He knocks on the door, eyes trained on the floor
He says he doesn’t know what he is here for
He is restless and anxious. He can’t even stay seated.
“I don’t know what I did,” he says. “This is no way to be treated.”
He is still quite young, not much older than me
He isn’t that tall, maybe just five-foot-three
His eyes are dark brown, just like my mother’s
In strangers’ eyes, he might even be my brother
I look at his file, at his history and meds
He should be admitted, but we’re short on beds
I make sure I have tissues, there’s water within reach
He clears his throat twice, and then starts to speak
He speaks of his childhood, of the things he has known
He speaks of new problems, now that he is grown
With every new word, I feel my heart beat faster
How could a life turn into such a disaster?
What do some people do right, and others do wrong?
What lets me be a doctor, while his future is gone?
But while all these thoughts fly fast through my head
He is still speaking, and says, “I wish I was dead.”
My heart cracks in pieces. There are tears in my eyes.
But he’s still in the room, so I know I can’t cry
What’s the matter with me? I have to be strong!
I can’t start crying with every case that goes wrong!
I can’t go through this heartbreak again and again
But I feel all their pain: when will it end?
I don’t want to go through this every single night!
They tell me I’ll lose it, but is that really right?
Every patient matters; I don’t want to lose touch
With the kindness and compassion which matter so much
But with every new patient comes another new storm
The tear ducts start queuing, and my feelings all swarm
One day I know he’ll be just another man
With a sobering story I’ve heard time and again
But I’m not there yet, so I’ll cry for them all
Until my heart has constructed an impenetrable wall
But it’s not yet finished, there’s too many seams
And while I’m in Empathy Overload, there’s no help for me