The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Monday, 6 February 2017

JUST AVERAGE


Sometimes medicine can feel very demoralising. I can feel very demotivated at times because I am surrounded by so many clever people. Some people seem to effortlessly recite information that you vaguely remember from a lecture... While you're sitting at home there are peers travelling to present their research at conferences... People training for marathons... Students raising their kids whilst also studying the same course as you ... Peers who already have Bachelors, Masters and PhDs. 
At times, I feel that each moment I'm not working someone else is. Every time I take a weekend to go home someone else is slaving away in the library. 

What is worse is that you are encouraged to compete due to the very nature of the vocation. All specialities are competitive. Passing your exams is not enough. Your CV needs to be brimming with academic interest and extra curricular excellences. You should also attain extra qualifications on top of your bachelors in surgery and medicine. 

I'm sorry for seeming negative. 

I am so grateful to study medicine, but there is no end point. I don't want to be the best; I want to be proud of what I have achieved. But sometimes that is hard when many of your cohort excel in so many things other than the core medical examinations. 

I believe I'm studying the right course. Being at hospital and getting stuck in makes me so happy. I feel incredibly lucky that I am allowed to be where I am, and where this course can take me. I wanted to publish this blogpost to reflect that we shouldn't focus our happiness on how we compare to others. Granted, I struggle to do that a lot, but I try to remind myself that I'm on my own path, my own 'journey'. As cheesy as it is. 


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Friday, 3 February 2017

EXERCISE & MENTAL HEALTH



Yesterday was Time to Talk day, which is aimed to raise awareness of mental health. This made me want to write about my own mental health and how exercise has played a role.

I was never a sporty person. I've never been on a sports team, competed in any way, nor have I wanted to. Exercise was never my mate until about a year ago.

As someone who has got through various mental health problems, I often wonder what were the key things I did to make myself better. I did many things: saw my GP regularly, took Sertraline for a year, saw a psychologist for a year, blogged, spoke to friends and family. AND I joined a new gym. 

This was not my first gym membership, but the first one that made a difference. I had been told that exercise can improve mental health, but that wasn't why I joined. Like most people I wanted to look better, never mind the physical or mental health benefits. I dodged all the mirrors and the scary male-dominated weights section. I worked until I was red in the face, gasping for air and sweaty as hell. Something about it was so therapeutic.

I eventually got into a routine, and went to the gym each week, 1-5 times depending on how I was feeling. On my darkest days, going to the gym seemed like the worst possible idea. But I started to notice that the days I went to the gym were the better days. In a small way, I had achieved something.

A year on, I'm still going to that same gym. Not only am I proud that I go, but I truly believe it has helped my mental health. I find that when I'm exercising, I don't have negative thoughts. I'm so fixated on the exercise that I don't feel sad or anxious. 

The gym isn't for everyone. I have lots of friends who are part of sports teams, but I've never joined one since coming to university. I've always been scared of putting myself out there, and I hate competing against people. I like that when I'm at the gym I don't have to worry about anyone else, I can do things at my pace; I can do what suits me. It's not about curling more than someone else, but seeing how I progress on my own.

I still go to the gym to look better, but also because I know I will feel better if I go. I also hope it will keep me in the good state of mental health I have right now. I'll let you know if it does!
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