Mental Well-being During Lockdown

I wish there was less negativity around lockdown. I am so happy at the moment. I have so much control over my life, and I feel so in touch with my inner self. I really want more people to feel this way. This feeling is truly addictive, and the moment we figure out ways to feel so, there is no turning back.

I’m going to get straight to the point and describe ways in which we can help improve our mental well-being during lockdown.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. I have been reading about having a gratitude journal for years, but I only started practicing it one month ago. Every morning, I spend 10-15 minutes writing about what I am grateful for. There is no better way to start my day and I am so happy to have finally got into the habit of doing so. (If you do not like writing, then voice note it to yourself and listen back to it at the end of the day!).

2. Learn to breathe. As a human beings we are terrible at breathing in a nourishing way. This only worsens our states of anxiety. I personally have been focusing on breathing more regularly throughout the day. Every time I feel my mind wonder, I try and focus it back on my breathing. It is making me realise that our breath is the only real thing at any moment in time. By taking control of our breathing we are claiming control over how we respond to the external situations.

3. Be present. Being sat at home is apparently ‘brain numbing’ and ‘boring’. I think the complete opposite. We can add value to every moment of our life if we are present. We need to focus on what is. We need to focus on the now. We may never get such an opportunity to spend again with our family. We need to relish it and use it to reconnect with our loved ones. We need to learn to be present in each of our endeavors big or small, throughout our day.

4. Learn to do things on your own. Workout alone. Dance alone. Cook alone. Clean alone. Sing alone. Enjoy your own company. Enjoy getting to know yourself. The reality is, not many of us know who we really are. Our understanding of ourself has unfortunately become what we think society thinks we are. This is the prime time to change that. When we get comfortable being alone, we are unstoppable.

5. Take a break from social media. This is potentially the hardest. Everyone is bored at home and using social media to entertain themselves (thanks Instagram and TikTok). It is just proving how much we are seeking for external validation to define our happiness. Such happiness is short-lived. This applies to any distractions we may have. We need to break free from this escapism culture and face our real self. Take a few days off, maybe a few weeks – I took a month off! I stripped away everything I thought I was, to find out I am just a human like anyone else.

I have said this before and I say it again. I honestly believe we have been blessed with lockdown. We have come to realise how much our excitement and joy has always relied on external factors/events, rather than from within. This is the time for us to make peace with our inner selves and just enjoy being, instead of complaining about everything that we could have been doing if lockdown was not in place.

Stay home. Stay safe. Learn about yourself.

One hard good-bye

So this weekend, after ages, I drank quite a bit of alcohol. I got drunk to an extent that I was vomiting and passed out. I can’t remember the last part of the night. All I remember next was waking up in my friend’s flat.

I honestly have not got that drunk in ages! I have actively been staying away from alcohol for some time. I drink small amounts when I go out for meals, but that is about it.

Honestly, this experience has been an eye-opener (no pun intended). I feel embarrassed, and that feeling of what could’ve happened when I was completely out of it, gives me anxiety. I’m getting mini-panics every time I think about what others would’ve thought about me. I know these thoughts of what others think do not define the person I am, but I cannot help it can I?

I just thought to write about my thoughts and feelings. In the past 2 days, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection about what I want out of life. Alcohol is not on that list anymore. Having fun with alcohol is definitely not a priority for me. I have realized that I have so much to achieve and accomplish, and alcohol is proving to be a hindrance to that. It is slowing me down. Most importantly, it is the biggest barrier to my current spiritual growth.

I am not against alcohol at all and I will definitely have a glass of wine socially with a meal. However, drinking to get drunk and have fun is definitely not me. I’ve been there, done that. I’m turning into a different person, and I’m proud of this self-reflection and awareness of my spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

No one told me it would be this hard

It is so difficult to focus on this present moment when I was programmed all my life to think about the: ‘what if’, ‘what next’, ‘how will it’.

I sat down to meditate today and I really struggled to hone in on the Now. I had a flood of thoughts about what I had to do next, and what I had to do tomorrow. I felt like I was physically fighting my way against thinking these thoughts which drained more of my energy.

Accept it. Don’t resist it. What I had learnt today is my thoughts do not define me. I cannot start judging myself for not being present. Actually thinking those thoughts was my present. The more I resisted, the more I hated myself for resisting. I just have to accept that that is what my mind is thinking of at this moment, be at peace with it and continue. I believe that slowly that will help to calm my mind down.

I can see that this journey to awareness and presence is going to be a long one, but I know I will get there eventually.

Behind this smile…

This smile holds so many secrets. Behind this smile, is endless days of exhaustion and tears; the number of days I have gone to sleep crying. I force myself to be a lot stronger than I actually am, for the fear that if I start to expose my tears, everyone/everything around me will crumble.

