“Please, have mercy. Just have mercy, I beg you. Please, have mercy”
That’s what went through my mind about a thousand times two days ago as I bawled my eyes out, cold and lost somewhere in the middle of London late at night. It’s funny – just hours earlier, I was talking to my relatives on the phone, them asking me for some medical advice for their children, themselves, their long lost relatives or whoever. Being just a first year Medical Student, I obviously had no idea how to advise (and was sure to mention this) but I was still trusted and seen as someone who could offer help to others. Now, just hours later, here I was, bawling my eyes out and begging someone, anyone for help myself.
Depression sucks. Actually no, that’s an understatement. There is no way I can express in words just how horrible this silent killer is. It drains the life out of you, makes you feel like you’re slowly losing a part of yourself, makes you lose people who you once thought were very close…
As Medical Students, there seems to be a huge fear in telling others about it. It seems very strange when you think about it – I mean, a large proportion of our supervisors are doctors themselves so surely we must have some of the best support around us if we ask for help? Sadly, it’s not that simple. The media often portrays doctors to be strong, resilient characters and the thought of us not having met this ‘criteria’ because of our mental health issues makes us feel like outsiders to say the least. Of course, that’s not to say that those who suffer from depression or any other mental illness are not ‘strong’ or ‘resilient’, but that is one of the thoughts that go through our minds.
Then there’s the whole issue of fitness to practice. Many Medical Students – myself included – many a times feel scared to talk to others or ask for help in case someone turns around and says we’re unfit to become doctors. The thought of potentially ruining all our hard work in getting in, disappointing all our family and friends, disappointing ourselves purely because of our illness seems foolish to say the least. Whilst I have been assured by my tutors (of whom I only have positive things to say) that it shouldn’t affect our fitness to practice, the guidelines on it seem vague. At what point is it decided that our mental illness puts others at harm? This questions constantly pops up in my mind when I do want to ask for help, and often makes it more scary for me to seek help in the first place.
So who am I? I am a Medical Student suffering from severe depression to the point that I’m now getting psychotic episodes. Every day seems like a struggle to me and I’m constantly thinking in my head: “Please, please, please just have mercy on me today, I’ll do anything.” I hope that by writing my rants and stories here, you guys who are suffering from something similar -be it Medical Student or otherwise – can relate and see that you’re not alone. Or if you’re just curious, you can read a bit about how things work in the brain of a depressed Medical Student.
I should also warn you that I’m a very sarcastic person too – to the point that I’m probably a bit of a dick.