Weeping silently in a dark corner,
A brilliant smile,
Which was once a delight to behold,
But now, filled with the deepest sorrows,
An unending pain,
Behind the facade of lies.
Trading away its beauty of life,
Into the unseen abyss.
I wandered and wandered in the unknown,
Burdened by the weight of work, crushing me into its path.
Swallowing myself up with the tenacities of life,
Dealing with depression in medical school.
I’m camped with anxiety,
An unknown negativity,
Which shredded my walls,
Crushing me down into oblivion.
How to get out?
I ask no one in particular,
A rhetorical question,
A sarcasm to my own wearies,
A pointless and endless stream of pain.
How it all began…..
“Mummy, it is medicine and surgery I want to study. If I don’t get admitted this year, I’ll try jamb again. How will someone score 274 in jamb and they’ll be offering the person Microbiology. I’ll wait till next year.” I told my mum who was trying to convince me to study the course I was offered.
“Tosin, five years is not a joke ooo. You have been on this medicine and surgery matter for far too long. Just accept this one you were given. It’s not only doctors that succeed in life na.”
I looked at my mum in frustration “Mum, it’s either medicine or nothing!”
My mum took in a deep breath and sighed “Since its medicine you said you want to study I’ll look for a way to gather money. I think going to a private university is the way forward now!”
My joy knew no bounds when I heard that as I ran to give a tight hug. I said what anyone in my shoes would have said, “I promise to make you proud mum”
My First Years of Medical School
After I got enrolled into the university with the zeal to graduate as the best student in my set which means no time for nonsense play. I must get my head in the game. I carefully chose my friends and by carefully I mean those students who answer questions in class. Some were already given the title “Boss”. Those students that know how to move mighty stuffs. We even created a study group chat and called it “The mountain movers”.
100 Level was very easy for me as I came out with a very good result but it was also very quick as 200level came in. 200 level was very different from 100level. Fear started to creep in as I saw the big, bulky textbooks we were expected to buy. When I rounded the sum it was almost #80,000 which was very huge as my mum was still struggling to pay my already exuberant school fees.
Just like other colleagues, I met with my fellow seniors to seek advice on how to read, what to read and the text books to buy. It was starting to get confusing as I saw my friends move “stuff”. Some even told me that they combined different textbooks as lecturers could be very funny in the way they set questions. Some had even started reading during the holidays and were halfway done with upper limb when I was still confused with how to read.
The Darkest Nights – Dealing with Depression in Medical School
Looking at the famous Keith Moore Anatomy textbook, I asked myself “Im I suppose to learn all of these within 18 months. Shey I’ll not forget ni. Who push me to medicine sef? My so called friends were not even helping matters and it looked like I was all on my own. I couldn’t tell my mum what I was going through and the lecturers weren’t even helping matters. They were all with the mindset of completing their syllabus as fast as possible.
Reading was not exciting to me anymore, sometimes I’ll read for like 4 hours and when I get to class it will just look like I wasted my time. And not to also talk of lecturers that make people feel worthless. All these got to me and it looked like I was losing focus. Sometimes when I looked at past questions I’ll just weep and ask God to help me in dealing with depression in medical school. There were just so many people expecting much from me and I couldn’t bear to disappoint them.
How to Overcome Depression in Medical School
My perseverance to study medicine was what made me decide that I couldn’t continue to wallow in self-pity and shrink myself into depression. Things had to change. The first thing I did was that I changed the group of people I moved with as they weren’t helping me. So I decided to move at my own pace slowly but not too slow and indulged in constant revision.
Furthermore, I decided not to let the size of the textbooks scare me, certainly the person who wrote that book also started from somewhere so I am also starting from somewhere. I took breaks in-between my reading session to disallow unnecessary thoughts into my head.
Also, I didn’t allow ‘the mountain movers to oppress me with their mighty stuffs and I came out with good grades. I mean if 62 in anatomy is a very good grade then I did really well.
No two individuals are the same!
