Friday, 24 June 2011

Depression and Me...

I failed 3 out of the 11 modules that I sat this year. We found out today. Surprisingly the medschool we're very prompt when it came to posting results, which makes a change. But yeah, I failed Cardiovascular, Renal and Brain.

And the most annoying thing? I failed each module by 4 or 5 marks. If medics followed the rest of the uni and had a pass mark set at 40% as opposed to 50% I would be sitting here with a big smile on my face.

I moped. And I cried. Then I curled up in bed for a bit. But you know what? I shouldn't be that upset. And being upset isn't going to make the situation any better.

This academic year has been the worst I've ever had. But in a very strange way it's also been one of the best. It started off all black and red but slowly it turned grey and now there's even a few hues of yellow and green. I'm making progress. For the first time in about 5 years I'm happy. I'm dealing with the problems around me, instead of pushing them away or curling up in the foetal position. I actually feel...good. I haven't felt this good in so long. I feel different. I am different.

Being diagnosed with depression was actually a good thing. It helped me realise that what I was feeling/experiencing wasn't normal. It also wasn't my fault. I didn't have to feel guilty anymore, because to a degree I couldn't help what I felt because the depression was endogenous. There was no trigger. It just was. That's a really hard idea for a lot of people to get their heads around. My mum still doesn't understand properly. I don't even think a few of my closest medic friends understand that I could be upset without a trigger.

The diagnosis opened a door. It provided me with a pathway and a light and now, here I am, 6 months after being diagnosed, feeling completely different to how I felt back in November at the height of my illness.

I've made so much progress this year. I've learnt that the most important thing in life is that you are true to yourself. You should never be ashamed for believing what you do, or partaking in the hobbies/extra-curriculum activities that you enjoy. It doesn't matter if you don't look like everyone else, if you're slightly tubbier or thinner, or dress differently. It doesn't matter what other people think about you so long as you're happy with yourself. You should be proud of your differences, because they are what make you special.

That doesn't mean that I'm cured. I never truly will be. I'm going to be on the fluoxetine for a very long time, and will probably relapse over the years. Even nowadays I still have days when all I want is to curl up in bed and cry but you know what? That's ok. Because I know that I can work through the black and the grey and see the colour on the other side of the wall.

And so back to the resits. I shouldn't be upset. I've had a terrible year. I should be happy that I don't have to resit more than 3. And it doesn't matter that I know people who have been through worse things than I have but somehow have managed to pass everything. Everyone's different. I'm different. I dealt with this year differently to how they dealt with their problems.

I also shouldn't feel ashamed. I've never had to resit anything before. I've always been top of the class. But now here I am in the 4th quartile with a summer of revision ahead of me. It doesn't matter. Academics aren’t everything, even though they may have been everything to me in the past. I defined myself by my grades. Now I don’t. Even the best doctors had to resit something at some point. We're only human. We're not genius robots who know everything about everything (as soon people may think). We're not perfect because we're not God.

I'm happy. Because now I have the strength to work through the summer and come out happier and better off on the other side. And the medschool have even acknowledged that because my August exams are being classed as 1st sits so they won't be capped at 50%. It's not like I'm missing out on anything (except Ramadam) because I didn't even have any plans for the summer.

The important thing is that I'm here, and I'm happy. And I know, with absolute certainty, that I can work through this. Depression doesn't make me a bad person. Resits don't make me a stupid person. Crying doesn't make me a weak person. They are all different aspects of me. They make me me. And I'm proud to be me.

Lexie :)


  1. I came back on to read this & then saw your Twitter update - going home to familiarity is a good idea; with these things you have to do whatever you can to get out of that dark place. But I think you should read your own blog post if you've crashed again. I can say that I get it all (which I do!) & people can comfort you, but ultimately I guess the strength has to come from YOU, & this post was pretty inspirational purely because it was so honest. Especially the last paragraph. (Failing that, resort to Plan B & just let it pass over you whilst watching something happy, like Gilmore Girls or Romy & Michele's High School Reunion and/or stuffing your face, whatever!) Just let everything else drop away & focus on getting yourself better for now :). That is the most important thing. If I lived near you I'd totally take you out for ice cream! Anyway, PLEASE WITH CHERRIES ON TOP feel better soon :)! And if you need to rant, you know the drill ;)!

