The Depressed Doctor

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Natalie could not possibly be depressed. She is a doctor after all. Doctors do not get depressed. And really, what is the point of being a doctor? She saves people so that they can live a little longer trying to fulfill all of Earth's stressful demands. Really, what is the meaning of life?

Chapter 1

 

It would be so nice to fall asleep right now. I had been awake most of the night and had gotten very little sleep. I was finding it very difficult to concentrate on the large pile of patient folders in front of me. And once I managed to get that done, I needed to do some reading in the medical text beside me. There was no way I would get it all done before patients began arriving.

“Good morning, Natalie,” Luna said as she came into my office. “How are you doing?”

“Fine,” I lied with a yawn.

“Wow, you look like you did not sleep a wink last night. What kept you up?”

“I just had one of those nights where I could not sleep.”

“The reason I came by was to see if you would be willing to take on a couple patients for me this afternoon. I have a meeting and I would hate to reschedule those appointments.”

A couple months ago, I would have eagerly taken the extra appointments. I had loved my job as a doctor and I was always eager to help people. But now, I just have no enthusiasm for my job.

“I can’t,” I said. “I am booked up for the day.” That was not true. I hardly had any appointments because I had not scheduled very many in the last couple of weeks. I would mostly have to deal with walk-ins today.

“I will go see if Kiera can help me out,” Luna said.

I reluctantly pulled on my white coat and went to see my first patient.

“Good morning,” I said as I entered the exam room and saw a mother and young toddler. “I am Dr. Rider. What seems to be the problem?”

“My daughter fell and scraped her knee,” she said. “I think it is infected.”

I put the girl on the table and looked at her knee. It was scraped but not infected. I cleaned it and covered it in a bandage before sending her on her way.

Most doctors hate patients like this because they really do not need our help. They take up time that we need for more serious cases. But today, I was glad for the easy case. I did not want something too difficult because of my concentration problem today. There could be serious consequences.

I sighed as I washed my hands and then headed to the next exam room. It was going to be a long day.

 

Chapter 2

 

I opened my eyes the next morning and looked around the room. I was happy to be able to be in bed. I had waited for this too long yesterday. I really did not want to get out of bed today. Plus, I had struggled to fall asleep and then stay asleep. It would be nice to sleep a little longer.

I looked over at my alarm clock, wondering how much longer I had before I needed to start the torture of the day. It was 9:04. It was 9:04! I was supposed to have been at the clinic over an hour and a half ago.

I immediately jumped out of bed and threw on the same scrubs I wore yesterday. I really was not hungry (as usual) so I skipped breakfast and sped off to work.

“Where were you?” Luna asked angrily when she saw me in the hall, pulling on my coat.

“I overslept.”

“Well, thanks to you, we are running way behind schedule. You had a couple appointments this morning and the other doctors are trying to cover them but they still have their own appointments.”

“Sorry,” I said before ducking into the exam room. I was glad to have an excuse to get away from Luna’s rants.

I skipped lunch because I was not hungry. Plus, I knew the other doctors were still scrambling to make up for my lost time.

By later that afternoon, things had finally slowed down. I went to my office with the hope that I would be able to catch up on some paperwork. That is, if I would be able to concentrate.

I had only been in there for a few minutes when Luna burst through the door. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“Uh, paperwork,” I said sarcastically as I held up the file in front of me. That was not entirely true. I had gotten nothing accomplished yet because I was having concentration problems again.

“You have patients to see!” Luna exclaimed.

“No, I don’t. We are finally caught up from this morning.”

“You have that paralysis case and then you have the meeting with her other doctors!”

Several months ago, there was a teenage girl that was badly injured in a car accident and ended up in a wheelchair. I am one of her doctors. Even though she is now out of the hospital, she still comes in often so I can see how she is doing. I also have to meet frequently with her other doctors so that we can discuss her progress.

“That is today?” I asked as I scrambled around, looking for my calendar. Sure enough, the appointment was there.

“How could you have forgotten?” Luna asked.

I could not understand why she was so upset. I was only a little late.

“What is with you today?” she asked.

I ignored Luna and rushed to the exam room.

 

Chapter 3

 

Jaelyn and her sister Addie were waiting in the exam room when I arrived.

“Sorry,” I said, out of breath.

“It is ok,” Jaelyn said cheerfully.

Jaelyn amazes me. Despite being a paraplegic at fifteen and also an orphan, (her parents were killed in the accident so Addie, being eighteen, became her legal guardian) she is the happiest person ever.

