Yeah sure. I passed my first year of medical school. But this is what I didn't tell you...
Working and studying more hours does not mean better outcomes. Let me repeat. WORKING AND STUDYING MORE DOES NOT = BETTER OUTCOMES.
Welcome to my ted talk:
1st year medical school edition.
I've said it before and I will say it again. I never considered myself a smart person. I consider myself a hard worker. So all my life I had to fight…! Lol, ok not that dramatic. But all my life, I said if I can work harder than everyone else, then I can be on the same level as everyone else. So I learned how to GRIND. I learned how to sit my ass down and study for 10-12 hours straight. I learned how to wake up early and push my bedtime to 2am. 3am. I put flashcards in my car so whenever I got stuck in LA traffic (which I'm sure you can imagine was a lot of downtime) I memorized charged vs. neutral amino acids. I grinded my way to med school and I realized that was my way in. Put in the hours.
Then...I started medical school. HAHAHHAHAHHA. I started medical school training. And it worked………….for like 3 months.
It makes since why this was my plan of attack for medical school. I figured I would stick to what I knew best, what got me here— long days and even longer nights. No Sleep. No fun. Working out in the gym with audio of my lectures playing in the background. No social media or brunch on the weekends. No church. Nothing but heads in the book. I refused to join social clubs my first year. Said no to fashion week backstage invites. Because I genuinely thought that if I spent more time studying and literally cramming shit into my brain that it would stick. There was just soooo much more information in med school, I needed it to somehow stick.
Friends and family would call me to check on me and see how medical school was going for me. This is how a typical phone conversation would go:
"I'm fine! I feel fine. I'm studying a lot and staying focused."
"Good, stay focused."
"Yeah, I'm not even doing all the extra ish I normally do. No extra clubs or student government. I haven’t really made friends yet, but I'm in no rush I have plenty of friends at home"
"Rightttt…you don’t even need any new friends. And involvement will come"
"Yeah, exactly. I'm even sticking to my workout routine and listen to lectures while I workout to be super duper efficient with my time"
"Wow sounds like you are grinding, good stick with it."
And that's how I genuinely felt. It was true. I FELT FINE. I wasn't depressed. I felt fine. I felt foreign in a new city. But I felt fine. As long as I was grinding.
My digestion and GI system literally STOPPED WORKING. It got so bad, that I couldn't have a bowel movement by myself unless I took about 15-20 pills per day. IBS or something. I would go weeks without using the bathroom. I stopped sleeping, and was operating on 3-4 hours of sleep. I would breakdown crying in my car before every test because I still felt like I didn't know anything. I gained 10 lbs despite working out consistently.
And the reason why I wrote it off was because:
I thought it was expected. I was in MED SCHOOL for gods sake.. What am I expecting? I thought this was my new norm.
I was passing my classes. So to me, it justified everything. I don’t need to reach out for help because I was passing. Counseling? For what? I was passing my classes and wasn’t depressed…what we gotta talk about? How I'm passing and how I feel fine? And as long as I can take my pills I can poop. So cool. I'm really going to talk to a therapist about how I can't poop without my pills? Right…. That's a great use of this trained clinical therapist.
So the year persisted. And I was still passing my classes. Still gaining weight. I launched my blog, it was a cool creative outlet. More things to do…but ya know, cool.
Then summer hit. I had big goals for this summer. I had an internship at the psych ER, I started the Medical Research concentration online, I planned to travel, and take my blog to the next level– I was going to do it all. I learned a lot during the Sidney Frank Fellowship. Working with patients to get their social and life history made me realize how concrete and transformative your past life could affect your present. For these patients, sometimes, it was their last call out for help. For me, it was just the beginning of my mental and health journey.
Although I passed my first year of medical school, I didn’t realize I was stressed because I was passing my classes and felt fine. I learned about this term, functional stress, and that was exactly how my first year went. This “functional stress” shut my body down. I hit a number on the scale that shook me and sent me into a reality I never wanted for myself. I completely let myself go.
I was confused with how much it was taking a toll on me. I have been through so much in my life, so how is a number on a scale the only thing that has actually sent me into depression? I still don’t know if I would call it depression, anxiety, or something else, but everything that I had planned for the summer came to a huge halt. I didn’t leave my room unless I had to, and I put on a great performance in public, but in private I was suffering. I almost canceled my trip to visit my brother in Europe because of it, but I still went. He could tell something was wrong. In the past, I sought out adventures when I traveled and loved connecting with new people, but instead I felt like I was hiding from the world, insecure to go out in public. I didn’t understand why it was hurting so much. And reflecting on my year took months to figure out how it all happened.
So that brings me to this blog post.
Can I tell you something you probably don’t want to know…but is clear evidence of how good I am doing?
I go to the bathroom by myself now. Every single day...no pills.
I have friends. I even have inside jokes with good friends in at my school. I laugh. I bake low carb goods. I blog without stress. I have lost 15 pounds. I am apart of three executive boards that fuel my fire outside of medicine. I sleep 6+ hours a night on a BAD night. I try to workout 3 days a week at least. I hang out with my amazing boyfriend. I go out and have fun in the crazy city. I blast Aretha Franklin and dance in my underwear while skipping my 9am class.
I have not pulled ANY all nighters this year. My blog has really taken off and I got my first sponsored Instagram post even. And guess what… grades are even better this year. I have been average or above average for each test.
So this is interesting. I spend less time studying, and more time fueling my fire and staying balanced… and I am doing better academically? WOW. I'm hard headed AF. I know all the books and blogs say it "stay balanced, meditate, get good sleep every night, don’t stress". I know (hear it all beforeeeee). Clearlyyy I just had to basically loose my entire GI system and become obese in order to take this amazing advice.
lolol why am I like this??????????
What changed? Believing in myself. Getting rid of my imposter syndrome. Realizing no matter if I literally covered my car in flashcards, deleted every app on my phone except ANKI, and lived in the school library, that my grades were still just… MEH. Average. Barely. And nothing more could fit because it was just way too much information. And it became detrimental. Physically more than mentally in this case. If I would have continued I probably would have had my mental break, mental disorders do run in my family.
Here's the thing y'all. I do really appreciate the fact that I know how to work hard. I know that is one of my gifts and some people aren't willing to go that hard. It's just, not necessary. And it actually does not work. It becomes detrimental in high volume work loads like med school. Law school. Grad school. Working and school full time. Fill in the blank.
Also there is such a thing as a learning curve. And realizing life is short. And making sure your priorities are straight.
And clearly skipping class, blasting Aretha Franklin, and dancing by yourself in your underwear is the priority.
WORKING AND STUDYING MORE DOES NOT = BETTER OUTCOMES.