Sunday, July 31, 2011

Medical School

I was supposed to go to medical school.  I was studying for the MCAT but my bipolar disorder was raging. My moods were up and down, and I couldn't concentrate well. I was struggling with the physics section and had a hard time sitting for an all day test. I was going to go to medical school because it was what other people thought I should do.  My heart wasn't in it. So I stopped the process and didn't apply to medical school.

That was about 6 years ago.  Now, I find myself wondering if I should have.  My moods are doing way better. I'm passionately interested in medicine. I love helping my mother-in-law with her diabetes and blood pressure. I love learning about medicine. I love self-medicating myself. I love going to the doctor with her.

I know it's never too late. However, I also know that I can't do the things that applying to medical school and going to medical school requires. When you apply to medical school, you have to apply to several, and then move to the city of the medical school you get into. And then for residency, you get matched to a specific teaching hospital, and you have to move again to that new city. And then there are the long hours of residency.

Unfortunately, having to move would make my bipolar disorder go crazy.  It's a big trigger for me. Also, just a day or two of a messed up sleep schedule can make me manic or put me in tears. I'm not mentally rugged enough for medical school or residency. And then there are the high student loan bills, and the uncertainty of the future of medicine in the United States, thanks to Obamacare and regulation.

So no medical school for me. I didn't even mention the cost of flying around for the medical school interviews.  Did I tell you that money problems also make me stress, which also makes my bipolar disorder worsen?

So if I am going to do something in medicine, it is going to be something else. That's OK.  There must be a reason for this bipolar craziness.  My weakness might turn into my strength. I'm meant to do something else. Maybe it's to be there for my Mother-in-law, for now.  And then something else.

By the way: I always find myself thinking about career changes when I'm on the manic side. I get all worked up.  I have to remember to wait before making any decisions and see what I think about it all in a month or two.


  1. Yeah, I know what you mean. I feel like my need to manage my stress levels has kept me from doing ... well, anything at all with my life. That, and my learning disabilities. I love science, but at a certain point they make you start to use math in science class, and that was it for me.

    I would love for there to be more practitioners who actually live with mental illness themselves. A lot of them don't understand the stakes from the patient's point of view. Add in Big Pharma and the insurance industry, and it's a miracle any of us get decent care.

    I also totally hear you on the issue of moving. It's a trigger for me too. If I were to do any more school, of any kind, ever, it would need to be local.

    Good luck with your professional quest!

  2. Yes, I've thought the same thing, it'd have to be local. I've thought of pharmacy school or occupational therapy school as alternatives to medical school, but not wanting to increase my student debt is holding me back, plus I like to work for myself. Then I get to schedule my own time. And if I'm having a bad day, I can take time off. I don't really know if I want to lead a full time away-from-home job.