I’ve been sitting with this page opened for the past 25 minutes, writing and deleting sentences, then starting off fresh again. In all honesty, i don’t know how to write about my first year in medschool. The plan was to relive my experience by telling y’all about how i juggled daily life, my mental health and studies but i’m struggling with words. It isn’t surprising though, when you traverse through an entire year without writing a single essay, words are hard to come by.
So now that we’ve established an opening and slowly getting into the zone, let’s begin with this post.
(I’m writing down my first year experience in parts because it’ll be too long if its assigned one post only.)
I joined a Karachi based government medical university on merit earlier in 2016, feeling disgruntled and still in doubt of my choice since i had passed over the option of going to DUHS, one of the most renowned schools in Pakistan. This was also my first exposure to the kids from rest of the city; being brought up in a Cambridge system had left me secluded and quite pompous of myself. So yes, I was disgruntled indeed and felt quite out of place.
My main fear was that medschool is renown for draining life out of you and in the process of finishing my degree, i may end up losing the wider perspective of the world and my initial optimism and dreams. I guess that caused me to close up from my surroundings and look for company beyond my university, mainly through internet. I kept reminding myself that I was different from every other person in my batch, I swore that I won’t have my life revolved around school, and that I certainly won’t opt for domestic bliss over my profession in 5 years time.
I experienced my first ever burn out because of this. We had just gotten done with our semester 1’s finals and the week which followed it was when I struggled the most as I tried to catch up with my body and health. I found myself incapable of doing even the most mundane things and there was no one from school to whom I’d actually talk to about this since from the start I had shut everyone out. My new semester started with locomotor (musculoskeletal) module which I absolutely loathed. I skipped nearly half of it in the end, since I was trying to get myself together. Things got really better after that when I learned to socialize more, when the test results humbled me and when I found my niche, my group of friends. You always find them, no matter how out of sorts you are.
My first depression episode occurred right in the beginning of the year. I’ve been struggling with mental health issues since quite a few years so I have a fair idea of what course my depression takes. At first i lose my ability to study, then i stop talking; after that my appetite and weight decrease considerably. But this time it was different. The only thing which I lost was my weight, I grew unbelievably skinny, and it scared the hell out of me. I knew something was wrong from how my insides felt but that was that. It passed over, thank God. My life resumed to the equivalence of normal after a couple of weeks and I guess that’s the only episode of depression I have experienced this year.
In light of the above couple of paragraphs, I’d just like to mention how much I hate people, mostly relatives, romanticizing the hell out of medschool. For people on the periphery it is as if we are some super intelligent group of kids, who are perfect to be your offspring’s significant other. We are the trophy kids for rishta aunties, whenever there’s a family meetup, there’d be relatives speculating on your relationship status, or what you will be doing afterwards. No one talks about what consequences MBBS brings with it. No one realizes that maybe you aren’t that great after all, maybe you aren’t the cream of the society or other BS like that. Maybe the only reason what got you in medschool and what makes you continue it is constant studying and revising and discussing only medicine just so your concepts remain clear. No one talks about the fact that when you finally get a chance to look in the mirror, you internally scream because you don’t recognize that swollen face and ever increasing hairline. No one offers a shoulder of sympathy because you are suppose to be perfect since you are doing medicine.
It doesn’t work that way.
Studying medicine is an extremely humbling experience. And while there are many moments when you feel scared and a helpless fool because there are so less people to empathize with you, there are also times when you know that you won’t have it any other way. Medicine is a package of sorts, it’ll break you into smaller and smaller pieces each and every time but whenever you reassemble yourself, there’ll be a new you whom you’d be proud of. School won’t stop for your life, life won’t be doing the same either. But there’ll be people to look out for you, people who aren’t just noise that wail because you don’t talk to them for months, but people who’d bake cakes and other goodies and dump them at your place when you are having your bad days. You get to recognize your soulmates in disguise of your friends, especially the ones who aren’t doing medicine but still understand your struggle. And i think that’s one of the beauties of medicine, you eventually find people whom you can lean on.