Opinion: Physicians, mental illness, and the problem with ‘passing’

My patient sits with her back hunched, eyes fixed on the taupe industrial carpet as though she is fervently avoiding Medusa’s gaze. She tells me about the depression that has dogged her life, subverted her career, infiltrated her relationships. She tells me about the medications she’s tried and “failed,” as if patients fail medicines and not the other way around. She tells me about lovers and friends who have become burnt out and fallen by the wayside. In short, she tells me about loss, and shame, and the desperation that accompanies a life lived on the edge in an experiential war zone.

And as she speaks, she does not know that all of this is terribly, uncannily familiar to me.

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