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Thursday, December 29, 2016

A year of Struggles - Rising from Depression

This post is made for those people who are currently depressed, sad, or had undergone depression.  Hope this experience of mine may help you in your struggle in fighting this disease.

This year didn't start out as great, I had lots of struggles in my residency that I cannot say here for it may lead to me getting kicked out of residency.

My major source of unhappiness this year was when I lost my thyroid gland.  This is something you can't control.  You get sick, even if you never smoked in your life, you've never tried prohibited drugs, you're not an alcoholic etc. Nobody wanted to get sick. This experience had given me a lot to ponder.  I've experienced symptoms that made me question if I can still be a surgeon.  Changing specialties came across my mind numerous times not because I didn't want to be a surgeon anymore, but because I may not be capable to become a surgeon anymore.  

People started to judge you, "You can't do this.", "You can't do that.", "You're sick, you should stop."  If you're on leave for a long time, the hospital may kick you out, who needs a doctor who can't even function in a position he applied for? But I kept telling myself, "hang on", if a plastic surgeon who also underwent total thyroidectomy can be a successful plastic surgeon, then there's a possibility that you can still function as a urologist.

Crying became a normal routine, I cry any time of the day and more frequently at night everyday.  Your parents started to get worried everytime they see you cry, and you just feel guilty because you can't help crying but you wouldn't want to worry your parents.  You'll receive comments like, "Why are you crying? Crying won't help. You have to move on..." These words don't help depressed people, they only make things worse.

Part of symptoms of thyroid problems is emotional instability.  I know I'll be sad, as part of my symptoms, but when I started having thoughts of killing yourself I knew this is not just mere thyroid symptoms anymore.  I have depression already.  When you're depressed, you don't want to kill yourself either, but you can't help thinking about it, there's something wrong in your brain that makes you think of that.  I'm no psychiatrist, but once I realized that I'm having suicidal ideations already, I knew I'm having depression, because no normal person would want to kill themselves.  It was good thing though that I got aware of the depression.   

When you're on your lowest part of your life, there are only 2 ways you can go.  Either you kill yourself (which we all don't want) or you go up.  So when I'm not thinking of killing myself, I think of how to go up.  I started thinking of ways that can make me happy, and I knew that craft is really a part of me.  I kept telling myself, I have to fight this depression.  I can't let it defeat me.

Of course things didn't get any better.  I received the news that I have to extend my residency since I'm not up to the standards yet.  I was devastated with this, I thought at first I'll just make up for the months I was away, but I had to make up for it for a whole year.  I felt I was being punished for getting sick, which I didn't like in the first place anyways, and I couldn't even prevent it from happening even if I wanted to.

Here you are trying your best to save yourself, and you'll receive comments like, "You're DESTROYING yourself." And then everything you've tried to achieve for a better mood just pushes you back to your lowest again.  We're in this world wherein people push people down and you just have to live with it.  The world doesn't give a damn if you're depressed.

So how did I fight it?  
  1. First I told myself, I have nowhere else to go but to go up, I'm in my lowest already.  
  2. Second, I tried watching a lot of Filipino movies, did you know that Tagalog movies can keep your mind off of your sadness? 
  3. Third, I watched koreanovelas. - I watched Descendents of the Sun 5x already.  It keeps you away from thinking about sadness
  4. Never feel guilty for crying - Crying is part of the process, you need it to release the negativity inside you
  5. Do your favorite hobby - in my case I went to crafting, I made handmade christmas cards.  It gives you 30 minutes to 1 hour of positivity per card.
  6. Always be with someone. Even if you're not talking to each other, just someone inside the same room, can sometimes prevent you from thinking about negative things.
  7. Hugging helps a lot.  I can always feel that the person hugging me is transferring his positive energy towards me.  Even if he/she is not saying anything.
  8. I read happiness books, I started reading fiction again.  I read the Hector and the Search for Happiness, The Last Lecture, Have a little Faith, etc.
  9. I stayed away from what makes me sad.  Whenever I see myself with symptoms that will make me get kicked out as a resident, I tried to do things that makes me happy, like watching youtube, movies, koreanovelas, crafting etc.
  10. I tried doing online business, buy and sell, it gave me the feeling that I can do something worthwile, I get to shop and I get to sell things.  It's just an activity that made me feel it's not yet the end.
  11. I saw online of famous people and some doctors who got sick and died because of their illness. I know this may sound insensitive, but those made me feel lucky that at least I'm still alive, that my life has not ended yet.
  12. If you're a resident, stay away from medicine for a while.  The medical training environment sucks the life and positivity out of you.  I can understand those who left the field to be happy.  But of course, not all of us can do that, so we just take breaks from it.
  13. Don't rush things, keep doing what makes you happy.
  14. Don't give a damn of what others think.  Just do what you believe will make you happy (but never do crimes.)
  15. You know yourself more than others, so you know what can make you happy or not and just believe in yourself and do what you think may help yourself.
I'm currently reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, as a part of the step to my recovery from depression.

Take note also that depression is classified as a disease, so it will behave like a disease, if you need help, there's a reason why doctors undergo special training to be a psychiatrist, because your depression may need medications already and they can give you the proper medications to treat your depression.  And since it's a disease, just because you've recovered once doesn't mean it will not come back, you may get the same disease again even after several years even for different reasons.  The most important thing is that you have to be able to recognize it before you can take steps to treat it.

To fellow people whom they think they have someone close to them who may be experiencing depression but doesn't know what to do? Be there for them, you don't have to say or  do anything, most depressed people just want someone who's there with them, someone they can hug, someone they can cry on, someone they can talk to.

To fellow depressed patients, let's fight this!
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