Monday, 11 September 2017

Having a routine is great for my mental health

I think that a lot of people may consider that having lots of excitement in your life would be best for your mental well-being - having something to look forward to, like a holiday, or something exciting and exhilarating like a skydive to bring your endorphin levels up. And all of those things are important, but I have found that having a routine has actually been one of the best things for my mental health.

I guess the mundane parts of life could, quite possibly, make someone depressed if they really did not enjoy their job. However I have found that having a routine and having to get up to go to work has really helped me. I am sleeping better than I ever have since I left school, and I've got into a routine that I really enjoy. I go to bed at a similar time every night (ahem, about 9.30pm...) and I have my relaxing time in the evenings just chilling in my flat, when I'm not socialising with friends. I also have my morning routine perfected and I usually make my lunch the night before and plan my outfits ahead, which really helps to make the mornings easier for a self-confessed night owl.

I also feel like I've got a purpose to get up for in the mornings, and I generally have not struggled to get myself into work. I'm also not too ashamed to admit that I quite enjoy the mundane parts of being an adult - cleaning my flat, washing my clothes, changing my bed sheets. I'm sure that will probably wear off quite soon, but I've found that I've really worked out what sort of time and which days is best for me to complete these tasks, and when I've planned ahead like that I really don't mind doing them.

I'm not saying that I don't want some excitement in my life, because I really do find that is good for my mental health too. But on a day-to-day basis, having a routine has been really great for me and has especially helped me get into a decent sleeping pattern. I think the fact that I'm enjoying my job has really helped, as I don't dread waking up the next day. It's just really nice to wake up in the mornings with a purpose, knowing that I'm going to help someone that day in one way or another :)
You will be amazed at how things fall magically into place once you let go of the illusion of control.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

How I'm managing my mental health as a doctor

One of the things that I was worried about when I started working as a doctor was how I was going to manage my mental health. I knew that I would be working long hours and have some difficult situations to deal with, and I wasn't sure how I was going to cope with that. As a student I struggled to do a 5 day week, so I was really apprehensive about the weeks that I would have to work for 8 days in a row.

However, amazingly, my mental health has been so good recently. Work has given me a focus that I haven't had before and has got me into a routine, which in turn has really helped my sleeping pattern and meant that I actually get to sleep fairly quickly after getting into bed. I also haven't struggled too much with getting up in the mornings and going to work, even on my 7th or 8th day in a row, as I know that I need to be in and I have a purpose that I didn't necessarily have as a medical student. I am enjoying being part of a team and having responsibilities, and that really helps me to get out of bed in the mornings.

My depression has always been high-functioning, and my mental health has always been better when I am busy and have a focus - for example, around exam time. I think being a doctor is possibly the perfect career for me because I am constantly busy and don't have much time to think about other things - plus helping others makes me feel great and I have enjoyed most days at work so far.

The harder days at work are those when I lose one of my patients or when we are short-staffed. Thankfully I haven't actually had any of my patients pass away so far, but one of them that I looked after for quite a while and had become quite attached to had to be transferred to another hospital, and that was quite an emotional day. I think it's quite good to have normal human emotions in these situations as it means you care about your patients, but at the same time you have to remain professional and strong in front of the patient. When I got home that evening I ended up crying to my mum, but I managed to stay composed in front of the patient and tried to do my job as best I could. There have, however, been quite a few days when there are a lack of doctors in my team in and that means that my work load is much higher, and those days have been hard. I had one of those days halfway through an 8 day week and was so tired that I got slightly upset in front of one of my seniors as I just felt like I needed to go home, but she was very understanding and helped me to work through my emotions.

I guess the most important thing is that I haven't felt depressed for the past month that I've been working as a doctor. I have had a few days where I have been upset, but that is completely different to feeling depressed and was a normal human emotion to some bad days at work. I've found that getting enough sleep has really helped me to function (I really notice it the next day if I've had less than 8 hours!), and I've also had lots of evenings to myself to just chill, eat food and watch Netflix. I have really enjoyed living by myself because it has given me the freedom to have time on my own when I need it, but also have friends over whenever I feel like I need more support or just want some company.

