I saw a little band named fun. on Friday night.
And between the shuffling to try and get a good vantage point (I’m really short, okay?), one thought kept popping into my head: I wish I’d paid more attention to the moments that didn’t matter.
I get caught up in med school. I do the unforgivable, I place my self-worth and self-belief in the feedback I receive until it’s late at night and I’m alone with my thoughts that tell me it’s not worth it, nothing’s worth it. My life becomes a series of achievements which I’ve failed to meet: didn’t clerk enough patients, didn’t do enough research, didn’t impress the doctors enough, didn’t know enough.
So, being the ever-composed medical student that I am, I started crying during the encore.
We fight and fight for med school. Our entire lives revolve around being a doctor. Getting the marks to pass, to get an internship, to get into specialty training, to pass our exams: when does it stop? In the grand scheme of all things med school, these moments matter. But are they more important than the moments that don’t matter, the moments that pass us by?
I look back on this year so far and I see loss. I see three overdoses, two psychiatrists, a psychologist. I see disordered eating, I see hiding in tutorial rooms, too afraid to deal with people. I see a failed assignment, questions I couldn’t answer, laying in bed with my heart racing out of time, scared of waking up in the morning and going back to the hospital.
But then there are nights spent at concerts, driving around the city at three am looking for food, falling asleep on a friend’s floor. Days spent dancing with hand puppets and baking scones.
Moments which don’t matter to med school. Late-night Facebook chats won’t get you a career.
But these moments will help us survive med school.
This is fun. Photo primarily included because the lead singer is the cutest thing I’ve ever encountered.
See the previous post here.
Anonymous asked you: hi, it’s me again. maybe i don’t have depression. maybe i’m just.. deficient in coping with things. i’m not happy with how i’m handling problems- i’m a pro at running away and freaking out later. is a simple thing such as random tears, negative thoughts and inability to handle daily stresses a warning sign big enough for a visit to the doc? i keep thinking and worrying about flunking, about dropping medschool….
Dear anonymous (and to anyone else experiencing a similar situation),
The short answer is yes, you are completely justified in seeking help. I need both hands and both feet to count the number of times I’ve seen doctors and counsellors and psychologists because I wanted to drop out of med school, because I felt like I wasn’t coping, and damn it, everyone around me was doing so well.
Let’s be honest—med school is hard. I remember sitting in a lecture in second year, watching all the other students around me, and they were in perfect control of med school. They sat through lectures without falling asleep and without panicking about exams in two months and without being afraid of being judged, they took notes studiously and went home to their friends and family and lovers and siblings and maintained healthy relationships and seemingly flawless grades. It felt like I was the only one in a hall of hundreds of students that didn’t know how to make it through med school.
I spent an entire semester avoiding lectures and other students and hiding in the library because I thought I was crazy.
There’s something no one ever tells us about med school, and it’s this: we’re all struggling. I was having coffee with a colleague the other day, and he started to explain to me his struggles with depression, his excessive alcohol intake at the start of med school—and this is someone I’d always looked up to. Someone who, in my opinion, checked all the boxes: intelligent, kind, funny, surrounded by family and friends. And yet, he was someone struggling through med school as well. Very few med students wear their hearts on their sleeves—that’s why I keep this blog somewhat anonymous, because I’m still learning to let myself be vulnerable.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone, and med school has the ability to make us our own worst enemies. But, at the same time, it doesn’t have to be the end of you. You don’t have to try and cope with these thoughts and feelings and fears alone. You, and every other medical student, every other health care student, every other person in general, are entitled to help and to have what’s going on validated. I can’t diagnose you with depression over the internet (or without a qualification of some sort), but whether you meet the criteria or not is irrelevant. You are allowed to seek help. You are allowed to talk to a professional and you are allowed to let them help you.
Please don’t struggle alone. Med school has no right to make you feel this way.
Take care of yourself and I hope you seek some help—talk to your family doctor or to your university health department.
My Life As A Med Student.