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On Stress and Burnout

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

I started writing this while perched on a boulder at a beach in the North East of England. Perhaps the sound of the waves will slow my thoughts down and help me express them? It must be a sight for all the people walking their dogs to see someone sitting down on the beach, hunched over, typing away furiously on an iPad. If you were looking for one of my usual posts, apologies but this isn’t one of them, hopefully those will make a comeback soon.


I’ve not written for months now and this is difficult to write, or even talk about. Stress/burnout hasn’t quite released me from its clutches yet, and it probably won’t for a while.


I have burnt out in the most spectacular, Jean-like manner. Medicine has taken over my life. I allowed it to do so last year since there wasn’t as much to do with a pandemic but this year, it became overwhelming and I really don't like it.


Starting clinical placements this year is a feat in itself, but things haven’t slowed down at all for me. The pressure of having to do somewhat well academically this year in order to intercalate next year has been difficult to manage. I am juggling multiple applications and interviews, preparing for exams that I have to pass the first time round, while facing the underlying desire to almost prove that I am worthy of being here, doing what I do.


I feel uncertain about the future. I dread being in a chronically underfunded healthcare system in a country where I sometimes get treated like trash, spending many years training far away from home. I worry about training bottlenecks I will encounter upon graduating from medical school and the living cost crisis. I hate feeling like no one else believes in the causes that I am fighting for.


Despite feeling this way, I have been what I consider “high functioning”, doing what I do, day after day (and actually doing pretty well in the eyes of people looking from the outside!). I’ve not had the opportunity to slow down until after some exams ended recently, hence this little trip and me finally writing again. Things are beginning to look up.


I am now finishing this piece towards the end of my trip and I will not publicise it the way I usually promote my work - I can’t imagine being all “sensationalist” about this. If you are reading this, I send you lots of love so you can find the inner strength to do what you love in a healthier way.


To happier, healthier days,

Jean.


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