Headspace

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My quest to quell my anxiety started towards the middle of my last semester as an undergraduate student, where I completed my entire senior thesis research project (from getting IRB approval to running subjects/collecting data to writing the drafts and finished paper) in the span of about 3 months. In addition, I was balancing my usual two jobs, two advanced biology courses and even the dreaded advanced organic chemistry. OH and I was in the process of applying to medical school, which if you have no experience with the system, you should know that each day without hearing back from a school is the worst day of your life.

You walk from class to class without realizing how you’ve gotten there. You jump out of your seat and your heart leaps away from your body every time the email notification on your phone goes off. The pain in your gut when someone in your class discusses their interview experiences with their friends will hit you like a stab wound, as your heart sinks into the what feels like the depths of Tartarus. You will find yourself calling schools in public places, rattling off your 9 digit AMCAS ID number like your home address without a care in the world for the people listening to your phone call. You dread logging into social media for fear of seeing another “medical school acceptance” post, and start visiting these sites with fewer and fewer frequency until one day, you’ve forgotten your password. Tears will stream down your face in a massive lecture, and you will brush them off with your left hand while continuing to take notes with your right hand.

In short, it is hell on Earth.

After my first medical school interview in September, I waited 16 weeks to hear back from that school. Allopathic medical schools cannot send students acceptances until October 15th, so I knew what I was getting into, but the prospect of an early medical school interview raised my confidence (even though I kept it secret from all of my friends, not wanting to draw attention to myself like other students in my classes. But, October 15th came and went, and my inbox stayed silent. When I found out that this particular school releases results on Thursdays, every day of the week leading up to Thursdays felt unlivable, and Thursdays themselves I often don’t remember on account of blacking out from the fear.

When the mental breakdowns, massive amounts of studying and thesis-writing, long hours at work, and general loneliness got too much to handle, I knew I had to stand up for myself and make some changes. I was tired of fearing email notifications and being afraid of running into classmates around campus because they would ask about my application season. I was tired of not feeling like I was in control, and that the “mistakes of my past” – i.e. getting Bs in pre-requisite coursework – would haunt me for years to come. Most of all, I was tired of not being able to sleep at night, and scared of having to miss sleep until a medical school acceptance that wouldn’t come for potentially years ahead.

This post is going to share the steps I took to reclaim my life back, and the tools I use to help me on my journey to recovery. I hope that by consolidating these resources and sharing them, I’ll be able to spread the recovery with my readers and other members of society (here’s looking at you, pre-meds!) that might need them. I’ve been getting a lot of private messages on Instagram, and am so thrilled to be able to serve as a friend/companion/coach/mentor to other students in my position. I’m always recommending these resources, and please know that I welcome all private message communications!

