She was new. It was her first visit in my office, her first time seeing any doctor since she had moved to California 4 months ago. Truthfully, she should have come much sooner, for her problem had been going on for quite some time.
She suffered from a pretty severe case of anxiety disorder which, when combined with panic, depression, three children and some OCD added up to more than most people can handle.
The diagnosis was easy, more of me confirming what she knew to be true rather than solving a dilemma. The treatment decisions were pretty easy as well, as it really didn't matter which flavor of prozac-like medication I chose. The biggest challenge was getting her to believe that she would be okay, that normalcy was a possibility.
Since all she knew about me was that I had decent Yelp reviews, I felt it appropriate to give her a better basis for confidence in my recommendations. I briefly shared with her that I have experienced many of the same symptoms, and the same diagnosis. I have had anxiety and panic disorder for several years.
I then shared something else, something I pray hit home. I shared my belief as a Christian that we are all broken in some way. Every one of us. We all need help. And I shared that according to the Apostle Paul, God's plan is that we help each other, or as he put it, “We are to bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
I was not surprised to learn that she was lacking such support in her life, that she was not part of any community of people who could love and encourage her. We talked about where she might find this support, and I encouraged her to consider checking out a local church, because a group of people who would care about her and pray for her could only be a good thing.
I told her to see me in a week, and to call me if she needed me before then. I then gave her a hug when she left. (Which may have been the best medicine I gave her) We too often forget the power of a touch, the impact of truly caring about someone. She reminded me of how much we all need that at times.