to really hear them and make them feel worthwhile.

Dear Doctor — if you could only take a walk in my shoes for a day, maybe you would see me differently. Maybe you would see me as a person, not just a diagnosis. I am a person too.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via fizkes

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