Is it seasonal affective disorder with the slate gray skies permeating my bones with feelings of nostalgia, heartache for the unknown, and a strong desire to hibernate? Or is it an overall funk related to my mid-residency crisis, the untimely fear accompanying my inability to nail down a concrete answer for what I want to do with my life. Or is it just the natural ebb and flow of moods, like the tides pulled by the moon, my heart heaved and hoed between content and discontent. Whatever the cause, it leaves me only with a sense of guilt. Guilt for my lack of gratitude, self-reproach for my sudden lack of drive, and shame regarding my ability to pull others down with me, like an anchor threw the depths of an emotional ocean. It is painful, for myself and for those I love. I know how it feels to be on the other side, I’ve been there an unfortunate number of times when witnessing a loved one battle bouts of depression. And it is miserable for all involved. I’m not equating my random temper to depression, as that is unfair. I suffer no more than a mere wisp of the dissatisfied. Regardless, my frustration brews from this what-have-you stealing more time and energy in an already limited realm, a time when I already feel cramped and claustrophobic in a schedule of finite and minimal time for self and self-care. Writing that sentence alone induces guilt, since I’m on a relatively easy rotation of outpatient medicine and should have all of the free time in the world compared to our usual schedules. It feels like an unending cycle, swirling back between discontent and guilt, round and round.
I’ve noticed that despite this disgruntlement, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m actually processing emotions, reflecting on my thoughts and experiences, and writing. I wrote passages in my journal just to ramble, with no specific agenda. As I flipped through the past pages, flashes of residency and medical school formed an old slide show of sorts, as memories populated my head through old quotes from favorite novels. Yet, as I reread my journal, it was just that: all quotes. I hadn’t written anything from my heart or anything to process feelings since about third year of medical school. And for someone who uses writing as a form of therapy and nearly the only way to truly process my emotions, it was mind-boggling. It’s no wonder I’ve felt suffocated by amorphous thoughts that seem to swirl around in my brain, just out of arm’s reach. It’s not that I need a concrete answer for why this melancholy exists, but more of an exercise in delving into my sensibilities, addressing my thoughts and emotions instead of compartmentalizing, and acknowledging them for what they are: instinctual responses to everyday life outside the bounds of reason.
So, since I’m a perpetual problem solver, I can’t just leave these musings for what they are: introspection. I tend to find some kind of answer for what I think might resolve this issue, which is in itself a quandary. But today, today I gave myself a pass, I said no to certain responsibilities to allow time for self-reflection, something I needed dearly. And this pondering serves as a form of meditation. As I type away, I feel myself getting lighter, as if the weight of my emotions took flight once I granted them acceptance.