  2. Well, well done on passing most of them, firstly! Having to do resits is pretty shit, but in the grand scheme of things its a blip on the radar- you'll get through it fine, especially if you only failed them by a few marks :) Positive thoughts! *power to the people air punch*
    And yeah, considering you've had a ridiculously emotional year, you've done really well! Glad you are feeling more wholesome (can you use whiolesome like that..? I dont think you And the mood swing on your twitter feed is fine- it'd be unnatural to just embrace failing a few exams, lol. Just accept the slight annoyance of it all and comfort-food it out :P

  3. i was in a similar situation to you last's an awful feeling. At the end of all this, I think some good will come out of it, as it did for me, because it means you get to study those modules very well, and it taught me a very important life lesson. others were poking fun at me, making me think I'm stupid, and I realised then that their opinions were worthless and I wasn't foinf to have any of it. The reality of it is that I came out much stronger and I developed as a person. By the way, I thought cvs was a tough module, as was ren. Hmm here I am rambling on about myself...I've never been good at offering words of encouragement, but I'm positive you'll do well. I agree with you when you said that academic achievement (exam grades) isn't strictly a reflection of your success as a human being, life is about so much more than exams. Retakes (first sits in your case) are a minor hurdle, that's all it is, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Make sure you talk to your family, talk to your friends, it's good to have support from people around you (wish I did).

    btw you don't have to (shouldn't?) publish this comment, I'm just letting you know that you're not alone and that I had this experience in year one, it was a tough time I won't lie, but I learned a valuable lesson (and a shitload of pointless MTM material that wasn't necessarily implicated in the learning outcomes :) )

  4. Hi :) A big thank you to you all for your support. You've been great and you've really helped me get through the dark blip.
    Rosie - virtual icecream is better than no ice cream at all so thank you.
    Humaira - you can definately use wholesome like that.
    Anonymous - Thank you. And yes, CVS is awful. As was MTM. I mean why? Just why?

    Happier blogposts coming in the future!

  5. Lovely post!
    All I can say is that I'm glad that you're so positive about everything! many people have a hard time doing that!
    Hopefully you will do great in resits!
    Best of Luck.

    Yours Truly x

  6. What is it about certain medical schools that make students more likely to become mentally ill?!

    I hope everything went ok and I think you're brilliant for writing this blog :D

  7. Hi Frustrated Medic :) I'm not sure. I think a lot of it is to do with pressure. It would be really interesting to see if some medical schools had a higher rate of depression than others. And thanks. Although I wouldn't say I was brilliant... :)

  8. It would certainly make a good piece of journalism! Loneliness, isolation, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, plans falling through, inappropriately high levels of stress and feeling over-whelmed are all factors which lead to medical students more likely to suffer mental illness. I think your med school is infamous for its numerous exams and endless hoops that students need to jump through.

    Talking of hoops: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over in my life. And that's why I succeed" - Michael Jordan. I love basketball, oh and this concept has got me through the crappy, midnight oil burning hours of pre-clinical years.

    You're very brave for getting help for your depression...i know a lot of people (quartile 1s included) who experience depression, suicide ideation etc and still do not seek help. Some med schools only see students who fail as potential sufferers of mental coin it a social, fluffy crap term: "The medical student iceberg"

    Finally, itscomplicated....learn how to take a compliment! "Thank you, why yes, I am indeed brilliant" would suffice - you're only as good as you think you are.

  9. Hi Frustated Medic :) Sorry I didn't reply sooner.
    I didn't realise Bham was that infamous. I know it's shifted a lot in the past few years - I think it wants to be like London or Cambridge.
    That's a lovely quote. It's going on my quote page :D
    And you're right, I am indeed brilliant :D


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