Sarah Tulk is a family physician in Hamilton, Ontario
Despite earnestly advocating for physician mental health, my own story has remained cloaked in secrecy. As a medical student, I felt far too junior to risk such a revelation. I watched as stigma, perpetuated by the hidden curriculum, kept my peers from seeking mental health care. Still, I kept my head tucked safely in the sand, and swore to break my silence in residency. However, as a resident the fear of jeopardizing job prospects maintained my mutism. I vowed to speak up when I was staff. Unfortunately, early in my staff career my advocacy efforts were smothered by fierce judgment and harsh consequences. I wholeheartedly renewed my vows with the ostrich approach and reconciled to start talking about mental health when I was protected by more seniority. I hated the secrecy and hypocrisy, but at least I was safe. Then I heard of another resident suicide. Then a medical student. Another resident. A staff physician. ...continue reading →
Hilary Drake is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at the University of British Columbia
On my first day in a new family practice, my preceptor asked me to take a history from a patient who had listed their “reason for visit” as a sore throat. I stood in the hallway and made a mental checklist of questions to ask and observations to make. Have they had any sick contacts? Does their voice sound hoarse?
When I opened the door and asked them if they could tell me what brought them in today, they responded as expected: “My throat is sore.” When I asked what they thought might be causing the pain, they unwrapped a scarf from their neck and stated, “I think it’s because the noose didn’t work.” At that point they started crying.
They had tried to come in before. They had recognized their pain and wanted to reach out for help, but they were unable to out of fear that their physician would not believe the pain if they could not see it.
Laura Kim is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of British Columbia
I’m a 3rd year medical student.
But I’m not just a medical student. Before August 2015, I had a life that was full and rich and medicine-free. Today, my life is no longer medicine-free — but I refuse to allow it to be any less full or rich.
I’m not just a med student.
I’m a pediatrics gunner, a student politics junkie, and a francophone-wannabe.
I’m a dancer, a baker, and a knitter.
I’m a Harry Potter-fanatic, a Sav Blanc expert, and a nap-connoisseuse.
I’m a loving girlfriend, an overbearing older sister, and a fierce friend.
I’m loyal, compassionate, caring, sarcastic, and (often) a hot mess.
I’m a poor parallel parker, a clumsy clerk, and a top-notch procrastinator. ...continue reading →
Earlier this year I took my 13 year old son out to lunch to talk about mental health. It just happened that Son #2 and my husband were out for the day and I had a rare opportunity to be alone with Son #1. I didn’t say ‘I’m going to take you out to lunch so that we can talk about mental health.’ I just reckoned that the odds of him listening to me would be higher if a) we were somewhere removed from the all-consuming ‘call of the Playstation’, and b) there was a favorite food to both fill his mouth and free his hands from electronic device. So out to eat we went.
Domhnall MacAuleyis a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK.
I have just read your book - or, should I say, it completely captivated me. I couldn’t put it down. What a compelling life story. When you lectured about depression at those Masterclass lectures I chaired years ago I was so impressed with your grasp of the topic, your understanding of the difficulties facing family doctors, and your overall approach to managing the condition. You had such a clear understanding and appreciation of depression and the difficulties of treating it in practice. And, you were so assured, confident, on top of your subject. I had chaired many similar sessions but yours were outstanding. There wasn’t even the slightest hint that your understanding extended so far into your personal experience. ...continue reading →
“I don’t want these anymore,” I say, avoiding my doctor’s gaze as I reach into my purse and retrieve the pill bottle, half empty. Or half full, depending on how you look at it. I place it on her desk. She looks from the bottle to me, her expression curious, no doubt wondering where to go from here. She expected to do my Pap test today, perhaps give me a flu shot, but did not anticipate this: a discussion about my antidepressants.
She asks me to explain. She asks whether the meds have helped with my mood. “Oh yes, ...continue reading →
I was 16 years old when Sadness and Joy first went AWOL in my brain for a protracted period. I was an angry, scared, self-loathing teenager. Typical, many might say, but the anger and fear ran deeper and longer than my teenaged psyche could endure. I started taking anti-depressants when I was in university, and I have alternated between diagnoses of anxiety and depression for much of my adult life. I am fighting hard to keep the black dogs at bay. Finally, at the age of 36, I feel like I am making some head way.
Inside Outbrings to life five of the small voices in our heads, each of which represents a universal emotion: Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. (Surprise is absent.) We learn how these five emotions interact with each other in 11-year-old Riley’s head to keep her safe, drive her passions, connect with others and form her personality. ...continue reading →
Amelia Curran is a Juno Award winning singer-songwriter from St. John's, Newfoundland. Amelia has toured extensively throughout North America, the UK, Europe and Australia.
I used to think suicide was cowardly. I was angry with my friends who committed such an act. I avoided those who had tried to end their lives but lived. Then in 2004, with the death of my friend and roommate RM, I obediently cut her obituary out of the paper to put with the rest and discovered some were missing and that I had lost count of my dead friends.
I had lost count. I was twenty-six at the time and I had lost count. I was living through a plague that was taking people from me and I had not bothered to notice. ...continue reading →
The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression. — Brian Sutton-Smith
A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.― Roald Dahl, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator
What happens when we play? What changes do we notice in our bodies? When we play a game with others, how do we experience those players? What physical or physiological responses to the actions or emotions involved do we notice? What is play? According to Jill Vialet, author of the book 'Recess Rules', play is like pornography: you know it when you see it. The dictionary definition includes words like “aimless” and “frivolous.” Bernard Suits described playing a game as a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles. But we shouldn’t be so dismissive of play and its benefits and rewards.
People who play are more trusting; they are better self-regulators and can resolve conflict more effectively. Groups who play together have healthier interactions ...continue reading →