This time last year, my phone would be attached to my hip waiting for the buzz from the boy I accidentally fell head over heels for. My dog would be curled up by my feet, in her “love me but not too much” way. A half eaten slice of pizza would be hardening on the counter top. I wouldn’t worry about it until tomorrow as living alone does not require the normal hygiene courtesy of a shared common area.
That boy? I haven’t talked to him since April. A heart wrenching break up where the last word I heard from him after I told him it was too difficult was ‘Alright’.
My dog? Back home 200 miles away with her brother from the same litter and my mom– her original owner.
And the pizza? Has found it’s way neatly packed in the bottom of our shared trash can in our tidy house of three.
With STEP looming and consuming most of my energy, my life has fallen in to a kind of routine that is unfamiliar to me. I used to always be the girl with the boyfriend. The girl never too involved with school but always had my own friends or relationships outside of studies. I was always the ‘92%’ girl. I somehow always did just enough to get a 92. Yet in my second year of medical school, that goal requires more than double the amount of effort than undergrad.
Wake up at 6 am, grab something for breakfast, run out the door, get to school by 7, study until 9, read through that day’s lectures, listen to that day’s lectures, reread that day’s lectures, go to mandatory classes, do the 78578566647 duties and emails from the 9876542 interest groups I’m involved in, try to eat 2 more meals, come home at 9pm, go to bed by 10, fall asleep by 11. Repeat.
Depression. Burn out. Hopelessness. They are all feelings that bubble up when your days are as monotonous as this. The beginning of this year I really struggled with these dangerous emotions. We learned that physician suicide is a very real epidemic with an average of 1 physician a day committing suicide in the US. If our days are as long as this it’s not hard to see why.
Like Jack Nicholson said (or rather typed page after page, easily the creepiest part of that movie) in the Shining: “All work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy”.
They talk to us all the time about ‘balance’ in medical school. I have been trying to understand how to obtain this proper ‘balance’ but begin to realize that it may not exist… at least not in the way I’d like. I want to do great in school, I want to do research, I want time with friends, I want to eat healthy, I want to exercise, I want to get proper sleep, I want to spend time with love ones (accepting applications). But in reality, I do great in school, do research, spend SOME time with friends at least once a week (if not just chatting with my roommates) and get sleep. Four out of seven is more than half, but still less than ideal.
After looking at all that has changed in a year I can only wonder…or hope… what the next year will bring. Love? A healthier lifestyle? More fulfillment in what I do? Next year we start rotations and it won’t just be my nose in the books day in and day out.
I know I am supposed to focus on the day to day and make everyday a great one…seize the day…carpe all of the diem. Not to say I’m not happy with what I do– I stay very involved and try to help the underclassmen which makes me feel intrinsically good. It’s my warm sweater as I trudge through the tundra of second year medical school. I am helping somehow and feel like I have some purpose other than being a mindless robot that can spit out information on exams. But changing my life to include more balance? That will be a topic for another day.
Today I just appreciate the difference a year can make. And for those reading this and battling those taboo monsters of burnout and hopelessness we all face at some point in medical school…there is hope yet
Until next time, xoxo