Since I was 7, attending medical school had been my dream - to finally say that yes, I’m going to be a doctor. Like anyone else pursuing a competitive career, I expected nothing but my best in everything I did. While this mentality is useful in the medical career, where we are taught to give only the best care to our patients, we’re never really taught how to take care of ourselves. Little did I know that my dream would nearly shatter me.
Enter medical school. I look at the coated people around me. “I can do this”, I thought. I was used to working hard and people coddling me, telling me I was going to be great. And then came the bad grades. And the isolation. Here I was, thousands of miles from my loved ones, finally living my dream – literally FAILING medical school. I started comparing myself to others. I felt worthless, stupid and definitely undeserving of the honor of learning medicine. And then the depression hit. But I didn’t know I was depressed. I was raised in a bubble, where I was shielded from anxiety and depression. It was always presented to me as an excuse for attention and laziness – it was taboo. And yet, I stopped taking pleasure in the things that normally made me happy. I lost my appetite. I barely slept, spending most days staring blankly into a room of people better than me. But of course I plastered my struggle with a smile. There was no way in hell I was letting the world pity me. Soon enough, this monster consumed me to a point where I had to choose between being self-destructive and seeking help. And after days of tears and migraines, I chose the latter.
A year later, I’m still recovering. It’s unfortunate that depression and anxiety aren’t uncommon in medical school, but I’m attempting to destigmatize mental health along with my colleagues, while also taking better care of myself. It isn’t easy but if I can find something to appreciate about myself each day, I know I’m okay.