A Doctor Opens Up About Her Mental Health Challenges

Such stigma against mental illness is indisputably apparent in the US health care system and often has detrimental consequences on patient care. My experience became a fundamental moment in my own personal narrative, sparking an ambition to combat this stigma...jamanetwork.com, My Lie by Omission, Katherine A. Termini, MD, 2021

Approximately a year after my hospitalization, I resolved to continue living regardless of further hardship. The finality of this decision imbued me with a thirst for life and drive to improve myself, which became a pillar of my adult identity. The importance of my suicide attempt on my personal history became especially salient during college. I openly shared this background with peers, so my story could mitigate the misconceptions of those with mental illness. I hoped to convey that suicidal ideation was not the tropes portrayed in media; it was neither romantic nor maniacal.

When applying to medical school, I initially planned to share this story in my personal statement and interviews. However, I was advised by mentors to avoid the subject of my mental health history.

Determined to enter medicine, I reworked my personal statement and delivered one that was lackluster and unoriginal. I considered my lie by omission to be another hoop to jump through, like the Medical College Admission Test. I told myself that I could begin tearing down some of this bias once I was actually in medical school.

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2781853