Chronic trauma and struggling
I've been in therapy since I was 15 dealing with domestic violence/infidelity/abuse between and from parents (who I'd just characterize as extremely self-absorbed and immature people). I've felt cagey around people since I was 13 and was first majorly depressed when I was 15. Despite all that I was lucky enough to get into medical school.This was the first year that I was finally living apart from them and what was meant to be a great year really did not unfold that way. I got into my first relationship and was sexually assaulted and just treated not well. Despite that, I was alienated from a bunch of people who are better friends with my ex-partner (who tbh didn't know what happened). I wasn't looking after myself and got progressively more and more depressed and resorted to overworking myself. Going to hospital and placements and getting exposed to stories of horrific DV and abuse, the failings of the health system and people suffering as a consequence, just made my mental health progressively worse. At the beginning of year, I was although, an insecure person and still haunted a bit by my past, I still believed in myself, and believed in my future, but now it's all gone away. Despite studying pathologically hard, I sat my exams last week and (although a difficult exam for all) am honestly not sure if I passed and just feel even more like a failure. I don't think I should be doing medical school in this mindset.
It's just very hard to put in the steps to help myself when I feel so broken and unworthy. I look back on my life and it just makes me feel sad and I don't want things to be like this anymore.
Welcome back to the Forums, it is great to have you back. We are so sorry to hear of all of the really difficult experiences that you have been through. The ways you have been treated are not okay and can take a significant toll on our self-worth.
No matter what the outcomes are from these exams, you are not a failure. You are someone who has been through some incredibly difficult experiences and who is trying their best during a really tough time.
You are worthy of support. Blue Knot are an amazing organisation supporting people who have experienced complex trauma. They are available on 1300 657 380, every day between 9am-5pm (AEST). They also have some resources on their website which could be useful to visit, particularly the pages on Survivors Self Care.
Secondly, you can also talk to the lovely Beyond Blue counsellors about this at any time on 1300 22 4636, or via our webchat.
Once again, thank you for sharing here. We hope that you can find some comfort in our community 💙
I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through, first with your parents and then the relationship with sexual assault. You are most definitely not a failure and have done so well to get into medical school. I’ve heard how demanding medical school is for students generally, but with the trauma experiences In your past it would be so much harder again.
I have a complex trauma history which includes parents with out of control behaviours, a childhood that felt very unsafe and then had two sexual assaults in adulthood, so I really empathise and get it’s a huge struggle. I have called the Blue Knot Foundation several times and found them to be quite helpful. They really get trauma and work with you to attain a feeling of safety and stabilisation. They will talk for up to 40 minutes, sometimes 30 during busy times. They can be busy so there can be a bit of a wait but they have an option where they’ll call you back in 48 hours if you don’t want to wait on the phone. You can call them up to once a week. And of course there are other sources of phone support through Beyond Blue, Lifeline etc who you can call anytime.
I am wondering what other sources of support you might have? I know universities usually have counselling services which could always be a starting point. When I was at uni I went to the counselling service and was lucky to get a very good psychologist there. They only provided 6 sessions per year but at least it was free, and beyond that you could get a mental health care plan from your GP to get a Medicare rebate on sessions outside of uni. Those are just suggestions.
A few years ago I read a book by a medical doctor Joseph Tafur who became depressed in medical school when he didn’t previously have a history of depression. It was called The Fellowship of the River. He did finish medical school but explored other forms of healing along the way which helped him get through. He actually ended up training as a shaman in Peru! He still works as a medical doctor in the United States and is a leading researcher now in treating PTSD with psychedelics. I just thought of his book now as he found a way to get through medical school even though it initially brought on depression. I’m not suggesting you need to train as a shaman in Peru or go into psychedelics, I just thought the general themes of the book might offer some hope and inspiration.
Someone such as yourself who has experienced trauma would make a very compassionate doctor. I’m wondering if there’s a way to even take a year’s break and work on your own healing? Again, that’s only a suggestion as you will sense what’s best. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself and look at options that are self-nurturing, especially as med school can be so demanding. Take good care and know that you have done amazingly well to get where you are. Feel free to chat further if it helps.