Physician, heal thyself

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 26 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:490

When I discovered my husband had been having an affair for the past two years, I physically felt as if I was falling through the ground with all the feelings of disbelief, horror, and despair. I then realised that all the symptoms that patients had described to me were true—the tightening of the chest when the telephone rang, the palpitations when my husband was late home, and the nausea that made me retch in the morning and lose half a stone in weight.

I felt like some kind of automaton, as I used to arrive at the surgery with no memory of the journey apart from a vague recollection of hearing Melodrama sung by Andrea Bocelli from the car CD player while tears were streaming down my face.

Suddenly, work took on a new meaning. Although my partners offered me time off, I could not bear the loneliness of the house, and, after all, “work is therapeutic.” At least, that is what I used to tell my patients in similar circumstances. As time went on, I …

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