Staying Calm

There are many things I have chosen to stay calm about in March, when my instincts were telling me to react more exothermically. To my mind, I judged myself for being ineffective, both due to not tackling each hurdle actively within hours and for not reacting with anxiety and annoyance. However, given time hurdles seem to find their own solution. Maybe, just maybe, I’m learning to take my own advice.

After saying for years I didn’t want to be a doctor anymore, I found myself present enough to question myself on this stance. My reason for wanting to distance myself from the only profession I’ve trained for lay mired in my false belief that those with illnesses could not be doctors.

Many doctors whom I had met, both involved in my care and those I knew socially, tried to change my perspective on this opinion. Some opined that as long as I’m managed well my health was no barrier, others felt I’d be a better more empathic doctor because I have had the full patient experience. However, I had it ingrained in me from an early age that doctors are expected to be superhuman. How could I be superhuman? Especially now that I have a few chronic illnesses in tow.

Self doubt is intrinsic in many of us and there are several different ways of handling this self doubt. Some like to rise above others, some like to wallow in self pity, others like to find reasons to justify why they are less than. Most do all of the above at different times. However, the most valuable point of learning, regarding self doubt, I had was finally discovering that this doubt was just one perspective. It wasn’t truth or reality but just one interpretation my mind made of the circumstances in which I’d found myself.

After making the decision that I really wasn’t done with my career in medicine yet, I went about problem solving my way back to returning to work. Forms, paperwork, checks, waiting, emailing, telephone conferencing, mentoring sessions all formed part of daily routine since January this year. Not to mention studying, self study, yoga, meditation, stress relief and finding ways to be sociable and creative.

The way I perceived delays, incorrect requests for information and the way around such dilemmas was in stark contrast to the way I reacted to hurdles, big or small, twenty years ago. Twenty years ago when I had no diagnosis of any illness, did not see a doctor for any ailments but desperately needed to, no one was questioning my medical fitness.

However, now that I’ve been investigated, assessed and am monitored more frequently than I feel is necessary, I am called upon to prove myself beyond the limits of what is rational. Fortunately for me rationality is still a major factor in key decision making.

Despite being in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am poised to complete requirements to return to work once the imminent threat of serious illness subsides. All I had to do was be diligent, patient and focus on my own self-care. Rather than lamenting my misfortune, judging myself, wishing I and my circumstances were different and blaming myself whilst abusing myself emotionally and resorting to self-destructive behaviour.

I reflect now and wonder how could I ever have been so nasty and negative to myself hoping for a positive outcome? Thankfully rationality is still a major factor in key decision making especially when I’m making choices for myself.

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