Having deliberated on this for a couple of months for various reasons, I’ve finally made the decision to openly reveal my identity soon; it’s not been an easy decision to make.
It is known in some circles anyway; family, friends and colleagues online.
When I (accidentally!) first started writing the blog, I was in a very vulnerable position and it wouldn’t have been wise.
Why do I feel this is the right thing to do?
My main reason is that this experience has brought out positive new openings which are going to be hard to pursue if I continue to ‘hide’ behind a pseudonym in effect.
- I am now writing beyond my own experience of GP burnout/depression; also around wellbeing and general medical topics amongst other things.
- I am interested in Physician wellbeing and how to support this and also looking more into ‘Lifestyle Medicine;’ I have become acquainted with others with similar interests.
- I have developed online forums for Physicians to discuss wellbeing strategies and to provide mutual psychological support (links to these groups on my Facebook page).
- I have created a local monthly meet-up for medics for interaction between local colleagues (both GPs and other Physicians) for mutual wellbeing support, CPD and also simply as a social gathering (Glos. Medics Meet).
- I am generating my own resources which are being well-received and would like to be able to ‘own’ them properly, especially as some of my writing and ‘infographics’ have already been shared and used by others. There is a possibility of me using them myself ‘in real life’ which means my identity will be evident anyway.
Concerns about my identity being open and addressing these concerns
- Impact on myself:
- I risk being more exposed now in terms of what I share that is quite personal and also if some things are a little controversial; I struggle with being rather over-sensitive to forceful negative feedback (although constructive discussion is welcome!). However, I am feeling much stronger now and am nearly ready to face that.
- There is still a part of me that feels guilty and ashamed that this happened in the first place; I do not have the major life issues that many people do. But, it did happen for reasons that are perfectly valid (I haven’t shared them all by any means) and I have had to learn to accept this. By being open with my identity, I will not only be reinforcing this in my own mind, but I hope I will also be able to do my bit in breaking down Mental Health barriers and be an advocate for others in encouraging it to be more openly discussed in future.
- Other people might view me negatively; it does feel a little daunting to share my identity and this is probably the main reason why. But there are plenty of other doctors that have been through similar things with similar blogs or articles with their identities already known. Why would it be any different for me? If people are judgemental towards me, then that is more about them than me; it’s time to change these attitudes.
- I must remember why I started this in the first place; writing was my own therapy, then I was spurred on to continue by the positive feedback from others who found my writing useful and could identify with it. If it ever starts to become a burden or adds stress, then it will time to stop. I am still trying to learn about self-preservation!
- Impact on my family:
- I would never want to put my family in a position that exposes them to unwanted attention or, at worst, puts them at risk. My husband has unfortunately had experiences in life where he has been treated badly without reason as have I to a lesser degree; life is not always logical or fair and being a good person and trying your best for others does not automically mean you do not end up on the receiving end of aggressive persecutory behaviour by those who are less kind.
- I am very aware of what I share and already still keep much of my life private; this will be even more the case in future. My career including developing ‘GP and Human’ further has nothing to do with my family and I cannot envisage a situation where it would be a problem.
- Impact on my colleagues:
- This shouldn’t really need mentioning at all in theory; ‘GP and Human’ is a completely separate part of who I am and bears no relation to my employment at my practice. The problems I have struggled with would have happened wherever I worked; they relate to the challenges of General Practice overall, not specifically to the practice..
- I have great respect for my colleagues at my practice. They are a lovely team of people and I would never want to cause any issues through this side of my life being associated with them if anything negative were to happen. There is already a declaration on my website that the content is purely my own and does not reflect anyone else’s views, including my employer. I will make sure this is well and truly clear on all platforms in future.
- I hope that, if anything, my work so far and expanding interests will be viewed positively both personally for my future career and wellbeing and possibly for them too if it becomes an extra set of skills that I can bring to the practice.
- Patients (at my practice) potentially knowing:
- This is probably the most awkward thing to get my head around. I have clearly shared some quite personal things. But it only really bothers me from a perspective of what would be seen as appropriate or not by others.
- Some of the patients that I know well know a little about me anyway; although I don’t actively share personal information as such, conversations evolve over time and I am naturally quite an open person so haven’t deliberately hidden things if they crop up. All this blog reveals really is my humanity; I am the just same as them. Surely no surprise there?! This is a large part of my consulting style anyway and why patients percieve me as ‘human’ and ‘normal’ (questionable!). I believe this adds a dimension to my practice which is beneficial for the patients.
So, there we have it! It was a huge decision, but I’ve weighed it up carefully and I believe pros outweigh cons. I am not yet sure exactly when I will reveal my identity, but I now know that I will!