Brighter Days

{Napa, California}

I am so appreciative of the supportive comments I received after sharing my personal experience of physician burnout.  I’ve had similar experiences, especially during medical school and residency, but never felt comfortable enough to share until recently.  In my practice, I work with so many patients who suppress their emotions.  I identify with them wholeheartedly because I am just like them.  During residency, I made excuses to avoid meetings with my supervisors because rather than discuss patient cases, the meetings would somehow turn into therapy sessions where I’d cry and feel embarrassed for exposing my vulnerabilities.  At the time, suppression and isolation were the only ways I knew how to cope, but it’s a pattern I am actively trying to break ever since I started seeing a psychotherapist during my fourth year of residency.

A common phrase that I mention to my patients (which was told to me by my amazing sister, who is a marriage and family therapist) is that “if you suppress yourself, you depress yourself.”  We all suppress ourselves to some degree, but once able to overcome the barriers {our own internal barriers (i.e. cultural, self-criticism, etc), in addition to external barriers (such as the immense pressures and expectations placed on physicians)}, then we have a better chance at achieving wellness and exerting more control in our lives and our careers.

6 thoughts on “Brighter Days

  1. Two therapists from the same family. Very cool. Curious as to when/ how you first became interested in this calling. Are either of your parents counselors of some form?

    • Good question! esp since psychology isn’t quite an accepted field in the philippines. My mom and aunt were psych nurses, but i don’t think that influenced both me and my sis going into the mental health field. i realized it was my calling during med school because i was always more attune to the psychosocial issues of all my patients, even when i was working internal med, surgery, ob/gyn, etc. my sis and i think similarly, and even though my brother didn’t go into the field, he analyzes situations from a psychological standpoint as well.

  2. Sorry, my last comment got cut off. I meant to say, that this is currently right up my alley. I’ve been very moody lately, and I am trying to get control over my emotions, I think I’m just feeling overwhelmed right now. But I’m happy you’re feeling better!

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