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New Blog!

Dear all,

I’m blogging again (we’ll see how long it lasts!) here under the name Dr Idgie: http://stethoscoperookie.wordpress.com/

Hope you’re all well,

Love,

C.

Just in case…….

….anyone still checks this (which I think is the case according to my stats), here is a quick rundown of the last few months.

The big news is that after sitting over 40 exams since 2006 and starting med school, I have now passed and am officially a certified doctor! I got my first choice of jobs for my first year, starting out in geriatrics, in my university city, and I can’t wait. I technically started last week but was on nights (slight baptism by fire….)but all in all, feel on top of the world, and not just due to sleep deprivation!

It feels pretty obvious that this summer has seen me happier (once results were out, anyway) than I’ve been for at least three previous summer seasons. At last, I’m stable on meds, I’m stable in myself, and although I still have quite a few wobbles, I’m finally back on track and reaching for the future.

I still think about my depression a lot, particularly as I’m thinking about getting baptised, and for me, an honest testimony will have to include some reference to the last few years, but now it feels more like a problem with a solution, which wasn’t the case for the first long stint of it.

I’ve also realised how much I miss blogging, so am thinking about the best way to continue – although I certainly haven’t totally learned to be still, I’m not sure this blog is where I’ll continue writing as my life has a different focus at the moment. Either way, I’ll stick the link up once I’ve done my first few weeks of doctoring and know a bit more what I want to write about.

I’ve said it before – but there were times when the people reading and commenting on this blog really were a true lifeline, and I am so thankful for you for being there and getting me through the bad patches. You are true blessings.

See you around,

Lots of love,

Dr Char

Just to say……

Hi all,

I’ve been so blessed to have some very supportive followers and in case you haven’t been reading my travelblog for my trip to Nepal, I wanted to say hello again.

Nepal was such a fantastic experience in so many ways. Being stable on a medication that works has been so wonderful and looking back even to December, I am so happy that at last I’ve got a handle on my depression, hopefully for some time. Comparing December, when I was crying every day and starting to lose hope again, to my time away when I cried twice in two months and both times were pretty justified, makes me realise firstly how hard depression is, and also how amazing not having it makes me feel. I feel like I’m back in action. This time last year, this blog was just starting out and everything was full of uncertainty – would I complete the year, or fail, or be forced to drop out? Would I manage to keep going? If I did, would I have any chance of getting a first job that I wanted?

A year on, and all I can say is that God has been so good to me! Those long months of desolation seem far away, now. I also found out whilst I was away that I got my absolute first choice of job for next year, which as it was on one of the most competitive programmes in the UK, is a colossal blessing. I got through it. I feel like the dark days are finally over.

I’m starting to prepare for my final exams now (eeeeeek) and haven’t decided if I’ll keep blogging, and if I do, where that will be. In the meantime, I pray for all of you, and am so thankful for your help in getting me through this last year. You are lifesavers.

lots of love,

Char.

Namaste!

I’m leaving for Pokhara, Nepal on Saturday. I’ll be blogging about my travels from a new site and would love you to follow what I’m getting up to there, as I probably won’t be updating this blog much.

Something I would ask however, is that if you comment, please don’t refer this blog, my depression, counselling, medication or anything else ‘sensitive’ – my family and extended friends will be following the new blog, and they don’t know anything about my illness/treatment. My family are also not Christians and aren’t too keen on religion, so I won’t be posting about my faith too much, which is going to feel a bit odd, but is kind of how I need to roll to keep things smooth between us. Thank you in advance, for your discretion, it means a great deal to me.

So, here’s the link: http://stethoscopeinsitu.wordpress.com/

Lots of love,

Char

A year in perspective

This New Year seems a little odd as I’m leaving for Nepal in just under two weeks (Jan 14th!), so am certainly starting the year in a different way to any that have gone before. I’m not usually one for lots of resolutions and reflections on the year, as for me, having been in full time education for nineteen years, the year starts in September, when I move forward academically and get to buy a new set of highlighters. In spite of that, given that I turned 24 a few days ago, this turn of the year does feel a little different.

2011 was certainly a year of challenge and brick walls, more than I could have anticipated. It was also however, in the end, a year of triumph. I beat the challenges. I scaled the walls. I did not give up, although at times, I was so perilously close to doing so. I started 2011 on such rocky ground, unstable on medication that was making me dangerously ill, terrified of starting counselling, and with the odds more than stacked against me academically. I started 2012 on a new medication that I think is working, (despite the first three weeks being pretty awful), with counselling behind me, and the promise of a first doctoring job that I will love come August. 2012 is starting with hope for the future, whereas its predecessor began with nothing more than apparent desolation and a need to dig deep to find a promise of hope.

When I was first starting out on my journey into Christianity, two things that held me back were both a disbelief that God can heal anyone’s wounds, and that He certainly wouldn’t bother touching mine, but also a staunch fear of being healed and changed, of laying down arms and seeking guidance and solace from the road I’d been on. I believed I was too broken to ever even attempt wholeness. I thought I’d be fractured and empty forever. I was certainly not living life to the full. I was half dead.

I’m not saying at all, that now I am completely healed, that I went into last year with seams and came out the other end seamless; but I’m a lot closer to feeling whole than I was. That gaping, aching hole, is starting to fill. God stuck with me through last year and stayed with me as I tossed and turned away from Him. I believe now, that God does heal, with time, as a slow process in many instances, so slow that you doubt it’s even happening. It does happen.

Happy 2012, guys!

I leave for Nepal a week today and am planning on setting up a travel blog that will be completely separate to this blog. Once it’s set up, I’ll post the link up in case anyone wants to follow what’s happening.

