The Voices 

“you’re pathetic” said Jona as he loomed over me in the corner behind the dumpster at the back of the school. I could smell the chocolate and chips on his breath. He shoved his hand in my pocket and pulled out my 3 cookies I had for lunch. I tried to grab his arm and take them back, but Jona’s other arm came crashing into my chest and knocked the wind out of me as I fell back onto the concrete. My back aching from the force and my arms burning from where they scraped the ground. I looked up. I couldn’t see Jona as my eyes filled with tears. But I heard his voice. “you’re a loser!”

“Do as you’re told. You stupid dickhead” said the man that was my new dad. I looked up at him. His clothes had the stink of cigarettes and vinegary smell of alcohol. “eat it” he said. Shoving the orange ends of his smoked cigarettes into my small mouth. I turned my head away and squirmed to run. But his hand was holding my thin arm with a grip that was as strong as a vice and just as deadly. “eat it!” he repeated, successfully stuffing a handful of the cigarette butts into my mouth. They tasted of ash and poison. I choked and spat them out, feeling a warmth spread in my pants where I had peed myself. “you pathetic mess! Look at the mess you’ve made!!” said the man as he raised his hand above my head. I couldn’t see him as my eyes filled with tears. “you’re nothing but a loser” his voice rang in my ears.

“you loser. Why don’t you just go kill yourself?” I woke with a start from my bed. I sat up and saw only darkness. As my eyes adjusted to the dim flickering tubelight in the hallway, I saw that I was alone. “you stupid useless idiot” the Voice rang in my ears and I pressed my hands to the side of my head. I told myself It’s in my head. The doctor with the kind eyes told me it’s just Voices in my head. Before he gave me the pills to put me to sleep. Now I’m awake. “yeah you’re awake, dickhead”. I can still hear their Voices…. Then what’s real? “you’re crazy. That’s what’s real. Loser.” I looked down at my arms. Even in the dark I could see the linear gashes and scars criss-crossing all the way down on my forearm. Some still raw, bandaged by the doctor. Marks I had given myself. “see that? Loser scars.” I smiled to myself. They’re not. I slid my hand under the pillow of my bed and extracted the lone object that lay there. The paperclip that Steve from the room opposite my own had given me. The one that I had bent out of shape until it was a thin rod and sharpened on one end by the dinner cutlery. I pulled off the bandage that was wrapped just below my elbow. I felt the air touch the still healing wound. I pressed the sharp end of the paperclip at the top of the wound and ran it down the length of the old cut. I savoured the burning pain that shot through my arm. The sound of my heart in my chest as it began to beat rapidly. The cool sensation of the blood leaking out of the wound. I did it again and again. As I did, the Voices got quieter and quieter. And then they stopped. 

Pain is good. I don’t know what’s real. But atleast I know I’m alive. 

Never Let Them Know

Another tutorial today. I’ve mentioned how much I LOVE these Obgyn tutorials right? (hint sarcasm).

There was a particularly obnoxious consultant in a rural hospital running the tutorial. She was mean. She knew she was mean. But she was unapologetic about it.

In this age of technology, we do video conference tutorials. We had to sit and watch her grill our fellow med students based at that hospital as they presented the week’s case. Interrupting them every so often to tell the whole group that she would FAIL them in an osce if they had said what he just said. Then lecturing us for 25 minutes straight on what the RIGHT answer is. She even decided to tell the boys of the group that they should ALWAYS offer to have a chaperone WHENEVER they examine a woman.

But of course, I had to come into this somehow. And I almost didn’t. In a large conference room, with a small webcam, if you come in late, you get the seat just outside of the frame of the camera. Then, if you make the BIG mistake of  accidentally appearing in the frame for a second, you get called out. “Who’s that in the corner there??” “If I was your supervisor I would fail you for not participating in the group”

Why.

Then when there was a difficult question, guess who gets picked on? “Hey, what’s the name of the person in the corner? You can hide all you want but I can hear you, so answer the question. What is the indication for urodynamics?” I said I was unsure. A student behind me ventured an answer. She responded: “Well, there’s one student who is awake”.

Why? Why why why why? Just WHY?

What is she gaining? What is she achieving by saying stuff like that? What is ANYONE achieving by making someone else feel small and stupid? Does it boost their ego? I can’t see that being the reason, because she went on to say something to the effect of “I know I’m being harsh, but don’t worry you’re all going to do fine in the osce, I won’t be the examiner! Hahahaha” >___> If you KNOW you’re being a certain way, and you KNOW that way isn’t ideal, then WHY are you still like that?

I’ve dealt with bullying in my childhood. As an adult, I never thought I would have to deal with things like that. But as it turns out, when you grow up, bullying just becomes more subtle, and from sources you never imagined. And unfortunately, it’s more deadly. It makes me miss the direct form of bullying I experienced back then.

What bothered me is that she straight away assumed I was hiding or avoiding answering questions, and decided she was right, and acted on those assumptions. People need to stop assuming things. Why is it such a rare thing to give people the benefit of the doubt? Or atleast pretend to? Eugh.

So. How did I respond? Well unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in this position. And if I learnt anything, it’s this.

“never let them know they get to you” – Nick Wilde

I put on a face. It was a smirk. It was a “what the heck” look when she told me to show my face to the camera and that she would fail me. I looked straight at the screen with this face. One of the students referred to it as a “Sass” look. That’s what I did. I wasn’t about to give her, or anyone else the satisfaction of knowing what I was feeling underneath. I told her I was not sure of the answer, with the same confidence and sass. After the tutorial ended, I joined with my colleagues and excitedly ranted about how horrible she was and how silly the whole situation was and how we shouldn’t care about what she says. Though I hate putting on a fake face like this, I’ve learnt there’s no other choice. And it’s more important to follow the whole “conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know” thing. No it’s not the best idea. But it’s the only thing to do when you’re and adult in this situation.

And then, when you are home and alone, succumb to how she actually made you feel..

And then blog about it.