To every struggling medical student

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Unhappy. Struggling. Drowning.

These are the words that would describe how I feel for the past few months. I feel uninspired, unmotivated to continue my journey. It is draining, suffocating and I feel like I am dying. I cannot explain what was going on. I cannot find the right words to describe how I feel. My body is aching. It feels like it is slowly giving up on me. I am stuck in a black hole with no way out. I cannot seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It's past twelve midnight.
Thoughts are racing. 

I am up all night tossing and turning. I haven't been sleeping well since we took a break from school. Thanks to my anxiety. My head has been filled with thoughts and what ifs. As usual, I ended up browsing through my Facebook and just when I reached my 2016 posts, tears started flowing. 

I read through posts after posts and saw this picture I posted when I was a first year medical student — the happy, hopeful and optimistic 19-year-old girl who hopped on the train en route to becoming a doctor. Her eyes were glistening with hope. She was fueled up with fire. She was enthusiastic about what the future holds. She was curious.

I looked very happy back then. A complete opposite of how I am right now — puffy eyes tired of crying, unhappy, unmotivated, uninspired, sparks gone. It is as if the fire has been extinguished.

What happened to this girl gleaming with hope? Then, it struck me. 

For the past months, I have been unkind to myself — feeding my body with junk, intoxicating myself with alcohol (as if it would take away the pain), putting all these pressure to myself, and so on and so forth. I stopped doing things I love to do, things that made me happy. Now, it is taking a toll on my mental health and wellness.

To be away from the people you love, your support system, and being thrown into a heavy workload, it is a real challenge to wake up every day, face the world with a big smile, and set aside your feelings, just so people would not know your struggle. When in reality, your heart is racing and your head is full of unhealthy thoughts. The next thing you know, you're in a limbo and you can't seem to find a way out. 

If you ever find yourself in the same situation as mine, I hope reading this will help you feel a little better. I hope it could help you regain yourself.

To every struggling med student,

This is to remind you that you are not alone and it is not the end of it all. There is a way out and there are a lot of people who are willing to help you. Some would even go the extra mile for you.

Stop killing yourself to be good enough and start taking good care of yourself. Be extra kind to yourself and everyone else around you. It is okay to be fragile. It is okay to feel too much, care too much, love too much. This is not a sign of weakness. 

Stop beating yourself up. Take a break if you need to. Do whatever you need to, to set you back on track. Go back to your reasons why you wanted to become a doctor and remind yourself that every day you are a step closer to your dreams.

The journey will make-or-break you. That is sure. You will have your ups and downs and it may even come to a point where you will feel nothing but sadness crippling you. Know this: you are strong enough to conquer whatever you will go through. You are good enough. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. After all, you've worked so hard just to get here.

DREAM BIG. Use every opportunity to learn and to grow. Never compare yourself to others — it will be the kindest thing you can do to yourself. Each person's experience will be different. Enjoy the ride and live in the moment. Live your dreams fearlessly and do not listen to the voice that tells you "you can't". Most importantly, trust and believe in yourself. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to help. Only you can keep your dream alive.

Two years have passed and it seems only like yesterday when I wrote this:

My journey is not smooth sailing. It isn't a roller coaster ride, but rather a wild river taking you to the heights and deepest cave of your emotions. Always choose to make the best out of situation. Whoever said that it would be easier is a liar. Best piece of advice I got when I was in my first year? Surround yourself with like-minded people. Find friends who will help you get through med school. Those who will be there with you through the good and bad times during your journey. Looking back, everyone has grown in their own ways. It made me realize that it wasn't so bad after all.

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