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The High Price of Dishonesty

Bryce Bowers, DO tells of how we, in healthcare, and especially physicians, can pay a high price if we fail to be honest about where we are at with our mental health.

January 9, 2024

Here is the car I drove (and still drive, actually).

The High Price of Dishonesty
My pride and joy, “Ms. Stang”.

Here is the view from a hike I did, just outside the city I lived in – one of the most beautiful areas to live, wouldn’t you agree?

The High Price of Dishonesty
San Jacinto – this one was a toughy.

Here is how much money I was making – can you say, 6 figures?

 

I know what you’re thinking – and yes its true – military residents get paid WAY more than civilian residents.

 

I had it made, right?

Living large?

Happier than ever?

What could be wrong?

Well, everything to start.

 

I was miserable.

Flat out the most unhappy I had ever been.

Despite externally looking life my life was perfect, on the inside I was in shambles.

This was how I felt my intern year of residency, when I was living in beautiful San Diego, driving a very nice sports car, and making what was in my mind, a ton of money.

But usually as I was driving that sports car, windows down with the wind blowing through my hair, you would find me talking to a loved one from back home.

 

Despite externally looking life my life was perfect, on the inside I was in shambles.
- Bryce Bowers, DO
SoMeDocs

 

“How are you doing?” They would ask.

“Oh. Great. Wonderful. Couldn’t be better. Weather is awesome. I feel amazing. So good”.

Only one part of that statement was true.

 

I wasn’t doing well.

I was extremely depressed. I was so anxious. I was numbing my feelings in every unhealthy way possible. I was anything but fine.

I was so dishonest back in those days about how I was feeling.

And honestly, It hasn’t been until recently that I learned how important it is for us to be honest with ourselves.

You see, I perpetuated this mantra that I was “great” and “couldn’t be better” to anyone and everyone that asked me.

Each time I did, however, I felt my soul cry out just a little more.

But I didn’t want to worry family and friends who were thousands of miles away. I didn’t want to burden them with my problems – assuredly they had enough of their own.

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So I lied.

And I lied very well. We in medicine are the best actors – if we fail at this career, do not fear – you can just hop on the I-5 here in southern California and make your way up Hollywood to take your acting career to new heights.

But this dishonesty came at a steep price.

Slowly, each lie became a heavier burden for me to carry. My mental health deteriorated to a critical point under the crushing weight of being disingenuous.

But I made nobody the wiser.

And boy was that a mistake.

 

I broke down.

I found myself unable to get out of bed one day at the beginning of my second year of residency. Laying there, tears soaking my pillow case, unable to move.

Completely catatonic.

At a point of desperation, I called my mom, my sister and my two best friends.

And no more than 24 hours later, they dropped everything, flew across the country, and showed up at my bedside.

What transpired next are details for another day. But my mental health was at such a critical point that I ended up leaving the Navy, being processed out, and moving home to Michigan.

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It was such a tumultuous time for me.

I had no idea what to think. What to do. I was so scared. So nervous. So confused.

I realize now that ultimately, I think a lot of the heartache and grief I experienced could have been avoided.

I still remember what my friend said to me that day he showed up to rescue me.

He hugged me with one of his legendary hugs, and said:

“Bryce. We love you. You just have to be honest with us about how you are feeling so you never get to this point again. I promise you, you are never a burden. Okay?”

“I promise.” I said, tears soaking his shirt.

And that changed just about everything for me.

 

I try and do a better job of being honest about how I’m feeling.

I know I struggle with anxiety and depression, and so when I’m headed down a dark path, I try to be sure to let someone that cares about me know.

Being honest in this way is tough – I know this all too well. But it is so ungodly important that I cannot emphasize it enough.

It takes courage. It takes bravery. It takes practice. But I urge you, especially in regards to your mental health, and especially if you’re in the field of medicine – be honest. Come forward. Share how you are feeling. Avoid the detriments and pitfalls I have. Do not let those feelings build up inside you until they reach a point of no return. You may find you’ve done irreparable damage to yourself, your reputation or otherwise if you do (I also know this first hand).

It is not worth it, I promise you.

Bryce Bowers, DO

Bryce Bowers, DO

“We must first take care of ourselves in order to take care of the patient.”

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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