Busy Not Bored

Thus ends my 3rd week of being a house officer. On psychiatry.

I’ve got to say, (and it’s probably quite clear) that I’m not having a good time with things at the moment.

This is something I have feared for a while. And I’m not sure if I can clearly articulate it, but I’m going to try to on here. As for now, this blog is the only friend/support/confidant I have.

When I was given the chance to choose my 4 rotations for this year, I had chosen a preference of general medicine, general surgery, cardiology, and medical ED. We were asked to give 10 preferences. The other 8 were different combinations of general medicine, general surgery, orthopedics, and geriatrics. My last preference on that list was the one I got. Psychiatry, general medicine, cardiology, and general surgery.

I had given this a lot of thought. I really wanted 4 rotations where I would be extremely busy. By busy, I mean arriving early, leaving late, and running around all day. That’s what I wanted. I even chose the busiest hospital there was. Everyone else I know is saying that’s crazy. If I were that busy, I’d hate it. And I’d wish to be on a more relaxed rotation.

That’s actually not true. I do better when I don’t have time to stop and think about a lot of things.

A quote comes to mind:

“Left alone, my mind is actually quite dangerous”

On psychiatry, I have no work. On most days, I am done with all my jobs by 11:30am. Yet I have to sit at a desk and while away time until 4:30pm. And that, to me, is torture.

I heard this on the first day when I arrived in psychiatry. They told me I have no work. from 8:30am. I read about some of the patients, but that was done by 9:30am. There was nothing to do.

Except ruminate.

So many times I’ve said that there are these frustrations I have in the back of my mind all the time that are actually growing quite painful recently. New developments in my family and other things and I can see it affecting my mind quite a bit. But it’s not anything I can change or influence myself. But that means all I can do is think about it and stress.

Which I hate.

All I know is that the only way to counter it, is to be busy. I know this works because when I actually do have something to do, like seeing a patient or deciding on a treatment, I don’t have the time to think about other things. I become very focused on the work at hand. If I’m ever idle though, it all comes back.

Which is why psychiatry is the worst rotation for me to be on at the moment. I would happily trade lives with my colleagues on general surgery currently. Anything to find relief from the constant thoughts in my head with problems I cannot fix.

I know it’s only 3 months. And then I’ll actually be off to general medicine and will be much more busy. But it’s only been 3 weeks. And I’m already emotionally tired and sick.

This is quite difficult for me to explain and it probably sounds vague and fluffy. But very very few people in my life know what an anxious person I can be. I imagine things way too vividly. I think about things too much, I have a single thought play over and over in my head until it becomes almost hallucinatory. I don’t tell people these things. When I say few people know, it’s if they’ve ever picked it up on their own. I never talk about my own anxieties. Why bother, really. No one is going to be able to fix it. I don’t come across as an anxious person, apparently. But a single thing can keep me awake for days on end. And currently, many things are. The ongoing stress, is draining. And nobody sees or understands that.

But these things are also making me upset at work. Because I have nothing to do except sit around and pay attention to my thoughts.

I need to find things to keep me busy.

Or hope this rotation goes by really quickly.

Or hope these problems will magically disappear.

Sensory Deprivation 

The alarm let out a shrill sound that jolted her brain cells. Her eyes flew open.  It was only a second before the thoughts came flooding into her mind like a dam that was barely holding, had broken free.

The thoughts intertwined with the ghosts of the dreams she had the night before. Each thought hammering her consciousness as they had done the day before and the day before, and the one before that.

She moved mechanically through her morning routine. Shutting the thoughts out. Treating them like a prickly ball of barbed wire that she pushed deep within her consciousness. But it didn’t last. It rose up at every turn like a beach ball being pushed underwater by a child.

The thoughts replayed over and over in her head. Guilt, anxiety, stress, fear, and disgust at her own treacherous mind that didn’t let her rest even for a second.

She plastered on a smile. She had work to do. She had to function. People she didn’t know were counting on her. The fear that she may slip up, kept her going. But it wasn’t enough. If she were ever idle, the ball would rise again in her mind. The prickles of the barbed wire scratching the inside of her skull. She rubbed her forehead in frustration and tried to keep going. Hoping that she could rub the thoughts away. But the voices didn’t stop. The memories reminding her of a reality that was too harsh to exist in. The fear of what might happen  or how long this would last, made her breath shallow as she walked amongst others. She looked at the ground as she walked. She didn’t want her emotions to be reflected in her eyes. 

She couldn’t eat. Her mind told her that she had enough to survive. She put the food away.

People walked past her. She envied them. They seemed unaffected. They could function without these thoughts in their minds. She knew this wasn’t true. Everyone had their demons. Everyone struggled. But her mind told her that she struggled because she was weak when others were not. She struggled because her problems meant nothing to anyone except her. 

Nobody cares about the shallow, pathetic thoughts she had.

She rehearsed conversations in her head that she could have with people that cared about her. That maybe she could convey what she felt and have atleast one person understand.

Her mind told her that was futile. They would look down on her with pity. They would scoff that her problems were no where nearly as painful as the real problems others faced. They would reply to her attempts to talk for a few minutes, but ultimately, they had lives that were more important than listening to her problems that there was no real solution to. 

So she kept it to herself. She cried alone and she picked herself up and kept going. Battling with her own mind as though it were her enemy.

She had faced this before. But she had let her guard down just a little bit. Trusting more than she should have. And so she was hurt. And so her mind turned on her. It told her she was selfish. That she only cared about her problems. She feared it was true. 

She dreamt of not feeling. She wished that she wouldn’t hurt anymore no matter what happened. To not be conscious, to not feel. To be deprived of all sensation. To not have hope or be crushed. To not care. To not be able to speak ever again.

To not be awake.

She took to her bed at night and lay there waiting for the closest thing she could get to not feeling. She wanted to sleep. Before she woke up and did it all again.