I realised it’s been over a month since I last posted anything. Partly due to finishing off my studies for the year and partly because every time I think of writing something, nothing really comes to mind and I feel somewhat uninspired and to no extent philosophical. So I decided to just do a reflective post on how life has been going.
I have been feeling mildly depressed for the past 3 months now. This constant aching that just reminds me vaguely but persistently throughout every second of every day that I hurt. A lot of things this year have been tough and emotionally taxing and I’ve had to do 24 hour call nights which just exhausted me and it takes a while for your mind and body to recover from that too. I also had to say goodbye to my fellow Medical students as they completed their studies and they were the people all the blood, sweat and tears have been shed with. Doing call nights together, crying and screaming ourselves through tough and frustrating times, laughing together and supporting each other. Here I am though, having 5 months left to complete due to being admitted to a Psychiatric hospital several times in the past two years and now I realise, I am alone for the next 5 months without that support system and surrounded by new people in the toughest rotation lying ahead for me – the great dragon being Internal Medicine. But nonetheless, even though all of this is lying ahead and that after those 5 months knowing I may be placed anywhere in the country to do my internship for 2 years with this disruption of life, what’s keeping me going is knowing that in 5 months I will be a qualified medical Doctor. Knowing that I DID IT, even though I was convinced my depression would kill me and medicine would kill me. I have conquered so so much that I never thought I would. I have battled in these past 6 years with major depression, my mom’s death, suicide attempts, anorexia and fucked up relationships while dragging my tired body though incredibly difficult challenges in my studies and here I am today. Mildly depressed, but standing and growing and functioning.
This past while I have realised that for most of my life I have just been surviving. Just fighting to keep breathing and in doing so, I’ve somewhat lost myself. Who am I apart from depression? What do I like? What am I truly interested in and how do I interact with the world around me? I’m not lost, I’m not gone, but it’s like I’m in this state of dormancy. I have a sense of who I am as a person and a sense of what makes me happy in life but as for the rest, I am not really sure how to apply it to my life and how to apply my life to the world… I know I have to start looking beyond all this pain now and start living again and finding myself fully. I have been started on yet another antidepressant about 2 weeks ago and it is disappointing knowing I need it, but I know that my mental health comes first and if it enables me to live a fuller life, I’m okay with that.
I met a new friend about 2 months ago and it has been a struggle and also such an intense emotional connection I have been craving for a while. I am incredibly sensitive and he is demanding and the commander with this sense of unapologetic righteousness. He judges and I fight his judging and then we just about want to grab each other by the throat as we battle through an unresolving cycle of an argument and his insults make me cry. These episodes weren’t merely an argument to brush off for me. They were intensely painful and emotionally draining making me run off and saying goodbye, only to come back again because I already love him too much and there are so many great things about him too. I realised I am already emotionally dependent on him and whether that is as bad as it sounds, I am not sure. On one hand, I think it’s good because we all need someone we can emotionally depend on and fully entrust our hearts too. On the other hand, if he leaves, I will be emotionally shattered.
Another struggle for me has been Christmas. I’ve never loved Christmas and it somewhat just fuels my depression. I have several negative associations my brain has created with it since I was a little girl. We never had a happy family and I remember so many Christmases where there were fights between my mom and dad or just a total disconnect and a non-existent “Christmas spirit.” I also don’t have any religious connotations with it. I am a Christian but I don’t believe Christmas is historically accurate and that Jesus was born around this time nor does the Bible mention and talk of celebration on a specific day following a sort of tradition. But of course, Christmas is an individual interpretation and does no harm. My main reason is that I don’t have a family and I have depression and forging a festive spirit is hard. Yet here I am this year, for the first time in about 15 years, buying and setting up my own Christmas tree if just for trying to cheer myself up with the beauty of it and knowing that perhaps it’s time I create new associations. The main person behind this change is the friend I have spoken about above. He loves Christmas and I guess I might as well try enjoying it too. He has also suggested we spend Christmas together which I actually appreciate tons. In general though, for people with any form of mental illness, Christmas isn’t an easy time. Being alone on Christmas while hurting inside knowing so many families are together is even harder. Then there are also those who do have to spend time with families on Christmas and there is one of two scenarios; you have a family that doesn’t really get along and you have to fake smiles or endure bickering. The other extreme is a happy family gathering but you hurt and you don’t want them to be surrounded by that depression and again you have to try to just be “normal” and match their moods or you just don’t have any energy to engage in conversation. For all of you out there facing this, as corny as this may sound, you are not alone in this hurting and for what it’s worth, know that it’s okay to value your needs too and you don’t need to push yourself aside during this time. You are still loved.
Lastly, I want to end on a positive note. I may be hurting but that doesn’t mean there weren’t good things happening in my life this year and things to look forward to in the future. I attended our graduation ball and it was beautiful and touching to have that opportunity to say goodbye to my classmates and see them all looking so beautiful. I’ve also gotten through this year regardless of the difficulties and smile because of it. I am blessed to have the opportunities I do, even if it’s so hard to get through. I am blessed to have friends that will always be close to me, even if it is just three. I am blessed to have huskies that make me smile and all the great dog park walks with them and my new friend. I am still here, I am still me, I can still create and live and love and laugh, even though my heart hurts, the hurt isn’t all I am and so, it isn’t what defines me.