Coping

3 weeks of gastroenterology down! 

Hugely annoying three weeks. Despite my first day being full of potential and exciting, things brought me down really quickly. 

I was at ADHB during my trainee intern year. Ie my final year of medical school. I had found that year fabulous and the hospital to be a really great place. But now that I’m back….. it’s really lack luster.

Adhb is woefully behind on technology such as electronic prescribing and blood test ordering. It’s behind on referrals processes and radiology liaisons. They even changed the IV cannula needles I remember using in my TI year. 

What has happened?

And worse, the heriarchy that Adhb is famous for, reared it’s ugly head.

Gastroenterology is my chosen speciality. I love working in gastro and seeing gastro patients and attending endoscopy lists. But the consultants in my department seem to not care very much for my existence. 

I made it a point to introduce myself to the consultants and greet them every morning. But beyond responding with a lukewarm “hi” they don’t say much else, and what’s more, the same consultants are super nice and conversational to the registrars. 

I don’t get it. I’m helpful too you know. I’m keen on gastro too you know.

Ugh.

Thankfully at least my registrars are nice to me and invest in my learning.

But it does bring me down. Also the job is not very busy at all. I feel like I’m back on psychiatry where there’s nothing to do. 

Sighhhhh

And then there’s this situation at home. Currently my family is planning a big move to Australia. That they want me to be a part of. They want me to quit my job here and find one there and start all over.

There are financial benefits and family benefits to doing this, but I don’t want to.

I’m aware that I sound incredibly selfish, but I feel like I should have some autonomy over where I work and where I want to live. And I don’t want to leave NZ yet. I know I probably will eventually, but I don’t want to right now. And they are taking it hard. And I’m demonized everyday.

Life’s not in one of its peaks at the moment. 
The other day a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in years asked me about work and what it’s like to be a doctor. One of the things he asked me was; “do you often get stressed about work? How do you deal with that?”

And to be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it until he brought it up.

I actually have really bad coping mechanisms. 

I can’t remember if I ever had good coping mechanisms but I’m sure I don’t now. 

I told him, I cope by sleeping.

And that’s true. Every time things get really rough for me, I choose to go to sleep. (Yeah a real man of action, I am)

I don’t know why. But it’s an escape I suppose. The only time I don’t have to think or stress is when I’m physically unable to. And that’s when I sleep. 

Ofcourse that’s not really coping at all because when I wake up the problems haven’t magically gone away, but I guess in some ways I had a break from it and that gives me some strength to deal with it all again. 

I don’t know. 

I’m just hoping it all gets better. I just wish I knew what the right thing to do was.

Avoidance Coping

When things go wrong, they all seem to go wrong at once.

Usually if it’s something I can influence or change or make better, I put myself out there and do my best to change it.

But if it’s something I can’t change but still affects me, 

I cope very poorly.

I have avoidance coping issues.

I tune out the issue and the people involved. I shut down all my emotions and thoughts pertaining to that issue. I pick up something to distract myself and run with it intently. 

But it’s just no good when those issues involve people close to you.

It means I’m grieving in a completely self-centred way. I don’t open myself to discussion about the issues or try to actively adapt to it. 

I literally stick my head in the sand until the thing passes on it’s own. Because I tell myself everything passes.

I’ve identified the cowardice inside me. 

But when things are this messy, I can’t really even work on it. 

So I’ll continue to keep my head below the sand. And face the consequences for it. 

What Do I Know?

Sorry for my absence.

But between Taylor Swift releasing new music and the new Avengers movie coming out, and Adele getting divorced and little old me struggling through working Easter weekend at the hospital,

Things have been kind of hectic.

ME! is amazing though by the way.

I haven’t seen the avengers movie yet.

And I’m very sad for Adele

But damn I have busy. And I know I asked to be busy. I’m not complaining about that at all. But this week is the longest time junior doctors are going on strike for safer hours. 1 whole week! I am Not on strike. I gave up on my union. While I support the cause, I do not support the methods. So this has been the longest, slowest week I’ve had so far. 

And today I want to complain about some of the things I hear around me.

My registrar referring to a patient everyday as “she’s still fat” 

My consultant telling me to do jobs that aren’t mine then walking away without helping me understand them. 

Doctors of different specialties cherry picking their patients – Eg. Rehabilitation wards cannot take obese patients as they have an experience of obese patients previously falling and breaking equipment. Regardless of how much rehabilitation potential they have, they will not be taken over.

People flipping out when they’re stressed and taking it out on the world.

People valuing those  who have so-called “people skills” and giving them awards while those who actually work hard and are deserving are left in the dark. 

Nurses not listening to what I’m saying after I’ve tracked them down and asked nicely to do a job more than once.

People being angry and rude one minute, then turning around and being oddly nice the next. Please give me 1 days notice as to what face you’ll be wearing today.

Sigh.

