We know that the past two months haven’t been easy. We know about the sleepless nights, anger, tears, depression, and anxiety. We know all of this because we know what trauma does to a person, and you are in the middle of experiencing a repeated trauma. The trauma of watching patients die in ways you’ve never seen, the trauma of watching colleagues die, the trauma of knowing what exactly this virus could do to you if you were to become infected.
We know that some of you feel helpless in your role as a physician, and that inability to control things that you are used to controlling is disrupting your confidence. For some of you, the frustration with your institutions is making it difficult to make through each shift.
We know that you are so busy when working and too exhausted when you are off to even think of attending to your needs. We know that some of you feel guilty about attending to your mental health needs when so many are suffering and dying. Despite everything you are dealing with, stigma continues to be real, so some of you are still concerned about anyone finding out that you are reaching out for help. A lot of your facilities are providing support lines and services, but this mistrust of the system that has added to a lot of your angst prevents you from ever considering those services.
So you do what we do best. You put your head down, and you do the work. You try to prove that you are stronger than any weakness you feel creeping up within yourself. You put everyone before yourself because it is what you do. In a lot of ways, this is easier than dealing with the range of emotions you feel when you focus inward. But this tactic will prevent you from functioning at that high level you are used to and will damage your spirit, making you ineffective as a healer.
With that, we want you to know that we are here for you. We are volunteering with support lines and can take a call with no strings attached. If you need more individualized help, we are providing services via telepsychiatry to give you the support that you need in the privacy of your home or in the middle of a shift. We support our psychiatrist colleagues who are in the hospitals and addiction centers dealing with this pandemic head-on. While we are caring for you, we are practicing what we preach and making every effort to take good care of ourselves. We are supporting each other because we recognize that we won’t be any good to you if we don’t.
Nicole B. Washington is a psychiatrist and can be reached at her self-titled site, drnicolepsych.com.
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