Ever since I wrote about how going for therapy was my biggest gift to myself*, I’ve met with a few medical students to talk about the topic of mental health. Many of them were worried about their ability to make it through med school with their illness. Many were worried about the viability of a career in medicine with depression.
When I was a student, there was a rumour that students with mental illness would be excluded from the course. We were informed by our senior students, and they by theirs, and thus the rumour was propagated. Continue reading “Can I Be A Depressed Doctor?”→
Every few months, the mental health of doctors/medical students makes it to popular media. It seems like these spikes in attention occur, and everyone shouts YOU SHOULD CARE FOR YOUR DOCTORS! and then we write blogs and we tweet and we make youtube videos and eventually we go back to work, and nothing has changed.
If you’re a regular here, you know how much I care about mental health, not just in the medical sense (although I do LOVE psychiatry!) but also in terms of the way it is presented in popular culture. Including books. Books count as popular culture, right?!
I must admit that before Finding Audrey I had never read a book featuring any of the anxiety spectrum disorders (I think…). Weird I guess. But I’ve had a good number of patients with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder (with and without agoraphobia) so at least I’m not entirely unschooled.
I’m writing to ask you please to not do that thing.
You know what I’m talking about.
It’s a Saturday morning, or the middle of the night on an overnight call, or whatever: it is a time of day that nobody wants to be working. And we are working. Maybe we are working on the same service, maybe I don’t know you from a bar of soap.
I am sitting in the doctors’ room writing notes for the latest patient that arrived in our care. You come in and sit next to me, looking for results on the computer or making notes for your own patient or maybe just drinking a coffee.
You see the design of my name badge so you know that if everything goes well, I will graduate by the end of the year and be one of your colleagues.
Then: you let out a long sigh and say loudly, “You know, it’s not too late to walk away and change your career.”
Two little sisters had an extended stay in the small rural hospital. They were the stars of the Paeds ward. The little one was absolutely shining and brightened up the whole ward. I spent ward rounds with her in my arms, on my hips, and eventually falling asleep on my back. She was loved. The older one was a regular little mother-figure. No nurse was allowed to clean or feed her sister: SHE did it.
They were no longer ill, but had lost their parents in quick succession, followed by neglect and abuse by the relatives who took over their care. So, as they lived in a region with a single over-worked social worker, they were staying at hospital until placement could be arranged.
Edit: I’ve been informed that the psychiatry portrayed in this book actually is a good representation of the way it is practiced in North America… which leaves me a little stumped… But means that some of my criticism below is ungrounded.
Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine. One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward. Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind. Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help. A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past. And now . . . everyone thinks I’m insane. But I know he’s real, and I know he needs me. Do you believe me?
For Mental Health Awareness Month I wanted to make a list of books about mental health. I was done with a rough draft when I realised I didn’t like it: I hadn’t read that many YA about mental health and some pretty voracious readers are sure to post some fantastic lists.
What I do want to talk about is how YA portrays mental health issues, even when it isn’t necessarily focused on mental health.