Deep breath. Kettle on. It’s fine. Just write like no one is reading.
I lost my diary. My black diary, with the pages thick as a sketchbook. I’ve got three volumes that are full of snapshot moments of brain shards but I can’t find my latest one. That’s a little annoying because I usually spew all over it… probably one of the reasons I’ve maintained any level of sanity over the last few years. It’s not helpful that I can’t find it.
Having any real belief in the ability of a positive mindset to attract greater positivity into one’s life is unhelpful when that mindset has fucked off to a headspace far, far away.
Every day for the last two weeks, I’ve been suffering from the extreme ill effects of low self esteem but recently, it has become worse. I’m crying for up to two hours a day. I feel very alone. My appetite has diminished. I don’t feel as though this problem is ‘real’, somehow which means I’ve struggled, thus far, to seek any real help over it. I feel like an absolute failure.
What brought it on? Well, I have outlined in previous posts that I’ve always been an over achiever and that mentality can manifest as unhealthy thought patterns when taken out of context. Throughout medical school, I’ve worked exceptionally hard in an attempt to overcompensate for what I thought was a lack of intelligence (but also a lack of strategy) but unfortunately I’ve never done well in my exams. Years’ worth of conditioning has caused me to equate my self-worth to my performance. My poor performance has, therefore, created and reinforced this feeling of poor self worth. However, it has never affected me to this degree.
I’ve generally been good. I have always had fantastic support networks and a deep interest in spirituality which means that I never spiralled into any real mental health problems. What I am going through now, more likely than not… is transient. However, what I am realising is that it doesn’t make this period any less real.
Things took a particularly bad turn a couple of days ago when I found out that I would be spending the next two years of my life working as a doctor in pretty much the same place I grew up. I have been so disappointed in myself. In my inability to get a good enough score in my rankings to go somewhere I actually wanted to go, when it feels like everyone around me is going somewhere better.
My mother works in the hospital I’ll be working at. I worked there, as a lab assistant, for two whole summers. I already have an ID card for the place. The entire purpose of me putting down the deanery that I did was so that I could be closer to home… but the place I have wound up is a little too close.
There is a pressure, isn’t there? For our twenties to be the best years of our lives with a high turnover of friendships and relationships and prosperity in shiny new careers and instagram accounts plastered with success. I too, I suppose have succumbed to this very pressure. I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere totally new, complete with its own challenges.That’s why I took the risk of applying outside of Birmingham but now it’s backfired. Every time I think of where I’ll end up for the next two years, I picture the hospital car park under the sheets of grey, north-west-England clouds and my chest feels heavy and hopeless. I feel hopeless. I feel trapped. I feel like nothing has turned out how it was ‘supposed to’.
My final exams are only a month away and I am genuinely struggling to find any motivation to get up in the morning, let alone get myself to study. I don’t want people to think I’m weak so I put on a front and then I go home and let it all loose and cry in bed for half an hour to two hours at a time. I’ve had some scary thoughts. I have enough insight to recognise how irrational this is but also to understand that this is more than just the usual ‘exam stress’.
I am not myself. I’m not Gowri.
But my strength lies in that somewhere deep down inside me, I am determined to get back to where I was before life knocked me over like this. I’ve taken some steps in the right direction.
- Today, I spoke to student support. They were not hugely useful, but I have an upcoming appointment with part of my university welfare team, although I am not in any way relying on it.
- Tonight, I’m going to have an honest discussion with an incredibly supportive figure in my life who I’ve finally reached out to, which I hope to be the start of a productive plan to get me out of this rut.
- Tomorrow, at some point, even if I have to drag myself there, I will lace up my trainers, walk into the gym and push through a workout because my brain is screaming for endorphins.
- Beneath all the sadness, there is a ray of hope and that hope is the fact that I still want to be a good doctor. The fact this very hope merely exists means that I know I will find my way out of this destructive mindset.
I started a blog because I can’t find my goddamn black diary. I’m calling it ‘The Breakdown Chronicles’, renaming parts 1 and 2 that I’ve already written because the chronicles began a while back and I will be blogging my way through the journey back to Gowri.
Watch this space.