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Medical students and this web page

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Maybe I am the only med student in the world who has posted on this site. But maybe I am not. As a medical student it is sometimes hard to talk about how you feel cos ur scared of wrecking your career etc. So I started this thread thinking it could be a place for people to share thier stories. Maybe one of the admin could make it a "sticky?" Cos a lot of medics feel they have no support if they feel down - if they do access support or are diagnosed with depression they will have to state it when they apply for a job and there s a LOT of perceived stigma against feeling this way...even psychiatrists are treated as second class doctors cos the medical proffesion doesnt really see mental illnesses as proper illnesses.


Staff Alumni
the great thing about this forum is anyone can join and they dont have to give every detail of their life to us, some people say theyre in college or what job they do but no one here is going to guess your the guy they saw in the street last week, and when you go for a job interview i doubt theyre going to ask if you ever signed up to a web forum

youre free to sign up and tell us about yourself, give as little or as much detail as you like, tell us what youre studying is getting you down or just that work is stressful, we're not going to tell on you just because youre a med student, everybody has it rough from time to time, if you need support we're here for you :smile: :hug:


well thats precisely my point. I did have a rough time and I did post. I am ok now, but I couldnt ask for help like other people can (or I felt I couldnt at least) so I had to sort things out by myself. I was on the verge of taking my life, but I was unable to actually swallow the pills even though I d been planning for ages, had all the notes written to all my family and friends to give them closure (it had taken years of planning. I even put on my nicest clothes and straightened my hair so that I d look nice when I was found - so I was ready but I couldnt do it...then I read this quote: anyone desperate enough for suicide should be desperate enough to go to creative extremes to solve their problems: elope at midnight, stow away on a boat to New Zealand - do all the things they have dreamed of but never tried." That gave me the motivation to sort my life out. But I started this thread cos there are issues which are unique to medics so if anyone else wants to post.


SF Supporter
I think it's totally idiotic that the medical establishments treat mental health problems secondary to physical. We can live without a leg or a kidney but we can't live without a brain (at least not to my knowledge).
You bring up a really good point about medical students though. How can you get help without jeopardising your career or the attitude of the establishment? Well, every single person I have talked to that has come through depression is more compassionate, more understanding and much stronger in mind than they were, and if that doesnt make a good foundation for a doctor, what does?
I think this is a subject that needs to be advertised more to medical students and doctors/consultants etc so that they get to hear about places like this. They're human beings like everyone else and especially with the young age of medical training and the pressure of peers and the consequences of messing up a job, I can imagine it would be an amazing struggle to cope half the time.


I echo h2osmack. I'm glad you've raised this here Unregistered. It does sound unbearable.


Exactly. We have had lectures but you know they are talking rubbish - they say - please come and talk to us, it wont jepordise ur career, but whatever u say is written down when you do seek help, and goes on your records. We have a personal tutor system you see, but its a joke. You meet your tutor once a year so you hardly feel like confiding a serious issue to them, and if you did, itd go in writting and WILL affect F2P (from experience of qualified doctors.) I went to see my tutor, but ended up saying "I am just slightly stressed with work" when the truth was, I was SO behind with work cos I spent a large proportion of this term planning suicide, however, found even when I had all the notes written out to give ppl closure and had my room tidy and was wearing the clothes I wanted to be found in and had done thorough reasearch to ensure the method would work from textbooks, I couldnt actually do it...so I realised I had to sort my life out, but I was alone. And I cant get a mitigation cos if I say "well work seemed unimportant cos I was considering much more significant issues of life and death..." I ll end up losing my career. I am ok now and I feel this experience had made me a LOT less judgemental (I acted so weird this term, but who acts "normal" when they are preoccupied with deciding whether to live or die, its a pretty imp decision! So I can hardly judge any patients I meet, I now see why people do random or wrong things when they are down( I stole an expensive bottle of vodka from my flatmate and drank it (but whats money worth when u intend to die) etc etc) and I feel its given me a much better understanding of human nature - I tried to get "attention" sort of, I knew it was wrong but when ur the one in pain, it is sometimes SO hard to ask for help, guess I will understand why patients self harm etc (ok I used a compass but then I have a VERY low pain threshold and it was partially for attention...people look down on patients who seek attention, I never will, they are just people who find it hard to communicate pain.)


SF Supporter
This is great stuff, and bad. It's bad that you have to have gone through it but now you can see why other people do this and your in the right profession to deal with cases like this. This is what I was talking about being stronger. How is your medical training going now?
Your right about people who are suicidal, they definitly do not think like they normally would. Most people who try to kill themselves will also be experiencing varying levels of depression and that being a disease can also affect judgement and things. I think maybe a good idea would be to have some sort of student forum or area run by students in the medical profession who will talk to people with problems. Going to people you hardly see and having them write everything down about you is just not comfortable, anyone can see that. But going to other students almost unofficially and in confidence like you would a doctor, who have also probably had similar problems and still remember them, will disregard this stigma about depression and will probably be considerate and help people out without making them think they're gonna lose their career. Maybe a site similar to this that you could advertise in the staff rooms in hospitals and things. Only who would run the thing?


Maybe once I pass these exams (God knows how thats gonna happen, but I am thinking positive cos its the only way I expect to make it!) I will think about it. I am intercalating in history of med (I have no interest in the sublect, I am doing it purely cos its the easy option and I need a year to sort my life out properly...) but after that I might think about setting something up - on the web or something, specifically for med students. There is nightline but I mean a forum or something. Where people can share probs and feel they are not on their own.


h20smack, are you a med student? Maybe you could help me? No pressure, but just an idea, if you want to.
(only I think we shouldnt give it a name like "suicideforum" cos as helpful as this site may be, you cant advertise "go to SUICIDEforum..." in hospitals!) lol. But yeah, basically a similar site.


