Treacherous Heart

How dare you.

You’re a real snake, you know that?

Why is it that you bleed and hurt for so long but then flutter as soon as you hear from him?

He’s not the one looking after you. Keeping you safe, trying to make you happy.

Can you for once just have some pride and ego? Can you stop hurting me and heal for a second?

Can you not be so fickle? Can you just be brave enough to face it and see it through?

Stop threatening to break every single time but then miraculously recover when you get the slightest bit of hope even when you know it’ll be short-lived and it won’t last.

Just stop. I can’t keep up.

Everything else is screaming No but you whisper Yes. Sure and true until I comply. And I always comply.

I want to stop.

Adult Friendships

Oh dear. Not a great topic. Not in a great mood.

Right so. I had a family member who had cardiac surgery this week. They came out, having had a successful surgery and recovering well. Quite stressful watching them recover and things. But something else has been on my mind.

One of my friends, my best friend, who I adore, who I’ve known since high school, whose wedding I will be a groomsman at….. I haven’t been talking very much to.

I haven’t hung out with him for about 6 months. We talk now and then. About minor things. When I try to share thoughts about certain issues, he is superficially empathetic. Where he used to be quite amazing and helpful when we were younger. He also doesn’t share his issues with me. We used to talk about basically everything and would help each other out. For some reason we fell out of that habit.

He didn’t show up to my graduation (granted he was in Wellington proposing to his girlfriend) or any of my birthday gatherings. Each time I had told myself I had to be understanding because he was a good friend and he had been there for me several times.

I had told him about my family member having surgery. He had clearly forgotten about the whole thing. Hadn’t really checked in with me or brought it up. And that bothered me a bit.

But it wasn’t just him. None of the friends I had told about this had remembered it was happening. Nobody checked in on me or my family until I had brought it up myself. 

But weirdly, another house officer, someone I had only met this year at work who I had casually mentioned this to, had messaged me on the day of the surgery as well as checked up on me the day after and the day after that. 

I don’t know if this is expecting too much from friends. I really don’t know. I’m willing to understand that people are busy and life really does get in the way. But I just sort of hoped friends would be thoughtful beyond that.

I remember stuff like this and make it a point to check up on my friends. 

So I just don’t know.

It weirdly makes me feel I can’t really count on anyone to understand. 

I mean I have my family who I love and who I can count on. But sometimes, as I’ve mentioned on here, the way they talk about each other and the way they fight all the time makes me lose faith in that too. 

Am I too sensitive? I can’t seem to understand what my role in these things are.

I was once told everything is in flux. Friends don’t last forever blah blah blah. I had said I make friends for life. I guess I’ll always think of people as friends and find happiness in being there for them and doing things for them. But I think I have to realise that it absolutely does not go both ways. And expecting it to, is probably not the best idea.

It’s weird. One of the things that ties me to New Zealand are my friends and the people I know. I wonder now if there’s any point in holding onto that. Maybe it won’t be so bad to just move on. 

I’m unsure if any of them will really be bothered if I left. 

I just don’t know. 

But if this is what adult friendships/ relationships are like, then I’m really not ready. 

The Flow

These days, I’m just going with flow.

If I have to cry 5 times a day, I will cry 5 times a day.

If I have to feel bad about myself, I will feel bad about myself.

If I have to be lonely, I will be lonely.

If I’m not able to sleep regardless of how tired I am, I will stay awake and ruminate.

If I don’t have the appetite for more than half a sandwich for a whole day, I will keep going while hungry. 

If I have to have anxiety attacks during the day, I will freak out quietly in the bathroom. 

I’m not trying to resist anymore.

I’m not trying.

Everything that’s happening to me is either completely in my control, or completely out of my control. 

I created this karma. 

I accept that. 

So there’s nothing to do but go with the flow. 

Expectations

I find that everyday, people give me new and interesting reasons to lower my expectations of them even further.

I find that I have to really think about why I did things.

But then the answer is clear.