I always tell myself, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have any sort of emotion so long as we know how to process it safely and appropriately. Why do we judge ourselves so soon for any emotion we feel? Why are we so keen to label every emotion we experience? I can feel any emotion I want. After all, I am a human.

I just pray we are all kinder to each other. Judge less. Love more. Live more.

Is it worth it?

I do not think my anxiety has ever been so bad. I’m currently on a FY2 rotation that is reminding me of how ego-centric some individuals in this healthcare world can be.

I can’t remember the last time I actually breathed properly. My breaths are so shallow and I constantly have a sinking feeling in my chest. I get stressed every time my name is mentioned in conversation. I am 5 days late on my period, which is freaking me out big-time. My skin is exploding with spots, even with clean-eating and skin care, which has never happened before.

I came into this profession in the hope of interacting with humans, and using the knowledge I have gained to help people. Instead, I constantly feel on edge that I’ve made a mistake. I am constantly judged by my seniors for what I do and don’t do. I was always seen as the most helpful individual; now I feel like I have shuffled to the bottom of the pile. I feel like I am a day 1 medical student, not getting the recognition I deserve for the hard work I am putting in.

I don’t complain that easily and I have a very high threshold to bullsh*t. For me to come to a breaking point where I can’t take this anymore, just shows me so much more that this particular specialty and its staff are not my kind of people.

I would like to believe that I am good human being who wants the best for her patients. I know I am safe doctor. However, I am being questioned left, right and centre for every single decision I take.

Enough of the stress. I am grateful for some of the lovely individuals I have met on this rotation who are genuinely the sweetest. I do not want the negativity of others impact my overall experience of this rotation, however difficult this may be.

Ever since the day I made the decision to be a doctor, as a child, I knew I wanted to be a GP. I was in denial all through medical school because of the stigma associated with being a GP. Those who decide to be GPs are deemed as lazy, not knowledgable and just generally boring. I, on the other hand, think GPs are one of the nicest group of humans you will find, who are so in touch with humanity and life, and they are so damn smart! They have a life outside of medicine which they are equally proud of, and that’s what I want. I strongly believe hospital medicine is the tip of the iceberg. All the hard work, to prevent the population from attending hospitals in the first place, takes place in the community by GPs and other community healthcare practitioners. Isn’t it something like 80 to 90% health consultants happen in the community? So for all those ‘stuck-up’ hospital practitioners (which isn’t everyone by the way, but there are few who think they are above all), it’s about time you stopped dumbing down community health-care.

I cannot wait for November! I will be so focused on my GP applications. And then from December onwards, I will be starting my GP rotation, which I genuinely cannot wait for.

Good things are coming Praveena. So for now, just be patient and remember to BREATHE. All the pain you are experiencing now is for you to appreciate the amazing-ness that is yet to come!

Situational Judgement – Do not trust too soon

So I haven’t blogged in a while.

I had a few incidences happen which has led me back to writing this time round.

For those of you who are new to my blog, my name is Praveena. I turned 26 last Friday. I am currently an FY2 junior doctor, working on my Trauma and Orthopaedic rotation. In addition to doctoring, I am also a dancer. I have put some emphasis on my career in Medicine just now because what I am going to describe is to do with my job.

For over the past year, I have been a very hard working individual. I am may not be the most knowledgeable at all times, but I work hard and smart to ensure everything is done for each patient, ensuring patient safety is of utmost importance always. Not once has anyone said I am anything less than hardworking, motivated and enthusiastic. In fact I know this for myself.

Last week I was on my night shifts. There was a trauma call so I was in A&E Resus with my Registrar. After a while, my Registrar told me to go back to wards and complete any outstanding jobs left there, and that he will stay on A&E and sort anything else out. I asked him whether he was sure, he said ‘yes of course.’ Therefore I came back to the wards and made a start on outstanding jobs.

My shift finished, I was off for the weekend. Today, I was meant to go in for work, however I was taken ill so I had to take a sick day. I caught up with my work colleague after she had finished work. We were just talking about the job and how it is going when she dropped into the conversation that the Registrar I was working with on my night shift last week, was complaining about apparently how I lazy I was, and that he had to do all the work in A&E and that I wasn’t there to help him out. This took me by a massive surprise because he was the one who told me to go back to the wards.

At the time my colleague disclosed this to me, I was fairly fine. Now, however, the more I think about it the more upset I am getting. Why? Because I am so hard-working, and I know it. I’ve worked really hard all my life and build a very good working reputation. It breaks my heart to think that one false accusation can really destroy it.

I have made a choice to be nice to everyone. I have made a choice to bite my teeth through any hardship. However, there is a very fine line. I am not here to be trampled on, and I am not here to stand and listen to people talk lies about me. I do not accept people use their authority to throw whatever garbage that comes out of their mouth at me.