The most important things that are maintaining good mental health for me at the moment are lots of sleep, good food, relaxing evenings, seeing friends socially and chats to my mum. So far I'm really enjoying my life as a doctor - it is hectic sometimes but I wouldn't have it any other way!
No one has the right to judge you, because no one really knows what you have been through. They might have heard the stories, but they didn't feel what you felt in your heart.

Monday, 28 August 2017

A life catch up

Soooo... Long time no blog!

I haven't blogged for quite a long time and it's purely because I've been so exhausted and haven't had the motivation to log on here and write. I worked 8 days in a row last week and the thought of getting home and blogging really wasn't very attractive.

Work is still going well and I'm still enjoying it, but I have been really tired recently. I love being part of a team and having responsibilities, and I also enjoy being busy, but there are some more difficult parts of the job, such as losing patients and the long hours. Last weekend I worked 8am-9pm and didn't have a break all day - I didn't even get time to go to the toilet!

I'm still getting into the swing of my new lifestyle and I'm not quite sure where my blog fits into that yet. I feel like I hardly have any time to myself, let alone to sit down and write about how I'm feeling. I do want to continue to blog because I love it and it has helped me out a lot in the past, but I also don't want the pressure of feeling like I have to sit down and write every day like I used to do, because that's when I start to fall out of love with blogging.

Expect more blog posts from me in the future - but just not too frequently!

Oh and if you're wondering where the cute dinosaur planter is from, I got it from Morrisons and it was only £5. You're welcome.
The comeback is always stronger than the setback.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A much better day

Today has been 2896987587x better than yesterday!

As we had already completed the ward round with our patients yesterday, we were much more aware of their needs and what we needed to provide for them, so that made today's ward round much quicker. We also had completed a lot of tasks for those patients yesterday, especially the more sick ones or those that would be going home soon, so we had less work to do today.

And I managed to take blood from a patient with fairly difficult veins, which made me feel much better about the whole blood taking situation!

We were able to finish the ward round with plenty of time for lunch (and a quick pep talk from the F2 on my team), and I found that my jobs were done and the list was updated by about 3.30pm. Which left me time to be able to help my fellow F1s out with their jobs, and still leave just after 5pm. It was overall a much easier and more satisfying day than yesterday.

But the best part of my day was probably when I was walking out of the hospital to get to my car. An excited/nervous new dad was on the phone shouting "THE BABY IS COMING!!!" and it made me smile so much - it reminded me of the best parts of my job and why I love medicine so much, which is exactly what I needed after yesterday.

Hannah x

Monday, 14 August 2017

Sometimes I question why I chose to become a doctor

On days like today, when I seemed to be working for hours on end and everything went wrong and nothing went right, I question why I chose to become a doctor.

Today both of our seniors were away so myself and another junior doctor had to do a ward round to see all of our patients. Some of these patients were quite unwell, and as we are junior we didn't feel comfortable managing them by ourselves. Everything took that little bit longer because we were checking and double-checking everything, as we didn't have our seniors to rely on. Then I had to go and take blood and I missed three times, which was so frustrating. By this point it was 3pm and I hadn't had chance to even think about lunch - by the time I was able to grab a sandwich I had to sit at a computer to write a discharge letter while I was eating it. Everything just seemed to take a long amount of time, and I felt like I didn't even get a minute to go to the loo or have a drink (until my pounding headache reminded me that I had a bottle of squash in my bag). I ended up finishing about 6.15pm, which wasn't as bad as it could have been, but I still ended up doing a 10 and a half hour day. To sum it all up, it was a very long, difficult day that I don't wish to repeat any time soon!

Sometimes I think about quitting and getting a normal 9-5 job, where I know I could leave at 5pm on the dot and not have to worry about work afterwards. Sometimes I am really envious of my friends and family that have 'normal' office jobs and are able to lead a separate personal and professional life. Medicine becomes a lifestyle that you cannot easily escape when you are a doctor, and sometimes I resent that.

It's days like today that I have to reflect on the positive aspects of my job. The reason I'm a doctor is because I wanted to help people, I love learning, and it just seems to fit to my personality and who I am. When I started medical school everything just seemed to fall into place, and I knew it was the right career for me. And I do love it. Most days the job satisfaction is incredible, especially when I feel like I've really made a difference to a patient or their family. Even if that's just being able to get them home quickly or sort out their first meal after an operation.

