Exercise

Sometimes you need to exercise the body and not just the mind.

Today I ran a 5k!!!

It may not seem the most amazing thing but as someone who has torn both quadricep tendons and ankle ligaments and has struggled to maintain fitness and exercise (cricket is a great sport to play, but kind of rubbish when it’s only april to september), I’m very proud of what I achieved.

Hopefully this will be the start of a more regular exercise program, if my muscles can take it.

Now what to do for the rest of the weekend???

 

Self Help(lessness)

More often than not the only person who can help you is yourself.

It can be a struggle to find the help you need, but finding it is only the beginning. This week I started counselling again. This is nothing new, however since moving to a different university everything which had been set up nicely in place was gone, I was back to square 1. So as soon as I felt myself getting worse, I got on the self-referral. My initial impressions from the new counselling include knowing exactly what I want out of it. Before I went in and just said everything that was on my mind. Now, I don’t want to go over that all again, but instead focus on what’s really troubling me. I’ve even been given homework to do between sessions (because nothing says ‘I understand you have a lot of work, so here’s some more’). Ironically, it’s actually the first time I want to get the homework done.

I realise it will take time for it to have the full desired effect but i’m on the right path again.

Until then, I may as well keep plodding on…

The Saturday Escape

I think this must be the first day since I’ve moved to med school that I have managed to escape. To put that into perspective, i’m closer to starting second year than I am to the start of the year.

So where did I escape to??

The local park.

Yep that’s right. A 20 minute walk to a local park.

The Escape
Sometimes all you need is a little escape from reality.

Yet it did what it was meant to. I walked around (spent 3 hours just walking about this park), lapping the lake, eating ice cream (with sunglasses on, and yes I know it’s only just the start of march!) and a bit of reading. Today; I did nothing, and it was the best nothing I’ve done in a long time.

It’s important to look after yourself once in a while, something I know I’m terrible at. If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t be there when others need your help. Find something that interests you, calms you or makes you laugh. Clear your head, then, and only then, will you be able to fully commit yourself to your stresses.

What an interesting world

So here is the Thursday edition of life of a med student. Guess what, there is actually something to talk about.

Today was GP placement day which meant actually interacting with patients (the whole reason we want to go into medicine). I’m always dumbfounded by the shear difference in people and how they view disease.

The majority of patients, in one form or another, have a mental health issue. Yet no single case is the same. Each has a story to tell, how things have affected them in certain ways, how they’ve coped with such stresses and how they made it to where they are now. I’m very fortunate that they allow me to be part of their life story, to hear them at their most vulnerable. While most patients will come in with a mission of what they want sorted, beneath each symptoms is a story of how it developed, how it came to be and how it led to an anxious wait in a GP surgery waiting room.

As a first year (all be it graduate) medical student, I cannot thank these people enough for their allowance in letting me sit in on their appointments. Often things that even family members will have little knowledge about and that means something special to me. Some will say it’ll wear off as you go through med school and a career in medicine, but realistically, every patient you see, chat to or examine will teach you something new.

 

As for the rest of the day…revision, feedback and pub. No more needs to be said.

10 Days

A lot can happen in 10 days, and usually does.

10 days ago was valentine’s day. It seems like it was months ago, yet at the same time like it was yesterday. February is horrible time of year for me personally and this year seems to have chucked more things than usual in my direction. Each knock down followed by an attempt to get back up without fully succeeding.

I always knew there was more to life than just medicine, but sometimes it’s difficult to see it through the smoke screen that is studying. This means when it does come around it arrives with a bang.

Until now, I’ve always heard that medicine is a way of life, not a career. Looking at the workload you wouldn’t be mistaken thinking that. 17 years of education just to start the degree, 4 years further studying and the rest of your life working, it’s a lot of your life spent, but medicine is a career.

The moment a career becomes your life is when you’ll start missing out on life itself.

Mental Health and Med School

Be under no illusion, regardless of whether you are doing a 4 year graduate entry medical course or a 5/6 year undergraduate course, there will be times you will struggle.

Mental health issues in the general population are common, 1 in 6 people will have an episode of depression in their lives. In the medical school setting, the incidence of mental health issues in medical students increases 2-5 fold (Rotenstein et al., 2016) and with it the thought of suicidal ideation.

I, personally, have suffered with chronic severe depression for 7 years. At first it was thought it was just a ‘teenage hypersensitivity’ to the world. As time went on, nothing in my environment changed and depression took a hold of my life and well-being. There have been tough times and there have been straight up thoughts of ending it all. This is not meant to be a sob story. The statistics say it all, I am not alone, you are not alone.

My situation at home has never been great on a psychological scale. It’s left scars which have taken years to even start to heal.

In 2014, enough was enough. If it wasn’t for a very close friend (thank you) it might have ended very different. I got help, antidepressants (ADs), counselling, CBT. It got better, not happy, just content. A weight had been lifted and life could continue. I remained with counselling and ADs (many different ones until one worked) until graduation.

Now I find myself somewhere new. New people, new location, new house, and while change is great, when you have help set up in one place having to start it all over again is tough. 1 month after starting med school I was back on ADs, even now, 5 months later, I’m still struggling. All the structure is gone and I’m having to start again. Doctors talk about burnout, in medical school, some will burnout once a year, others once every few months, some every month and some every week. It’s February 2017, and my burnout count is sitting nicely at 4.

Life as a med student is tough at the best of times. When there’s barely enough time eat, you can see why it can get so difficult to get help, but please do! It’s nothing to be a shamed of, and will make you a better doctor, friend, husband, wife and person in the long run. Because believe me, there is a long run.