I couldn’t believe the story the 22-year-old girl had told me.
She had recently moved to the U.S. from the Middle East after being sexually, emotionally, and physically abused in an arranged marriage. She left behind three years of college in her home country where she was studying economics, a subject she was passionate about, to live with her parents. With minimal English skills, she spent her days working at a local warehouse and nights in class at the local community college studying computer science, a subject she detested. She was depressed and taking medication that was definitely helping her, but she still hadn’t been successful at finding a therapist who spoke her language to help her process all of the challenges and changes she had been experiencing.
We both took a deep breath.
I knew I would not be able to solve all of her problems in a 20-minute depression follow up visit. In fact, I realized that she, like all people, are so complex. I likely hadn’t even hit the tip of the iceberg with everything that she wanted to address.
So, instead, I prioritized.
“Wow, it sounds like you are dealing with a lot of changes in your life right now. I am glad you are feeling less depressed and I hope we are able to find someone you can talk to in your language,” I started. “What can I help you with today? What can I do for you right now?”
Her eyes opened, almost in shock, as if no one had ever asked her that question before. After talking about her migraines, I gave her a hug and she walked out of the appointment with a prescription to help with her headaches.
Sure, I could not and would never be able to fix all of her loaded social problems for her. Yet it felt amazing to at least provide this patient who had been through so much with a listening ear, open arms for a hug, and medical guidance with one small thing. And those small things, I think, can add up to be a lot of healing.