Requiem for a dream or a wake-up call to become a leader
Artin Mahdanian, PGY-3
I immigrated to Canada in 2013, not fleeing war or prosecution but in search of a land of equality and non-discrimination. After two years of multiple obstacles, I finally matched to a psychiatry residency program. As soon as I started residency, I was shocked to face the stigma psychiatry is known to carry. Almost everyone I knew, including my partner, family and friends criticized me for choosing psychiatry as a profession.
But I chose to pursue a career in psychiatry anyway. As time went on, and I saw more cases, read more texts, and became increasingly self-aware of my own person. I came to grasp the vulnerability of human beings, and how easily we forget or choose not to see this vulnerability. I also became aware, much to my dismay that the stigma towards psychiatric patients and mental health care workers exists even here in North America.
There were times I was close to giving up. I did not know whether to call this feeling a weakness, an adjustment disorder, a depressive episode with anxious distress, or even psychosis. Then a little inner voice woke me up, showed me to go above and beyond my old self, to be mindful in every single moment of my life and aim to become a leader against the stigma in psychiatry.
I started with treating my patients with full respect and empathy. I spent as much time as possible to explain and educate them about their illness. I also took any opportunity to participate in meetings, conferences, reaching out to society and talk about psychiatry and stigma. I believe that residency is the best time to learn how to deal with stigma and find our own way to fight it.