But I shouldn’t complain too much. I still have things that make me really happy (though they probably shouldn’t) and I’ve still got people who understand when I complain. And I have been learning a lot this week. My registrar is on strike which means my consultant expects me to do his job. Which I’ve been learning to do. So that’s good! 

And so I keep chugging. Hoping for a brand new day every day and trying to be kind of Awesome.

Because you can’t spell awesome without ME! 

Forgetful

Sometimes I think, wouldn’t it be great to have memory loss?

Like amnesia. Like short term memory loss.

Okay I know that sounds horrible. Like of course it would be horrendous if you or your family members forget who they are or where they live or their closest relatives, etc.

But just think.

What if you could forget your most embarrassing moments? What if you couldn’t remember the people that screwed you over? Or the actual events that wrecked your life? What if you could forget the grudges?

I would love that.

I remember everything. Well, not everything. Let’s say I remember a lot of useless stuff. Do I remember what nerve powers dorsiflexion of the foot? Nope.

But do I remember what someone was wearing the day they yelled at me and made me feel terrible? 

Yep and yep and oh God why.

Sometimes I just wish I could forget things. I don’t know why I bother remembering certain things. It’s not a conscious decision, I can tell you that. Some part of my brain just decides to retain info that isn’t really going to do much other than bring back the feelings surrounding that info vividly.

That’s another thing. It’s not just oh yeah I remember that. It’s more like oh my God remember when that happened and I felt…

Which is really unnecessary. There are enough emotions in the present to deal with without having an emotional back log too.

I just wish I could forget a lot of the stuff I remember. Most of it though has a lot less impact on me, which is good. But I wish I could forget it all completely.

Don’t you?

Frustrations Of Daily Living

HD mentioned this phrase the other day. Frustrations of daily living. Or FDLs.

There are points every now and then when a lot of things come together and just make my mood quite low for a while. And I quite like this phrase of FDLs. Because that’s exactly what it feels like.

And how do I deal with them? Well I have many coping techniques and I’m quite resilient so basically I turn on my positive attitude and charge through!

Yeah… not even close.

How I seem to deal with these things, is by making a post on here about them. That way I write it all down and can take a step back and be like damn. It lessens the load a bit I think. 

1. The family dramas. That are more frequent than posts on social media about Donald Trump. And these are the worst because hey I can’t do anything about them. I can’t exactly leave and be like I don’t care. Because it’s family. Which automatically means I have to care and I have to be involved in whatever mess goes on. It sort of gets to the point where I get quite anxious when I think about returning home and being around the chaos. I wish I could develop amnesia or something. And then skip the country. Blech. Wishful thinking.

2. My CV and other career matters. Yep. Still haven’t made progress on the personal statement. But it’s not even that. I have to decide where I want to work next year. Which means I have to have a plan for the years after that too. Well, everyone expects me to anyway. And that also gives me a lot of anxiety because there’s currently this talk about me being relocated to somewhere due to family circumstances. And relating to point 1, I’m not sure I want to be a part of that movement. At all. Which makes me more nervous because that does sort of imply that I’m quite self-involved, etc. More Blechhs.
And then there’s the actual application itself. What I should be taking into account, the fear of getting good references, etc. I just don’t know what to expect for this whole applying thing. It’s all just overdone in my head at the moment.

3. This thing that constantly makes me so conflicted where I am rapidly running out of options to approach. Like I desperately want it to get better. But not knowing whether anything I’m doing is making a difference, not knowing if I’m making it worse, not knowing how things will end up, makes me quite… eugh.

4. The futility of some things in my life. I find more often than not, I work super hard on something, put in time, effort and care, etc., and I still fall short of my intended outcome. Yeah where med school is concerned. I work super hard on studying (I think) and assignments and I still don’t do all that well. The frustrating part is that I don’t really even know how to improve. And then the scary part is that I’ve tried everything I can think of, which maybe means that’s it. That’s my full capacity. Not distinction, but just a pass.
And yeah it’s probably not a big deal. I mean, I’ve been in med school for 6 years. The scores and things now won’t determine how I ultimately end up. But it’s just the principle behind it. And I’ll probably get over this before any of the other things here, but I do want to be bitter about life for a while and complain about the unfairness. Oh well.

5. Money matters. I am currently becoming quite concerned about finances. I can’t go into details but things are pretty scary at the moment in view of my trip overseas for my 8 week elective (which I’ll do a separate post about later). It’s another thing I can’t do much about yet. I’m not earning money properly till next year. So yep. I gotta just stay stressed.

6. Next Friday is a big deal. Waiting for the resolution of a problem. Which I’m pretty sure will work out and I’m hoping desperately will come before next Friday. But until then, I’ll be stressing about it.

But yeah. Sorry this post is a bit of a downer. And honestly, my life is fine. I’m not falling apart or anything and this stuff comes and goes in waves. But sometimes I find complaining about it, (or posting about it) helps.

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.