  1. Establishing a Morning Routine – Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Podcasts were the first things I turned to for guidance. I walked around a lot to my classes in college, and always seemed to have my headphones in to listen to music. After running through the same playlists and exhausting my musical taste, I turned to Podcasts for a more informative experience and to literally have a fresh voice inside my head. Fate brought me to The Tim Ferriss Show, and I credit him with everything – his podcasts inspired me to take the first steps to pull myself out of my fog. The title that sparked my interest the most was this podcast called “5 Morning Rituals That Help Win The Day”. The first of the five habits was to make your bed each morning, and have that be the first thing you do when you get up and out of bed. I never made my bed in the morning, and it was contradictory to my “clean freak” ideal. I couldn’t get myself to do it, and it would start a messy room deterioration process, often accompanying exam weeks. I told myself to give the idea a shot, and made my bed the next morning. And the next morning. And the morning after that. Four months later, and I’m still making my bed each morning as the first thing I do in the day. That’s progress, and recovery.
  2. Journaling – Also in the same podcast, Tim Ferriss describes journaling as part of his morning routine. In fact, loyal fans of his podcast created the journal he uses. It’s called The Five Minute Journal, and it works to start your day with optimism and end your day with gratitude. I haven’t bought the journal yet, but I created my own version in a spare notebook and tried it for a week. By forcing your mind to be grateful first thing in the morning and making time to feel happy about the day’s work before you go to bed, you start putting your successes and failures in perspective. You find that your failures aren’t even as big as they seem compared to having food on the table and a roof over your head. Some days, I couldn’t get myself to be grateful for any of my “accomplishments”, and I would just write “I’m thankful for having a loving, supportive family”, which would shock me into realizing just how lucky I am. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to break a spell of depression. Before I’d realize it, I’d call my mom before class just to talk to her, look up at a beautiful morning sky on my way to class, take a deep breath of fresh air, and just feel happy to be alive. Journaling, especially when gratitude is involved, has been a powerful tool to enact change.
  3. Mindfulness–  Another Tim Ferriss morning ritual technique that I decided to try was meditation, more specifically – mindfulness. After reading about the Stop, Breathe, Think app on a College Fashion blog that I occasionally peruse, I decided to check it out to see what all the hype about ‘Mindfulness’ was. This app offers several free guided meditations and also a daily check-in feature where you chronicle your feelings. I was skeptical initially, but all that changed when I tried the “Relax, Ground, and Clear” meditation during a particularly stressful study session for Organic Chemistry. I played the 6 minute audio on my phone, took a seat on my floor, closed my eyes, and followed along. The soothing female voice was incredibly relaxing, and I was able to take a journey inside my head to clear it out. I always imagine a tiny version of me spraying Windex and just wiping away all the dust and clutter inside of my brain when I’m meditating, and that helps me immensely. Immediately after that first mindfulness meditation, I felt incredible – I didn’t need to down another cup of coffee to study, but felt renewed and recharged all by myself just by breathing! This morning, I played the same “Relax, Ground, and Clear” meditation in the shower to help me work through a tension headache. The feeling of the guided meditation along with the ambient shower noise and perfect temperature was the absolute best way to start my day! I can’t believe I didn’t try it earlier! Other apps I’ve tried for mindfulness meditation include www.calm.com and Headspace. Headspace gives you a free 10 day mindfulness exercise, but I found the male Australian voice to be a little more distracting than anticipated! 😉
  4. Yoga – I’m currently on Day 13 of DoYouYoga’s 30 Day Challenge. I didn’t publicize it earlier because I was afraid that I would fall through and not be able to even make it to the second week, as many of my previous attempts had in the past. I figured out that the reason I was never able to finish a 30 day challenge like I wanted to was because I never scheduled the time in my day consistently. In my previous post, you’ll see that 3-3:30 pm is my daily yoga time. This came about because I set an alarm in my phone that rings every day at 3 pm reminding me to do my daily yoga for the day. Each video in this challenge is approximately 12-17 minutes long, and I knew I didn’t want to do Yoga right after eating. The 3:00 hour seemed like a great time to do Yoga to fight the afternoon slump and also not interfere with any of my eating habits (you know I take food very seriously). This challenge has been so fantastic for me! I already feel my downward dogs improving and I’m starting to get addicted to the habit! Yoga to me is the first step towards improving my physical health as well, and I even found myself going for lunchtime walks last week when the weather was nice! It started a great positive chain reaction, and I’m looking forward to completing this challenge and starting the Yoga With Adriene 30 Day Challenge afterwards!
  5. Other Resources
    1. Momentum Google Chrome Extension  – The beautiful pictures, gorgeous clock and name display, inspiring daily quote, and task list where you focus on completing one main goal have helped my productivity levels immensely.
    2. Coffitivity – This website provides you with a soundtrack of background noise, as in a coffee shop or public library. I find it helpful for long hours of studying when I’m by myself in a silent area and need to hear other people so I don’t go crazy! They have an app as well!
    3. Adult Coloring Books – After seeing all the pictures on Instagram and Pinterest, I caved and printed off a free Mandala coloring book page from Google and whipped out my trusty crayola colored pencils from a bucket my family has had since I’ve been in third grade. From the very moment the first pencil hit the paper, the scent alone brought me back to simpler times, and I was transfixed.
    4. Herbal Teas – High levels of caffeine and anxiety attacks don’t mix. Although I could never predict when my anxiety attacks were going to occur, I could always predict that I would have a coffee by my side whenever I was completing anything academic. This recipe for disaster
    5. Podcasts – I recently listened to the Ted Radio Hour podcast Headspace on one of my afternoon walks. It samples from different Ted Talks about mental illness and illuminates strategies of people surviving with the same diagnoses. I found it to be very inspirational. A new podcast I discovered this week is called The 5 AM Miracle with Jeff Sanders, which covers everything from productivity tips to fitness tips to overall happiness tips. I’m looking forward to listening to the programs! As usual, The Tim Ferriss Show podcasts brighten my day with the stories of struggle from celebrities, helping me realize that everyone starts SOMEWHERE on their recovery journeys. My favorite Tim Ferriss Show guests are Jamie Foxx, Shaun White, B.J. Novak, and Rainn Wilson (can you tell I love the Office?)
    6. Books – I will be doing a separate post about the books I have read and am currently reading to help with recovery, but never forget the healing power of the novel. My public library is actually the only place I visit regularly that is not my home, and I have read a total of 8 books since the beginning of 2016 (more than I read during four years of college combined). The “medical journey” books are some of the most inspiring that I’ve ever read, with the likes of Atul Gawande and Michael Collins. There are also incredible productivity books out there that I’m working my way through.

