19 Aug Wellbeing Stories: Year 2
For Blue Week this year, we asked people at different stages of their journey through medicine to share their wellbeing stories unique to their stage of medical education or career. Through various stages of medicine, we all face our own unique challenges and although it may sometimes feel like we are all alone or the only one struggling, this is often not the case. Each of us has a Wellbeing Story that describes the challenges we face and how we approach them. Sharing these stories creates a community that is positive, understanding and supportive as we work together to create a healthier environment for health professionals. As you navigate your own challenges, we hope these stories encourage you and empower you to talk and share with others.
As much as I’ve been thoroughly enjoying second year, over the past 8 months, I’ve noticed my ‘minimum sleep threshold’ slipping more and more as I try to get all my work done. I start going through what I call my ‘sleepiness’ phases. Phase 1: I’m yawning during the day. Pretty normal. Phase 2: My eyelids start feeling heavy during the day, and I’m already tired by 9pm. Phase 3: I start falling asleep during lectures. This was new to me in second year, and a little disconcerting. Phase 4: I start falling asleep around 2-4pm, even when I’m just working on my LOs. Phase 5: I start falling asleep at 10am-11am.
As I started finding myself in Phase 5 more and more, it wasn’t my lack of efficiency that concerned me – it was how I started acting with my family when I came home for the weekend. Little things would annoy or upset me, and instead of managing it, I snapped at others or acted with passive aggression. The urge to cry in frustration or anger surfaced far too frequently, and I struggled – and sometimes failed – to contain it. My family were understanding, for which I am eternally grateful, but I knew without a doubt they didn’t deserve to deal with this. So, I started sleeping more, for them – and, boy, does it make a difference to you. Instead of happy fluctuations during the day, you feel content from morning to night. You can get things done without falling asleep, even if you’re still a little tired. I’m still struggling to sleep enough, but I think it’s getting better – I’m now in phase 3, and I’m working up to phases 2 and 1. Sleeping is seriously worth it guys, not just for you but for those around you too. Prioritise it and take care of yourself.
A major struggle for me this year was getting through the first semester BMB content while also juggling all my other commitments. BMB has been the most challenging block of content to study in medical school (and I’d say in my entire university experience) so far. I completely underestimated the amount of time and effort I needed to put in to just feel like I could keep up with my peers, let alone be confident and thrive. This led to me unconsciously developing maladpative avoidance mechanisms as a method of coping. Just thinking about sitting at my desk and the amount of content I had to study would scare me. So, I would find myself scrolling through Instagram or watching Netflix as an attempt to assauge that stress. While this is okay every once in a while, I found myself doing this almost everyday and the only thing that could get me back on track would be a deadline like knowing I’d have to present LOs in PBL the next day.
Obviously, my response was not doing me any favours. I felt constantly stressed and working right up until deadlines left me unnecessarily sleep deprived. I realised fairly quickly that this coping mechanism was not doing me any favours. Talking to my peers more helped me realise that everyone had their individual struggles with studying and talking to students in upper years also helped me realise that I could get through the content. I focussed on being stricter with my sleep hygiene and sleep schedule and tried out the Pomodoro technique (google it – it’s worth trying if you haven’t before). Mentally, the thought of just doing 20 minutes of study helped me quell my anxiety and motivated me to remove distractions during that time. As a result, my relationship with study has improved and passing BMB has certainly helped improve my confidence.
I struggle with expressing my own thoughts and ideas especially during PBL and similar settings. I lack confidence in my clinical reasoning and whenever I think I might know an answer to something a voice in my head tells me ‘you’re stating the obvious– everyone knows that already’. I am often silenced by my own voice. This is something that I have experienced throughout my life as I have always disliked voicing my opinions to a crowd. If I do try and contribute, my body tenses, and I speak too quickly and too softly. The changes in my body worsen my performance and my mind becomes preoccupied. Luckily for me, my issues don’t extend beyond the classroom. I don’t ruminate over my mistakes for long. I find that if I try to prepare well for PBL report backs and do it well, it makes me more confident for the session and I am much more likely to actively participate. I’ve also started exercising more regularly this year and I feel that my stress levels are significantly lower than last year! In fact, I don’t feel one hundred percent on days I skip my routine exercise and exercising has made me feel healthier in general.
If you, or someone you know, needs help please contact:
- 13 11 14
- 1300 22 4636
- Eve De Silva (Griffith University School of Medicine)
Image credit: Eesha Bajra