June 9, 2019 at 9:09 pm #298171
I imagine this is what it feels like to be thawed out of cryostasis after 5 years.
I am a 28-year-old, never employed. To make it simple, I graduated from medical school (a 6 year undergraduate program in my country of residence) upon which I succumbed to depression. I am now spending my 5th year unemployed.
The last five years have been a mix of therapy, sleeping, Internet surfing, and traveling — with some insights gained into my problems, but generally distracting myself from the problem of employment.
A recent job interview finally woke me up to how dire my situation was. I am overwhelmed by how much catching up I have ahead of me, and I feel so much regret for the wasted years spent avoiding life and isolating myself.
I have probably been depressed my whole life. From a young age I had severe social anxiety, body issues, self-esteem issues, conflict with family, and a dependent personality. The only thing going for me was my academic skills. I went on to medical school because it was the prestigious thing to do, without even considering if I was suited to the profession.
It turned out that one needs social skills in order to be useful in any career. My social anxiety caused many problems in clinical rotations and within the medical school community. I went to therapy, but it didn’t help much and I began to implode. The last straw was when I missed an opportunity to go to a clinical clerkship in the US. I had always wanted to work in the US, and a prerequisite of getting into a training position is to get prior clinical experience in the US. I was accepted to a program, but there were schedule clashes with my medical school curriculum and I was unable to go.
That broke me. (I realize now that my reaction was extreme.) I decided not to apply to residency without having any definite plans for the future. I cut off all contact with my medical school, my friends, and went into isolation.
I went to therapy and did resolve some issues regarding my past. I wonder if it needed to have taken me 5 years, but that is how it turned out for me.
I feel less depressed, but my social anxiety still remains. On top of that, I have built no real skills as an adult — no employment experience, no financial literacy, no networking skills. No money saved up, either.
I applied for a part-time job interview the other day, competing against candidates years younger than me. I did poorly in the interview, and it was a wake-up call for me. I now realize how far behind I am and how unmarketable I have become.
I am terrified of going back to the clinical environment, of 80-hour workweeks and being responsible for many patients’ care.
I am not qualified or have any real passion for anything else, either.
But more importantly, I fear no hospital will take me, with my unexplained 5 year gap.
I feel terribly lost, with so many things I need to catch up on.
Thank you for reading this far. I appreciate any insight on my situation.
LizJune 10, 2019 at 9:50 am #298289
“I am terrified of going back to the clinical environment, of 80-hour workweeks and being responsible for many patients’ care”-
– what if you use your extensive medical school education and training not to pursue a career as a medical doctor but to look into a career that is less stressful, less demanding, but where your education and training is useful and preferred. I don’t know what that may be. Maybe a professional consultation can help looking into possibilities.
Like you, I was also stuck in my twenties and later in regret for time lost, but I figured more recently that time lost is more of the rule than the exception in humans’ lives. We all waste so much time. I wasted my whole youth. It is sad but… it is reality. You are not alone.
Many of the people you studied with in medical school who now work as medical doctors may be unhappy at their jobs, overly stressed, looking for a different job, regretting their choice of medical school to begin with…. maybe they wasted their time and resources in relationships that failed or will fail, and so on.
My point is, you are not alone, not “hopelessly behind”.
Accept the loss and waste best you can, expect that there will be more, and do what you can to .. waste less as you move on.
I hope to read more from you.
anitaJune 10, 2019 at 2:26 pm #298343PeterParticipant
I am overwhelmed by how much catching up I have ahead of me, and I feel so much regret for the wasted years spent avoiding life and isolating myself.
When it come to careers (life in general). I am a firm believer that nothing we learn is ever wasted. Your experience with depression gives you invaluable perspective especially in a medical field.
I have met so many people that have gone to school of X only to end up with a career in Y. I’ve heard some say they wasted time X. Yet latter in hindsight the realization that it took going through X to get to Y. Its bitter sweet. In the game of life sure it might seem better to know with certainty exactly what must be done and where we want what we do will lead us. However, if were honest we don’t really want that. Beauty lies in the curves not the straight line, which does not exist in nature
If you ever take up ballroom dancing, when you first start you will find yourself always trying to catch up. Miss a step, miss a beat your impulse will be to move faster and catch up. Only it never works because that moment has passed. You can’t step in the same river twice. All that happens is that you stumble and lose connection with your partner.
Something magical happens when you let that go. Instead of trying to catch up you change perspective and realize that what every beat your on, what ever foot your on is the right beat and the right foot to get to the next beat and the next step. You move from trying to perform a dance pattern to dancing. Every ‘mistake’ leads to creative movement, perhaps a pause, a stretch, or a fall that recovered becomes then new move never seen before. (Most dance moves originate from “mistakes”.)
There is no time travel so the reality is that you can only move from the place you’re in – so the place you are in is the exact right place to move from. Accept that, embrace that, and the world opens its doors to you. Instead of working your way through life…. You get to Dance your way. Takes what shows up and dance. I have a feeling it will be amazing
June 10, 2019 at 7:48 pm #298363
- This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by Peter.
Thank you anita and Peter for your thoughtful responses and encouragement. They gave me a fresh perspective to look at things and I feel a little more hopeful.
“Many of the people you studied with in medical school..” — I agree that this would realistically be the case. I myself am not sure if I would have been better off had I gone ahead to residency. Looking at it this way did help me feel more at peace with my current situation.
