My psychiatrist told me I could be one too

I was as fearful of failing as I had been with my A-levels, but there was also a terrible sense of unease about what was happening to me, to which I couldn’t put a name.

As I prepared for my finals, with my mind map, and my chart of each available hour, there came a point when I couldn’t go on. I can’t remember exactly what happened. I wasn’t sleeping or able to work.

My GP referred me to a psychiatrist who did sessions at the university health centre. With some medication, a lot of tears, and support from him I managed to pass my final examinations.

I called him “I wanted to thank you,” I said, “and ask if you thought it would be out of the question, after what happened to me this year, for me to train as a psychiatrist?”

“No,” he said warmly, “I don’t think it would be out of the question at all.

Those few words of encouragement set me off on a very successful career. It’s not been without problems. I’ve had recurrent episodes of depression, and at times it’s been hard. But I would not have fitted in better anywhere else in medicine, and I think I’ve been a more empathic doctor because I know what it’s like from both sides.

Read the full story (from The Guardian series ‘A moment that changed me’)

Commentary

Linda Gask graduated from Edinburgh Medical School and went on to a career in psychiatry, becoming a professor at the University of Manchester. Her book The Other Side of Silence describes her own and her patients’ experiences of depression, but she has spoken and written widely about coming to terms with recurrent anxiety and depression, and managing a taxing professional career despite it.

Further info

Contributed by

Neil Turner

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