An Open Letter to My Patients

People still ask me how to put depression into words: The best I can stay is that I love rainy days. It brings everyone into my brain even if for just a few hours. You’re locked into a rainy day, EVERYDAY. You want to do things but have no motivation. So you stare at your life and others from the window…and awkwardly enough it becomes normal, your new baseline.

Approximately a year ago I wrote an article entitled, “Dr. O, Doctor and Patient in One” published in this magazine. It was my intention to focus on mental health and help educate the diagnosed , their family members and friends.

Since then my life has changed in so many different ways only an “update” article would do justice. This article will assist me in sharing how I am no different than any of you reading this. As with last year’s piece, I fully anticipate the criticism of my colleagues, friends, family and “meanies” alike but to those who can appreciate one’s honesty or who can relate, please enjoy.

Following the publication, my relationship with my patients became more in-depth, and new patients were even more comfortable at their initial visit. People were more patient and willing to wait for their turn during their visit. This was a welcomed change in my life, especially with the increase in burnout affecting physicians. The most welcomed change was my patients and friends calling and texting to ask me how I was doing.

People still ask me how to put depression into words: The best I can stay is that I love rainy days. It brings everyone into my brain even if for just a few hours. You’re locked into a rainy day, EVERYDAY. You want to do things but have no motivation. So you stare at your life and others from the window…and awkwardly enough it becomes normal, your new baseline. Anxiety? Well that’s the worse. You KNOW the thoughts you are having do not make any sense but you can’t help but acknowledge them, which can be debilitating. Not to be confused with disorders in which patients DO NOT KNOW their thoughts are over exaggerated.

Was my depression or anxiety cured with the change?  No. This may still sound crazy, no pun intended but my emotions do not have a direct correlation with success or failure. With treatment, my failure serves as a motivation to help me perform better. Anxiety, assists me in being cautious, as best to my ability in the process of living with my diagnosis and treating patients (note worthy I do have extensive training in mental health illness from my residency, post graduate work and practice).

My new passion is to identify and treat children with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem etc. so they don’t have to suffer or feel alone. If you listen you will hear their cries for help. With the increase of school related violence and teen suicide, I don’t believe that guns are the main problem, it’s the mental illness that is making the person feel that using the gun is the answer or the way out. The depressed mind is a desperate one, if it’s not a gun it would be a bow and arrow or knife. We should have a psychological assessment portion added to our yearly school physicals. A relationship should be forged with the local providers serving children and the schools.

Back to me. What keeps me stable? The support of my husband, Matt, our son, friends, therapy, medication, my business partner, Travis Roberts, CRNP and our patients at OT Family Medicine, keep me going. The professional and personal satisfaction is immeasurable and truly humbling.

I was once asked “if I thought I could do better on my own” with my flaws and all. I answered mentally with a YES! A year later this is no longer a figment of my imagination but a reality that lives at 10339 Southern Maryland Blvd Suite 206. A place where I have been able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

It’s not always easy, in fact it never is but you are not alone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you suffer or have a family member who suffers from episodes of depressed moods, anxiety, fluctuations in moods, suicidal thoughts it’s important to reach out to others, your family, friends, and especially your medical provider.

To schedule an appointment call 443-646-3532 or visit www.otfamilymed.com for more information, and stay connected with us on Facebook.

Walking the walk with you,

Dr. O

Dr. O
I. Monet Ouwinga, MD is a Brooklyn, New York native completing undergraduate at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York and first generation of Haitian decent. Dr. O (as she prefers to be called) completed her basic sciences, obtained her MD at the University of the Americas on the island of Nevis. Completing her clinical rotations in North Carolina and Illinois, Dr. O did her residency in Illinois at Loyola-Cook County Family Medicine and served as Chief resident at her last year. Along with participating in multiple international medical missions, to Haiti and Peru she completed a fellowship in Maternal Child Health at West Suburban Hospital in, Illinois. Dr. O, a born city girl, has dedicated her life to treating patients with the same care she would provide to family members and friends. She has recently become more active in the mental health community, especially after sharing her own diagnosis of Anxiety and Depression. She is passionate about helping others with various ailments from routine visits to complicated diagnosis, ages from new born to geriatrics, in office, online or in their home. Dr. O has made a home in Southern Maryland with her husband and son in 2014 and it has proven to be one of the best life decisions she has made. Together with Travis Roberts, CRNP at their practice OT Family Medicine in Calvert County, they take care of the young, old and everyone in between with dignity and respect.