I hope that these strategies will be able to help you through any struggle – large or small. Remember that Recovery is, and always will be, a work in progress. In fact, after using the calm.com website before a stressful phone interview yesterday, I sufficiently calmed myself down with the guided meditation and repeating one of my favorite quotes for motivation (from that INCREDIBLE Jamie Foxx podcast with Tim Ferriss!) – “What is on the other side of fear? Nothing.”

The interview turned out to be so exhausting (for someone who hasn’t left the house in weeks and only has spoken to their family), I couldn’t focus on studying for the rest of this day. So, I downloaded the Mandala coloring book page, put on some episodes of House on Netflix, and sat to work writing this master post.

After this (and maybe some binge watching of Fuller House on Netflix!), I’m going back to work! Fully rejuvenated!

 

–A.

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Efficiency

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I wanted to think that the rudimentary study schedule I drew for myself was perfect. After all, I’m taking the exam in June and I have put everything in my life on hiatus for the event, which means that I should have endless amounts of free time to study and be on my way to a 528 (the perfect score on the exam which I don’t think anyone has ever scored yet). Yet, at the end of the day, my anxiety creeps up again and questions me repetitively with “Why do you feel like you haven’t done enough work today?” “SHUT IT, Anxiety,” I fight back – “I’m tired and I’m using my exhaustion as a gauge for how hard I worked today.”

“Oh yeah?” Anxiety quips back, “We’ll just see how prepared you feel when Test Day rolls around!”

After laughing at me, Anxiety has sufficiently completed the night’s round of self-torture.

Well, I decided to put my efficiency to the test today in order to see just how I was spending my time. I can’t take credit for this idea, however, as tons of self-help and productivity gurus have written/blogged about it before and I most recently came across it while watching the YouTube channel of med student couple Jane and Jady in this video. I took it a step further than Jady’s strategy of just tracking the amount of time he actually spent studying with the stopwatch feature on his phone. I decided to use an index card.

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Since my alarm went off at 7:15 am, (I was actually awake at about 6:50 am and just rolled around trying to find some last few minutes of solace – so I guess I cheated myself out of those extra 25 minutes of time!), I noted down the activities I completed and the times I started and ended the activity. It wasn’t as obtrusive as I thought it was going to be initially, as I didn’t want to pay for the convenience of the multitude of apps out there that allow you the same features with just the tap of your phone screen. I already carry around my phone with me all day, and the index card was pretty weightless.

After the day was finished, I added up all the time together and put it into categories in an Excel Spreadsheet.

