A confession. The return of depression?

A confession. The return of depression?

Today is World Mental Health Day but the timing of this post is completely coincidental. In fact, I didn’t think that I would be writing a post like this for some time. Nor do I have any real purpose of writing this.

The truth is: for the past few weeks, I have been feeling anything but ‘normal’. In fact, I would go as far as saying that I have been feeling rather miserable.  It’s odd though, and more complicated than that. Indeed, for those of you who have been following my Twitter, I have not given any indication that I have been feeling that way. Why?

Perhaps it’s shame. This is rather ironic, given that I have always been an advocate of being open and honest. The shame is not necessarily purely at the fact that I may be depressed, however. The shame comes from my naivety a few weeks ago. I was desperately excited to begin my third year of Medical School. I am still enjoying it, there is no doubt about that. However, I feel almost…embarrassed that it hasn’t gone as well as I would have liked. I feel embarrassed that lots of people who followed me and helped me on Twitter saw my improvement day by day, but are now going to get another post from me complaining about feeling depressed again.

I feel like I have let people down. It sounds very silly just typing it. But it’s true.

What’s been happening?

Coming back from placement every day, I have rarely felt fulfilled or happy. My first instinct was that it was just me feeling a little inadequate as a Medical Student, and nothing more than that. But then I began to notice that it wasn’t just after placements where I felt like that. After going out, meeting people, reading, doing…pretty much anything, I would always go back to my room feeling miserable.

Then there seem to be physical symptoms too.

I don’t seem to be eating as much as I was a few months ago again. I even skipped breakfast today because I had no appetite whatsoever. This was very out of the ordinary for me. My chest feels very tight often, and this is the case as I am typing this now. I feel that impeding sense of doom which I just cannot explain. At the same time, I feel very restless. I just want something to happen. But my desire to get things done and for things to happen is not there. Does this make sense?

Absolutely not, it doesn’t. But that is how I remember depression being. Confusing, miserable and isolating.

Motivation

I have already mentioned that my desire to get things done is practically 0. I so badly want something good and exciting to happen but at the same time, I am too demotivated to do a lot of things.

Take the example of today. I was on my computer, randomly browsing things. I wanted to just get changed and go to bed. But I couldn’t bring myself to get out of my seat, put my computer off, get my clothes off, put my pyjamas on and get into bed. Sure, this can happen to anyone – but it seems to be becoming a trend lately. It is immensely frustrating. The frustration makes me even more anxious, and that just exacerbates my symptoms. A vicious cycle, as I like to describe these things as.

The frustration comes because of how simple it all seems. Yet, for some reason unknown to me, I am complicating it.

Medical School

The odd thing on top of all of this is that I am genuinely really enjoying Medical School right now. Nothing makes me feel more better than going to take a history with a nice patient, getting to know them and building a rapport. Nor do I feel unsafe in my practice. If I did, I would be sure to take a break immediately. Revision is fine too – even if I have no idea what I’m meant to revise in my clinical years.

In fact, I have not missed a single day of Medical School this term yet (which has now been well over a month). For students, that’s pretty good even if I do say so myself – most people have missed a few days at least. Nor do I feel as though I currently need time off. Sure, the symptoms such initially – but I usually feel a little more at home and distracted when I am out working.

Future plans

If this really is my depression coming back and taking a horrible turn, I am eager to stop it in its steps now. I do not want to end up admit in a psychiatric unit again at the end of this year. I want it to go smoothly and for me to pass the year, and become a good doctor a few years down the line. But at the same time – I cannot deny that things seem to be getting difficult again.

My CPN will be hearing about this tomorrow. I will also be making sure that I get back into cricket next week when nets start again, as well as go back to the gym. I have found exercise to be very helpful in keeping me motivated. Will it help me now? I have no idea. But it’s worth a try (and healthy in general!).

But WHY are you feeling this way?

The honest answer is that I don’t know. I am still trying to work it out so that I can solve the root problem.

thedepressedmedstudent.

3 thoughts on “A confession. The return of depression?

  1. Hi, thanks for the inspiring blog.

    I wonder if you are asking the best question to move you forwards?
    Instead of asking
    Why am I feeling depressed?
    Perhaps ask

    What can I do to manage this feeling may be more useful?

    Dave

  2. Hi, thanks for sharing this post. I’m glad you’re being honest with yourself and noticing when you think things are starting to slip, so you can take hold of it. I can empathise with much of what you said i.e. the lack of motivation, but similar to the reader above, I also thought, is it really helpful to ask “why?”

    I ask “why” to things all the time because I’m quite an analyst but I’ve found that sometimes feelings can be quite spontaneous and can’t really be explained rationally. Sometimes if I ask “why am I feeling this way?” too much and struggle to find an answer, it can frustrate me even more and feed further into my low mood – a bit like that vicious cycle you talked about.

    That’s just my insight. I hope things improve for you. As a medical student, I understand how challenging medicine can be on one’s mental health and psyche – so distractions like cricket and exercise sounds like a great idea.

    All the best

  3. Hey, sorry to hear you’ve been feeling this way. As tempting as it is, rather than overthinking these things, just take it slowly and don’t worry too much about it. It seems more plausible that you are simply exhausted from firms because it is tiring, especially since you’ve not missed a single day, which means you’ve constantly been waking up early, commuting there and back, running around on the wards, and revising once you get back. And it may well be that due to the sheer exhaustion long-term, you are feeling the loss of appetite, anhedonia and lack of motivation.

    You already know my mental health situation, and tbh, the things you describe are how I’ve always felt on ‘good days’. Before my depression and anxiety, I still felt the lack of motivation to do simple things (I used to think it’s laziness, but I feel it was more exhaustion from the day), the tendency to skip food (because when I’m happier, I feel less hungry) and the anhedonia (because long periods of repetition in the week can induce a bit of boredom and even when doing supposedly exciting things, I couldn’t really enjoy it as much because of underlying tiredness).

    Of course we’re different and you may be experiencing something completely different, but we both know that it is so easy for us medical students to medicalise things because we become hyperchondriacs as the course progresses! Nonetheless, only you will know if your symptoms are unusual and are interfering with normal life, in which case I would most certainly urge you to seek help from a trained professional to be on the safe side. Always better to act early than to leave it lingering, which could only make things worse.

    Hope this helps, and know that you should never feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about stuff! Your friends are always here for you 🙂

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