Memories from the Bed

By Conor McDonald
Preclinical Winner, Writing Competition 2017

Prompt 2: Tell us about an encounter with a patient that has significantly shaped your understanding of medical practice or changed your worldview.

-1-

My wife, Margie, sat to my left as we ate our dinner. A few grey strands peaked through her long dark hair. She had brown eyes and she was beautiful. Next to her was our 5-year-old son George. He looked a lot like me. Blonde hair, blue eyes and a chubby face with flushed cheeks. Our family filled me with pride. Whilst the ‘energy saving’ lights my wife had begged me to get made me feel like I was in a hospital – a place for the sick and dying – we managed to bring life to our cosy little home.

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On the merits of intermitting

By Grace Scolyer & Meg Kent

It is always difficult for medical students to admit they are struggling or not coping with the demands of the course. But it is even more difficult to admit that is has become necessary or important to take time off. We as medical students struggle with self-care, vulnerability and perceived failure so very deeply; where possible, we take part in self-care provided it doesn’t come at the cost of our academic progress. In this piece, Grace and Meg discuss why, sometimes, it is okay to take a break from medicine.

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More than High Yield

By Tamara Hall

“That’s really high yield, focus on that!”

“SUPER high yield.”

“This topic is very high yield…”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “high yield” perhaps I wouldn’t be facing such a looming HECS debt upon graduation! I know that people are well-meaning, that we need to focus on what’s considered most vital if we are to get through medical school and not drown in the sheer amount of content it covers. It helps to have a structure to base study around and not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Yet I’ve started to feel quite jaded about the phrase.

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In Your Head: Being a bystander to mental illness

Anonymous

Mental illness is a demon that exists only in the mind. The intricacies of this internal struggle can only be intimately known by the person experiencing it. To add to the difficulty of articulating one’s thoughts and feelings, the social stigma associated with it only exacerbates the situation, leaving many feeling isolated, silenced and trapped in their own heads. Mental illness is real, a living reality that many have to struggle with and accept. In Australia, just slightly less than half of us will experience a mental health condition over our lifetimes.

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On Suicide: Let’s Start With Honesty

By Grace Scolyer

“If more people talked about what leads to suicide, if people didn’t talk about it as if it was shameful, if people understood how easily and quickly depression can take over, then there might be fewer deaths.”

-The wife of Dr Andrew Bryant, Brisbane gastroenterologist who committed suicide three weeks ago

I have only ever admitted to three people in the world the deepest extent of the depression. All three of them forced it out of me, asked me at points where I was too weak to lie, to scared not to admit it, terrified of how they would react but even more terrified of what I could do to myself if I kept it in any longer.

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Stressing About Stress

By Anthony Honigman

“Can you chase those bloods?”  “Yes, but what’s your management plan for this patient?”  “Have you even looked at the VIA practice questions yet?”  These questions alone are enough to raise the cortisol levels in any budding young medical student!

While some of these are asked tongue-in-cheek, one question still remains — why are we as medical students, and eventual working doctors, so prone to work-related stress and anxiety?

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Sharing the Burden

By Grace Scolyer & Alannah Murray

How to Speak

When I first noticed that my brain wasn’t working the way it used to, it wasn’t tragically melancholic like I expected. Addressing, admitting, and conveying my depressed thoughts was embarrassing, confusing, strange, and disorientating. More than anything though, it was just plain awkward explaining what was going on — but I knew it was time to let someone else share the burden, because I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t.

Since then, I’ve had plenty of strange, vulnerable, and poorly-segued conversations with my friends, family, and doctors, trying to explain the messy parts of my brain. Here’s what I have learnt.

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I Promise Myself: The Mental Health Contract

By Grace Scolyer

It’s been 16 months since I sat, tachycardic and sweating in a superclinic GP’s office, asking for a K-10 test and mental health treatment plan. 16 months since I was met with a suppressed laugh, obligatory printout, and subsequent arrangement of an urgent follow-up with another GP with more mental health experience. My exterior did not seem to fit up with my K-10 score; the difference between by 2pm brain and my 2am brain something quite concerning. High functioning, clinically depressed.

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