Because it makes me happy.

But that means that I just have to make my expectations fall to a level of zero. If I decide to do something, my intention should always always be because it makes me happy. Because then I can’t be disappointed when others don’t do what I expect.

Initially I thought I was allowed to have expectations.

Nope.

Moving forward, that’s a rather freeing feeling I suppose. If I don’t expect anything of anyone, I can go ahead and be who I am.

And nothing is allowed to change that.

ConfusionĀ 

Most days, I know what I want. I have a pretty good idea of how to get it.

And if I know I can’t get it, I accept that and move on.

But sometimes I feel so confused. How could I want something I know I absolutely cannot have. How could I continue to want it?

But I don’t really want it. I can’t picture myself having acquired it. It wouldn’t work. There’s no way. 

I want to be happy. I wouldn’t exactly be happy if I had it. I would in some ways, but I wouldn’t completely. 

But then again, I’m not happy now. 

I know what would make me happy. But wishful thinking is never a good thing. It stops you from being realistic. 

The bottom line is, it’s not going to happen. And I know that. I’m not going to get what I want. It wouldn’t be the right thing for me. 

Then why do I still feel like this. I fear that I would never stop feeling like this. Things could change. But everything keeps telling me that I wouldn’t truly stop wanting what I want. 

What’s the point. An exercise in futility. 

Measure Up

I thought I was moving up. 

But I’m really only following lines in the sand. 

It gave me joy. Every rung I climbed, the feeling that I was enough..

But when I looked down, the pit was there. 

Within my reach. Waiting to swallow me whole. Just as easily. 

As though I meant nothing. 

I wonder if I would ever measure up. 

I thought my ruler was bigger than yours. 

But we’re measuring different things. 

Always out of step. 

My ladder turns to dust. And I am falling. 

Maybe if my ruler matched yours, I would move up. 

But at the top, I know I wouldn’t be me. 

My ruler is simply lines in the sand. 

But I will keep climbing. 

For that feeling. 

Seriously?

You know what you shouldn’t do?

Take people way too seriously. 

I usually take things at face value. If someone tells me they’re angry or sad or they feel a certain way about someone, or they’re going to do something, I tend to believe them. 

I mean, how else could I really know what’s going on in someone’s head? I’m not a mind reader. All I’ve got is what they tell me or show me through their actions. 

So I believe people if they say things. 

What I expect is for people to say how they really feel.

But what I’ve realised is that people do say what they feel, but the fine print is this:

They say what they’re feeling, right at that very instance.

Which basically means, that’s going to change. 

Everybody says or does something when they’re emotional about something. But that isn’t necessarily what they would say or do if they were… euthymic, let’s say. 

So if you’re the person that’s listening or supporting someone saying/doing something in an emotional state, my advice is, don’t think too much of it. It’s not going to last.

I’ve seen that a lot recently. When someone tells me they’re absolutely done with this person and they’ve had enough and they’re leaving etc etc., I get super upset that they’re feeling this way. I try to console and change their mind and spend quite a few hours of my life doing so. They tell me I cannot change their mind at any cost!

Two days later, they’re happy. Getting on with the other person..those statements never to be heard again. Nothing’s changed. They didn’t leave. And they’re not done with that person.

And I’m left wondering why I wasted my life getting upset over what they were telling me.

It’s just happened so many times now. I’m starting to accept it. Obviously if someone was saying they were going to harm themselves or others, take that seriously. 

But if someone is saying stuff out of anger or short-lived sadness, don’t bother humouring them. Truly. You’ll stress yourself out for no reason, only to end up hearing “Well I said that when I was angry. I wasn’t serious..”

Well then you really shouldn’t have said it to be honest.

But anyway. I’m sure I do it too. I’m sure everyone does it. 

Sometimes you can’t believe the trash that comes out of people’s mouths. 

But for your own sanity, just don’t take them too seriously.

Seriously.

In The Deep End

Today was my 3rd ED shift. And it was the most challenging 7 hours of my life. 

