As I said in my previous blog, ‘Preparing for ‘The Big Reveal;’ Who am I?!,’ this has been a big decision to come to and I have not taken it lightly. My reasons are explained in there and recapped below. I think revealing my identity is the right thing to do on balance, but it still makes me a little nervous to say the least! Please bear in mind my relative vulnerability and be gentle with me!
You already know that I am a GP and I haven’t hidden the fact that I live in Gloucester, am married and have 2 little boys. You also know that I am musician and like gardening.
Those who knew me as a child and teenager will remember somebody extremely shy and reserved. School wasn’t a happy part of my life on the whole; I was a bit of a misfit in just about every way and just kept my head down…but was still often on the receiving end of bullying. I would have looked pathetic and lacking in personality and opinions of my own. I blushed easily when put on the spot; this was a huge source of mocking from others. Being sensitive and thoughtful didn’t count for much in that environment and largely went unnoticed. Being ‘cool’ with a big personality is what others latched onto in each other, even if those big personalities were not kind ones.
Now….things have changed dramatically! Life for me really started to be more positive when I went to University. I wasn’t a misfit anymore; well, not quite as much! There was no ‘normal’ and no obvious trend that I was expected to conform to; people were diverse and unique. There were other people like me. My now best friend I met within moments of arriving at the halls of residence that very first day.
I am generally still fairly reserved and placid. I am very sensitive; both towards others and I also take things to heart easily. I hate being the centre of attention (seems rather ironic considering how open I have ended up being on here!). I still tend to be easily overlooked; this makes me feel rather insignificant and worthless at times. But there is a fire underneath that I don’t recall having in my younger days. I have strong beliefs and a passion for standing up for the right thing and trying to make things better, including in a healthcare setting particularly patient education. I can’t bear dishonesty and injustice. I despise selfishness, greed and arrogance. I have fairly ‘old-fashioned’ values and am not ashamed of this; I am extremely saddened by a world that seems to be going more towards attitudes of selfish entitlement with no regard for others and lack of respect in how people treat each other. I find it hard to sit back and say or do nothing if something doesn’t seem right; a level of assertiveness has developed over the years.
I wish we could ‘fix’ the world; peace and equality throughout. Spread the resources out so that we don’t have millions of pounds ‘wasted’ by some and other people struggling to find clean water and food. Break down the political, racial and religious boundaries that cause strife; we are all human – why can’t we all live in harmony? – Everybody looking after each other and our environment. Yes, I know that is utterly simplistic, unrealistic and sounds naive. I am not naive; just caring, idealistic and driven about striving for the greater good. If we all take the stance that we can’t make a difference as individuals, then nothing will ever change for the better; we can make a difference simply by caring beyond our own little worlds and working as one big team.
I am not naturally a high-achiever; I have to work extremely hard to make progress. I am not very well clued up on the political, business and financial side of things; my brain just doesn’t seem to compute these things. My biggest attributes are probably my biggest weaknesses too – and the main factors that led to me descending into burnout and depression. I seem to have huge amounts of empathy and I naturally ‘look after’ everybody around me with little thought for my own needs hence getting to a point last September of ‘Your GP has nothing left to give’ as I wrote in that very first blog ‘The Other Side.’ I ‘take on’ so much emotion; my patients benefit from my empathic approach, but anything upsetting seems to hugely affect me from every aspect of my life whether that be personally, friends, family, patients and even indirectly from things on the news or social media. Images are the worst and will haunt me for weeks on end. Just hearing or reading about tragic events deeply upsets me. I don’t watch the news anymore; I tend to use social media as a newspaper instead but, even then, I can sometimes unwittingly have something inflicted on me that I don’t want to see and can’t cope with well.
Some of the above will have been evident from the blog. The main reason for the decision to say who I am comes from the fact that there is going to be a fresh chapter in my life and opportunities for new openings professionally; that directly result from this experience I have been through, the blog and everything that has gone with it as it has evolved:
I could stay relatively anon with:
- Continuing my own blog.
- Running my online psychological support groups.
But need my ‘real’ identitiy for:
- The ‘Glos. Medics Meet‘ group I have set up – already known now locally anyway.
- Possibilities to write beyond my own blog.
- Expanding further into Physician Wellbeing and an emerging interest in Lifestyle Medicine.
- I have been in contact with others with similar interests and they know who I am already. I may meet some of them in person at an upcoming conference.
- I am generating my own resources and ‘infographics’ which are also being used by others and I would like to be able to ‘own’ them properly.
- There is also an event coming up where I have been asked if I might share these resources directly; in which case ‘GP and Human’s’ face/name will be evident if anyone recognises them from my blog!
I feel I want my identity known as opening up about my experience has been welcomed by others, especially those in a similar position:
- A few people are concerned about me revealing my identity for fear of putting myself in a vulnerable position or being ridiculed; this makes me feel quite frustrated and angry and all the more determined to play my part in breaking down the mental health stigma, both for myself and in support of all of those it affects. I am not ashamed; if I can be an advocate for #timetotalk and #timetochange, then bring it on!
- It would also make accepting the gratitude that has been expressed to me by others feel more authentic….not often do I feel deserving of thanks but I actually feel I have achieved something positive with this so why shouldn’t I take a little credit for a change?!
I feel quite optimistic and excited about moving forward but can only proceed, grow and develop further as the ‘real’ me.
I already have this declaration on my website which I may update in due course as things evolve further, but it is particularly important to draw attention to it at this stage:
‘All opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else, including my employer. I hope my blogs and writing will be helpful to others but it is not intended to replace individualised proper medical assessment and advice.’
I am deliberately not putting up a ‘proper’ picture of myself, partly as I would prefer not to yet anyway and partly as I don’t want to inflict my face on you all! (I am no oil painting!)
So…here goes….no turning back now!
This is ‘me’…
Dr. Kathryn Hayman