I have nothing but praise for online physician platforms, like KevinMD. Mental health has been a major issue among physicians, including me, and secrecy and bottling up these depressive feelings tends to worsen depression. Being open and writing my heart out is a coping mechanism and is one of the coping mechanisms (in addition to altruism) that has prevented me from relapsing and going back to my life of dealing and using cannabis and ecstasy.
You may have all heard of Dr. Lorna Breen and how she committed suicide due to stressors from the COVID pandemic; in fact, President Biden recently passed a law named after her to help providers with mental illness. But I hypothesize that this is only half the story. I hypothesize that the other half is that due to the social expectations that health care providers are supposed to suffer in silence (as venting is a sign of weakness), she had to bottle up her emotions and was unable to blog on the worldwide web, tell the world about how she feels, and reach out to the world for help or advice.
I have been able to blog and tell the world about how I feel and about how I still sometimes crave ecstasy and cannabis, about how I still have flashbacks of how I failed the COMLEX board exams despite them being easier than the USMLE exams, and about how I wonder why I make more mistakes in patient care than my peers due to my bipolar depression and concentration issues due to my racing thoughts due to bipolar depression.
I have been able to recruit mentees and am starting to give advice and scholarship money to mentees linking my name at the end of each article I write. Altruism is said to be a mature coping mechanism. And that is a coping mechanism that I am able to use (in addition to writing) instead of going back to my old ways of trafficking and abusing cannabis and ecstasy.
I am receiving a lot of positive reviews and comments through my website. These positive reviews help make up for any feelings of worthlessness or irritability I feel due to negative reviews written about me online and negative complaints filed by patients against me to my hospital administration.
And most important, many physician platforms are free. It is similar to McDonald’s. When I was younger, I would go to McDonald’s frequently and use their air conditioning, seating, lighting, and restrooms for free. In exchange, I would tell other people how much I like McDonald’s, and if anyone needs any advice as to which restaurant to go to or needs directions to McDonald’s, I would help them out. I was like a free marketer for Mcdonald’s. And due to a lot of other people doing this as well, Mcdonald’s grew and grew. Thankfully, McDonald’s has grown more than other fast-food restaurants due to this strategy of letting people use their facilities for free.
Physician platforms help providers open up and share their feelings. I plead you to do this in the name of physician mental health. It is a lot better to be open and let everyone (from fellow health care providers to President Joe Biden) know about how you feel than suffer in silence.
Louis J. Riccardo is a family physician.
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