I always knew that being a doctor would bring really difficult days, but I guess I could never prepare myself for how hard it could sometimes get - and I bet today wasn't half as bad as some of the days I will face in the future. Today I felt like I was letting the patients and my team down, even though I was working to the best of my abilities. I did feel like having a little cry when I was in the treatment room gathering all of the equipment together to try and take blood yet again!

But I got through it, and I know that tomorrow will probably be a better day. After all, I am still learning a lot of things, and skills like blood taking will just come with practice.

Hannah x

Friday, 11 August 2017

How I'm coping with my new doctor lifestyle

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may know that I started my first job as a doctor a couple of weeks ago. As you can imagine, it has been quite exhausting. But I have really enjoyed it so far and haven't found it too difficult - although I think that's partly due to a few adjustments to my lifestyle. I thought I would share them with you, as they are probably applicable to most people that work full-time!

The biggest coping strategy for me has been getting plenty of sleep. Some days I have been going to bed as early as 8.30pm as I have been getting up around 6.30am to be in the hospital for 8am. I think my optimum sleeping time is probably 10 hours, but obviously that's not feasible most nights as I would hardly have any time after work in the evenings, so I try and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I really notice it the next day if I don't and find it really hard to get up. This is a big lifestyle change for me as I am such a night owl and usually stay up until 2 in the morning if I don't have to be up the next day, so I've had to get myself into a proper sleeping routine. I have been so exhausted after work that I've actually found it easier than I thought I would!

Whilst at work I am sometimes so overwhelmed by the amount of jobs I have to do that I'm tempted to work through my lunch break, and often don't even make time to have a drink or go to the loo. The past few days I have realised that this isn't good for me and I can't let my health suffer, so I have made sure that I have taken breaks and listened to what my body needs. One of my colleagues can cover for me for a few minutes, and I need food whilst I'm working long days.

Following on from the point above, I have also realised that I need to eat a decent amount of food to keep me going throughout the day. I make sure that I get up early enough to have breakfast (otherwise I really suffer during the morning), and I always have something with carbs in it at lunch to keep me going through the afternoon. As a junior doctor we are on our feet a fair amount, and I have found myself frequently rushing between wards and up and down stairs, so I need decent nutrition to fuel all of that energy. Not to mention the fuel to keep my brain working all day!

Another thing that keeps me going through the week is having things to look forward to. I have got a fair few things planned over the next few weeks and that really helps me to push through when I'm really tired and feel like I need a day off. Sometimes I also just look forward to a day of doing nothing! My consultant told me that I should have something exciting planned every 6-8 weeks, and use my annual leave wisely, as this will really help me to get through the long weeks at work.

Another thing I have felt that has really helped is planning my outfit the night before, so that I have an extra 5 minutes in the morning to sleep or relax. I have also really enjoyed dressing professionally for work, so planning my outfit for the next day actually becomes quite an enjoyable thing to do each evening.

I am now living on my own in my flat, so it's really important for me to see my friends and family in my spare time (and not become a hermit like I'm sometimes tempted to do when I'm so tired!). I have made sure that I have seen a couple of friends each week, and I have also had phone calls with some of my friends and family too. I find that it really helps to talk to them about my day at work and have a bit of company - and also someone to talk about non-work things with. Sometimes, as much as I love it, I just need to escape medicine for a few hours!
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

You've got to do what makes you happy

I have always been a people pleaser and worried about what other people think about me. That has sometimes come in the way of my happiness, as in the past I have done things that I didn't necessarily want to do, just to make others happy. Even if that was just going out when I needed a night in, or bigger life-changing decisions that brought about a change that I wasn't happy with.

More recently I have started to realise that I need to do what makes me happy. Happiness gurus are constantly preaching about being more selfish and making more time for number one - and it's so true, as I don't think you will ever truly be happy unless your own wants and needs are satisfied. I've started to turn down more social invitations, as sometimes I just simply need a night in by myself. But I've also found myself feeling less awkward about asking people to spend time with me, as I am not so worried about them turning me down. I also think that I value myself more since I have started to put myself first in more situations, so I realise that people probably do actually want to spend time with me and be my friend (rather than me being insecure about friendships when I was going through depression).