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It turns out, I spent an embarrassing amount of time eating and taking food breaks, and not as long as I thought I did on study time! In my defense, the 101 minutes I spent on a Lunch break included cooking lunch for myself, doing dishes, and doing the laundry in my household (both my parents work and I help out around the house as much as I can now that I’m an adult who lives at home after graduating college.) Another embarrassing quip is that the 22 minutes I spent in the bathroom this morning included taking a shower!

Shockingly, I was able to see a pattern in my study time that I didn’t discover before – until a longer, uninterrupted study session before dinner today (106 minutes), I never noticed that I study in much shorter chunks of time that are approximately 30-40 minutes in length! Even when I was studying for the 106 minute long stretch, I found myself reaching for my phone while watching lecture videos and scrolling through Instagram and Buzzfeed! I also found myself letting Netflix episodes run in the background of my work, not really paying attention to them, like I wanted background conversation to help keep me focused.

So, although the total amount of time spent on MCAT work was 5.716 hours, that includes a 55 minute organizing session in the morning where I worked with the AAMC guides (see the first picture) and organized my flashcards. Today, I spent 4.8 hours of the day actually studying, which is only 36 minutes longer than I spent eating today.

With these lessons in mind, I designed a new schedule that would account for my mind’s wandering in study break form (obviously when we get closer to test day, I won’t be able to take as many little breaks as I want to, and will then be redesigning a study schedule – but remember that MCAT studying is a marathon, not a sprint!), my daily chores, and the fact that I HATE eating and studying at the same time.

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I’ll talk about my budding yoga time in another post soon, but this new schedule allows me to utilize the Pomodoro technique (think 50 minute chunks instead of 25 minute periods) while letting me spend my free time how I want to and still leaving me with spacious food breaks! The best part is, I can increase my efficiency studying by about 130%!

Obviously, life happens, and I don’t expect to stick to this schedule every day! I have lazy days, and off days, and am stuck in a fog on some days too. Weekends are particularly challenging for me, as my whole family is at home and I crave spending time with them! However, this experiment in Efficiency has really opened my eyes to how I actually spend my time as opposed to how I think I spend my time. Perhaps I’ll describe an entire weekend to see how I spend my “free time” there, but I think I’m going to need a bigger index card! 🙂

-A.

Fog

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This crazy weather my region of the US has been having is ridiculous – it’ll go from being a beautifully sunny day in the lower 40s to showering us with a 3 inch snowfall in the matter of one day (sometimes its the same day!) That weather is really reflective of where my head has been the last couple of days since my blog post about Off-Days. I feel like every day in this past week has been an off day for me. My fellow sufferers of Depression will be able to understand that sentiment.

“Depression is like trying to house-train a pet: just when you think you’ve made some progress, your new puppy has had an accident on the living room carpet and you’re left trying to pick up the pieces and bust out the carpet cleaner.”

–A.

In all honesty, I went through a bad week. I did a lot of reading, I even regularly did laundry and other chores just to get my mind out of the pit of darkness it currently was in. But, even though I was craving structure and progress, I vegged out completely and watched a lot of Netflix. I go through periods where I get stuck on a concept and will not budge from where I am mentally. In this case, I told myself I could not study for the MCAT if I didn’t finish The Office on Netflix. Let’s examine that statement for a moment, shall we. I stubbornly decided to sacrifice my education – the one thing in life that I believe can redeem myself and make my family proud, the one goal  I have set for myself in life, and the one aspect of myself I associate with truly being ME – in order to finish a pre-recorded TV series on a medium that will still exist one year (probably more) from now.

What’s wrong with me?

NOTHING. I am a human being, and I have to accept that and love myself. Recovery is a work in progress, ladies and gentlemen, and I keep making steps towards the road I’m on by questioning my actions. Soon, during one of my The Office Netflix binges, I came across this article by Buzzfeed. It helped me realize that what I was experiencing was not unique to me, that hundreds if not thousands of other members of society have it worse than I do. I was able to kind of snap back to my goal-oriented self for a moment. Soon afterwards, my loan check had arrived and I was able to register for the MCAT, after two months of anxiety that I would not be able to get a test date. I treated myself to my absolute favorite pens, the Pilot V5 Precise series, and set to work building a new, more forgiving schedule.

