it was a little more than 2.5 years ago. he became my psychiatrist when they decided i was too much to handle and had to send me to the only psychiatric hospital in our country. it was God’s blessing that i came under his care; he just happened to be the consultant on-call when i was sent there. Dr S is a geriatric psychiatrist primarily, but he sees general psychiatry patients too. i was too fortunate to have someone who is empathic and understanding- something i have always been grateful for.
in all these time i have been in his care, i have been an exceedingly challenging patient. whether was it in my treatment, my symptoms or our interactions, it was never stable. i could be in heaven one day, in hell the next. laughing one minute, sobbing the next minute. i was in and out of the hospital because my depression was unrelenting. i was very symptomatic, and he tried everything under the sun. i was still sick. the difference was only a matter of how long i could last without being admitted.
for someone so borderline like me, he listened to me a lot. he let me do a lot of things most other psychiatrist wouldn’t. when he wanted things his way when i could only say no, i’d give him chances to show why i’m adamant. then he learnt further that perhaps maybe my words count for a lot more than he gives credit. even when i repeatedly threw hissy fits and tantrums in these few years, he never gave up on me. he could, but he chose not to. he always gave me his best. he went out of his way to see how he could help me better, and did what he could to keep my job.
but of course with me, his threshold was lowered. he expected less of me in his bid to cope with a demanding patient like me. he was never surprised whenever i got admitted. he never grimaced, never shook his head with my escalations. he believed that whatever it was, there was a take home message for myself. he always reminded me that my saving grace is my insight. my ability to know at hand what was happening, where i’ve gone wrong, and what i should do in future. he was glad that i was never in denial. he appreciated my honesty with him too, which is why he never punished me when i chose to be honest.
throughout the years, we were mutually glad that we have the patient-practitioner rapport that so many covet. and through it all i am thankful for his empathy and humility. it is never easy in healthcare. imagine my horror when he said he’s leaving. i cried. for someone who knows me so painfully well, with all my ugly secrets and all, it pained me to see him go. and i could not do anything but to just watch him go. sure i could follow him to his new practice, but i have a multidisciplinary team who have been helping me too. i can’t go.
yesterday was my last day seeing him. it started off tense, as we tried to sort out my differences with him and all his colleagues and their opinion of whether i could go back to work. but when we were over that and when i confirmed i wasn’t going to see him anymore, i handed him my hand-made thank you card. even though i had written a message in it, i still said it aloud, how i felt. and tears fell as i said them. he always jokingly say that i’ve been his most difficult patient ever. so he told me in return, that he’ll never forget me. i bawled. like how we always say that we teach each other lessons, i taught him a lesson. and he did too, to me. both on how to better us as a person/practitioner. in my card, i put pop-up words “stay awesome”. with a smile on his face, he made it pop up, turned the card to face me, and told me to stay awesome too. and as i stood up to go, he asked if he could shake my hand. i was only too glad. it was a long handshake, but with it he gave me his blessings and wished me all the best in my recovery and in my life. and that he hoped that i could one day make him proud as a nurse.
i will never forget him too, you know. never. his gentle smile too.
stay hungry, and stay awesome, Dr S. thank you, with all my heart.