The homeless doctor
When I was recently reviewing some profiles for a nanny position I came across a doctor which caught my attention. On further interviewing her on the phone I realized she was 60 years old with US citizenship and she was homeless. How could a person so well educated and smart end up becoming homeless in this country? There was an innate sense of empathy from my side being in the same profession and hence without asking for further references I invited her home to try her as a nanny. She also agreed to the job instantly which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering her financial situation.When she walked into my home there was an incurable malady which was overshadowing her smile. As we started speaking it was evident she was going through some kind of serious mental illness like depression. She finished her medicine degree in India , got married to another doctor through a typical arranged wedding. Her husband eventually became a renowned pediatrician in Mumbai currently managing a huge hospital she says.After having a son from her first marriage she got divorced and remarried twice only to end up getting divorced finally. She said her own parents supported the first divorce and they also insisted that her son must live with her ex husband. She tried working and training as a physician in this country but could not keep any job beyond a year. She has lived in USA for almost 40 years now yet has no family , career or investment. All these cyclical patterns with poor choices and poor insight confirmed my suspicions that she must be suffering from bipolar disorder.On further questioning she said quote- I live in a shitty world and I’m confused . All my doctors want me to take antidepressants but I don’t think I’m crazy and I avoid pills- she said.I have heard several people who were in denial with their psychological issues but hearing this from a doctor who has wasted all of her adult life denying treatment sent chills through my spine . Looking for a job as a nanny was a charade to hide her disgusting life .If only she had accepted her doctors advice and started taking her antidepressants there was a good chance I would have seen her as a colleague at my hospital rather than in a distressful situation .Depression and bipolar illness can’t be measured by blood tests but a good doctor can tell if his/her patient is suffering from one just by interviewing. It is a chronic illness still attached with so much taboo in our culture. It can destroy ones life and push ultimately into suicide.Even though when big celebrities and talk shows talk about it common people like us still feel uncomfortable talking in public. I have no qualms admitting that I’m on antidepressants and it has only improved my life tremendously . If this article changes even 1 person into accepting his/her mental illness then my efforts as a clinician will be worth it. Depression is like a war- you either win or you die trying and I have won it. Have you?— Sahila.Dedicated to my psychiatrist.