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.