Depression / Medicine / My walk with God / University

On enduring

“Let us [sail] with endurance…” (Heb 12:1)

This verse from Hebrews has been the motto for my blog right from the very beginning. This past year, the enduring part has become very real for me.

I have been hanging on desperately, fingernails scratching into the edge of the metaphorical cliff, and trying very hard not to look down as bits of earth and pebbles tumble down past me.

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I stopped writing.

I stopped participating. I struggled to sleep. I struggled to get up in the mornings. I stopped talking to people. I started skipping class. I stopped studying. I pretty much opted out of my life towards the end of the year. I was simply going through the motions.

I even considered suicide.

When I look back on 2012, I can see the fog of depression as it invaded and permeated my life.

In the beginning I was in denial about exactly how serious my problem was. I could see my university marks slipping, and how I was becoming increasingly more hysterical before each test. But I told myself that I was fine, and I carried on.

I struggled with surgery block. I started skipping some of the more boring lectures. I struggled to study. My head felt like it was stuffed with cardboard. For the first time ever, I did not promote a block. I passed the exam by the skin of my teeth.

The exam reduced my June holiday time down to a few days. I went back to university already tired. Exhausted even.

I freaked out before the first test of the new block. I pulled an all nighter and then crashed afterwards. I barely passed the test and hoped vainly that the block test would be better. I stuggled to participate in practical activities and started skipping the two days of lectures that we had per week. There were moments during our hospital work that reminded me of who I was and why I was still doing this, but those moments were few and far between.

I pretended I was fine. Put on a smiling face while inside I was hiding from the world.

I was tired. Discouraged. Exhausted.

It felt like God wasn’t there. Like my prayers were just drifting up into the sky and evaporating like mist under the scorching sun.

I started avoiding church despite knowing that I really should not be avoiding church.

I failed the block test.

And then the exam.

I started preparing for my first ever supplementary exam experience.

Suddenly I was forced to face myself again. I was forced to deal with things I had been burying. My feelings of shame. Of inadequacy. Of anger at God. Of fear. Strangely enough, it was comforting. God was not absent. I could see His hand at work in my life again. Yes, I didn’t like it, but even this was preferable to feeling abandoned.

I wrote the supplementary exam.

It actually felt like an anti-climax when I finally received word that I had passed the supplementary exam. Yes, there was the feeling of utter relief. Finally I could close the chapter on a year that had been so very very hard. But in a sense, I felt that the supplementary wasn’t really about passing or failing for me. It was about coming back to God. It was about slowly slowly being lifted off the edge of that cliff that I had been hanging on for such a long time. It was about seeing His hand directing me forward.

I still feel like I am lying right on the edge of that cliff. As if with one wrong step I could so easily go plunging off the edge again and so I am clinging to His hand to keep me from falling. Holding on tightly to Him I am moving one step at a time, one day at a time away from the edge. Sometimes I slip backwards. Sometimes I look forwards and the way seems to be all uphill, and it just seems so insurmountable and I am so afraid.

I keep reminding myself that He is there. And I cling tightly to Jesus who endured the cross for me, and who is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 thoughts on “On enduring

  1. But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
    When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
    For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour
    ISAIAH 43:1-3

    From one traveller to another. Truly, the waters will not overwhelm you, the fire will not burn you.

  2. I wish I’d checked your blog more often… It’s really courageous of you to share this. Med school can indeed be very overwhelming, there is so much to cram into your head and especially in the block system, you never get the time to ‘recover’ from the previous test or you’ll be late for the next test, leading to more stress etc… I wonder who invented that horrible system (They like it in the Netherlands as well) – it’s a way to ensure people burn out. I can totally imagine that you almost gave up. It’s great that you found your way back! I’m glad that you experience God is with you in this.

    I hope you are feeling better now. Clinical internships can also be rather challenging mentally as there is so much to do and the day is never finished… And like other commenters said, please don’t be afraid to ask for professional help if you need it! Depression can be a real disease – but I’m sure you know that already :).

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