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 😉