My advice to the people who are facing things like this is that they should seek advice from others who had also passed through this so as to move along the right path and not to fall into depression and also don’t compare yourself with others – No two individuals are the same.
This was my darkest nights, the truths that are often untold about dealing with Depression in Medical School….You have more power over depression than you may think
Until next time.
Writer: Oreoluwa Elizabeth Bolawole
University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, Nigeria
Oreoluwa Bolawole also know as bethy Lizzy is a nursing student who loves articles on mental health and she does reaserches on them. Her hobbies include singing, dancing and doing anything fun cause she just hates boredom 😉
This Post Has 18 Comments
Hmmm…. My first day in medical school, I saw my fellow classmates moving upper limb and I entered straight into depression to the extent that it affected my reading,I failed my first in course but not woefully due to fear and depression from my classmates and the mountain movers.
After failing my first in course, I told myself NA ONLY YOU WAKA COME oo… I neglected the mountain movers and the depression givers and decided to study at my own pace and I prayed well. I did well in my 2nd In course, I wrote my Pre MBBS exam to the glory of God. I proceeded to the next level.
I can now look back and smile at my foolishness then.
This is soooo true🥺🥺
😊 yeah really true
Thanks for the comment
“…moving upper limb…” Is so true
I’m kinda going through this at the moment. This has really shown me some light. Thanks to the author now I kind of know how to tackle my fears.
Thanks for the comment
This is a wonderful piece, really encouraging. It helps so much
Thank you 👏
Thanks for the comment
Thanks for the comment
Depression is something every medical student faces.
Some days back we went for O&G postings and I was directly facing this particular consultant, he kept on firing me questions which I had no idea about, but the surprising thing was that some of my course mates knew the answer.
At a point I started wondering if I wasn’t paying attention in class or it was never just mentioned in class or maybe they read about this things in a different textbook I didn’t have.
After the posting I felt so bad, after thinking of how maybe I have become so unserious that I couldn’t answer questions my course mates knew the answer to , I started serious having headache, but guess what it made me more motivated to read up O&G well, the next day I didn’t go for the posting I wanted to make sure I had tidied enough in O&G before going for the posting
Depression in medical school defines you, if you let it overpower you it can mar you, if you get motivated after been depressed it can make you better
Medical school is more interesting cos no matter how much you feel you know, there will be some times you will feel you are empty and it super motivates you
Thanks for the comment
I strongly believe one can only get depressed with school work if he hasn’t discovered him or herself. You have to know what works for you.
Sometimes we come to class and hear our colleagues moving stuff and then allow it get to us especially if you have no idea what they sat saying but for me I never allow it come to me. I always tell my self we go meet for exam day nor be all theses ones. Lol
I play football during exam period while some are reading and some of my course mates will be like you don read finish oh. But deep down I know say I never even start but if I don’t play that ball I won’t be relaxed as much as I want
Believe it or not I left school without entering the library any day. Some go there because others are going
Very encouraging piece.
Hey there .. I’m a physiotherapy student 200L, just started the semester of 200l last week,I can’t tell you how I’m coping because I’m struggling ,it seems as though everyone around me has it figured out ..pls I need directions.. I have spoken to some seniors and I still feel like I can use all the help I can get .
Pls this is my WhatsApp number.
If only it were that easy, not comparing schools or anything, but students from families with average or lacking financial stability have it a lot harder than others. Reading at your own pace can only work when you are not under pressure of not disappointing anybody. Pressure is not always a source of motivation, it can have a serious side effect. Talking from past experience and current experience. Overcoming it is easier said than done. You have to be constantly conscious of yourself or else you’ll wallow deep in fear of disappointing your parents and everyone expecting the best from you. Just pray! You can’t do it on your own.
I don’t t know what’s happening, I normally don’t read articles like this. So stumbling on this now is like the whole universe is begging me to come to my senses, had issues with friends cause they were all worried about me and stuffs but the thing is I don’t know. I just don’t know, I think I do and I don’t and I’m getting really tired of it all.
I’m not sure I’ll talk but lemme try. 07031558639 (whatsapp number)