Medical school is, understandably, a hugely competitive environment, one in which any weakness is often considered to be a problem, almost a taboo, never to be discussed or admitted to openly. Having been accepted into medical school and made it to 3rd year, I was starting to become aware of such a ‘weakness’ in myself. I was beginning to drop behind in my studies, lost all motivation and stopped attending many classes. At the time I didn’t really consider that this could be depression, despite being in the middle of my psychiatry block, but then it all hit me.
A couple of recent deaths within my family had been a huge, unacknowledged weight upon my shoulders and, without my awareness, had really brought me plummeting down. Having been so busy with studying I never had a chance to properly grieve either of these deaths, something which I am now confident was the main contributing factor to my deteriorating mental health. When I finally realised what was going on I decided I had to do something fast if I was going to save my 3rd year, let alone my career in medical school. Time off and professional help was the best option and, although at the time it seemed like I was doomed to failure, it really worked out for the best. I was able to take my time to reset, rethink and prioritise my life. I needed to consider my options, something with which the medical school was infinitely helpful.
It soon became clear that, despite my own reservations, complete honesty and disclosure was the easiest and most beneficial route, not only with my family and friends, but also with the university. Only once the medical school knew the full details of my situation were they able to support me, and they really did! All the time I needed was given to me, whether it was time off uni, time with university support staff or time with lecturers, it was all readily available and encouraged! I really could not have been better supported by the medical school and I want you to read my story here, think of yourself, think of friends, think of anyone you may be aware of as having problems, no matter how serious, and know that the support is ready and waiting – all you have to do it let someone know.
If I had been aware of what was happening to me earlier, or had been able to read this story at this time last year, it would have made a huge difference in how far I sank before receiving support. I urge you not to wait, act now and help yourself! I managed to pass my 3rd year despite all the setbacks and, thanks to all the support made available to me, I now feel much more prepared and able to deal with whatever may lie ahead. I no longer consider the admission of personal problems a weakness, it reveals much more strength if you can recognise your problems, confront them and deal with them, and in the long-run you will only fail if you try to hide and ignore them.