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Why I’m Thankful for My Psychiatrist, Even After Ending Our Sessions

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Dear psychiatrist,

It was an ordinary appointment, nothing special at all… until the end, when you said you had something to tell me. Then I got scared, not because I didn’t know what was coming, but because I did. I knew what you were going to say before you said it.

“I’ve been given a lot more administrative responsibilities, so I have made the difficult decision to end my outpatient practice.”

And that was it. You told me how proud of me you were, how far I’ve come. What a pleasure it’s been to work with me. And that was it. I think I thanked you. Held back my tears and said goodbye.

I cried a good bit on my way home that night, but we had company at the house and I had to pull myself together. No sense in crying over a lost psychiatrist. It was bound to happen sometime, right? Why not now?

But it’s not nothing. I can minimize it as much as I want, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a loss, a major loss in my life. Because you were important. Very important. And I don’t think you know.

I don’t think you know how many times you saved my life. Literally. Saved. My. Life. I am eternally grateful for all you did. All the time you sacrificed. All the phone calls you took on my behalf. All the times you got me the care I needed. All the times you saved my life. I will never forget.

I don’t think you know how much I valued your opinion even when I didn’t listen, when I made poor decisions, when I defied my treatment team. I valued your opinion. A lot.

I don’t think you know how well you knew me. You knew what I needed before I did. You always looked out for my best interest, even when I was hell-bent on self-sabotage. You cared. You took an interest in me, not my case. Me, as a person. And that’s saying a lot. You see a ton of patients, yet you took the time to know me. And actually care. Invest. That means something to me.

I don’t think you know that I recognized your belief in me. You never gave up on me, even when you thought I might be a hopeless case. (Let’s not lie to ourselves… there was a point in time when you thought it.) Even then, you still saw to it that I was cared for. That I was given what I needed to be as successful as possible. And look what I did with it. Look what I did with that chance.

I was a broken person when I came under your care. A victim of abuse, pregnant, underweight, lost, suicidal, confused, dissociating, having flashbacks, nightmares, self-harming… I was a mess. But you took me on your already heavy caseload and began caring for me.

I want to take this opportunity to tell you what an amazing staff you have. Inpatient, PHP, IOP, outpatient… your team rocks. They genuinely care about every patient who walks through your doors and gives them the care they need and deserve. You’re the best because you work with the best, and I want you to know that.

But even though I got super stellar care, I was still an utterly hopeless case. That’s when I left your practice to go to a residential treatment program called Mercy Ministries (now called Mercy Multiplied). It is there that I began to heal. I met Jesus face to face and the program helped me stitch the pieces of my life back together. Since graduating the program, I haven’t had a flashback, I haven’t self-harmed and I haven’t plotted my own death.

Miracle? I think it’s safe to say yes. I am a miracle.

You’ve watched me go from a hopeless case who would “never be a productive member of society” to a real-life miracle. I got my associates degree, have a full-time job that I’m good at, I’m a solid mother and I’m going back to school in just a few weeks. Who would have thought? Who would have thought that something like this could have happened? I sure didn’t.

But it wasn’t all roses. After graduating from Mercy, I began struggling with my eating disorder again. The depression and anxiety started getting pretty bad. I knew I needed help, so I came back. I was worried you wouldn’t want to take me on again. That your caseload would be full, or you wouldn’t want to see me, but I was wrong. You took me back, and this time, we were a team.

I don’t think you know how much it meant that you didn’t hold my past against me. That you took me for who I was at that point in time — not my past self, my current self. You saw me. You took my history into consideration, but you did not hold it against me.   never felt judged again. I felt like an equal.

I know I wasn’t always easy, or compliant. I like to think I kept you on your toes. Didn’t want you to get bored or anything, you know? But you never got exasperated with me and you never gave up. You kept pushing me to do the next right thing. You kept saying you believed in me because you had seen what I was capable of. When I didn’t believe — when I didn’t see — you did.

I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything. For saving my life. For caring about me. For believing in me. For ensuring that I received the best care possible. For your time. For your energy. For your tinkering with my meds. For your problem-solving skills. For making time for me. For making me feel important. Thank you.

I also want to say that I will miss you. This is a huge loss for me. You have played such a huge role in my journey towards recovery and it’s still hard to picture life without you. Even after a month and a half, it’s still hard.

And I imagine it must be hard for you, as well. For someone who cares as much as you do about your patients, it must be difficult to let it all go. To say goodbye. I don’t think you’ll ever stop caring, and that has to be tough.

But it’s time for the next steps in your career, and I consider myself lucky to have been your patient. Having you as my psychiatrist was truly a blessing in my life and I’m not sure you can ever be replaced. I am eternally grateful for all you’ve done for me and my family.

Wishing you all the best,


Follow this journey on The Realistic Optimist

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 reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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Getty Images photo via splendens

Originally published: February 28, 2018
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