I’ve been having problems with my internship again. The exhaustion is getting the best of me. I have been doing my shifts but I haven’t been able to work during the day. I only want to sleep, I’m always so tired… And, I’m in trouble, because you can’t just not work. I don’t stay home, I go all the way to the hospital and crash on the dorm beds to avoid family questioning.
My brain brings its own cake to the party, with these thoughts that are already very familiar to me:
“if you can’t do this, then what can you do?”
“You will not be able to stay in any job”
“You will never be independent”.
“If you’re not independent what’s the use in living?”
And my brain is not the only one who says it of course, it’s what you would expect colleagues and bosses to say, and they do. But I can’t do anything about the other people… the main problem is my own brain thinking it.
See, if you get badly hurt or sick (physically), your body does some adjustments. Among them there’s one called Blood Flow Redistribution. Lets say you have an accident, get hurt and lose lots of blood… your body will immediately enter in “emergency mode”, and send the blood that is still available to organs like the brain and the liver. Conversely, it limits the blood flow to organs like the skin, gut and kidneys. So you get pale and stop producing urine but your brain and liver are trying to survive here! It doesn’t mean your body “thinks” the skin or guts are not important… I mean, you cannot live without skin or guts.
It’s just a matter of priorities. You want to protect your brain more than you want to protect your gut right now, because your priority is not digesting food right now. Your priority is staying awake (brain) and trying to survive whatever has happened to you. It is producing clotting factors and proteins (liver) that will keep adjusting your body for survival.
Jumping back to the mental world.
I have already mentioned levels of activity before. Lets bring the list back for a sec.
- Getting out of bed, and taking care of basics.
- Getting out of the house.
- Potential socialization
- Working – easy
- Working – medium
- Working – difficult.
- Working – difficult + extra time.
Going up is slow and painful but you can fall in a blink. With the restart of the internship and the shifts every 3 days, I jumped to a level seven, when I was at level 3 just a couple of weeks earlier. My mistake, but in the practical world, intermediates are hard to get. Plus I have this urge to finish! I don’t want to be sitting in 2009 with 3 months of internship still left…
I felt it was too much for me, but something in my brain told me – “you cannot sit and wait until you think you’re completely ready.” It could take years… it could never happen. I might always have some residual depression.
I want to be working and active, but I have so little energy now that all I can do is sleep, eat and sort of take care of myself. It’s not that I think working is not important… but right now all what I care about is not falling even deeper mood wise. I haven’t been suicidal or extremely depressed yet, but I after so long, I can recognize the signs when I see them. I can’t focus, I want to be alone all the time, and then I feel bad when people actually leave me alone. I can’t do math… the most simple things prompt me into using the mobile calculator. Cognitively I’m good for nothing and prone to error. I’m up and down, and for no reason I want to cry, and for no reason I get laughing fits. I kept a mood journal from August 1st, until yesterday, hoping that maybe my perception of things going wrong from memory might not be accurate. But I re-read it today. I can see myself falling with every passing day, trying to do things to cheer myself up, feeling better temporarily, but still following a clear curve down.
The medication was sort of working, but apparently I am not quite there yet. Does this mean I shouldn’t be working? I know the way that road takes me: Dropping off again, suffering for weeks in guilt feeling useless and stuck, doing nothing at home just waiting for it to get better…
I gotta say that this time I feel like I have lots of additional support that I didn’t have before. Something needs to be done right…. I’d hate to go down that old road again.
I asked my psych doc for help. Help me work something out. Help me talk to the people in charge. I need to finish, how could I not? I have done this for almost 7 years, I have never failed a subject despite it all. Make the schedules more free for me. I’ll show you that I know my stuff, but I can’t handle the immense pressure right now. I don’t plan on working as a doctor, but the degree would be extremely useful for me to pursue a more theoretical career. I am not a bad student at all, I just need some hep.
I feel ridiculous requesting a softer treatment, and the first that suffers is my pride. But if I don’t do something I’ll drop out again for sure. And that would be catastrophic. When I re-read what I’m trying to ask it doesn’t look that impossible. But I have been trying to talk to my immediate boss since Monday and I have absolutely no idea of what to say. He approached me today and told me that I was failing because of unjustified unattendance.
I opened my mouth to explain but my brain went blank.