A personal loss

I am officially free of medical student duties as of today (until further notice).

After about a month I finally received a call from the Dean of Student Affairs at my school informing me that my medical leave of absence was approved. Honestly, I have a bittersweet feeling about it. It’s not something I wanted to do 100% all the way, but my mind tells me that it’s the right thing to do. And considering that M is leaving in August (and considering how I’ve been feeling this week regarding that issue), I think it’s the right thing to do. It’ll give me time and space to mourn the loss and transition into the care of another psychiatrist.

So…this week. This week I had my appointment with M on Tuesday. I told her that I felt bad because I recorded a few of our sessions, and that I didn’t want her to leave with a bad impression of me after more than 2 years under her care. We discussed this at length, and she told me that what’s important is that we can learn something from this “issue”. She said that it proves that even after misunderstandings or even after hurting someone, relationships can persist. What’s important is that there’s communication between the two people, which is precisely what we did.

So, either she’s an Oscar-worthy actress or she forgave me and doesn’t think badly of me. I’ll go with the latter. Honestly, from the things she said and how the appointment went, I got a genuine feeling that things between us are good.

At the end of the session I told her that I am going to miss her a lot, and my eyes welled up with tears. She told me she just wants me to get better, and she hopes that when she leaves I’ll be able to establish a good relationship with another person and continue my “work” with said person.

Then she did something she doesn’t usually do, which was a bit of self-disclosure. Basically, she told me that she too is hurting at the separation, and that she is feeling a sense of sadness because I am her “weekly patient”. And, she said, I have dreams and goals for the future, and am working hard at recovery, so she just wishes I can come out of this triumphantly.

Wow. I think that was the first time she ever told me, in an obvious and non-surreptitious way, that I actually mean a lot to her. That really got to me, and I almost started bawling at that instant but had to control myself because it was the end of the session.

Then when I got home, the rest of the day I was an emotional wreck because…

I finally realized that M is leaving.

As in, for sure she’ll be gone forever come the end of August. As in, I’ll be lucky if I ever coincidentally see her again for the rest of my life. As in, after more than two years of building this relationship, we have to cut ties and move on. 

I realized that all this time I’ve been blocking my emotions regarding her leaving. I’m so afraid, of many things, but mainly that she’ll forget me. Why am I so afraid of her forgetting me? Because she means the world to me, and I’ll never forget her.

And that’s when I started crying. I spent all of Tuesday afternoon crying at random moments. I couldn’t get myself to study for the Radiology final exam I had today (which I passed, by the way). And every time I think of her I get teary-eyed and have to stop myself from crying. I feel this terrible pain, this constant ache in my heart. And I don’t feel sad. No. What I feel is a despairing, inconsolable, melancholy.

At one point I got one of my old diaries and searched for the entry I wrote after my first appointment with her. 12th of March of 2012. I wrote I didn’t think we meshed, and that everything about her seemed off. If only I knew…I never would have imagined that she would turn into such a special and important person to me. And I never thought she would impact my life the way she has. I’ve grown so much and changed so much, all thanks to her. And I feel that if it wasn’t for her, it’s very possible I wouldn’t be here today.

So, as of Tuesday, I’m officially in the process of mourning.   

Hopefully, one day, I’ll look back and think that it all happened just as it had to.


  1. Anonymous said:

    I guess one way to look at this is that despite your initial feelings about you and M meshing it turned out great. Maybe the same thing will happen again with your next psychiatrist. Can lightning strike twice in the same place? Also congrats on the radiology final. Doc


  2. Hey Doc,

    Really, you have no idea how much I hope that lightning strikes twice in the same place. I'm crossing my fingers and toes for this to happen.


  3. Anonymous said:

    Your blog has definitely provided me with some comfort over the past few months, in feeling that I am not alone. I recently have also decided to take a year out of medicine to deal with my own issues.
    I was wondering if you've thought about what you're going to do this year, to keep yourself busy?
    I'm slightly worried that having extra time to myself is going to drive me crazy.
    You do seem like a very brave, intelligent individual, I hope you know that.


  4. Hey there Anon,

    I'm glad my random writings make you feel less alone. And thank you too because now I know I'm not alone in this taking-a-break-from-med-school thing 🙂

    I think the excess free time will definitely drive you crazy if you don't make good use of it. So definitely try to find a hobby, or just something you enjoy doing. There's also other options like taking a part-time job (whether related or not to medicine), volunteering…the list is endless.

    In my case I'm trying to get myself to do things that help raise my non existent self-esteem. I decided that would be doing ballet, art, and possibly learn the basics of a new language. I already started art classes, but am still working on ballet, which will probably have to wait until August. I'm also considering doing research if I find something I like and if I feel mentally up for it, since I like to do research (for a short while).

    I decided these things would be the best for me (in addition to therapy of course) because three years of med school have really left me with no self-esteem, especially this third year. And a lot of my problems stem from a low self-esteem. So I feel that if I focus on building that self-esteem by doing things I know I'm good at, then I'll be ready to take on med school as a stronger person when I go back. Not to mention how much I could benefit on a personal level from having a better self-esteem.

    Sorry, went on a tangent there…but yeah, for me it's ballet and artsy things. Also, I'm trying to spend as much time as I can with family and friends. That's always good if you can do it.

    I hope that was of some help to you 😉 And remember you are not alone in this.


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