When I reopened this blog, it was my intention to write on a regular basis. Part of this desire was to give myself a place to be open, comfortable, and creative at a time when I have no other opportunity to do that. I haven’t blogged for a week now, and the biggest reason for not blogging is because I didn’t want to come off as an unhappy, negative, and depressed person. The truth is that I have been thinking of blogging multiple times a day since my last post, but I haven’t because everything I wanted to say is sad, whiny, and most likely self-defeating.
The mental and emotional energy that has been consumed by the events of last week left very little room for creativity, so I haven’t even been motivated to write something unrelated to my emotional well being. I’ve also been trying to catch myself from falling into my old patterns of unhealthy thinking and I felt that blogging about all these things would feed my negative self talk into a positive feedback cycle of self-depreciation. Maybe if I wasn’t already so overwhelmed from the insane amount of studying I’ve been doing it wouldn’t have been such a problem. Unfortunately, my mental and emotional reserve is non-existent.
Today I’ve decided that avoiding blogging because I don’t want to talk about the “bad stuff” is an avoidant behaviour that basically feeds my insecurities in the opposite way: I figure that I have nothing valuable to say and that I am not worthy of blogging because I am going through a tough patch. So beginning immediately, I am getting back into blogging about my life – whether it is positive or negative.
I will start with the positive.
For over a year now I have been meditating on a daily basis (I plan to blog about this at some point… it’s on my mind). I use a meditation app and lately I have really been enjoying the Calm meditation app. Over the weekend I switched from random guided meditations to the “self-esteem” series. As a result, I have been focusing more on where self-esteem comes from, how we can work on promoting positive self-esteem, and having self-compassion. In fact, yesterday’s “Daily Calm” meditation was all about self-compassion. The biggest conclusion that I’ve come to is this:
“If I had a friend going through what I am going through right now, I would offer kindness, compassion, and reassuring advice. So, why shouldn’t I give that to myself?”
So that’s what I’m trying to do.
I’ve also been reaching out and talking to friends. It’s difficult in this situation to reach out to my friends because my friends can be categorized into three categories:
1. Other resident friends: These friends are just as stressed about residency and our upcoming exam as I am. Therefore, they can offer some support, but they are much to worried about their own wellbeing and have no reserve to support me. I understand completely.
2. Friends who are not in medicine: There is no way that these friends can understand what it’s like to be a medical resident. And, I don’t mean this is a “I am better than them” way. I just mean that The mental, emotional, and physical demands of medial training is unique and difficult and you can’t understand it unless you experience it yourself. These people offer me a safe place to go and off-load my emotions, but there are some things I just can’t talk to them about.
3. Others: This group includes everyone who doesn’t;t fit into other categories and can be divided into either the few close friends I have that i know I can rely on, as well as the acquaintances/not-so-close friends who would probably think I’m crazy or messed up if they heard my internal dialogue.
I’ve been trying not to overload any of these friends with my insecurities. However, I made a realization one day and while talking to my good friend C. I said to her:
“I had an epiphany last night and realized that [my fear of failure] comes from a deep-seeded belief that I am inherently disliked and will always be rejected. What happened last week is confirmation of that belief.”
C. didn’t let me get away with this. She aptly pointed out that the event from last week (and any other event that appears to feed this belief) is not a confirmation of anything. Rather, it is a bias on my part: an instinctual outreach of my insecurities looking for any evidence to support my fears… in other words, a confirmation bias. C. is right. I am not inherently disliked and I will not always be rejected. I just have to make sure I believe that.
Finally, I decided to go for more therapy. I’ve been seeing the same therapist for the last 4.5 years. I’ve basically been seeing her for the entirety of my residency at varying intervals. Thankfully, my provincial medical association provides a minimum coverage for this service, otherwise I could never have afforded to her for this long. Since last Wednesday I have seen her twice. She knows me, my history – both relating to my life and to residency, and she understands why this event has been unusually devastating for me. I know that she calls me out on my inappropriate thoughts by helping me to see why they are inappropriate. She helps me to find a different perspective and simultaneously understand why that perspective is a better vantage point. And when I don’t like this other vantage point, she encourages me to appreciate how this vantage point sets me apart from the people around me. I walked away from today’s therapy session feeling like I will eventually come through this in one piece, even if I’m still having difficulty collecting all the broken pieces of myself off the floor. I will get there… just not yet.
So, that’s the positive. I’ll leave the negative for another day.