A few weeks ago, we shared an article written by formation community member, Dr. Sara R. Ahronheim. She shared her experience as a physician, the mental health struggles that come along with it and she encourages readers to not let medicine crush them during the difficult times.

After we shared Dr. Ahronheim’s story, we received feedback from a few of our community members who were strongly impacted by her story and shared their struggles working in medicine. We’d like to take this opportunity to share a story we received with the rest of our community, so we can begin to break the stigma for health care workers to seek support when they need it.

“Well, thank you Kathryn. I was just holding myself together, not well mind you, and then I read this. It is so beautifully written and exquisitely painful. As I sit wracked with anxiety, frustration, anger and sadness after just another normal week, I am reduced to tears. It’s been a while since I cried but now it’s impossible to stop. When people ask you how you are you say, “oh fine thanks” not even remotely connected to that answer. We lie to our patients, family, friends and strangers.. “Oh fine thanks”. What would our lives be if we told the truth? We would fall apart, drop the facade, get help, change the broken system? We’ll never know because our cries for help get trampled on.

Medicine is not a job or career or even a “calling”. It was when we so eagerly put our lives aside to get into medical school then the destruction of our being started with the first statement of indoctrination, “You are the best of the best to be in this position”, then you are systematically destroyed through years of training. After years of working and gaining experience and being confident in your clinical skills, you are hit with the feeling of what was it all for. The mental health challenges that most of us face, especially after a protracted pandemic, with the physical and financial hardships that have hit us all only laid bare the problems in our system. I feel the enormity of that on my shoulders every minute of every day and it’s crushing me.

I’m off today so I can let go for a minute, cry uncontrollably about nothing in particular and feel the sweet release of some of the pain. Thank you for that.”

The thoughts shared above remind us that we need to start talking to each other, it’s the only way we can support one another and shift the culture of medicine. It’s time we stood together to break the stigma.

We are stronger together, we got this.

- the formation team
August 04, 2022 — Stephanie Ahlborn