The Internet Is Not A Good Psychiatrist — Doctor Who Shared Her Own Medical History and Thoughts Online Killed Herself After a Patient Read Her Posts and Complained

Dr Wendy Potts told her partner ‘How can I have been so stupid?’ after a patient saw her candid online posts and questioned if she should be practicing as a GP Credit: Eugene Henderson

By Telegraph Reporters
26 August 2016 • 12:20pm

A GP who blogged about battling bipolar disorder was found hanged after being suspended from work when a patient read her online diary and complained, an inquest heard.

Weeks before her death, Dr Wendy Potts had written about her condition and the effect it had on her life.

But a patient at the surgery saw her candid online posts and questioned if she should be practicing as a GP when she had the condition.

Dr Potts, a mother of two, later told her partner: “How can I have been so stupid?”

By the time of her death last year, her suspension had been lifted, but she had still not been allowed back to work.

The well-liked medic was planning to start a new life with her family after buying an isolated farm in Wales, but she did not realise her dream of escaping the pressures of her job.

Chesterfield Coroners’ Court heard that months earlier the 46-year-old had experienced a manic high, but her mood dipped in the weeks before her death.

Her partner, Mark St John Jones, found her body at the family’s home in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, on November 24 last year.

Mr Jones said Dr Potts kept an online blog in which she stated that she suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental health condition marked by alternating periods of elation and depression.

He told the court a patient read the blog and complained to Dr Potts’ surgery, which was not named during the hearing.

The GP was suspended from the practice after the October half-term break, which is said to have deepened her low mood.

The court heard Dr Potts was under psychiatric care and her medication was increased after the suspension.

Before Dr Potts’ died, the suspension was lifted by the surgery but this was subject to other investigations being completed.

Mr Jones said Dr Potts had experienced other work-related stresses, including dealing with the death of a patient.

The coroner was also told the keen cyclist and climber had previously tried to take her own life.

“Wendy said, ‘How can I have been so stupid?’ – relating to the blog”

–Mark St John Jones, Wendy Potts’ partner

But consultant psychiatrist Dr David Walker said he was not aware of this attempt. “She chose not to tell me this had happened,” he added.

Dr Potts’ mother Joan told the court about her daughter’s manic episode in February 2014.

She said: “She was shouting, jumping on the settee and talking in rhyme. It was very strange – I’ve never seen anything like it before. We didn’t see anything like it again.”

After the manic high, Dr Potts did not work for three months. Mrs Potts added that her daughter “felt she had got more than she could cope with” after she and her partner bought a smallholding in Cardigan, West Wales, in May.

However, Mr Jones said: “Wendy wrote in her blog that this was what she wanted. She wanted to get away from work.”

Derbyshire’s Assistant Coroner, James Newman, adjourned the inquest to obtain and read a report relating to Dr Potts’ suspension from work.

The hearing will continue on a date to be fixed.

Help agencies in the UK:

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call on the phone. This number is FREE to call. 116 123 (UK) 116 123 (ROI)

MIND, the mental health charity: Website 0300 123 3393

Rethink Mental Illness: Website 0300 5000 927

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