Mostly because of just 1 patient. 

At the beginning of the shift, my consultant was called to resus to see a 15 year old boy who had come in with 5 days of headache but who had since become unconscious in the resus area. 

He had no other medical conditions. The whole team was working on making him regain consciousness. While differentials such as meningitis and seizures crossed everyone’s mind. 

The mother came in shortly afterwards frightened and distressed as she recounted how he had had only a headache for the last 5 days but today while she was at work, had called and said bizarre things before hanging up. She returned home to find him unsteady on his feet before collapsing to the ground. The mother also brought her 4 year old son with her. There was no father to be seen. 

The young boy regained some consciousness. He was responsive to speech and followed commands. Everyone became confident at this improvement. My consultant decided now would be a good time to CT scan his head for signs of infection or bleed. 

The boy was wheeled off and my consultant and I followed him. 

The CT scan showed a large tumour pressing on the boy’s brain. Causing the brain to be pushed to one side, likely resulting in this symptoms. He would have a large amount of pressure in his skull at that time. 

The consultant took the mother into a room to talk to her. I was present when he told her the news. 

She instantly burst into tears and wailed. Her precious, obedient, healthy boy was going to be taken from her? How could this happen? Will he be cured?

My consultant told her that he would contact the neurosurgeons who would tell her more about the next steps in management. 

She cried harder. She told us she had no one else. That the boy’s father was estranged from when he was 4 years old. That the boy was all she had. 

He younger son was oblivious to what was going on as he quietly played with some puzzles. 

Meanwhile we were again called to resus as the boy had lost consciousness again and was now showing signs of very high pressures in his skull. One of his pupils were dilated massively while the other was small. The neurosurgeons arrived to take him to theatre immediately and they began to put a tube down his throat as he was no longer breathing on his own. 

At this point, the consultant asked me to sit with the mother. And console her and prevent her from witnessing the placement of the tube. 

I was way out of my depth. The mother begged me to be with her son. She asked me whether she had given him some food that may have caused the tumour. Or whether a fall as a young child would have caused it. She told me she worked so hard and had saved money for a house for him in the future. How he had wanted to be a pilot when he was older and how she had arranged classes for him to learn more about this every week. 

She asked me if he could be cured. Or if he was going to die in ICU where he would be taken after the neurosurgeons performed an emergency operation to relieve the pressure in his brain. 

I comforted her as best as I could. Telling her she couldn’t have prevented any of this. That some things just happen. She asked me why God was taking her son away from her. I had no answer. She said she had been a bad mother. 

She eventually decided to call the boy’s father as he was taken to surgery. 

To complicate matters further, the father began yelling at the mother. Saying it was her fault he had gotten cancer. 

This carried on to the point where my consultant had to intervene to explain to him that it was no one’s fault. 

The boy’s father said his nephew also had brain tumour but he’s fine now. 

The mother, who was hurting in a big way, clearly fed up with the father’s accusations said that she was the best mum in the world for her son. And that if cancer ran in the father’s side of the family, he should have mentioned it earlier. 

It was all rather weird for me. 

But it was just

Quite confronting. 

I’ve never seen such a situation before. The reality of what happens if medicine isn’t good enough. And sometimes it just isn’t good enough to answer every question or solve every problem. And what that leaves behind is quite devastating. 

I couldn’t process everything for a while. My consultant asked if I needed a break to calm down. 

How did I react to this? I said I didn’t require a break. I just need to go see the next patient. 

I can’t say why I said that. I guess I needed to feel like even though it was obvious that not much could be done for that young boy, much could be done for other patients. And I needed to see that. And I needed to be part of that. To get over the disappointment and the grief that I had witnessed. 

It all just goes back to what Robert Frost had said:

“I can sum up everything I have learnt about life in 3 words:”

It Goes On…..

