It came as a shock. It really did. A bolt out of the blue.
The thing is, I’d never had any issues before. Sounds ridiculous now, I know, but to be honest, up to that point I never really struggled with anything. Quite the opposite in fact. I’d sailed through school and my A Levels. Captain of the rugby team. Deputy Head Boy – the lot. It looked like everything was going great for me and I’d every reason think it would continue that way. My first year was fine. Yeah, it was demanding, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I’m very competitive and it suited me. It was only when I started second year that things changed. For the first time I felt the pressure. I put it on myself and piled it on. I didn’t want to just keep up, I wanted to be ahead – always be the winner, you know?
I got more and more anxious and it all just spiralled. I burned out
Pressure’s part of medicine, of course – I always knew that. But this was different. I got more and more anxious and it all just spiralled. I burned out. I couldn’t work, couldn’t focus. Couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing all the time. Sport had always been a brilliant release for me – training a couple of days a week, match on Saturday. That was a routine, a structure. And it was a social thing as much as a competitive thing. But when that stopped too because of Covid, I lost that support that provided. And all the time I was trying to keep the mask up so no-one would know, but inside I was falling apart. Ultimately I had a breakdown.
But I just couldn’t go on like that any longer. I needed help
I kept things from people as well – my family and friends. I got this weird notion in my head, I didn’t want them to see me as having failed or something, not been good enough, you know? But it got to the point where I just couldn’t go on like that any longer. I needed help, and I asked for it. I had to. And that was a relief in itself. I started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with a counsellor and it’s been good. I’ve learned techniques for dealing with stress, and I’m able to spot the triggers sooner. That helps. It’s a journey, a process, I’m under no illusions about that. But yeah, I feel OK, and able to cope with life again. The cloud’s been lifted. And that’s real progress.
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