Local physician describes fight with mental illness and its stigma in new book
Apr 06, 2020 03:51PM
By Hannah LaFond
By Hannah LaFond | [email protected]
In his book “Fallible: A Memoir of a Young Physician’s Struggle with Mental Illness,” Kyle Jones, a local physician, details his fight with depression and anxiety throughout medical school and his early career.
Jones’ hope in writing and publishing this book is to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly in the medical field.
“The prevailing sense of clinical depression and anxiety as a moral failing contributes to increasing suicide rates, lack of individual acceptance of a personal problem, lack of seeking treatment and help, and thus negatively impacts all aspects of society,” Jones told the Millcreek Journal. “It’s important for people and medical professionals to feel empowered to overcome any perceived stigma and seek treatment.”
The stigma surrounding mental illness is explored throughout the book. Often Jones describes feeling weak or inadequate due to his anxieties. He also discusses the immense pressure put on trainees and physicians that only erodes mental health further. He describes how current medical training often involves berating and belittling trainees in front of their peers, which he believes causes further harm.
According to Jones, there’s added pressure put on physicians to not show this strain. They want to be seen as capable caregivers and not show weakness. But this doesn’t mean many medical professionals aren’t feeling similarly to what Jones expressed. In fact, physicians have a notably higher rate of suicide than other professions.
“Even those who appear outwardly successful can inwardly have immense suffering,” Jones said.
The book spends some time exploring this idea that someone’s inner life can be far different from what is apparent. He illustrates many times when a mentor or peer who seemed invincible eventually revealed they were having similar struggles to him (colleagues’ names were changed). Interestingly, the book also describes times his struggles came as a surprise to his associates, showing that though his mental illness was prevalent he also worked to hide it.
Throughout this book, Jones is unflinchingly honest. Rather than hiding his mental illness, he puts the spotlight on it. He describes anxieties, depressive thoughts, panic attacks, the strain on his family, various treatment methods, and his shortcomings in great detail. Jones said he found facing his fallibility while writing the book cathartic. He also hopes his honesty can be an important step in decreasing stigma.
“Recognizing that we all have imperfections and we need to accept our human limitations to live the lives that we want. It is very important to me that we understand that turning our personal weaknesses into strengths is what will help us individually and as a society to overcome our biggest problems,” Jones said.
Jones hopes this book will make a difference in how physicians and those struggling with mental illness view themselves and their struggles.
“I want ‘Fallible’ to be read by medical trainees and those affected by mental illness, whether in their own life or the life of a loved one. I want everyone to understand that it is okay to struggle and need help,” Jones said.
If you’re interested in reading “Fallible,” it will be released on April 2, 2020. A book launch party is scheduled for June 13 at 7 p.m. at Weller Bookworks on Trolley Square.