23 November 2022
Medicine has so many challenges and expectations: to perform at the top of your year in exams, to make a million friends, to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, to be a diligent student, and effective communicator. But amongst all that, where is the lenience for the days when you can’t get yourself out of bed or make yourself eat?
I think myself and many others in healthcare find us asking ourselves ‘How can I look after others if I can’t look after myself?’
I don’t have an exact answer for that question (I don’t think anyone really does), but I can tell you that there’s no expectation for you to be in perfect health all the time as a medical professional, just as we wouldn’t expect our patients to always be 100% healthy. Life events happen, circumstances change, and sometimes we all need a bit of extra help.
I started uni on antidepressants having already undergone several bouts of therapy, hoping I’d ‘fixed’ myself enough to be the student and doctor I needed to be. Despite these expectations I had for myself, over the last year I’ve actually increased my dosage and accessed counselling again through KCL.
I want everyone to know that reaching out for help is never a sign of weakness or a barrier to becoming an excellent doctor- if anything it’ll make you more resilient and understanding of a patient’s perspective in the future.
Moving from GCSEs to A Levels to university has brought with it so many challenges and a constant ride of highs and lows which everyone will experience in different ways. Going into a career with such high expectations and also incredibly high rates of mental illness and burnout, you need to be looking out for yourself and your peers from day one. There is a life outside of medicine and these are the best years to be out creating that for yourself.