I wish I could be as happy as her. I have a good job and everything I could ever need but I just am so unhappy. Someday, I should ask Jaelyn what is her secret. But not today because I was late for the meeting.

“Do you mind if we move your appointment until after the meeting?” I asked the girls. “The meeting was supposed to start ten minutes ago.”

The girls agreed so we went down the hall to the conference room where the meeting was being held.

“Sorry I am late,” I said. “I got held up with another pat-“ I stopped when I noticed Luna was in the room. She knew the truth.

“Let’s get started,” Dr. Leeds suggested from the head of the table.

The girls and I took our spots and the doctors around us began taking turns talking about Jaelyn’s progress since the accident. I tried to listen but I was finding it difficult to stay focused.

All I could think about was how bad my life seemed at the present time. Why had I ever become a doctor? Why could I just not go home right now and fall asleep forever?

“Paging Dr. Rider,” a voice said as a hand was waved in my face.

I came back to the meeting with a start. Obviously, I had missed something.

“Sorry, what did you say?” I asked.

“It is your turn,” Dr. Leeds said impatiently.

I sighed and began sharing. I could not wait for the day to be over.

 

Chapter 4

 

I arrived right on time the next morning. I had accidently slept late again but I had at least had the chance to get ready and arrive right before the doors opened. That is why I was surprised to see Luna waiting outside my office with an angry expression on her face.

“Let’s go into an exam room to talk,” she said.

“Why?” We could talk just fine in my office.

Luna put a hand on my shoulder and led me into the nearest exam room. “Have a seat,” she ordered.

I looked around the room and found Kiera sitting on the doctor’s stool and Luna had already claimed the other chair by the desk usually reserved for waiting friends and family. The only spot left was the exam table.

I was nervous as I took a seat. I was not sick. I was getting the feeling that this was an intervention. For what though, I did not know.

“What is going on?” I asked.

“That is what we want to know,” Luna said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Lately, you have been acting very odd.”

“I slept late, ok?” I said irritably. “It could happen to anyone.”

“You forgot that appointment yesterday,” Luna reminded me.

“Again, that could happen to anyone.” What was with these guys?

“You have been turning down appointments and you no longer seem to have that great smile you have had ever since you became a doctor. You have changed.”

“So what? There is no need for this intervention.”

“We think you have depression,” Kiera said seriously.

“Depression?” I said with a laugh but it was more of a panicked laugh. I had never thought that I could be depressed. Maybe there was something more to what was going on. I really did not want to find out though. I especially did not want Luna and Kiera to know if I did.

“I am a doctor, I don’t get depressed,” I said.

“Yeah, and doctors do not get sick,” Luna said with a laugh.

Kiera handed me a piece of paper that I recognized as the questionnaire we give to patients to find out if they are depressed.

“I am not taking this,” I said as I handed it back to her.

“Come on, Natalie. It is for your own good.”

“I am not taking it.” I tried to get down off the table but Kiera and Luna were surrounding me.

“You have been so busy helping others but now it is your chance to be helped.” Luna handed me the test.

“I will lie,” I said.

“Then we will just write you an antidepressant prescription.”

“And I will refuse to take it.” I pushed my way through Kiera and Luna before they could stop me and ran to my office. I sat down in the corner and just cried.

 

Chapter 5

 

I do not know how long I spent in the corner crying, but eventually, there was a knock on the door and Luna let herself in. Without a word, she sat down beside me and patted me on the back.

“I always wanted to be a doctor,” I said at last. “I was living the dream.”

“What happened?” she asked.

I shrugged. “I do not know. There just came a day where I was no longer interested in practicing medicine. I could no longer sleep. Life lost meaning.”

“Don’t you want your life back?”

“Who wouldn’t?”

“That is why you need to accept that you have depression and get help.”

“I just cannot believe that I did not recognize depression in myself. I have diagnosed patients with depression before.”

“But surely you have patients that have not recognized that they have depression?” Luna asked.

I had had patients that have had depression for a long time and did not realize it. I have also had patients that have misunderstood their depression as ordinary sadness.

“What will people say when they find out a doctor has depression?”

“Nobody has to know. You can go on practicing medicine. And in a few weeks, your antidepressant will start working.”

“But still, a doctor that is depressed.”

“Depression does not discriminate, Natalie. Surely you learned that in medical school. Depression is not a flaw in character but brain chemistry.”

“Still, it is not something you think will ever happen to you.”

“Yeah, well, the number of people who suffer from depression is very high. Actually, people like me should be more surprised that we have not gotten it.”

“I guess,” I said with a weak laugh. “But still, why me?”

