Getting back to work

Fig 6. Sinclair Miller

During the 1990s, I struggled. To begin with, I had lost a “glass ceiling breaking” career as a neurosurgeon and what was worse I had lost my mind. I had always prided myself on having a good brain. It did what I wanted, solved problems, came up with new ideas, remembered facts and figures, kept going when everyone else was exhausted. It was reliable, almost never made mistakes and on balance, I was proud of my mental performance. Ten years later, after three mental health sections, large amounts of psychiatric medication, weight gain, physically unfit, with a serious back problem, I was completely disheartened. I mourned the loss of that bright young thing with a with glittering life ahead of them.

I married. My husband was kind, tolerant, generous and appreciative – and fulfilled his part of the holy bargain of matrimony but I had places to go and things to do. After a few years, I moved on.

Getting back to work as a doctor was not easy, but it was lucrative and I knew enough about the system to avoid the worst excesses of a profession who believe that once a doctor has a mental health problem, they should never work again. I do not believe that ill people should work. It is important to get the wounded off the pitch. My grandfather in WW1 – see photo, was awarded the DSO for the work he and his stretcher bearers did in keeping the trenches clear of the wounded and in treating them in their field hospital.

Equally, if you are well enough to work, then the opportunities must be there to allow you to contribute. With this in mind, myself, Soames Michelson and a group of doctors including Binks – Sarah Brewer, Janet Prentice, Gillian Robinson and many others, set up and ran the Doctors’ Support Network, for doctors with mental health problems. It continues to this day as a thriving charity dedicated to the well being of doctors who have mental health problems and concerns.

I eventually  got back to work, and settled down as a part-time  General Practitioner and Occupational Health Physician. Nowadays, I am largely retired working a few days month to keep the wolves from the door.


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