You were the very first psychiatrist I saw. I was young and in the early stages of my diagnosis. Just getting in to see you was no mean feat. Despite having a referral from my GP I still had to endure twenty questions from your receptionist and many phone calls before she actually made me an appointment to see you.
You gave the impression that I was wasting your time and diagnosed me within ten minutes of meeting me. I’m really not sure how this is possible but you did it and prescribed me some medication.
During our conversation you told me I should find God and get better for Him. This is probably some of the worst advice I’ve ever received. I personally don’t have a faith. I don’t believe in God. While I fully respect your faith and right to follow your religion, I don’t think pushing it onto others is a good idea. You also need to respect my and others rights to not have a faith or follow a religion.
There are so many issues with this advice it’s hard to know where to start. Even if I did follow a particular religion, prayer is not going to make me better. While I acknowledge that prayer is helpful and therapeutic for some it doesn’t solve the problem. An over weight person cannot pray themselves thin, a diabetic person cannot pray their insulin to start working properly. Getting better takes work, medication, time, therapy, effort.
Having faith in God may be perfect motivation for some people to get better. But not everyone. Even if a person has faith it may still not be enough to help them get better. Each individual will have their own reasons for wanting to get better. Perhaps next time you should have a more in depth conversation with your patients to find out what they are. It could be their children, their spouse, their friends, their dog, any number of things. Maybe they don’t have any reasons to get better. Help them find some without being so judgemental and be open to each individuals unique set of circumstances, beliefs, culture and identity.
From your former patient.