On the couch

September 24, 2008 rooroo

I’m a few weeks into my psychiatry placement and it has proved far more revealing than anticipated. I always knew that dealing with mental health issues would always bring back some memories of my own flirtation with depression (one less subject to revise, hurray!) but I feel like I’m on the cusp of stepping over the boundaries of professionalism.

I have always been able to do empathy, while keeping any sympathies to myself. However, on occassions in talking to depressed patients and hearing their own experiences and how closely they mirrored my own, I’ve noticed my eyes start to well up, and I find myself pulling out all the stops to avoid making it known that I might be starting to blub. Luckily I’m a medical student and for the most part I’m invisible so no one notices.

We had a patient come in to discuss his experiences of bipolar affective disorder and he described his depression as ‘the world being grey’. This was very close to my own perception at the time, although I’d say it was more like the world being misty, and that daily life was a compromise between accepting the wade through the mist, and the fight to get out of bed every morning when I felt there was a heavy weight bearing down on my chest.

I generally have no problems with the way my treatment was handled: meds (citalopram + propranolol) and CBT. My first few days of citalopram were interesting. A small wave of nausea passed over me, then 20 minutes of absolute euphoria – a couple of times I turned the radio on loudly and danced. My dreams were hugely vivid and I would sleep like I was experiencing sleep for the first time in my life. After a few weeks, getting out of bed no longer became an issue, I don’t think I even noticed it happening.

I do wish I had started exercising sooner. When I first presented to my GP, the depression was not mild enough to be treated with exercise, but I think I would have benefited greatly further down the line, especially when I was on the line between being well and relapsing (I had one relapse where my meds were increased – 2 weeks after that, I saw a different GP by chance who was very keen on knowing when I was going to stop and she thrust some leaflets in my direction. I take it she hadn’t paid close attention to my notes, I’d be more worried if she had). These days exercise works wonders on my mood, and the day I stop getting pleasure from it, something would be wrong.


Yesterday at the gym I saw a man spray his bench with Dettol wipe it down. I was shocked.

All the new freshers have started to have a look around. I don’t think the girls would take kindly to a sweaty yours truly dragging them to the freeweights room and evangelising on the benefits of resistance training.

Gubernatrix is back! *does dance*


Now that I’m in year 4, the NHS has started to throw large sums of money at me. I don’t have to pay them back either. This could prove rather dangerous, especially as I have taken the attitude that I should be rewarding myself with pleasure at least once a week (masturbation not included). For me, pleasure involves spending money, or gardening. I should probably buy an allotment.


Entry Filed under: gym, med school, musings, people watching and tagged:

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