The reason I started writing this blog was to be open about my own struggles with the stresses of working in Emergency Medicine. By writing about my experience of burnout and recovery I hoped to make those who were struggling feel less alone, to help their colleagues understand a little better what they might be going through and to generally reduce the stigma that exists around mental health issues within medicine. To that end it is time for me to be honest again... after just over a year of being back to work, I’ve actually now been out of clinical medicine again for the last ten months.
Most days I struggle to know where to start. There are just so many things that are wrong with work, with our country, with the world, that I feel overwhelmed. How can I fix any of it? Where would I start? What could I do? Well, I can create a bubble around me, an area of work, of life, that I can influence and will make different from the rest of the world.
Following the Maurice Ellis lecture given by Professor Rick Body at the 2017 Spring CPD conference of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, I decide to write this post. Apologies to Rick for presenting him as some sort of Messiah (clearly he’s not, he’s just a very naughty boy) and to Luke for twisting his writing to make my own point. However, given Luke is traditionally believed to have been a doctor, I’m hoping he’ll be generous towards a colleague!
Following my previous blog post, I had a number of people ask questions about how to approach someone who appeared to be struggling and also feedback from readers about the quality of help and support they had received when in a similar position. Here are some thoughts and challenges around these issues those trying to help might consider, using the question, ‘How do you save a Drowning Man?’