By questioning my decisions, I’m able to have a sort of therapist-like conversation with myself. Journaling has been essential in this progress, as forcing myself to outline the steps of why I want to do something (like mindlessly snack on junk food or re-watch old John Oliver videos on YouTube) allows me to get to the root of my urges. For instance, I questioned the reasons why I wanted to have a snack of oreos dipped in milk before bed and came to the conclusion that I wanted to reward myself after having a great day of healthy eating, completing chores to help my family, and studying yesterday. Although it got out of hand, and I ate more oreos than I planned on doing so, I determined that I won’t mindlessly eat out of the original oreo container and will portion two or three into a smaller bowl next time.

Likewise, I decided to build a schedule with even more flexibility than last time, breaking up physics chapters into three days and a designated review/break day at least once a week. I’m only human, but I’m working to make myself better every day. Signing up for MCAT question of the day emails also helped in this journey because I like to start my study sessions with these questions and also a CARS passage or two. A lot of MCAT question of the day emails are free, and the CARS passages from Khan Academy (along with their other godsend materials) are free as well. In addition, by setting a morning routine of reading theSkimm in bed, scrolling through Instagram (I was pleasantly delighted and incredibly humbled when I saw that my most recent post has gotten over 50 likes! THANK YOU SO MUCH IG COMMUNITY!!), showering + breakfast, and  then attempting my MCAT questions of the day to start my dedicated study time, I’m helping pull myself out of this fog.

Anyone suffering like I am, craving structure but afraid to make progress, feeling helpless and lost, and just looking to start the day right needs to listen to my favorite Podcast by productivity guru and best-selling author Tim Ferriss. His podcast, the Tim Ferriss show has helped me pull myself together, as he interviews prominent successful celebrities to find out about their rise to the top and the rituals they stick with to better themselves (the Jamie Foxx podcast episode is one of my favorite podcasts ever!). This episode in particular describes his own morning rituals, and really helped me. You can check him out on the free Podcast app in your iPhone or online!

Until we meet again,

–A.

 

Off-Days

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Last Saturday, late in the afternoon, I was meticulously working my way through my first chapter of physics review for my MCAT studying. Physics and General Chemistry are my worst subjects – I completely failed at all attempts to learn them while I was in college, and promptly ruined my GPA and mental sanity due to these mega “weed-out” courses at the large public institution I attended for undergrad. So, while studying for this last chance MCAT (#LCM?), I made a vow to not touch new material until I fully understood the material I was working on. That means regardless of the meticulously crafted schedule I had designed for myself with an exam date of April 23rd looming nearby, I was not going to proceed forward in my preparation until I could explain to myself what everything meant.

I had great luck with this strategy the previous night, as for the first time in my life, I was able to understand orbital chemistry in the first chapter of the Gen Chem review book. I almost cried for two reasons – out of sheer joy that I wasn’t skimming over the subjects of the review books I feared the most and subsequently scored the lowest on, but also that if I made this commitment earlier in my education, I would have saved myself a lot of time and spared the pain, potentially ending up with a higher GPA and not having to retake this exam. But, isn’t the whole point of my journey to recover what I have lost? I must be thankful for the opportunity to learn and relearn this material, because now I can master it and never look back come the relaxation of test day.

However, all small wins defeated when I opened up Chapter 1 of Physics and gasped pretty audibly. It covered everything from translational motion to rotational motion and even torque and equilibrium (the material takes up about 250 questions in the 1001 MCAT Physics Questions I owned – needless to say, it was way more than 1 chapter’s worth of information). It was going to take me way longer than the 4 hours I had allotted in my schedule to this chapter. So, I sat down and began to work…and work…and work. Soon, it was the next day, and I still hadn’t finished this chapter due to my overwhelming commitment to master the material before proceeding. However, I was making incredible progress with Khan Academy videos and equation-memorizing. But it kept wearing me down, and the last feeling I wanted to experience was pre-exam burnout, ESPECIALLY in this crunch time period.

