Why we need more love: My response to a post by Pamela Wible, MD

Here is the post:


I found Dr. Wible’s blog a while back.  I left a comment. Guess what? She wrote me an e-mail (no, not a form letter and she wasn’t selling anything) and sent a link to a TED talk she did. We had a brief exchange of e-mails and she asked me to post on her website so that my voice may be heard.

Well, how cool is that?

The original post of hers that truly moved me, the one I originally commented on was on how doctors profile their patients.  Dr. Wible ended her entry by saying that if she had ever profiled a patient (and inevitably, we all tend to judge based on appearance now and then and form a wrong conclusion), well, she said two words that  you rarely hear from a doctor:

“I’m sorry.”

At this point, it was late at night, and I sat here at my computer reading those two words and I broke down and cried.

I am crying as we speak.  Honestly, I don’t care if my entire body turns to a river of tears as large and grand as the Charles River, and it spills out all over town and dumps into the Atlantic Ocean. How many times have I heard from a doctor those two words,

“I’m sorry.”

Or any person that’s supposed to provide this thing “help”?

“Because if we did not do this, we would have been sued,” is not a viable excuse, or a decent reason to provide or withhold care or to perform any action whatsoever in a hospital or medical setting.

“To avoid a lawsuit” is not in the Hippocratic Oath to my knowledge.

“To preserve my reputation” is also not in that Oath.

Anyway, I wanted to respond to her “Love” post by saying the following:

Our society seems backwards these days in how we “treat” illness.  I’d say it’s “non-treatment.”  People say a person commits suicide because of so-called mental illness.  Well, that, first of all, is a flat out wrong conclusion.

I should know.  I am 56 years old. When I was 26 I took a gigantic overdose. That was the time I committed suicide (oops! Freudian slip there) I meant, I TRIED to do so, and failed, and it went on record. There were plenty of other times but thankfully these ended up escaping my medical records. I have no clue why I got so lucky.  That’s a good thing, though, because once you do such a thing, you’re blacklisted in the medical community FOR LIFE.

Now that I’m over half a century old, I’ve known plenty of folks that left this world in that manner.  I can say with complete confidence that not one of them chose suicide because they were unbearably depressed.  Just about all chose suicide because they felt there was no way out of a very bad situation.  Often, the situation involved mental health professionals that weren’t doing their job. They were negligent, abusive, had boundary problems, or were irresponsible or unlawful.  I knew people who found the thought of returning to another lockup joint so horrifying that they would rather die than be forced back. So they went the route of suicide.  Sure, there were plenty of other reasons, too, that had nothing to do with “mental health.”

If you fail, then what? You are called a sinner.  Your friends immediately unfriend you.  You are blamed. Sometimes, even family turns their backs.  You are further rejected, especially by doctors.

No wonder those that try suicide once,  in terms of statistics, repeat this act.  It has nothing to do with “chronic suicidality.”  It’s chronic societal hatred.  I say it’s time for this to stop.

That’s what I mean by backwards medical care. Why does our society HATE the weak, the poor, the hungry, the needy? Why is it repeated to someone like me (I’m poor) how unworthy and lazy I am, how much I am stealing from far more worthy and beautiful people, how incapable I am, and how I don’t deserve anything except a few crumbs and a bowl of lukewarm broth?  If I dare ask for more, I’m called “uppity,” which apparently is yet another disease worthy of forced drugging and lockup, not that loving Mr. Brownlow and a happy ending out of the Charles Dickens novel I read when I was a kid.  It sounds like our country isn’t the one I was born into some fifty-odd years ago.

Julie Greene

Feedback and comments welcome!