This is my first blog post in a very long while. The year is now 2011. So much has come to pass I do not know where to begin. I feel like I have gone full circle - having lived through and experienced the two major paradigms of humanity - that of religionism (highschool years) and hedonism (university years).
The past four years have really opened my eyes and made me far more mature of mind. Just as I had almost been consumed by zealous, bigoted religionism in my middle highschool (form 3/year 9) days; I had almost been consumed by freewheeling hedonism in Melbourne.
There was once a time when bigoted ideals nearly distracted me from academia. This time around, hedonistic/social pursuits meant that I never opened a book throughout the entire fourth year of Medicine. Yes, hanging out with people eats time like no other. My placement in psychiatry (the last of four rotations) ended five days before the final exams and that was when I started revising. In the end I had to sit for supplementary papers as although I had passed, my results were too borderline for the faculty to say they were not caused by random chance. By some miracle, I passed, and I am very thankful for that.
Social deprevation I faced when I was anorexic a few months back made me realize that I need to put some serious mental effort into engaging other people more - but until I could find the inner motivation to do so, that will not happen. Having a good diet, enough sleep and exercise helps with this regard and makes me more outgoing and engaging. Hence, I will have to focus on these core issues if my plan to improve my social wellbeing were to succeed. - 2nd Oct 2008, Be A Man.
Psychiatry, my last rotation, gave me very valuable insight into my own mental health. I now have good reason to believe that for much of my years in Melbourne (2007-2009), I was suffering from major depression. I had difficulty sleeping, trouble keeping food down (anorexia to 45kg), lost interest in many things such as badminton and socializing, felt hopeless (at times I wondered what's the point of studying medicine!), felt terribly lethargic (often not coming out of my room on weekends...at all!). Ok I never contemplated suicide, but still... I had just about all the criteria for major depression. The anorexia that I have blogged about quite abit was just the tip of the iceberg. Reading past blog posts, I realize that I had discovered mental first aid on my own - Exercise, Sleep, Friends (Socializing), and Nutrition [See Be A Man]. It started as an attempt to combat anorexia, but turned out to be so much more. I've learnt the hard way how even with all the material support in the world, one could be very very unhappy; for the human body, mind and soul are all connected.
Do I regret 2010? Not at all. 2010 was one of the best years of my life. It all started innocently enough, with my hospital placements taking up alot of my time on weekdays. Nights and weekends were spent socializing - something I had neglected throughout much of my university life. At the expense of doing well at university, I had gained something priceless and intangible: friends. Now I can think of a quite a number of people I would not hesitate to call if I broke a leg (my definition of a real friend).
Even more importantly than that (mind the hyperbole), extremely ingrained pessimistic thoughts have started to come apart. It's hard to explain but I'll try with an analogy. Let's say a neighbour from my block in the Halls (i dont know very well) called and asks for a lift back from the train station at night when there were no buses. In 2007 my response would have been a flat out "sorry, please take a taxi". I would be thinking that people would start "using me" for my car etc etc. I would fear people would get reliant on me, and think of the time needed to fetch them. In 2010 my response would be "yeah sure thing dude.". I would think of having a break from being holed up in my room. I would look forward to having a nice chat in the car. It's a very different outlook on life that words simply cannot express. Many fears ended up being complete bullshit; and using the analogy above, people never really become reliant on you no matter how often you give them a ride - it's embarassing to do so in the first place and it somehow it just doesnt happen. Quite the contrary, people are grateful and the social karma gained is priceless.
The 14th of August 2010 was a very special day. Lake. Stars. Night. Ducks(!). The scent of sweet corn. Cold. Warmth. Chemicals colliding, sparks flying. At the time I would have never guessed that it was the start of something so very beautiful. Unrestricted. Natural in it's progression. Free to blossom in the liberty of the free world!
What happened as 2010 drew to a close finally put an end to an era of depression. It was only towards the end of 2010 that I started to truly overcome the negative dark thoughts that had clouded my thoughts and actions.
2011 marks a new chapter in my life. New challenges arise. Challenges from the world around me. Not personal issues. I am really looking forward to this year. It's going to be amazing. My life has come together...and for the first time in recent memory I can say:
I am happy. I feel content.