My Memories of Dr. Polly Kuyler
I first met Dr. Kuyler in 1982 when I was having my second nervous breakdown. I had just walked out of my teaching job as I had burnt out after one year. She spoke with me about what I could do in the future, not what I had done in the past. After about six months, I was well; off the meds, and on my own. I was sure that I would never need pills or a psychiatrist ever again! This proved not to be the case.
When I suffered my third nervous breakdown, I found myself looking for Dr. Kuyler in the telephone book. Miraculously, she was still practicing in her little house in Queens and was willing to see me again. This time, I stayed with her on a regular basis from 1992 to 2017. She was a great person. Going to her office was like having coffee and cake and a friendly chat with your best friend. Dr. Kuyler was also a matchmaker. She believed in introducing her patients to one another for companionship and support. This led to her conducting a monthly group meeting in her home which she called an empowerment meeting. Meeting topics were: coping with stress and difficult situations; sharing resources; remaining stable and symptom free; and making a recovery from mental illness. Meetings were attended by patients, people from other mental health organizations and those who found these meetings through the Internet.
Dr. Kuyler was president of The Queens Mental Health Society, which was founded to help the emotionally disabled. Topics this organization dealt with included: the increase of suicide among adolescents and young adults; how the police respond to people in crisis; and what is respite care and when can it replace hospitalizations. There was an annual luncheon where speakers were recruited to discuss topics such as the Thrive NYC Program and what resources the New York State Office of Mental Health can offer consumers of Mental Health Services.
You could not find a more caring doctor and individual than Dr. Kuyler. One could always pick up the phone and speak with her if in crisis or needing someone to talk to. Her answering machine always had the message: “Remember to be good to yourself because you are important.” Even after I stopped seeing her, she continued to speak with me whenever I had a crisis. I continued to attend empowerment meetings and Queens Mental Health Society meetings, so I never really lost touch with her. A human being like Dr. Kuyler will surely be missed.