I also feel like I have really got to know myself more since I have allowed myself to do things that truly make me happy. I know what I want and need from life, and the sort of people that I want to surround myself with. I have also been more adventurous as I have allowed myself to explore more things in life - such as skydiving, long travelling trips away from home, and even just simple things like trying new foods.

I've found that turning down social invitations hasn't affected my friendships - in fact I've realised that it's a totally normal and often necessary thing to do. Everyone gets unwell, everyone gets tired, everyone has problems, and everyone needs their own space from time to time. Life gets in the way sometimes, and most people are understanding of that - if they're not I guess are they really a great friend to have around? Surround yourself with those that are supportive of you and your choices, and who love you just the way you are. And if they cancel on you, remember that they most likely have a perfectly valid excuse and it doesn't mean that they don't care about you.

And I guess the most obvious effect of this new-found life motto is that I really do feel happier. I'm more comfortable in my own skin, able to say 'no' easier, and I have more to talk about. I like myself more and I like the person that I am becoming each time I make a decision, whether it's about what to eat tonight or where in the world to visit next.

Take time to get to know what you want from life and what makes you happy - and respect yourself enough to be able to go after that. I promise you that you'll be so much more content for it.
What if I told you that everything is meant to shatter first -
And that your best life begins when you stop worrying about picking up the pieces,
And start building something new instead.
Would you continue staring at broken glass?
Learn to recycle.
                                 - Wine and Words

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Grandma's 80th birthday

Over the weekend it was my Grandma's 80th birthday so all of my family got together to celebrate. She is such an incredible woman and someone that I have always looked up to, and we all have so many amazing memories together. Their house is one of the main places that I grew up in. As children we spent summers in the train shed watching Grandad build tracks and run mini trains around them. We spent breakfasts chatting over toast, cereal and orange juice, and had many a day out with the reward of sweets at the end. I remember trying to help Grandma finish a crossword in the paper, and we had so many holidays away in our caravans that were the highlight of my childhood.

 We spent the weekend eating lots of food and drinking wine together, and it was so lovely to have all of my family together, as it's not very often that that happens - usually someone is off on holiday or working. I caught up with all of my cousins, aunts and uncles, and generally had a really great weekend. I feel so lucky to have such a supportive and loving family, and I really cherish the time I get to spend as a group of all of us.

Happy birthday Grandma, I can't wait to celebrate many more with you!
Everything happens for a reason.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Friday Favourite: The cutest Asda duvet cover

Biscuit Printed Duvet Cover - Asda

As I have just been at work today, I thought I would share with you this adorable biscuit printed duvet cover from Asda. It reminds me of when I was a child and makes me smile every time I enter my bedroom! It's also double-sided and has mini gems on the other side which is so cute. I love Primark's bedding section but I think Asda's just beats it at the moment - plus it's actually sometimes cheaper.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend :)

Thursday, 3 August 2017

My first official day as a doctor

Today was my first official day as an FY1 (Foundation Year 1) doctor, which means that I now actually have major responsibilities and my own patients to look after as part of a team!

I thought I'd be quite nervous to be let loose on the wards, but I actually felt really calm this morning. I think I just felt like this would be another shadowing day. I am working in a team with 2 other FY1 doctors so we were able to help and support each other throughout the day, and pick up jobs that needed doing if someone else was unable to complete them. We arrived at 8am and did a ward round with two senior members of the team, and then had to complete the jobs that needed doing afterwards - such as taking bloods, ordering scans, writing discharge letters, prescribing drugs, chasing up results, and referring patients to other teams.

My first job is on general surgery for 4 months, before I swap onto a medical ward. I'm quite glad I am starting on surgery first as it seems to be a slower pace than medicine for FY1s, and there is a lot of support from senior members of the team.

