There was a time when thinking about attending social functions like dinner, birthday parties, weddings; I had to gauge ‘is it worth it for the loss of my day for laundry, netflix and personal time. Should I catch up on my sleep till late morning or make arrangements for the trip? Would the day be better spent catching up to my emails? Darn, my exam is only a few weeks away. I feel quite tired, I don’t think I will be able to enjoy it even if I made a show.’ Only a few absolutes were in my list that I wouldn’t allow myself to talk out of; everything else was secondary to the job/career. No thoughts were involved. ‘Thinking, then overthinking’ that was a downhill slope I was trying to avoid.
A friend of mine who has been back to training from her career break went awol on us for a few days recently on whatsapp. Very unlike her. When we caught up, she said, she felt she was starting to experience burn out again. Good thing is, she was recognising the signs early. We didn’t mind. Amongst us, all of us have been in that place. Where we are trying to focus just on the task forward, a step at a time, everyone else & everything else will have to wait for us to have that space. The other said, she has been assessed. Would need at least 16-24 private sessions with psych to help her through it ‘depression and burnouts’. 60£ an hour. ‘Nhs waiting list is long. I had to go private. But even if it is around 1K, which will be more expensive with additional sessions, I don’t have the time’. All of us knew it was going to be hard when we entered the profession. All of us felt it would be manageable. Sometimes, it’s evidently proving more difficult than we expected. I feel blessed to have this support network of friends in the same profession as I am. Someone to speak our minds clearly with, someone who understands when one of us quotes, ‘I just feel bitter sometimes. Sometimes I feel I hate my job’.
‘Easy things that I shouldn’t even be stressing about like the thought of waking early and not being on time for work stresses me out,’ my roommate said. ‘Even in my dreams I am chasing after the bus. I feel sad at the thought of it.’ Again, I can completely relate to her. Sometimes I wake up from sleep having heard the oncall bleep go off, at home, when I am off duty! Sharing experiences like that to one another, trust me, earns you good long term friends. If you haven’t yet found it, there you go. One of the main advantages of our profession. I am soon going to be a bridesmaid for a beautiful bride-to-be, who I met first as colleague 5 years ago, 2 hospital jobs prior.
Lots of lives changed due to the pandemic. In many ways mine too. I feel like, had it not pushed me to the edge, I would have still been a foolhardy person trying day & night to soak up all the stress, suppress all the frustrations and continue. I would have tried to put on a brave face as well and signed up to more hospital training for ‘resilience, time management, working under stressful environment’ perhaps while losing internal integrity of myself. We all have read, friends of the deceased say ‘we didn’t have a clue. He was always on time, smiling and cheerful at work’. There are always subtle hints, I think, but we are too busy looking more into them.
I completely unrooted myself from one country to integrate into the society of a different country, navigating through my life while accepting English will be my tongue from here forward. In a profession of learned and intellectual individuals with graduates from Oxford, Harvard when language fails, it is hard to avoid the first judgement. Inevitable, I would say. ‘So we push ourselves way harder, maybe to prove our worth’ I seem to agree with Dr Gabor Mate on this. Confidence overtime feels dimming down slowly, trying to fit in, in all the boxes.
I don’t think it was ever about resilience; the world I have seen, things I have been through, the degree of patience I had to have to be here where I am. I know the word very well. I have pinned the main issue now; for me problem was losing my head space to think, feeling trapped in a continuum and losing my own identity. Coming from a family where my parents were; farmers then into the military, trust me when I said ‘I am stressed’ I was swallowing my pride asking for that help. I wouldn’t have. If I hadn’t realised, everything that was inside me was manifesting around me. I think the pandemic did do me a big favor in that sense. And looking back I only take that experience as a big learning phase about finding myself. As my friend did, I am now able to recognise the early signs.
Of course, NHS is ever so busy. And the job is stressful as 99% of my colleagues would agree. Here is the catch, hadn’t it been so stressful, would everyone around us not have pursued it? What I mean when I say it, being an eye opener, was finding out where my limit of stress tolerance was, what are the red lights for me, what do I need to watch out from here forward? And having been through it now, what could I have done, what can be done to avoid similar in future.
I managed to get the support I needed from my superiors and the training programme director in time. This is why choosing a region to train was very important to me and I advise, should be the main thing a graduate should be looking into. I doubt if I was a trainee in the West Midlands, I would have got the same level of help. With a lot of trainees deferring themselves from the system, hospital trusts are trying to be more accommodating now to trainee’s needs but it often seems to be optional, not necessarily the case with the system being in pressure to run 24/7. Nevertheless I would advise, please reach out, one would never know where and what help you can get unless you ask. Hopefully you will at least find someone to signpost you.
My returning objective now back to work and to training is to protect my headspace at any cost. Of course to pass the exam, pass the year but also to aim to completely segregate my professional from personal life. It can be difficult, unfortunately we are not computers to hit the refresh button, but knowing this is a ‘must to do’ is helpful. One thing I have done to secure this is, I am returning back as a trainee at 80% part time. 20% ‘out’ is to work on my personal goals. I am a person outside of my career with lots of roles; as a daughter, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend, a neighbor. To have what I want to keep while making sure I maintain at top of my productivity, cutting down on my hours was a necessary sacrifice. Particularly because this is also the time I have chosen to work on being a better version of me. Carve out those gaps that makes me feel insecure about myself. Like culinary skills. I may not become a chef but at least be able to cook a few healthy lunches/dinners to invite friends over right? Instead of ordering takeaways every time? How am I Nepalese without knowing how to make dumplings? Definitely, this year I will be investing in driving. Then I could just drive myself anywhere, take myself to beaches, sightseeing, for the long drives, my family to picnic, road trips. Moving around and packing my life into boxes wouldn’t be so much hassle anymore. And then there are lots of travel plans.
I follow Jim Rohn’s motivational speeches on various topics relating to achieving success and living a better life on Youtube. The man speaks of nothing but golden words. Even his random utterance is probably worth a thousand dollar bill for commoners like me, filled with life changing advice. Just the other day I was tuned to one of his videos where I heard him say, ‘the major question to ask on a job is not what are you getting but what you are becoming?’ ‘Focus on your personal development. The major key to your better future is you’. He had emphasised. ‘Work on your attitude, philosophy, personality, language, gift of communication, work on all your abilities’.
There are hours of brilliant speeches out there from him. Here are other quotes from his talk called ‘Recharge your mind’, that I have copied here which I will use as mantras to guide my future.
‘You can’t change the winters, you can’t change the seasons but you can change yourself. You can get wiser, stronger and better’.
‘Learn to take advantage of the spring. You got to seize it with your own two hands. There is a sense of urgency here. Don’t waste your springs, don’t just let them pass, pass, pass hoping time will pass.’
‘And in summer learn to protect, nourish and to do battles with your enemies. Some of the enemies are outside, some of them are inside’.
I feel confident about continuing to sail my life to a positive direction. No babies in the plan for another year, no rings in the finger, paying salary, yeah I can buy myself flowers… I feel more accepting of myself ‘as a whole’. I appreciate the concoction I have become with fusion of both the worlds, absorbing best of the both countries across the globe. I don’t feel threatened anymore thinking my uniqueness as my weakness, like my ex used to say ‘exotic’, I have discovered in my eccentricity there is in fact power. Overall standing here in 2023, the picture forward looks amazing. This is definitely a year for me, to march forward and conquer. Be the queen I was born to be.