“You are asking big questions, Natalie. Only God has the answers. I suggest you come to my church on Sunday and find out.”

“I will pass,” I said. “I am too messed up right now for church.” I stood up and pulled on my white coat. It was time for me to get to work.

“But only God can fix you,” Luna called to me before I left the office.

 

Chapter 6

I began taking an antidepressant but it was still too early for it to be working. I still would toss and turn most nights and continued to feel sad for no reason. I still was not back to my usual self that enjoyed being a doctor.

In fact, Sunday morning, I woke up early and wondered what the point of it all was. I had lost a patient the day before and it really made me question the meaning of life. I would only continue making people well and giving them a little more time on this Earth to fulfill all of life’s stressful demands and for what? Just so people could live the chaotic and demanding life.

I really was not doing anyone a favor. In fact, people would be better off without me. It would all be so simple. I could be gone in no time.

As a doctor, I know suicidal thoughts are not normal. I know that such thoughts require medical attention. But I know that would just lead me straight to the psychiatric hospital.

I remembered the other day when I was talking to Luna. I had enjoyed our conversation. That had actually made me feel better, at least for a little while. Maybe she could do the same now. I decided to call her.

“Hi, Luna,” I said after she answered, “it is Natalie. Do you have time to talk?”

“Actually, I am on the way to church. How about you join me and we can go out to lunch afterwards to talk?”

I really did not want to go to church but I figured it would be better than staying home alone. Who knew what I would do?

“I will meet you there,” I agreed.

 

Chapter 7

 

I was nervous as I walked into the church. I had never been one for religion. I guess I had trouble understanding why God would allow so much suffering in the world. I have heard it said that doctors have to believe in miracles after all of the patients they have seen but I have yet to associate these miracles with God. I mean, there is still suffering. Plus, now, I have depression.

There was a couple by the door that greeted me and then I found Luna waiting for me right outside the sanctuary doors.

“Hi, I am so glad you could make it,” Luna said.

“Yeah,” I said.

I followed her into the sanctuary. It was nothing like what I had expected. Instead of hard wooden pews, there were chairs that actually looked pretty comfortable. And instead of an old organ up front, there was a drum set, a piano, and a bunch of guitars.

“Is there a concert today?” I asked.

Luna laughed. “No, we have a worship band that does all of the service’s music.”

After a couple minutes, the band came up front and took their places behind their instruments and microphones.

“I am so glad to see you at Faith Community Church this morning,” one of the band members said. “Let us begin by going to the Lord in prayer.”

Everyone around me was bowing their heads so I did the same thing.

“Lord,” the gentleman up front said, “I thank You for the opportunity to worship You this morning. I pray that You will open our hearts to what will be said today so that we can grow in our faith. Amen.”

After the prayer, we sang a couple of upbeat songs. My favorite one was about praising God even in the storm of life. I felt like that song really applied to my life.

After a couple songs, a man came forward. I figured out he must be the pastor.

“Hope is something we need for survival,” he began. “We can only live forty days without food and three days without water but we cannot live a second without hope. Hope is what gets us through life. Hope is often born out of adversity and then continues to grow. Hope comes from our suffering. As it says in Romans 5:2b, ‘We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.’

“It definitely seems odd that a person should rejoice in suffering. But would you not agree that the tough moments in life are what truly make us who we are. Our sufferings help us to grow and become better people.”

I guess I could agree with that but that did not mean that I liked what I was going through right now. And how exactly was depression going to make me a better person?

“Hope requires waiting though,” the pastor continued. “We have to wait patiently for what we hope for. And that includes Heaven. We all hope for Heaven sometime in our future. And on some days, it seems like that day will never come. But it is important to hold on to that hope because everything on this Earth is temporary but Heaven is eternal. As it says in Revelation 21:4, ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain because the former things have passed away.’

“Hope is the only thing that will get you through adversity. God is eternal life. You can thank God that you will not always be here. Plus, hope will not disappoint. Our hope is based on God, the Lord and Savior of our lives!”

The pastor finished his sermon and the worship band came up again to sing a couple more songs. I did not join in this time though. I was too busy thinking about what the pastor said. I did not have much hope in my life right now because of my depression. But I was kind of wondering how all this religious hope would apply to my life after I was feeling better. I could not wait to leave and go to lunch with Luna so that I could ask her a ton of questions.

 

Chapter 8

 

“So what was it that you wanted to talk about?” Luna asked after we had been seated at a table at the café.

I was having trouble remembering. I was still thinking about the sermon. “It is not important,” I said.

