A week in psychiatry with Maria Larsson
In each issue we ask a colleague to write a contribution about a week at their job. Although we are all psychiatrists, our days and conditions vary a lot. It is therefore both interesting and inspiring to read what daily life is like to our colleagues. Maria Larsson is an exceptionally busy and a hard working psychiatrist, and the next chairman to be in the Swedish Psychiatric Association.
The first client is already waiting when I arrive at the clinic. I just check my mail first before we start the appointment to see if there are any urgent matters and to see how the suicidal patient that I transferred to inpatient care on Friday is doing. Phew, no urgent matters and the patient seems to be doing better. Sometimes being a psychiatrist is a wonderful work after all and the stress not too hard to bear. I also hope today will be the day I´ll have that spare time to catch up on my administration to feel even better with being a psychiatrist.
But now it is time to welcome the first patient. I put on the face mask that I thought I´d never get used to but which now feels, almost, as a normal part of meeting patients and colleagues. I also just realized that a medical student will join me today. I´ll look him up before welcoming the patient. I´ll try to be a good role model, an important challenge each time. Sometimes I tell students that working in psychiatry is a bit like working in the opera or Swedish royal theatre each day, the difference is that you can help with different treatments to rewrite the ending to a happy one.
A quick glance at the picture of the ocean on the wall to gain strength, focus and calm and the day and working week begins.
As always on Tuesdays we are having the traditional physicians lunch. We often dine together but Tuesday lunches together are particular. However, I miss when we could sit in ”the chambre séparée” at our favourite lunch restaurant with it´s possibility to speak more freely about different aspects of our work and also bring some glamour to the working week. Well, the company is more important than the location. During lunch we discuss research, psychiatric care and for that matter litterature and the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates. I feel happy to have such good, intelligent, warm and funny colleagues. Lights up. The lunch this week I am even more thankful than usual for good colleagues as I am coming from a board meeting with the board for the Swedish Psychiatric Association. How hard it would be to work as a pscyhiatrist without good colleagues. At least most days. However, looking forward to meet in board meetings as usual, and not over Zoom, and once again to eat lunch with my colleagues at the clinic with more than four people at each table. Reclaiming ”the chambre séparée” post vaccination for our Tuesday lunches is a priority.
Nothing really has been on my side today. At least not time. Different meetings, several matters, many patients, a lot of mail from patients and their relatives about different things, some more urgent than others. I have not had time to answer half of them. I ate a bun for lunch as I only had two minutes to eat something. And some coffee. How hard it is to live as you learn. Feelings of inadequacy. Maybe I should look into working with something else? But what? A more interesting area of work is hard to find. The brain with its over 100 billions neurons and their connections is so interesting. Furthermore, being a psychiatrist offers a wide view on questions such as the meaning of life. Last but not least of course the meaningfulness of helping others, unsurpassed after all. I guess I won´t quit today either. But this has not been my day. At all. More than usual today also because I am off tomorrow. Could cloning be an option? Will look into that.
Thursday day off
My birthday. Same day as Sigmund Freud´s. Obliges. No further comments. I will however buy some cake and pass the clinic to enjoy it with my wonderful unit manager. I mean work is not only work, its a part of life, so I would gladly pass the clinic on my day off. Very grateful to work close to a unit manager with whom I can laugh and, if needed, cry with. And also, of course every day together with her, our mutual great manager and all the staff developing the care for almost 1400 patients that go to our open clinic. I decide on bringing a lemon meringue pie with cream to our small celebration of our work together and mine, and Freud´s, birthday.
The calendar is too booked today. Maybe I will work next birthday after all and change my routine of taking the day off that I have done since my 29th birthday? I won’t have time to catch up on my administration this week either. But it always feels more important and is so much more meaningful to meet patients. However, next week maybe I´ll catch up. Today are many meetings with people with different psychiatric illnesses. Hopefully and probably at least one or two of them will feel better, after all what better feedback could one have? Better than a bunch of roses and standing ovations. As said: ”If you save one life, you save the whole world”. Wonderful to be able to at least try each day in the line of duty. However hopefully soon without face-mask. □