Personal Views

Why can't I admit that I am unwell?

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7361.449 (Published 24 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:449

During the past four years I have worked as a full time doctor. I have completed a one year diploma course, trained in two new specialties, and presently have three different clinical roles. I have listened to and counselled many patients, worked with many colleagues, and have a reputation for being efficient, capable, and versatile. However, also during this time, unknown to anyone except my close family, I have had an extremely severe depressive illness.

I have made two serious attempts on my life, which have left me with permanent physical sequelae. I have fought off an attempt to section me under the Mental Health Act, and I have taken a battery of antidepressant/antipsychotic drugs that left me desperately tired and sick. Despite all this, I have remained at work.

I have managed by becoming a professional automaton

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I am and have been too ill to stop. I have a chronic suicidal pain condition, which has been linked with a type of post-traumatic stress syndrome. The main feature of this condition is an …

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