“Of course it is, Natalie. I do not think you would have gone to church with me today if you hadn’t really wanted to talk to me.”

She was right.

“Fine; please do not overreact, but I was thinking about how much better my life would be if I was no longer here.”

“Are you thinking about suicide?” Luna asked in a hushed but shocked voice.

“I was, but not anymore.”

“You realize that this is serious? Suicidal thoughts require medical attention.”

“I will be fine,” I said.

Luna did not look like she believed me but she did not say anything.

“Actually, now, I want to talk about the sermon.”

Luna’s face brightened. “It was good, wasn’t it?”

“I guess hope is one thing I could really use in my life right now, especially with my depression.”

“I guess that is why we need to look at the big picture. As long as you are a Christian, you have hope in Heaven.”

I really did not think I counted as a Christian. I do not really know what the definition was. But even though I did believe in God, I was sure there was something more to it all.

“How does a person become a Christian?” I asked.

“I am so glad you asked that! It is all very easy but if you wait too long to make such an important decision, there will be serious consequences. You know, nobody on this Earth is perfect. We are all sinners. God sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and then die on the cross for all sins. Whoever accepts this forgiveness and gives their life to live for God will one day spend eternity in Heaven.”

I guess it was a good thing I had not acted on my suicidal thoughts. It sounds like I could have very well spent eternity in a place far worse than Earth.

“So are you saying that God does not care how bad or good a person is?” I asked. I had heard this theory before and wanted it clarified.

“That is a common misconception. So are you ready to make the decision?”

“I am going to need a little time.” I had a lot to think about.

“Don’t wait too long. If you are a Christian today, you are as close to hell as you will ever be. To a non-Christian though, they are as close to Heaven as they will ever get.”

 

Chapter 9

 

My next patient was not much older than me.

“What seems to be the problem, Lena?” I asked after a quick look at her file.

“I think I am depressed,” Lena said.

I was so shocked to hear my familiar illness that I dropped her file and the papers inside scattered all over the floor.

“Sorry” I said as I bent down to pick up the papers. “What makes you think you are depressed?”

“I just have very little interest in my life any more. I also have been feeling sad and hopeless lately.”

I found the depression test that I had taken just a few days ago and gave it to Lena. After she finished, I calculated her score.

“So what is the diagnosis?” Lena asked after I had looked up.

“Depression,” I said. I wished it were not so. I would do anything to take away the illness that was making my life so difficult. I would never wish depression on my worst enemy.

Lena burst into tears.

“Look, I know you have been feeling depressed lately but a diagnosis of depression is no reason to cry. You will get better.”

“It is not that,” she said with a sniff. “My husband is a very devote Christian. He does not believe in mental illness.”

“Why would he not believe in mental illness?” I asked curiously.

“He says that there is no mention of mental illness in the Bible so therefore, it does not exist. He says that we choose our emotions and must live with the consequences.”

“I may not be very familiar with the Bible, but I am familiar with depression. I can firmly tell you that depression is a mental illness. I have it myself. I know I did not choose to feel sad. Nobody wishes to be sad.”

“You have depression?” Lena asked incredulously.

“I am human,” I said as I scribbled her a prescription.

I was eager to get home so that I could do some research about mental illness in the Bible.

 

Chapter 10

 

As soon as I got home, I got on my computer and researched depression and religion. I found a very interesting sermon that explained the connection between the two. I never would have thought that God would have anything to do with depression but surprisingly, there was a connection. I eagerly turned up the sound on my computer and grabbed a pad of paper to take notes.

“Lately, we hear a lot about mentally ill people committing horrific shooting crimes,” the speaker began. “There has been talk of more help being given to those with mental illnesses. There is so much stigma and stereotypes against the mental illness that I thought we should look more at how God plays into it all.

“Did you know that about 500 million people are affected by a mental illness?” he asked. “That is about eight percent of the world population. Some people believe that with a positive attitude, these people would feel better. They say that people must choose their emotions and then live with the consequences.

“How can God play into the mental illness? Some say that mental illnesses didn’t exist in Biblical times. They say this is a modern invention to legitimatize sinful behavior. Others say that mental illness is a consequence of sin.

“Man was made in God’s image. That includes people suffering from a mental illness. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan once said that people suffering from a mental illness kind of resemble Jesus on the cross. They have experienced scorn, rejection, loneliness, and deprivation.

Though mental illness has not been mentioned specifically in the Bible, there are verses that may mean many of our Biblical heroes did suffer from depression. Moses, Jonah, David, Job, and Jeremiah all could have possibly been depressed.