So, I did what anyone who is facing exhaustion and feelings of being overwhelmed would do. I got up, went to the kitchen, and proceeding to eat my way to relaxation. The first thing in the pantry that caught my eye was a box of pancake mix, and before I knew it, I was mixing up some batter and tossing in some frozen blueberries from a package I reserved for morning smoothies.

As I ate and dived into my latest read, Gone Girl (potentially a book review to come?), I thought about the crazy schedule I had created for myself, and why I was rushing to complete it. I made the commitment to master material before moving on, and what scholar could master a course’s worth of material in just 4 hours?! Not someone with anxiety and depression that was working at the top of their skill set to maintain calmness, that’s for sure. And, why did I even decide on that test date – April 23rd? To apply to AMCAS right out of the gates on Day 1? That’s what I did this current application cycle, and what purpose did it serve? My new MCAT score was delayed in processing, and I didn’t receive interview invitations until December anyways. Plus, friends of mine who applied later in the cycle had gotten in to schools on a normal timeline anyways. Why should I place this crazy amount of pressure on myself only to regret my actions a few months down the line.

So I took an “off-day” – I sat and read for pleasure, I watched the Superbowl with my family (slay QUEEN BEY), and I wrote out some thoughts in my journal, all the while questioning my decision to cram for this exam. After much thought, and a day of rejuvenation, I came to the conclusion that I was going to postpone my MCAT exam until June because I really wanted the extra time to prepare material (I wasn’t going to squander time aimlessly and I also wasn’t going to drive myself insane) and I would have enough time to submit an AMCAS application in July and still had the chance to make it into medical school and complete secondaries before any potential post-bac programs started up.

This break was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far.

-A.

Zen

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For images of my musings, check out my Instagram account!

Note – this post is in no way sponsored by Tazo tea. I’m singing its praises regardless. 

I don’t know how it happened exactly, but somewhere along the road in high school, I fell in love with green tea. Not just any tea in particular, but that pinnacle of excellence known as Tazo Zen. It was that time where drinking Green Tea was the Kale and Green Smoothie of the health world. You know, where if you had even one kale salad or power green smoothie, you felt like you lost 20 pounds instantly? Even though I was barely 17 years old my senior year of high school, I decided that my skin could use the antioxidants and fountain of youth look and took the plunge. At first, while taste testing various green teas, I couldn’t stomach any of them. I’ve tried the real authentic green teas, and I cannot get over how bitter some of them taste! It’s like coffee, I assume, where you have to work to get used to the taste (but everyone else is in love with it and drinking coffee makes you cooler, right? Isn’t that how it works!?)

When I tried Tazo Zen, it all just clicked. The lemongrass provides the blend with just enough freshness for rejuvenation and the hint of spearmint cleanses your palate and opens your soul. I was hooked.

I cannot even begin to tell you how incredible I felt about myself when I’d show up to first period with a travel mug full of Tazo Zen. Not that I was drinking it to show off – I was usually at high school around 6:20 AM for meetings and organizations and I definitely needed the caffeine – but I did feel a little spring in my step for not turning to coffee like the majority of my classmates. When I started working in the hospital setting, my trusty mug of Tazo Zen saw me through morning admits and days full of surgery. It really boils down to the fact that I was always feeling at peace with myself and having great mental health days whenever I was drinking this tea. I felt in control, not overworked or exhausted, and was really looking forward to the day ahead of me. I wasn’t dreading work or class or even social interaction. I was…simply put…ZEN.

When things started to change in college, the Zen was quickly neglected for lattes and mochas and trendy blended coffee drinks that cost more than $5 for a grande. I was spiraling out of control, stressed by everything I had on my plate with school and volunteering and student jobs and toxic friends. I had no Zen in real life, and would face this battle for years to come. I’d break a caffeine addiction cycle, only to come crawling back begging for forgiveness and promising to never abandon again.

After moving back home post-graduation, I had the chance to do what I never had before done – actually break my caffeine addiction. It started slowly, coming off of probably the 2 hours of sleep I had during Finals Week and Graduation celebrations. Pretty soon, I’d forget to make a morning cup of coffee and would not even realize it. Then I found a box of my old staple, my best friend, my miracle drink Tazo Zen, and the rest was history.

