I will tell you why health care professionals feel they need to be superhuman, without needs or vulnerabilities.
Because that is who we want to be, why we got into the field, and then our training reinforces those very ideas. We exist to take care of others, not be taken care of.
I am a health care professional. I also struggle with major depressive disorder (MDD) as well as an eating disorder. I am excellent at what I do. I am outwardly successful, and yet I feel like a failure. I feel like a failure because I have had to take time off from clinical practice to focus on my health. I feel like a failure because I was told not to let anyone know the “real” issue because questions would arise about my competency to see patients, and my referrals could slow down. No one asked how I was feeling or how my treatment was progressing.
Guess what? Eating disorders and MDD are “real” health issues. Would you question the competence of a physician who has high cholesterol? How about a therapist who has an anxiety disorder?
The sooner that can be acknowledged—that we are all more simply human than otherwise—the sooner we’ll be able to save ourselves and continue saving others. I am convinced that both can be accomplished, but I will believe it when it happens. Change takes time, but it has taken long enough.
Those who can acknowledge our struggles carry that humanity into our work, and I would argue it makes us better at what we do. We can relate to and hear things from patients that other clinicians might miss. Our vulnerabilities, when treated and acknowledged, can become our biggest strengths.
We are all human.
The author is an anonymous health care professional.
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