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Gust Post – An Open Letter to an elderly patient.

I am delighted to share the following Guest Post with you all.  It was sent to me by it’s author Karla A. Viera, MD. It is – as she explained in her email to me – ‘an open letter to an elderly patient’. And is shared with us with ‘the purpose of humanizing mental health and the patient doctor relationship.

As Dr. Karla went on to explain, her desire is for ‘people to understand that we are physicians but we also learn from our patients and our relationship with them can be a beautiful powerful thing.

Very often when I publish a guest post I add suitable graphics to it. But for this guest post I think it is better to simply publish the open letter as it was received…

An Open Letter

Dear Patient,

Having mental illness is awful. It afflicts millions. It deeply affects people, families, and our society as a whole. It is one of the leading causes of disability in our country. It wreaks havoc wherever it goes.  I have made my life’s mission to help you and others walk through it even when there is not a finish line in sight. I hold your hands, wipe your tears and try to contain my own. Because there is nothing like a fresh dose of helplessness to remind me that we can not will away your pain.

And then it happens…
I see you as a beautiful strong  plant growing out of the rubble, from unfertilized ground, and I am amazed with your strength. You have decided to examine your life and to reflect on 70 years of pain and to find meaning on what you went through, and you chose me to be your witness. Thank you for the reminder that God doesn’t make mistakes. Because if nature is ever changing and not everyday is 72 degrees and sunny, how can I expect you to be like that.  And so I see you truly living, learning and growing even while still walking through the darkness in the last phases of your life. I have seen and learned from your pain and I feel lucky that you have trusted me to be by your side.

And I just want to say thank you. Thank you for showing me and teaching me how wonderfully diverse emotions, thoughts, perceptions and experiences can be. You make me a better person, you challenge me to grow, to learn as I try to ease your suffering, as I try to help you understand that you are not broken, that you are loved and perfect just the way you are. And as I know our time is limited, I hope that someday, before it is too late, you are able to see yourself through my eyes.

Karla A. Viera, MD

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Karla Viera, is a board-certified psychiatrist practicing in Atlanta, Georgia. I am very grateful to her for sharing this with us and hope that – since many of us have such varied experiences of seeing a psychiatrist it will not only give hope to those of us who visit them but also act as thought provoker for the psychiatrists we see.]

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