The gift of a child

I’m just back from a week at home.

Christmas has previously been one of the hardest times of year for me as despite my dad’s current sobriety, of which I am very proud, much of our family gatherings still seem to revolve around alcohol, who’s drinking it, who’s not and why, and an unhealthy dose of finger-pointing. At home, I feel blurred at the edges, out of focus, faded. I’m not myself. It sucks something out of me.

This year however, was so much better than I expected. My older sister (who is working in Australia at the moment) brought over both her current partner, and his six year old daughter, to meet us. Different? Yes, you bet. This child seemed to realign everything, she seemed to shift the focus from the tangled adults, back to her own needs and place in the family. I love children and spent a lot of time with her, convenient for the boyfriend as he was so jetlagged, and my sister who isn’t that maternal.  I already love her. One little Australian girl in a fairy outfit, singing ‘six white boomers’ (officially the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen) refocussed our entire family from anger and disputes, to something altogether kinder. It also gave me something to focus on rather than revision, or medication side effects, or depression so was a blessing in more ways than one.

I think we were more cemented than we’ve been for years. It was the first Christmas day where no one cried, or collapsed, or felt dangerously wooden. It was the first Christmas day where I felt as though there could be a hope for me and my dysfunctional family. It was the first week I’ve had at home in years, where I was a little sad to go.

Here’s a photo of me and my almost-niece:

Of course, this all reminded me of the child who really did change everything for us; as my family are pretty anti-religion, my faith can get a bit drowned out at Christmas; Jesus doesn’t come into this time of year anymore than he does any other period, so I am left trying to keep my mind focussed on what the holiday means, whilst surrounded by a more consumer driven approach. This is my third Christmas as a Christian, and in many ways, the most stable. The first one, when I was just a month into faith, was a pretty confusing time. Last year, I was sick on my first trial of medication and so depressed I thought it was going to be my last Christmas. This year, I am finally more stable on medication, sleeping better, feeling a bit better, and crucially, my faith is still strong, and as always, I think of that baby in a manger and am amazed by the promise he was delivering. I think of the nativity story, and as always, am amazed that most of the people guided to the birth of Christ were pretty run-of-the-mill, normal people; what hope it gives me, as a run-of-the-mill person, that I can also follow on.

I’ll be writing the obligatory new year post at some point in the next few days but in the meantime, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you every blessing for the coming year.

The end of something special

I had my last counselling session with L today. It’s been almost a year since I first met her, almost a year of our weekly meetings, almost a year of my tears and frustrations and setbacks.

Given my track record for people letting me down when I tried to trust them as a youngster, or the bad attitudes I got from people who either knew about my dad’s drinking, or just expressed a general opinion towards alcohol misuse, and coming from a family so emotionally desolate it could be the Sahara, it’s no wonder that I was so afraid of trying to open up. It’s no wonder, I found counselling such a challenge.

Sticking with it, is possibly the biggest proof I will ever have of my tenacity and determination. I never missed a session, even when it was the last thing I wanted to go and do. I’ve had a year of being totally drained on a weekly basis, and then having to go and try to live normally in the spaces in between, until the next strike. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do – a year of finding bravery. I’ve managed to purge a few of my demons and get some light into the parts of me that were pretty disordered and dusty. I’ve learned to accept and give my issues with alcohol a name, and because of that, because I’ve come to terms with having different thresholds and boundaries for dealing with it compared to a lot of people, it’s that bit easier – I don’t need to drive myself half crazy with it, anymore.

I’ve said before that I have a feeling that had L and I met on other terms, we would have got on very well. I’m going to miss her, in a lot of ways. Having a constant person in my life over the last year, has been a lifeline, even if that was really mostly because she’s so nice I didn’t want to upset her by failing to turn up, or worse. I have her some homemade shortbread and a thankyou card today, and was shocked when she looked genuinely sad and said she’d thought about getting something for me, but wasn’t sure about protocol – I was pretty touched. I think she’s sometime more open and puts herself on more of an ‘equal par’ with me than a counsellor probably should – but I also like that she’s been that bit more interactive than a more experienced person might have been – I always quite like it when she got visibly angry about the med school lot being rubbish, or something going wrong.

I never thought that when I finished with L, I’d be back in the middle of depression. All of this, is pretty bad timing, with me going away in January. But even in spite of feeling flat and low and empty, even in spite of being jittery on meds and exhausted from not sleeping, and anxious about my workload and all the rest, having untangled myself that little bit this year, makes it so much easier – I’m on more solid ground, I’m not coming from this emotional poverty, this inner warfare, that plagued me for so long. I’m thinking straighter, more able to formulate and follow a management plan.

It’s been a strange year, so marked by a struggle to get through that other landmarks sometimes went uncelebrated. Academically, I beat a lot of odds – I passed and passed well, when no student in my situation had done so for several years. I got a high enough score that I can get a job I will hopefully love. I delivered my first baby, fed my first lonely newborn, saw my first death, compressed my first chest in hospital. I preached my first sermon and learned about the power of the church community to heal, as well as do harm. I stitched my first scalp and sited my first cannula. I went on my first roadtrip, with two good friends and one grandma. I came close to losing my faith, and yet all it did was grow stronger and knit itself even closer to me than it had been before. I learned to talk about my past and issues and to find a voice that had been lost for years. I learned how to begin to heal. I learned how to let God, heal me. L was there through all of that – and I thank God for her, every day. With counselling ending for the time being, and the letter/email last week, I kind of feel that although I’m in this new phase of depression, last year is over and a new phase has began. I think this phase will be better.

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