I guess I have to also be grateful for my life and my health. And the health of those closest to me. It shouldn’t ever be taken for granted

Need To Know Basis

If you’re anything like me, things that frustrate you to no end are when people say things like “ugh I’m upset” and then when you ask why, they say “doesn’t matter” or “too hard to explain” or they don’t reply or they change the subject abruptly. 

Excuse me how rude. 

First of all, if you’ve got a problem you would like to share, then for heaven’s sake share it! If you don’t want to, then don’t. Please do not come by and hint that you’re dying on the inside but don’t want to share the full story. Don’t hint it at all. Like ignorance is bliss. I was having a perfectly good day until someone says “I’m really upset” and then when I panic enough to drop whatever I’m doing and ask them what’s happening, they decide they don’t really want to talk about it anymore. 

That stuff messes with people you know. Decide whether you would like to talk about it. People like continuity. I do, anyway. I even try following up. I mean, I can appreciate if someone is too emotional, etc to discuss it right that instant. So I normally make the effort to remember who said what and try to follow up and make sure they’re okay. But nope. I get rewarded with a “too hard to explain”, or just plain change of subject. 

You know to be honest, I’d much rather appreciate a person saying “hey I’m upset and I thought I wanted to talk about it with you, but I changed my mind for these reasons so I won’t be talking about it. Nothing personal” or something to that effect. Because otherwise it’s like being left on the cliffhanger of game of thrones with an indefinite time period as to when the next season will be up.  (Or so people tell me. I wouldn’t know) 

It’s really not that hard. 

But anyway, I’ve learnt to cope using my technique of the need to know basis. As in, is going to kill me if I don’t ask about this or if I don’t know what’s happening? Probably not. Can I live with just hands off methods of interacting with them without bringing up these issues? Yes I think so. 

It’s just for my peace of mind really. I ruminate far too much on what people were Going to say, but didn’t. There’s just no point. I mean yes I get curious, and I try asking maybe once, but after that, I’d rather join this person in pretending that conversation never happened than putting myself through the trauma. Just gotta accept that’s what people do sometimes.  

The Feeling Of I Am Enough

So this post will be a recount of some of the things I have experienced over the last couple of years.

I don’t know how to explain it and it’s taken me a while to write this post. But basically I want to talk about something I think is quite important. 
Now I understand that this may not apply to everyone and I don’t want this to be a preachy, over-emotional post. Because I’ve complained several times about posts like that and I wouldn’t want to do that to you guys. But this is more for me. It’s so I can have a reminder of the things I learnt from some experiences I’ve had so that next time I face something similar, I’ll be able to follow my train of thought on here and hopefully cope with it. And in that way, I hope it benefits a few people out there.

I want to talk about a few themes. But they’re connected in a way. So I apologise if I’m jumping topics here and there.

Basically, I want to talk about people, and vulnerability. 

I’ve had a completely horrific last couple of years. And I think I’ve alluded to some of these things in previous posts. Basically, I’ve had some hard things happen to me emotionally. And this was because of events and people that are significant to me. But it’s not even about that. It’s about what happened afterwards.

See, when I was going through this, I found it hard to cope with multiple things happening at once. And one thing I kept hearing over and over from all sources was this: talk to someone about it. Or, seek help. 

This wasn’t from people I had approached. Basically, my closest friends and family can pick up on when I’m upset, etc. So when they try to strike up a conversation about it, I’d say I’m just having a hard time, and this would always be followed by that golden party line. 

As time went on though, these became more than suggestions. I was being pressured into talking to someone. Talk to friends, talk to family, talk to a counsellor. Just do it! You need help!! 

This was anything but helpful to be honest. For me personally, I have wonderful people around me. But I always feel like I can’t explain things to them in a way that makes them understand exactly what I’m feeling. To put it bluntly, I don’t believe anyone really understands me. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I’ve never lost sleep over it. It’s something I’m aware of and accept. Surely you can’t expect people to understand you completely. So you can imagine why I was having trouble with this talking thing. It was more than that though, I felt that I had the strength and insight to deal with my own problems.

