Lyndy is a consultant adult Psychiatrist and has held numerous leadership positions throughout her career, including a decade working within Maori Mental Health services. She is passionate about reducing inequity and improving access to mental health services for those that need it; it is this that has driven her engagement in medico-political roles. Lyndy is a true advocate for those whose voice is not being heard and it was a pleasure hearing her story.
I was a British military kid and I remember growing up thinking that life was so much better for men! I recall being asked when I was young by benign but slightly patronising adults what I wanted to do when I grew up when it seemed like the right answer was to arrange flowers and marry a military man. And then I was admitted to hospital at the age of nine with a burst appendix. I was there for ten days; they even sewed the eye back onto my bunny! I watched the nurses, the junior doctors, the consultants and I just thought it was fantastic. From then onwards, I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t really have a clue as to what it actually involved, there were no doctors in my family, but I was determined.
As I got older, it became pretty obvious my better subjects were English and history and I was hopeless at maths! But I kept at the sciences and got my offers for medical school. I trained at the Royal Free in London and loved it, I felt that I was finally doing what I had always wanted. I ended up doing SHO jobs on the Liver Unit and Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care. During this time, I met and married a Kiwi; I was young, only 24. I was working one in two, nights and weekends, which was exhausting. I felt I had no chance to actually build therapeutic relationships with patients. It wasn’t why I went into medicine. Eventually I decided I was over the hierarchy, the hours and I left to pursue my other childhood dream – to be a journalist – when I had idolised Kate Adie (a BBC war correspondent). I realised emulating her was unrealistic and I got a job at the British Medical Association writing for the BMA News Review. I learned how to write (and to type) and had a fantastic mentor in the editor; covering the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences and interviewing eminent colleagues. However, I soon realised how difficult it was to get people to speak to you frankly as a journalist. I had always been struck by how being a doctor instilled trust in people; journalists have the opposite effect! Around that point, we decided to come to New Zealand to spend time in my husband’s country and I decided to come back to medicine.