If you don’t have patience talking and listening all day, then the field of psychiatry is not for you. Not anyone can become a psychiatrist and be good at it; it requires patience, determination, excellent listening skills and lots of empathy. Lots and lots of empathy! As any psychiatrist knows very well, the unpredictability of patients is something that they must be prepared for on a daily basis, even when you think that patients are doing well.
In the field of psychiatry, you must expect anything; anything less and you are in for a surprise. What many people don’t understand is that it’s not necessarily the patients’ fault when they become agitated, disruptive or physically assaultive; unless sociopathy is at play, mental illness is often the driver behind their madness. When mental illness takes control of you, you almost become a passenger wrestling to take back control of the wheel that the drunk driver is joyfully playing with.
But how do you help such patients when most of the time they cannot even help themselves? Patience and lots of it. And believe it or not, psychotropic medications work very well on mental pathologies; they just require the right dose and length of time in the patient’s system. Psychiatric medications aren’t something that you take for a month and discard with the hope of being “fixed.”
The stigma of psychiatric medications is still prevalent, but thankfully it’s decreasing. People are starting to realize that these medications work; they can fix your anxiety, depression and psychosis! People are also realizing that there should be no shame in taking them; there is nothing wrong with having a mental illness.
Sure it doesn’t feel good having one and no one enjoys suffering from depression or hallucinations, but the more that we normalize mental illness, the easier it will become for the world to be treated. People will no longer have to remain in hiding because they are too ashamed to get treated by a doctor.
As physicians, all we can do is continue treating our patients with empathy, professionalism and dignity. And as human beings, all we can do is continue to spread acceptance, love and hope into the world.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)