Archive for May, 2011

Home Truths

I finally emailed the student support staff contact (also known as The Dragon as she can best be described as a cross between a basilisk and a denim shirt dress) yesterday as, after finding out that the research project I must complete in order to pass the year has hit yet another brick wall (for once, through no fault of my own), I’m really feeling the strain. I have so much to do, and the closer I get to the deadline, the harder it would be if the medical school were to force me to repeat a year – I would literally have to restart about four days after being failed, on the same rotation I will (Hopefully) have passed the exams for. I’m working round the clock, and if there wasn’t this project to be done, would be well placed for my forthcoming exams – but it’s not enough. Add to this a stubborn streak of perfectionism that doesn’t want to admit that I’m going to have to accept being a pass-grade medical student, and therefore not able to deliver the very best care I can to my future patients, the fact my flatmate’s father has just been diagnosed with a serious illness, and nerves going off the scale as I’m going home this weekend which is always difficult, and the mix is a potent one. It’s like being in the eye of the storm, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

The dragon emailed back yesterday and I’m still working up the courage to read her reply. Yup, that’s how ridiculous I am at the moment. NB to self, emails don’t arrive with a ┬ásmack round the head attached. For those familiar with Harry Potter, I’m expecting a Howler.

My temper is fraying again at the moment, and I just feel so petulant about everything – I feel angry when I meet patients with horrendous diseases that won’t be cured, I get livid when medical staff dismiss mental health problems as just something else a patient complains about, I get tearful when I realise that no matter how good my hypothetical management plan is (they make us do a lot of these in preparation for our first doctor jobs), the lady it’s meant for is going to die, painfully, and soon. And I know that this is all part of my depression – it turns me from a usually mild-mannered, self-controlled pillar of common sense into an incendiary mess. It takes my judgement and clouds my rationality. And I know that once I’ve been burned out on vigilante-style over-caring and worn myself out by throwing daggers at the world, the apathy will set in once again, and I will find myself unreachable and hard as stone, lost to existential crisis (and evidently, melodrama).

I’ve had two weeks off counselling due to Easter and the bank holiday so have until Monday to get myself together again. I know I’m slipping again – the sunshine here is glorious at the moment, that bright, clear light that looks as though it should be able to purge any stain and drive out any dark corners, but all I think is that as sure as the days keep getting longer, I stay in this haze of depression, and often, I wonder if that last six months have been worth the effort at all; should I have given up and given in, when I had the courage to do so? Is there any point in slogging on, when I feel so far beyond my capabilities, and the hurdles, they just keep coming? When I ‘think about my options’ (ahh, the joys of counselling lingo), there’s always that lingering thought in the back of my mind that dying would solve so many things, and although at the moment, it’s kept at bay, realising that it’s crept back alongside me is worrying.

I’m home this weekend, as my older sister who moved to Australia in January is home for a flying visit, and it’s my mum’s 60th in a few weeks. My younger ┬ábrother is going too, which will be good. It’s hard though – my family know nothing of my depression, counselling, or academic issues (they don’t manage stress well at all, and despite both parents having mental health problems themselves, tend to deny their existence) and playing to the crowds is so hard, and often, being with my dysfunctional family makes me feel so alone and isolated; I don’t have the family support that my flatmates have. I don’t have decent relationships with them. I’m jealous sometimes, of people who ring their mum for advice all the time, and look forward to going home. We’re all together rarely, really only at Christmas, and it usually ends in tears, with my sister insisting on being the centre of attention and being incredibly selfish to the detriment of everyone else, my brother getting increasingly angry because of my sister, my dad retreating somewhere as he can’t cope with emotion, and my mum and I crying, her after drinking a few too many, and me stone cold sober and out of depth. When I go home, it reminds me how dysfunctional I am (Philip Larkin comes to mind here) and how unfixable. The house just seems to seethe with distemper and sadness. It makes me feel so disconnected, and numbed, watered down, these are people I should feel so bound at the heart to, so in step with. It makes me feel as though I never left, and am still a young teenager, juggling a family centred on alcoholism that’s spinning out of control, and sinking. Home means a different thing to everyone.

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