Even after my medical school application cycle has sent me reeling into a tailspin, my Zen has kept me going through it all. My morning and afternoon cups have kept me going, and I look forward to staying committed to their cause throughout my MCAT studying.

-A.

 

Happy National Women Physicians Day

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Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first women to receive an M.D. degree from an American medical school. In the fourth grade, I dressed up as her and presented a report about her life to my fellow students on the prompt “My Hero”. Today is her birthday, and to honor her legacy, the Physicians Mom Group (PMG) has decided to celebrate by designating February 3rd as National Women Physicians day.

What better day to launch my blog and start my journey to recovery than on this inaugural holiday? 

Welcome to Recovery MD! I have decided to remain anonymous due to the raw nature of what this blog will be about. My stories, at the moment, are all details of shame, pain, and embarrassment. I have withdrawn from society, from my friends, and from all things happy (or so it feels like) because I have slipped back into Depression. Depression, a cruel partner to the pre-medical student lifestyle. An almost indispensable companion to the medical school application process. A painful memory that I am all too familiar with. In the last two years, I have taken the MCAT exam more than once (new and old due to my year in school), applied to medical school, have been rejected from several, interviewed and became waitlisted at 2, have gained 15 pounds (in danger of being pre-diabetic), lost all of my close friends, watched my face deteriorate to adult acne, earned a C in a basic science pre-med requisite, dealt with the death of a family member, and have lost all interest in the previous pleasures of my life.

However, also in the last two months, I have raised my GPA 0.2 points, have graduated from a major state university with a Bachelor of Science degree, served on the leadership board of one of my pre-med student clubs, made the Dean’s List , discovered a love of fitness (only to lose it time and time again), and recognized my chance for Recovery. RecoveryMD is my way of communicating with a friend, Happiness, through this rough patch. I have decided to retake the MCAT and look at my options for one-year academic programs. I might have to re-apply to medical school, and look at how to get funding for this endeavor. I’m tired of being beaten down repeatedly by life, and I don’t want to stand for it anymore. I am launching RecoveryMD to prove to myself that I can achieve my goals, and recover everything I once considered vital to my self-concept.

I’m made the start to Recovery by

  • Reading again – As a child, I adored reading books (I may or may not have an AIM username floating around with that characteristic about me!) to expand my world view. In high school, I consider my advanced English courses to be my favorite coursework (tied with biology of course!). However, I definitely lost the reading bug in college, and the downward spiral corresponds with a lack of literature in my life. I plan to start a Goodreads account in this blog’s name and share my reviews of the books I read.
  • Starting to Blog/Journal again – I blogged frequently and on multiple platforms during my collegiate career, always dreaming to start my own blog one day to share my life tips and successes with my readers. Although an anonymous endeavor is not really my style, like I said previously I have a lot to work on
  • Taking care of myself again – Yes I ate like trash in college and high school. I was a skinny child but ballooned during pre-puberty and puberty. According to my BMI, I am overweight, and am a pretty petite individual to begin with. I have Binge Eating Disorder (BED), and frequently binged after exams to reward myself, in times of stress to comfort myself, and in times of boredom because there was nothing to do. My binges controlled me, and it takes every part of me to not run to the kitchen and eat everything in sight, no matter how worthless or disgusting I feel. My goals of having healthy skin and a healthy weight are definitely probable, but are not going to transpire without me being inspired to work.
  • MCATing again – As a post-graduate student (not really student – I’m not enrolled in any courses at the moment) struggling financially, the only thing I can improve my reapplication to medical school that I can do right now is retake the MCAT. I’m still not happy about this, but logically it all makes sense. The MCAT is only associated with painful memories for me, and I will be writing more about this in the time to come for sure, but my old MCAT score of 507 is not going to cut it, and has not cut it already.

Join me on my road to Recovery, and I hope to one day be able to reveal myself from anonymity and be proud of who I am and how far I have come.

-A.

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