Today was quite a normal day for a junior doctor, and nothing particularly exciting happened, but I found that I really enjoyed it! It felt great to be able to actually help patients and my colleagues out, and I loved feeling like an important part of the team. I really felt ready for the responsibility after 5 years at medical school and I am always up for a challenge and new things to learn. One especially exciting part of the day was being able to wear my stethoscope around my neck (we were never supposed to do this as medical students as we could have been mistaken for doctors), and picking up my bleep (or pager, if you're American) as I felt quite official and professional with it clipped to my trousers - although I might find it very annoying when I'm on call and I get bleeped every second minute...

I guess the excitement of the more mundane days will probably eventually wear off, as with any job, but for now I am really looking forward to the days ahead and seeing what life as a doctor will bring to me. I'm even going to bed now for an early night as I'm excited for my shift tomorrow!
You are the only one who can limit your greatness. Remember that you are enough.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Adulting is hard

When I first considered moving into a flat by myself I didn't really consider the mundane chores that would come with it - setting up council tax, sorting out gas and electricity bills, finding time to be home so that the WiFi could be installed, etc. I knew that I would have bills to pay, but I didn't have much of an idea how much they would cost or when I would need to pay them.

Today I have spent the majority of the day sorting out typical 'adult' things. I put a wash on and changed my bed sheets, then spent the rest of the afternoon putting away my clothes in my wardrobe. Then I had to check my gas and electricity meters and ring British Gas to sort my bill and direct debit out. After all that I felt quite exhausted, but I still had to cook my dinner and wash and dry up. And I couldn't even consider a nap because I know I need to be up early tomorrow for work, and I won't get to sleep tonight if I had slept in the day.

None of the tasks were particularly difficult, but when they are all added up they become quite tiring (and boring!), and they take quite a while to complete. With starting work I now feel like I have much less time to myself, and on days when I would normally spend hours sleeping or watching Netflix, I now have jobs to do around the flat.

I guess I'm just going to have to get used to being a 'proper' adult, but people definitely underestimate how hard it is at first! I think they should teach us about bills and taxes in school, as I had no idea about any of it until it came to actually paying them.

Anyway, I'm off to bed (it's 8.30pm) - I'm not sure whether that makes me a responsible adult or more of a child than I have ever been...
Be the reason someone smiles today.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A quick life catch up

Taco Sweater - Forever 21
Gingham Trousers - New Look

I've been a bit AWOL on my blog recently and it's purely because I've been so busy and tired. Last week I started induction for work, and I start properly as a doctor on the wards tomorrow (although I've got a day off according to my rota so I actually start Thursday!). Over the weekend my friend Roxy came up to Liverpool from home, and life just generally got in the way so my blog took a bit of a back seat. We went out on Friday night and danced the night away in Pop World, and spent Saturday shopping, eating and watching girly films.

The past couple of days I've also been on induction, shadowing doctors on the ward that I will be replacing this week, and I've really enjoyed it so far. I feel like shadowing has shown me that the job won't be as scary as I thought it would, but I am still worried about being really tired and coping with the hours. I start on a surgical ward so will work less weekends and evenings than I will do when I move onto medicine, as junior doctors have less responsibility in surgery, but I still think it's going to be hard to adjust. But I'm hoping it will be enjoyable and rewarding, and I will come home feeling like I've achieved something. I'm looking forward to getting to know the fellow doctors and hopefully being able to make a difference to my patients.

In other news, I am so happy with my new flat and feel really at home here. I have enjoyed spending the last couple of evenings on my own, cooking dinner and watching Netflix, but it's nice that I can also invite my friends over whenever I feel like I want some company. It's a lovely peaceful sanctuary after a long day at home, and it feels so cosy as it's now filled with all of my candles, cushions and blankets. I'm definitely going to enjoy living here!

With regards to this outfit - I wore it last week to visit Bridgnorth in Shropshire with my sister. The sweatshirt was a present for my birthday and I love how it looks like it could be vintage. I haven't really seen a sweater like it before, with these particular colours. And someone tried to buy the trousers off me whilst I was wearing them, so they were obviously a hit!
There is no shame in being honest. There is no shame in being vulnerable. It's the beauty of being human.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

How I feel about living on my own

The little book of hygge meik wiking

A couple of months ago I posted a flat tour of my new flat in Liverpool that I will be living in on my own as a junior doctor. It has changed a lot since the empty tour - over the last few weeks I have moved in furniture, decorative accessories, many, many candles, pictures, and lots of cushions and blankets to make it feel really cosy and, well, like my home.

