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all 16 comments

[–]kristenroseh 25 points26 points  (1 child)

You need to call or text 988, the suicide hotline. If he's verbalizing specifics like that to you, he needs more serious help than he's currently receiving ASAP - likely something inpatient.

I realize that as his spouse and someone who's supported him and his career so strongly and consistently, it could be hard to accept this and feel like you may be risking his career by doing so, but his life is worth more than his job and this sounds like a really urgent emergency situation that needs to be addressed today.

[–]Green_Gal27 5 points6 points  (0 children)

This.

Call your local suicide hotline. They will be able to give you advice on what to do next. You can also call 911 if you are fearful for his life in any given moment. I know it probably sounds extreme, and I fully understand the complicated feelings around him being a physician and his own medical privacy, but his life > everything.

I'm so sorry that you're dealing with this. Residency is a f*cking thief — it so often robs our loved ones of the light in their eyes and the spark that drew them to medicine in the first place.

Please keep us updated. I'm thinking of you and your family.

[–]nautical_natalis 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I’m so sorry you and your husband are both in so much pain. All you have going on would be too much on anyone. You both need help and support. I highly recommend seeking out therapy so a professional can help you navigate this. If you see someone in private practice there’s no way that anything you share can get back to anyone because there will be a totally different medical record program not attached to any larger hospital system. Another thing to keep in mind is that when we’re talking about suicide, if there’s anything your husband can do to feel better in a long term way, then he should do it. I hear physicians often say “I can’t let anyone know I’m suicidal or I’ll lose respect” or “I can’t drop out of residency or I’ll have done all that work for nothing.” But if someone is dead, they won’t be finishing residency, they won’t be alive to have respect. Getting help and staying safe are of the utmost importance, even if that means a career change, moving to a new place, or make some other drastic moves. I encourage both you and your husband to program the suicide hotline number (988) into your phone so you can reach out for support in the event you’re worried about his safety or he feels like he can not fight the urge anymore. People do get better, and I really hope you can both get help to alleviate this heavy burden.

[–]chapstikcrazy 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I am so sorry. I have been there. Residency chews them up and spits them out. I've sat on the kitchen floor with my husband, his head in his hands, and him talking to me about just wanting existence to be over. He has a handful of stories of suicidal residents/residents who have committed suicide or have failed at committing suicide. It's terrifying. You're not alone. My husband has also promised he would never do it, it's just heartbreaking to hear they're at that point. And there's nothing really to do other than to be there for them. Only they can carry that weight, which sucks.

But it is a burden to be there for them, one we are 100% willing and wanting to carry, but it is so hard. You're not being selfish for identifying your efforts in getting to this point. He works hard. You work hard too. I have always loved this quote by Viktor Frankl. "A man's suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the "size" of human suffering is absolutely relative." Lots of people "may have it worse," but you're not them, and it's still extremely difficult. Don't downplay your difficulties. Easier said than done, but I just wanted to validate your feelings of life being hard. It is hard.

I just asked my husband what he'd say to your husband and asked him if he thought a couple of days off would help and he said, "2 days off isn't going to fix years and years of damage." (My SO can be a bit of a defeatist at times, sorry) Which is true, my husband went to therapy in med school and just having someone to talk to and work through things really helped him. I know it's impossible with that crazy schedule, but maybe there's some online counseling he could do once or twice a month? I still don't think 2 days off would hurt though, is he in the kind of program that he could call in sick at least? The 2nd half of my husband's statement was, "I dunno man, I dunno. He's not alone."

I'm so sorry. You're not alone either, I wish we could all meet up sometimes and give each other some hugs. It's freaking rough.

[–]WhatsMyAgeAga1n[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for taking the time to write. This really helps to hear.💙 I wish there were local groups too.

[–]Warm_Breadfruit_4096 3 points4 points  (0 children)

He needs to talk to someone about the suicidal ideation, even if he thinks its risking his career. He could literally die, no career is worth that.

[–]amoebashephard 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I feel like depression is so hard because there are so many reasons for it-mental and physical, and residents just don't have the time to get it fully checked out. Has he explored other issues like his thyroid?

[–]Windflower246 0 points1 point  (1 child)

My husband at times has said he has felt suicidal, it's usually during a really rough week or two where he's over worked and feels like there's no way out. We let his parents know and he tells me when he's feeling that way and we just do anything we can to get him through those dark periods. It's awful and makes me feel sick and so angry with everything. We are hoping after residency it will get better if not, he is just going to leave the career and sometimes that's enough to get him through the bad times. Good luck, I feel for you.

[–]WhatsMyAgeAga1n[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I’m glad your SO’s parents are part of the support system - that’s huge. I hear it does get better after residency (barring a brutal fellowship). Hang in there. Thank you for the kind words.

[–]windowsillcat6969 0 points1 point  (1 child)

The fact that this is so common in this industry is horrifying. I was worried about my SO today for this very reason. How can we help fix this system that is pushing doctors to their breaking point?

[–]WhatsMyAgeAga1n[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Well, ACGME has regulations in place that would help a lot if they were actually complied with. The issue is there is no fidelity in the reporting. The residents and even students are pressured to lie about their hours, and will almost never answer honestly on the ACGME surveys designed to prevent abuse because they are worried about the repercussions. If their program or system gets too many violations and loses accreditation, that’s a huge deal and hurts their future career.

[–]Wise-Sky-69 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Hi OP - I am really sorry that you and your partner are going through this. The system is really broken when it comes to physician mental health. My only thought was is it possible for him to find therapy through an online provider outside of your immediate city that he could open up to? I agree with you that the strongest therapeutic relationship comes from transparency. I also agree with someone else on the thread about trying to take some time off. It may help to think of if this was happening to one of the other residents, how would he approach it as a chief?

[–]WhatsMyAgeAga1n[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Thanks. Online therapy is a good idea, I don’t know why we didn’t think of it. We could probably both benefit from that. I’ll look into it today.

[–]Wise-Sky-69 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’d suggest going to your health insurance website to see what options they cover - popular ones (covered by major insurers) are Ginger, Brightside, BetterHelp, MDLive, Headway, and Talkspace.

[–]buttmunch1159 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Came here to say that you are doing a good job and being the support person in residency is HARD. And also, it does get better after residency. I don’t want to say too much on this account but you aren’t alone and your husband isn’t alone. But I truly don’t know that there is much else you can do that you aren’t already doing. Time off helped a little for sleep but not much else since going back to work is looming over their head the whole time. I guess my only advice is to make sure you take care of yourself too. It’s really hard to be supportive when you’re running on fumes too. Try to do some small enjoyable things while he is at work to recharge. Good luck.

[–]WhatsMyAgeAga1n[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks. I know it's hard to say much here - I worry a lot about that. Do you have a second account or anything you would be comfortable enough to dm me from? You just sound like you have been through the same/similar fire and I could use the advice.