I do not think of this as a failure. It is a lesson. It is a lesson for me to be more alert and aware of others. It’s not my job to please others. My loyalty lies with my job and my patients; not with the seniors who look down on their juniors. I will continue to be the lovely and grounded human that I am, because that is the best version of me. Sadly, however, I am also forced to be on high alert of anyone who is quick to judge me. If I hear anything of the sort again, I will have a low-threshold to approach them and address this issue with them directly, or even better, escalate it to my supervisors.

No junior doctor should be made to feel like they are peasants ever; sad truth is, there is a small group of Registrars who treat us juniors this way, and it is not on.

Just had these thoughts on my mind, and I was crying about it all evening. Wanted to just write about and and let out my anger, frustration and sadness.

Looking forward to work tomorrow.

Period.

It’s so interesting that I come from a cultural group that celebrates a woman starting her period, through a ‘puberty ceremony’. Men and women in the girl’s family come together for this celebration, with no form of shyness, embarrassment or awkwardness.

Nonetheless, why is it that the generation in our culture which so religiously celebrates starting a menstrual period, then feels shy and embarrassed to talk about it after. There are many men, especially in my parents generation, who feel awkward and shy to talk about it, yet spend ounces of money on a puberty ceremony which serves no purpose whatsoever than to show off one’s financial status (especially in this modern-western civilization). How many of those fathers, brothers and uncles then openly talk to their daughters about her once monthly period? I have not yet seen it.

Did you know that in Tamil, the most civilized way to say that I’m on my period is this: ‘sugam illai’ which directly translates as ‘I’m not well’. Are you joking me?! Being on my menstrual period does not mean ‘I am not well’. The woman’s body goes through this process naturally. Why is it then so stigmatized/medicalised?

I am fully aware that we cannot change the ideals, values or behaviours of those in the generation above me, in my tamil community…sadly it is too late. I just hope both men and women alike can openly talk about a period in my generation and the generations to come. We need to socially and culturally normalize a normal biological function, rather than masking it in all our non-sense values. Period.

My understanding of the pain-body

I read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and I learnt something very interesting which Tolle introduced, called the pain-body.

From the moment we are born, we are being shaped by every experience, everything and everyone around us. These influences can be positive or negative. Those that make us feel a negative emotion feed into our so-called ‘pain-body’. This pain-body is an umbrella term to describe our negativity or darkness. During the course of our life, certain events/moments can trigger this pain-body of ours to resurface in the form of anger, hatred, bitterness, depression, anxiety. We need to become aware of this. The mere process of becoming aware that these emotions are not our conscious being, but the unconscious pain-body taking over, is the first step to stop ourselves from identifying with it.

I can envision the pain-body as being something negative. There are some individuals who carry a negative aura around them. I can now say that it is not their conscious self that is negative, but their pain-body which they carry with them as a dark cloud. The pain body is something which can easily be triggered. I have my own pain-body which comes to light every time someone or something triggers an insecurity in me. My negative response to that is my pain-body. It is not my conscious self. To be conscious is to be aware of this pain-body. It will crop up time and time again; every time it does, I need to become aware that it is my pain-body. This way I can stop identifying myself with it.

I’m so proud of you Amma

Today you are starting a new chapter. A job. Yes after 19 years of not working, you have decided to enter the world of employment again.

I’m so proud of you, for standing up for yourself and your freedom.

You inspire me always.

This is just the beginning and it is never too late to start anything. You are a prime example of that.

Nothing is as sad as superficiality

Positive vibes. Spirituality. Positivity.

These terms have been become so overused and meaningless in the past few years.

I merely see them as fancy hashtags for Instagram posts. The recent trend.

Don’t get me wrong, I was following this trend as well. However since the beginning of this year, I started to go through a whole mental, emotional and spiritual change. My whole way of thinking began to evolve. I can feel that I am vibrating on a whole new frequency. This shift is scaring the hell out of me, but the more I become aware of it and talk about it, the more I am accepting and embracing this new me.

I just feel like so many individuals are living a life for a very superficial and monetary purpose. Money. Status. Please others. Please self on a superficial level. There is deeper sense of being, which I strongly believe in. We are born for a higher purpose. This higher purpose is short of being easy. On my route to finding my higher purpose, to serve others, I have been becoming more and more aware of myself. This awareness is scary as hell. You start to realise that there is a lot more to our creation.

What we are currently experiencing is a mere illusion. It takes a lot of courage to delve deep and figure out where we sit in this world. What purpose we are going to serve to make this place a better place…because guess what, that is what this messed up world needs more of. Humans who have built a life to serve others and help create a better generation of humans for the centuries to come.