“I am not trying to make you believe that mental illness is real. You are free to believe what you want. People suffering though still need to learn about God so that they can be saved. They also need to be treated with respect. They are human and made in God’s image.

“Lord,” he prayed (I quickly bowed my head like everyone else) “I pray for all those suffering from mental illness. I pray that you will heal them and give them the help they need. Amen.

“God wants all of you to join His family. If you are ready, God will take you, no matter what your mental status may be. I invited anyone ready to make a decision to come forward at this time.”

I was stunned as the pastor finished. I sat in silence for several minutes and thought about what I had just heard. Maybe God could use me, the depressed doctor.

“Lord,” I prayed again, “what are your plans for me and how do they include depression? Please let me know so that I can live my life for You. Amen.”

 

Chapter 11

 

The call came in the middle of the night. One of my patients was about to have her baby.

Lately, every time my phone rings in the middle of the night, I have been tempted to just let it go to voicemail. I blame my depression. I mean, sleep has become extremely important to me ever since I lost interest in my life. Being asleep means I do not have to deal with life.

I reluctantly rolled out of bed and threw on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. I would change into scrubs at the hospital.

“Hello,” I said as I burst into the delivery room several minutes later.

Marissa, my patient, was having a contraction and did not seem to even notice that I was there.

“The baby is coming fast,” the nurse said. “You got here just in time.”

Marissa let out a scream, drawing my attention back to her.

“It will all be over soon,” I promised.

“Please do something!” Marissa cried.

Marissa had wanted to have a natural birth. Many women feel that way but they quickly change their mind once the contractions start.

“The baby will be here soon,” I said. “Once the baby is in your arms, you will forget all about the labor pains.”

“Will you pray with me?” Marissa asked.

“Pray?” I was very surprised. I had seen patients praying with their families before but I had never been asked to pray before.

“Please?” Marissa begged. “I am carrying the future servant of the Lord. If I do not get some Heavenly help, I do not know if I will be able to do this.”

I knew Marissa could do it. Women had been giving birth for years. But if it would make Marissa feel better, I would try praying.

“Lord, I ask that You be with Marissa. Help her have a quick delivery. Give her the strength she needs to finish. Amen.”

Marissa did not hear the end of my prayer because she was having a contraction. But I did not care. Marissa did look much stronger and more determined than she did before the prayer.

It was all over in a few minutes. Soon, Marissa held a little baby girl in her arms. My job was finished. Marissa had eyes only for her girl, but I just could not leave.

I had seen countless births. Each one is a miracle. But this birth was unique in a different way. Marissa had said that this baby was God’s servant. This baby would grow up to do amazing things for God. Wasn’t that a possibility for all people? If so, that would mean that life had more meaning than I had originally thought. God had plans for me, just like the baby in front of me!

 

Chapter 12

 

“Are you all right?” Luna asked me when I came out of the delivery room.

“Of course,” I said. “Why?”

“You seem happy,” Luna commented. “You have not seemed happy in awhile.”

“I just delivered a baby,” I told her. “It just got me thinking.”

“About what?”

“Well, the mother said she was carrying God’s servant. That got me thinking that God could probably use all of us, if we would let Him. That made me realize that life has meaning.”

“So what is the meaning of your life?”

“I am supposed to be a doctor!” I said with a laugh. It was probably the first real laugh in a long time. “Imagine what I can do to help people with God at my side!”

“I like this Natalie better,” Luna said.

“I do too,” I agreed. “I did not like feeling down all the time. I did not like it when I was dissatisfied with my job as a doctor.”

“Welcome back, Natalie,” Luna said as she gave me a hug.

“Actually, I am not back,” I told her.

“What do you mean?” she asked. “I mean, I know you will still be depressed, but you have meaning to your life now. Surely that brings you back to the doctor you used to be.”

“The old Natalie did not have God in her life,” I said. “The new Natalie knows that God has a purpose for her on Earth but also that she needs Him to forgive her past so she can start a new life living for Him!”

Luna let out such a loud squeal that I was afraid she was going to disturb the new baby.

“Shh,” I said.

“Sorry!” Luna whispered.

“Will you pray with me?” I asked.

“Sure!”

“Lord,” I prayed, “thanks for giving my life meaning today. I am sorry it took so long. I am sorry for all my other past mistakes. Thanks for sending Your Son Jesus to die for me. Help me to begin a new life for You. Amen.”

“Amen,” Luna said before we both headed down the hall to help the next patient with God at our sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: December 07, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Kimberly Adams. All rights reserved.

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