And tomorrow I will finally fully move in. I have stayed there for a few nights when I have been up in Liverpool over the summer, but I've never stayed there by myself, and it consequently hasn't properly felt like my own flat. On Thursday I start my induction week for work, and will start as a foundation doctor next Wednesday, so tomorrow will be the first night I spend on my own in my new home.

Quite a few people have asked me whether I'm worried about living on my own, as I guess it's quite a big step. The truthful answer is no, I'm actually really excited!

I have lived in a house share with 4 other girls for the past 3 years and I had a tiny bedroom, so I'm looking forward to having my own space and independence. I'm looking forward to getting back from work and not necessarily having to talk to anyone if I don't want to - I can just curl up on my sofa and read a book or watch Netflix. I also like the fact that I will be able to have other people over without having to worry about annoying anyone else, and I can spread my stuff out all over the flat as much as I like. My mess is my mess, and I can clean it up as and when I want to. I can also have baths whenever I like and not worry about hogging the bathroom!

I think the biggest excitement for me was being able to decorate my flat just as I wanted it, without having to consult with anyone else. Obviously I couldn't change the wall colours or structural elements as it is a rental flat, but I was able to pick out textiles in the colours I wanted, add my own prints to the walls, and choose a pink kettle just because I wanted one. I also fell in love with the flat as soon as I walked in - most of the walls are painted a lovely shade of grey and it has so much character, with some stairs leading down to the bathroom and the eaves evident around the front window.

I guess it's going to be a bit strange to get used to being by myself most of the time, but I quite like my own company and I think after a long day at work it will be quite therapeutic for me. Plus a lot of my friends live just around the corner, so I'm looking forward to hosting dinner parties for them on my new shiny tableware!
There will always be a reason why you meet new people. Either you need to change your life, or you're the one that'll change theirs.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Hawkstone Park

Green Satin Kimono - New Look
T-Shirt - Topshop
Jeans - New Look
Belt - Asos (Similar)
Stan Smith Trainers - Adidas

Firstly, I just wanted to apologise for the quality of these photos. There was a weird white smudge on all of them that has never been on my camera lens before. My camera has really been playing up recently and has not been focusing properly, so I need to get it professionally cleaned and fixed. I just loved this outfit so much that I wanted to show you it anyway, even if the photo quality is poor!

I got this satin kimono for my birthday and I absolutely love it. I also love the t-shirt with the embroidered succulents. This is such a typical 'me' outfit - jeans and a t-shirt, plus something printed over the top. It's so easy to throw on and was perfect for a walk around Hawkstone Park on Saturday.

Hawkstone Park is situated near Shrewsbury in Shropshire, and is a large parkland covering over 100 acres, dating back to the 18th century. It is made up of caves, cliffs, towers, bridges, ravines, arches and woodland, and a walk around the park can take up to 3 and a half hours (although there are much shorter walks that take just an hour). These photos were taken from The Monument, a tower that is around 100 foot high and has amazing views over the whole of Shropshire.

Myself and my friend Roxy wanted a fairly cheap day out, so I suggested that we visit Hawkstone as she had never been before and it cost us each around £8. We spent hours wandering around the park, discovering interesting things around every corner we turned. I especially loved the Grotto (a series of caves - make sure you take a torch as they are very dark!) and the Swiss bridge (a thin wooden bridge over a ravine). The views from the park were pretty spectacular too. Just as we were heading back to the car - and were at the farthest point possible in the park - the heavens opened and it tipped it down. We walked as quickly as we could back to the start of the park, and decided to stop in the cafe for a drink as we were soaked through.

I really enjoyed our day at Hawkstone and it felt like quite an adventurous day out - I was really tired when I got home. I would definitely recommend a visit if you're looking for something a bit different to do in the Shropshire area. It would suit all ages, although I wouldn't recommend it for those that are less mobile as there is a lot of walking and climbing stairs involved.
Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.