But of course, things were getting worse for me. So over time I started to believe what everyone else was saying. That I needed help. I got to this place where I felt I wasn’t strong enough to deal with these issues and other people knew something that I didn’t. So I was talked into talking to others.

It was hard. It was really difficult. Went to counsellors, who to me, were saying pretty standard things about how I shouldn’t worry about what others think and I should let go and focus on good things, etc. Stuff I already know. Which made me more frustrated.

Then I was talked into talking to friends- people I didn’t really trust, actually. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with them, it was more that I wasn’t comfortable talking to them about certain issues. But I forced myself to, anyway. Because I believed I needed help. And it really did Not help.

The thing is, people can have the best intentions. But often when you show people you are vulnerable, they want to fix you. This somehow makes them feel they have the authority to make decisions for you. And they interfere. Which is the last thing you need, sometimes. And it’s what happened to me. Things got much worse. Only now, I was reduced to feeling like others don’t understand, but also, that I was wasting their time with problems that they could care less about.

Awful feeling, that. The need to want someone else to listen, for them to understand, comfort you, but also put up with feeling like you’re taking up their life with your petty issues. 

They’re probably not petty, but you’ll definitely feel like they are, sometimes. 

At one point though, something had to give. I was talking to one of my friends when he straight up said something to the effect of “I can’t help you. You’re not accepting of any thing right now and I have some other serious problems to deal with”. 

It was a huge shift for me. Someone had just confirmed that they couldn’t help and that they had more important things to do in their life. It wasn’t a half-assed attempt to make me feel better but not really understanding anything. It was the truth. 

That gave me resolve. I completely rejected the hypothesis that you need to talk to others to feel better or work through your problems. Because everyone is a separate person with their own battles. To expect someone to understand, let alone fix your problems is a bit unfair in my opinion. 

It’s also unfair to you. I feel like I underestimated myself quite a bit. 

I am enough.

The leading evidence-based treatment for depression is actually “self-help”. As in, you are enough to sort your own issues out. You have all the things you need. 

No you don’t need a counsellor. No you don’t need pills and therapy. What you need is to trust yourself. I know that sounds so fluffy and cliche. But hear me out.

I made a resolve. Never to talk about my problems to my friends again. I still talked to all of them everyday. But I made it a point to only talk about positive things. I projected myself as a happy, content person. And this made me deliberately look for positive things in my life. I spent a lot of time on my own. Not ruminating, but going to new places and doing different things until I absolutely enjoyed my own company. I focused on helping other people with their issues (Not by interfering, but by being there). I went out of my way to help others. I guess I felt better by putting myself in a position where I am able to assist someone else.  It was like a defense mechanism. It helped me focus less on my issues and allowed me to put more energy into others. It really helped.

I also continued blogging. I can’t explain the positive effect blogging has had on my life. But even on here, I try to keep my posts about the positive, interesting things that happen and the most I can learn from them and the people I interact with.

If it’s one thing that I want to conclude from my experiences and this post, it’s that whatever ridiculous things happen to you, you have all the strength and tools you need to deal with them on your own.

Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t seek help or talk to people or become a loner. Because if you have people that do understand you and help you feel Better, then for God’s sake talk to them. Because that’s rare. And it can make all the difference. Even counsellors are helpful. Maybe not in my case, but they do help lots of people out there. 

But if you’re like me, and  you don’t want to talk about your problems, don’t feel like an oddball. You’re capable of dealing with it on your own. Believe that.

But most importantly, don’t make any bad decisions. I had made several that I regret. And I’m not one of those people who thank their horrible experiences for the person they are today. I’d rather acknowledge that they were bad experiences and I had made bad decisions, but the person that got past all those things has always been inside me. It just took a while to be released. 

I know this is a rather bleak topic and may be irrelevant to many people out there. But if this applies to even a single person out there, I’m grateful. 

I learnt a lot about myself.  That was important over the last two years. And I hope that should I face similar things again, I will apply the same principles you get through them.