“not to pursue a career as a medical doctor but to look into a career that is less stressful, less demanding” — This definitely sounds like a good idea. I believe that I would need some residency training to be competitive at these jobs, however. Maybe I can gather the courage to power through residency somehow in order to get a foothold at a non-clinical job.
“Accept the loss and waste best you can, expect that there will be more” — Acceptance seems to be a common theme. Some days it is easier and some days it is harder to accept things, and these words helped me toward a mindset of acceptance, at least for now. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words.
“Yet latter in hindsight the realization that it took going through X to get to Y. Its bitter sweet. ” — I thought about this sentence, and I hope for a future where I’ll be able to look back at my current period and understand where this fit into my life story. I feel that I have matured a little as a person in the years I spent out of work; maybe the years have made a difference in my life…
“Miss a step, miss a beat your impulse will be to move faster and catch up. Only it never works because that moment has passed.” — This is a really interesting analogy, and a very thought-provoking one. I guess life is not like school, where there are predetermined goals and you have to catch up to those goals if you fall behind. I have been stuck in that perspective for a long time, and thank you for reminding me of another way of looking at things.
“There is no time travel so the reality is that you can only move from the place you’re in” — I really think what I need to do is accept my situation. I got hung up on the past and that made me feel like nothing was worth changing since it was all ruined anyway. I’ll try to think of what I can actually change and focus on those.June 11, 2019 at 9:36 am #298469
You are welcome. I hope you post again in the coming days, weeks, however long, post about your next move regarding jobs/ career, how you are doing with accepting the waste or loss of time, and so on. I would like to read more from you and reply when you post.
anitaJune 13, 2019 at 2:40 am #298771KatParticipant
I wasted my whole 20s being depressed. Just quit a dead end job. Thing is, you still have your qualifications, one day you will catch up sso to speak. Just take things one day at a time. Start at the beginning, improve confidence.
June 13, 2019 at 5:35 am #298787
- This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by Kat.
@anita: Thank you for your kind reply. The interview has spurred me on to make some kind of change to my situation. Before the interview I had been very unfocused and lethargic, but now I feel driven to do something, whatever it might be.
The only thing I can really think of doing is to apply for a one-year internship next year. I’ve decided to study the medical curriculum again, with the goal of taking the USMLE Step 1 at the end of the year. I hope it will be a bonus in my internship interview, and bring me up to date on the medical knowledge I have been neglecting.
After that I feel less certain. I might go all-in and pursue a residency program in the US, which is a very costly and risky option but something that I have wanted for a long time. Or I might continue training in my home country.
I’ve been gathering study materials the last couple of days. Now that I have started studying, I find there is less room for thoughts about being behind and feeling hopeless. It’s still there in the back of my mind, such as “why didn’t I do this two years ago?” — but for now it seems to be more manageable.
@Kat: Thank you for your encouraging words. I feel like there are too many things I need to do, but I realize it’s counterproductive to expect too much of myself all at once. I’ll definitely keep your advice in my head and remind myself to take things one day at a time.June 13, 2019 at 6:08 am #298799
At this point you are planning to study the medical curriculum again, take the USMLE Step 1 test at the end of 2019 (I don’t know what that is, but make sure it is very likely to help you in the internship interview), and apply for a one year internship in 2020.
In 2021, you might pursue a residency program in the US, a costly and risky option (I heard/ read about how intensive and stressful those are, in the US) or continue training in your home country, training to be employable as a medical doctor, if I understand correctly.
“It’s still there in the back of my mind, such as ‘why didn’t I do this two years ago?'”- that voice telling you this is known as the “inner critic”, it’s job most often, unfortunately, is to rain on our parade, to stress us out, to keep poking at us with how we are wrong, and unqualified and can’t make it and should have and on and on and on.
If you learn to manage this voice, to lower its volume as you study and live your life now, you will be able to endure the stress of a residency program later on. You can make your life now a … stress management learning experience, building resilience to stress.
Many people get into a residency program feeling quite confident about their ability to succeed, but as they continue, they break under the pressure, the lack of sleep, irregular schedule, long hours and quit. If you learn now how to manage stress, you will be more qualified than many to enter residency later.
June 15, 2019 at 5:53 am #299275LaraParticipant
- This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by anita.
congratulations on getting to the point where you feel you can move on with life. How exciting!
I was depressed/anxious all through my university years, when I got out I hardly had any working experience, so I think I get it you when you write ” I am overwhelmed by how much catching up I have ahead of me, and I feel so much regret for the wasted years spent avoiding life and isolating myself.” I once said something similar to my theraphist, that I feel people are so far ahead of me. She said “Well then feel free to stand on the sideline, cheering them on while you wave them goodbye. And then go at your own pace.”I think thats a really useful attitude, because in the end thats all you can do.
You allready have a plan for studying to apply for the internship, which is great. Have you considered working on your social skills as well? I mean nothing big, but maybe volunteering somewhere occasionally to get into contact with people?
“why didn’t I do this two years ago?” because you weren’t ready back then and now you are.
“I feel like there are too many things I need to do, but I realize it’s counterproductive to expect too much of myself all at once.” I agree with Kat, small steps are very important. When I got out of depression I set small goals each day, putting them on a list and striking them off with a big marker when done, very satisfying for me.