By Rav Gaddam
As I write this, I am sitting in class, questioning how I got here. Not medicine, or life, or anything as deep and meaningful as that, but more how did I get to this class, all the while feeling sad and teary?
As Maria von Trapp once said in a brilliant movie, “Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start.”
This morning, I woke up before my alarm, and I did what I do every morning; I start my day telling myself that “Powerful people get back up every day”, then dragging my hideous PJ clad-self into the shower to begin the routine; a ninja wash, waging and winning a war against my hair, breakfast sculling and then off to placement.
Here, things diverged from the routine.
Normally, I would pretend to be 100% interested in my placement, soaking up things like the knowledge sponge I am, all the while secretly day dreaming about lunch. Once in a blue moon, an intern or a consultant will interact with me and ask me a question (which I usually improvise an answer to), and slowly but surely, lunchtime appears.
But today? Not so much.
Today, I got to the placement, joined the handover, and then, I had a funny feeling. It’s the feeling that you sometimes get when you know your housemates are up to some mischief (like perhaps sticking your flamingo candles to the roof). Call it intuition, call it a warning shot, whatever floats your sailboat. Turns out, I was right to be on guard, cause today, my brain decided to play a fun little prank on me.
What was that joke, you ask? Well, I went from being Pooh Bear to Eeyore in under 5 minutes.
I’m going to be honest with you; if I were to have a hidden OSCE talent, this would be it. If there was a station to see how fast you could go from being relatively functional to crying on the floor about how you didn’t wear matching socks today, I would blow the examiner away. I would be the percentile that was above the percentile, an ATAR score of 100, if you will.
So today, at placement, I went to the bathroom and cried.
What triggered me? Who knows, I probably never will. But for some reason, my brain just decided that that today is the day for a cry. I like to imagine that perhaps there are little people in my head going “TODAY, SAD RAV WILL BE ACTIVATED.” Yes, I know I do med, but I still have an overactive imagination, so the people in my head will continue to be there to make the decisions that I make.
I digress from my point though.
Depression is a funny thing; a little bit HAHA funny, but a little bit frustrating funny too. Your doctor tells you to remove your triggers, your therapist tells you to challenge your thinking, your mum tells you that you are powerful, you can dust yourself off and rebuild again. Despite all that great advice though, sometimes you just don’t know when it might hit, or what you might be doing (fun fact, I once broke down while eating a HSP, and I don’t know if you have ever seen a person ugly cry while also shovelling food, but trust me, ain’t a good look).
What does it feel like, I hear you ask?
Well, imagine watching a really sad movie (not sad because they are terrible like Twilight, more sadder like Marley and Me), and take the part of the movie you cried in, and put it on replay. That feeling of sadness, despair and a little hint of hopelessness, all combined with irritability, anger and tears, that’s what depression feels like for me. It usually just tracks along most days in the background like all the advertisements on the interwebs, but every once in a while, it pops up despite your ad-block, so you just have to emergency quit Safari and hope that you didn’t lose anything important in the tabs you just also accidentally closed. Somehow, while all of this is happening, you’re also expected to trundle along and keep smiling/being derpy and continue to be a medical knowledge sponge.
So where to from here?
Well, I do need to get through this class, despite my mind telling me that this is not worth it. Then, home would be a good start. A hot shower, a call to the therapist, perhaps a visit to Officeworks or Aldi. I am fortunate/unfortunate enough to know what to do when I get in one of my spirally low moods, but not everyone might be at this point yet. Figure out what helps you from spiralling downwards and deploy it as necessary. Ask for help, and if anyone even mildly gives you any shame about that, either:
- Cut them out of your life
- Ask them why they are doing it, and get them to challenge their thinking
- Walk away like the BAWSE you are and let the haters do their own thing
Most importantly though, be kind to yourself. Love yourself, even if your brain decides to throw a tantrum and ruin your productive plans and be accepting that some days/weeks/months can be an absolute shit-show. Even if you are completely “normal”, you are bound to have a bad day, but if you’re somewhere along a mental health issue journey (like me), know that you might have more hurdles than most, so be accepting of that, get your warrior mode on and be that powerful person and try to get back up every day.
Forgive yourself for having the bad day. It’s ok, and know you will always have people to help you get back up again.
Oh, and just to bring this to a full circle, how did I get to class? I drove myself. (HAHA funny joke, I know, I am now set to do stand-up as my back up career.)