Doctors share their tweet-sized mental health stories
Dr Ashleigh Witt is a Melbourne based doctor who is training to be a geriatrician and writes about her experiences on her blog. Follow her on twitter. If you work in healthcare and have a blog topic you would like to write for doctorportal, please get in touch.
A recent discussion through a series of tweets started something wonderful.
In response to our dear twitter friend @ERGoddessMD sharing her brave mental health story here, a discussion about doctor’s mental health began. @iGas2 and myself (with some creative help from @_thezol) dreamed up a hashtag doctors could use to share their tweet-length mental health struggles & triumphs. The hashtag #MH4Docs (mental health for doctors) was thus born.
I didn’t think we’d get this large response – from medical students, to registrars, to consultants in all fields of medicine, from all around the world.
This is the reminder you needed that (despite how it may seem) we all struggle. Whether it’s with that nagging social anxiety, those antidepressants no one knows about, the struggle to keep your head above water during exam time, or how much you need cycling to stay sane. Despite the fact that we might look like perfect, type A, overachievers; doctors are human too.
Here is a growing selection of #MH4Docs confessions with names changed to job titles.
140 characters is nothing, but oh God, it’s everything.
What’s your mental health story in 140 characters or less? #MH4Docs
[Paediatrician] Eating disorder for over a decade; 3 yrs of intensive OP psychiatry input & SSRIs; feeling my brain work again now. #MH4Docs
[Medical Resident] Not many people know that I take mirtazapine, so I can sleep, eat & feel joy in life. I’ve thought all day about whether to tweet. #MH4Docs
[Surgical Registrar] Increasing anxiety in med school + miscarriage = adjustment disorder with 6 mo on antidepressants. After, felt more “me” again #MH4Docs
[GP] 20 years sobriety #MH4Docs
[Medical Registrar] Treatment resistant depression, relapsed because of bullying at work. Lifelong antidepressants & ok with that. #MH4Docs
[ED Consultant] Once spent three days as a voluntary patient. Lithium side effects suck. Things get better #MH4Docs
[ICU Consultant] Depression with severe psychomotor retardation. Losing the ability to speak without great effort is a scary place to be #MH4Docs
[Cardiologist] History of depression controlled well till bullying episodes now getting back to normal spreading the word @beyondblue #MH4docs
[Geriatrician] I fought with depression and anxiety but running, yoga, healthy eating and my family have helped me to stop fighting #MH4Docs
[Med student] Started SSRI + psychotherapy this year for longstanding anxiety. Solid decision, a work in progress. #MH4Docs
[Med student] Battled with anxiety and depression since yr 11. Wouldn’t still be in med without my counsellor, dog, friends, family! #MH4Docs
[Intern] Developed Situational Depression this year due to bullying at work. On SSRIs. Still struggling. Taking it one day at a time. #MH4Docs
[Anaesthetics Registrar] My bestie died in April. He was many things; the best doctor, brilliant, committed, overworked, unsupported, depressed. #MH4Docs
[Medical Student] struggled since teens, attempts at therapy for 4 yrs, finally found right psych this yr & now better than ever #MH4Docs
[Medical Student] Am open re bipolar diagnosis. I was reported as student to med school Professional Behaviour Committee. Was meant supportively, but felt like Typhoid Mary #MH4Docs
[Medical Student] CBT/psychotherapy for mild social anxiety. Took courage to take the first step but my psychologist was wonderful #MH4Docs
[Emergency Consultant] Some days are better than others. Supportive hubby & 4 girls that make my heart swell keep me going #MH4Docs
[Medical Student] Born obsessive compulsive. Battled anorexia. Became happy #MH4Docs
[Emergency Registrar] it’s a rocky, lonely road filled with bouts of anxiety and insomnia #MH4Docs
[Medical Student] Struggled through year 1 and 2 of med with depression and anxiety. It sucked. But learnt to look after my wellbeing = worth it #MH4Docs
[Emergency Consultant] I’m the ultimate cliche: Emergency doc with ADHD. On meds I’m more calm, patient, and focused. #MH4docs
[Geriatrics Registrar] Depression triggered by shift work…factored into my choice of specialty. Was labelled “unreliable” & “emotional” RMO by med admin
[Surgical Registrar] I don’t do very well in winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder means I’m a whole lot better in Australia. #MH4Docs
[Physician] Coming out! Depression since 17. No Rx until 32 because fear of stigma. Still a rocky rd but#MH4Docs ++important.
[Physician] Anxiety for 25yrs +. Some days better than others. Soothed by walking, baking, reading, time with family & friends. #MH4Docs
[ENT surgeon] “Am I good enough? Have I got what it takes to operate on infants & walk with cancer patients at end of lives?” #MH4Docs
[ED registrar] my #MH4Docs story is a long standing eating disorder often triggered by periods of huge anxiety
[Resident] Posting this terrifies me…but recovery from bulimia is one of my proudest achievements. I wish I felt it was ok to talk about it #MH4Docs
[Resident] Antidepressants before Med school, counselling and CBT within Med school, now I look after other’s mental health! #MH4Docs
[Resident] I took a year out of med school, had days off work sick for mental health reasons. Not end of the world & nothing to be ashamed of! #MH4Docs
[GP] Antenatal &Postnatal Depression, Bereavement Reaction&Social Anxiety. 18mos of SSRIs (now finished) then 18mos of therapy (ongoing) #MH4Docs
[Consultant] Depression is devastating & disabling but thankfully I found recovery is possible. It is not a weakness & no-one should be ashamed #MH4Docs
[Medical student] Depression, anxiety, admission. Last one the scariest bc #stigma but I’m well & happy now, abt to graduate! #MH4Docs
[GP] Suicide survivor during med school. On antidepressant meds since 25 yo. Compassionate doctor#MH4Docs
[GP] As stress mounted from work, the arguments increased at home. The game changer in our marriage has been talking to a professional #MH4Docs
Please, keep sharing.
This blog was previously published on Dr Ashleigh Witt’s blog and has been republished with permission. If you work in healthcare and have a blog topic you would like to write for doctorportal, please get in touch.
Other doctorportal blogs
- Oxytocin may benefit some children with autism, but it’s not the next wonder drug
- ‘As an Aboriginal doctor, you bring a unique approach to medicine’
- Sharing the experience of grief from a doctor’s perspective