This is who you're reading about

My photo
Wilkommen to my blog - my name is Karin Purshouse, and I'm a doctor in the UK. If you're looking for ramblings on life as a junior doctor, my attempts to dual-moonlight as a scientist and balancing all that madness with a life, you've come to the right place. I'm currently a doctor/research trainee in oncology after spending a year doing research in the USA. All original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Not a failure, just human

Feeling stressed? Run down? A little bit blue?
Well, that's the deal, isn't it? Part and parcel of life, and if you want to be a doctor, you'll find a way to cope.

This is what I think most of us feel like at regular phases of our time at medical school.  Now, I'm not trying to suggest we're special or unique in this - clearly other jobs are also stressful and leave you struggling to cope.  It just seems ironic to me that given what we're training to do, we're not so hot on a bit of introspection and admitting that we're not coping.  Great at dishing out the advice, not so much listening to it ourselves.

Last year I went to a Medsin conference entitled 'The Good, the Bad and the Mad', and found myself feeling quite choked by a talk given about mental health and medical professionals.  Because I felt that they were talking about me.  

I'll share a little of a particular year of my training in hopes that you won't make the same mistakes I did.  In a nutshell, I was doing too much.  Every day was a jogging match between university and my other commitments.  Meals were had on public transport, if at all.  I lost about a stone in weight.  Everyone told me I looked terrible, but I was so panicked I would fail at keeping up that I couldn't get out of the cycle.  Tears were shed at the slightest aggravation, and fun activities were approached with a degree of guilt.  Were it not for the insanely supportive people I had in my life, well; to be honest, I don't know what I'd have done.  It was probably the most frightening phase of my life.  And what's awful is, because ultimately I 'survived' (I don't mean to sound dramatic, but it's honestly what it felt like) and the year in broad terms was a successful one, it is easy to think it was all worth it.

Fear of failure is both a powerful motivator and a dangerous weapon.  It's ultimately at the heart of why many say medics are particularly terrible at confessing any weakness or difficulty.  This is where the problem lies - we have to get away from feeling like we've failed - if anything, we've triumphed in the art of reflection!  I'm more alarmed by the idea that doctors hide away from these issues, as if they don't happen.  Well, last time I checked, we're humans, not robots.

A few months on, and I'm fine, but it's certainly changed my perspective on things.  I sent my gran's Christmas card a whole week early for once.  Cooking is now a priority and a joy - (I swear revision doubles your food requirements or something).  I've learned to say 'No' (although I can't deny that there's still a little guilt involved).  But probably most importantly I've realised that no man is an island.  I will forever be grateful to the people that got me through that year.  We are each other's support network; let's embrace it, and be thankful for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment