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Unforgettable

I was young when I met Larry. Well, not that young: I was thirty-one. My medical training–thirteen years in all–was finally over, and I was working as an instructor in the child-neurology clinic at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and caring for kids with epilepsy.

My patient Larry was seventeen. A stocky, dark-haired, nonathletic boy with borderline intellectual disability, he suffered from depression, and my notes mentioned his “pugnacious personality.”

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Whatever Else

Whatever Else

Of course, I wanted to save you
from all this–from machines
and plastic tubes, from the shooters
with their dyes, from the guys
who scan your organs
for the truth, from waits in cold rooms
whose lights illuminate your life
and make it…nothing. I respected
the darkness in you–your son
dead in a senseless crash, the stroke
itself, your husband’s absence.

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The Big Chill

The Big Chill

Tonight was yet another night on call in our emergency department–a chilly winter night on which I did a cruel deed: I discharged a homeless man back out into the cold.
This is a routine event in the life of psychiatry residents like myself. Normally, no one would bat an eye. It shouldn’t have mattered to me, either–except that the previous night I’d had to walk home from the hospital parking garage in decidedly adverse

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Right Coat Ceremony

Shadi Ahmadmehrabi ~

It was my first day of orientation at medical school. In a hallway stood a coat rack overflowing with white garments. I set down my accumulated papers, reached for a hanger and, for the first time ever, shrugged first one arm and then the other into a white coat.

It was too large, but I had no other options. The unisex coats ran from XXS to XXL, but the smallest

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Depressed

Ronna Edelstein ~

Announce to friends that you have cancer, and they will probably react with sympathy and compassion. Tell them that you’ve broken your leg, and they’ll offer to get your groceries and drive you to medical appointments.

Share that you suffer from depression–and the sound of silence will fill your head.

Depression has been my companion for as long as I can remember. My maternal grandmother, who immigrated to this

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Riding Out the Storm

Dan Yashinsky ~

In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, if a blizzard keeps you in your neighbor’s house, they say you’ve been “storm-stayed.” I first learned this term from a storyteller in the Maritimes, and it’s come to hold special meaning for me and those I work with.

I am the storyteller-in-residence at a research and teaching hospital for the elderly, in Toronto. My work here, known as “storycare,” reflects the institution’s philosophy that

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Why Aren’t You Depressed?

Tess Timmes ~

“Please walk slowly,” cautioned Sunita, my interpreter, as I crept down the stony switchback trail towards the rural Nepali village of Dhulikhel. Sunita, in her petite navy ballet flats, hopped down the rocks as easily as the speckled goats grazing nearby.

Emboldened by her speed, I stepped along eagerly, only to catch my size-ten neon running sneaker on a root and splat face-first into the dust. Looking up, I saw

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The Afterworld

 
 
Clementine King
 
About the artist: 
 
“Clementine King” is an assistant professor of public health and an artist. 
 
About the artwork: 
 
“This graffiti scene struck me as I made my way through a tough day with depression. It must have been created by multiple artists, at different times, with different intentions. But taken together, at this moment, was there a message in it? The peaceful world above, the chaos

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A Day in the Life of a Psychiatrically Hospitalized Clinician (Part 1)

Liat Katz

Editor’s Note: This week Pulse presents the first installment of Liat Katz’s brave and forthright story. The conclusion will appear next week.

I am a licensed clinical social worker. And, occasionally, a mental patient. Today, in this inpatient psychiatric unit, I am more a patient than a social worker.

It is Monday morning, and I am eating breakfast across from Owen, a muscular, flannel-clad, Paul Bunyan-looking patient. Little pieces of his

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Finding a Bed in Bedlam

Jo Marie Reilly

There’s a full moon tonight.

“That’s when crazy things happen,” my superstitious mom always says.

I’m a family physician doing weekend call at my urban community hospital. My pager rings incessantly. As I answer yet another call from the emergency room downstairs, I think, Maybe Mom has a point.

“Got a suicidal patient with nowhere to go,” the ER physician yells into the phone, against the background commotion.

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Q & A

Kyle Bernard

The interview had lasted fifteen minutes so far, and we’d made minimal progress. I was a medical student doing a rotation at a physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic back in my home state, Wisconsin. It was the end of the day; to save time, the senior resident, Paul, had joined me in the exam room so that we could hear Leora’s medical history together.

A year earlier, Leora, in her mid-fifties, had suffered

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Vanishing Act

Sudeep Dhoj Thapa

It was a summer night during my first year of medical school. Small bugs danced about the school buildings’ lights and filled the air with their penetrating hum. 

In the television room, located across a small grassy lawn from the dormitories, I sat watching old movies with my classmate and friend Rajesh. 

Rajesh was tall and chunky. He wore his thick, jet-black hair combed

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