SF Supporter
I'm really sorry. I wish I was a medical student. I'm a posponed computer programming student/wreck at the moment. I'll still try and help as much as I can though, although i'm not very useful half the time with stuff. Maybe a name like MedTalk or MedStaffForum.com? Needs to be catchy but explain what the site is about at the same time I guess.
Have you got no way of getting in touch with other med students in different areas about subjects like this? I thought the NHS had localised intranets? The more you tell about it the more chance that you'll get some feedback. Obviously, there might be some picky consultant who won't like the idea or senior hospital officials, about the advertisement, but the internet is a free place. Just a problem you might come across, not saying you will.
What about medstudentcare.com?
I suck at names sorry.

another medic

I just wanted to say that you are not alone in being a medic here, I'm a med student too, although I have not ever said as much on the site as like you I know how much that revelation could affect my career. I too intercalated to try and give myself 'a break' for a year, I'm not sure that it really worked (or maybe the effect was only temporary) but I liked the subject I studied so it wasn't wasted. I'm not sure I'm going to get through exams this year. We have the same system of 'personal tutors' who we see so rarely that I would never feel able to discuss issues with them, and you are left in the loophole of not being able to fight for mitigation - it's not a very kind system, is it. But I just wanted to say that you are not alone.


Thanks for your reply. It makes me feel better. I dont know if I ll enjoy the subject I am gonna intercalate (hist of Med...dont think I will have grades to get onto science) but its easy. All I am required to do is produce one essay by the end of the year. I need a year out then I think I will be ok. Can I ask what year you are? Are you male or female? (just wondering, but you dont have to say) And, you dont have to reveal, but which med school are you at? (I totally understand if you dont want to reveal that).

Its pretty fucked up that I have spent a large proportion of this term contemplating suicide (now realise I dont actually want to die) but there s no one I can tell. I dont want a label of "deppression" cos as you said, that ll mess up your career. Besides, I am not depressed. All the drugs in the world wouldnt have resolved the problems that thought I could never escape from, and talking to a cousellor or whatever would hardly have changed the catch 22 situation I found myself caught up in.

Life s still a total mess. I still contemplate suicide. But then remind myself that its a pointless exercise cos I dont really want to die, but I just think I will fail to sort out the total mess I find myself in and I would like a way out - worst part is, I am responsible for some of it. What I really want, deep down is a bit of attention - but I know thats wrong. If I want someone to help me out, I should be grown up enough to go and ask for it. I REALLY feel like self harming or something just so someone will notice the scratches, then I remind myself, if I want someone to help me out, I should be mature enough to ask, so I dont bother...but when it comes down to it, I cant tell my friends exactly what I am thinking, they d freak out/ be upset and tell someone. And if someone finds out, that just makes life worse cos then I have no career either.

I just cant be asked to go into lectures sometimes even though they are really important. I guess cos I cant end my life, I sometimes just wanna hide in bed and sleep and dream that I could go back in time and that life wasnt so messed up. Then I remind myself I cant do that. I should make the effort. It works sometimes but not every time.

But overall as I have decided I wont die, but Ill fight life, I remind myself every day that things WILL be ok and I will SOMEHOW make them work. Just some days I forget that.

another medic

I also intercalated in a non-science subject (but not HoM). The great thing about what you’re going to study is that there is so much scope – it is a massive field. You can do anything from a period in history, a speciality of medicine (e.g. the beginning of the hospice movement, history of anaesthetics...), a surgical technique, medicine during WW2 – you can fit virtually anything under the umbrella of history of medicine. My one piece of advice would be pick a dissertation subject that you find interesting – as you’ll have to spend a heck of a long time studying it and researching it. Ask your dept if there is a list of previous students’ dissertation titles that you can view. You have to be as motivated as you can, as so much of it is periods of several weeks of home study / reading / researching, and I found sometimes it was all too easy to get into a vicious circle of spending a lot of time under the duvet. Unlike standard medicine, if I didn’t feel up to getting up that day, to all intents it didn’t matter because there were no lectures for me to be at. And that was both a blessing and a curse at the same time – sometimes having the lecture or the ward round to get to was an incentive to drag myself out even on days I didn’t want to, and when there is nothing pressing to attend that particular day, it can be easy to not bother and stay in bed and do absolutely nothing for weeks at a time. And work-wise that caught up with me very quickly which was difficult. But somehow I got through and got a decent degree from it – although I was blessed with a particularly understanding supervisor who was good at reading between the lines sometimes which meant a lot was able to go unsaid (which was useful in terms of it not having to go on my record). Just one thing tho – be careful not to see the intercalated year completely as a ‘year out’. I know I sort of did the same, but it was a lot of work, more work than I’d bargained for. It is a final year level course and a lot is expected – and it will be a final year level course in a subject that you have no experience of. Not that I am trying to put a dampener on it at all – simply to say that I did have to do a lot of work to get up to the level that I wanted, and medicine doesn’t really prepare you that well for the skills of university level essay writing.

I am female, and I am the majority of my way through my clinical training now. I’m sorry but that’s as specific as I feel able to be. I understand the feeling of there being some days you just can’t make it in – I find the same thing too. As far as friends knowing – do you have friends outside of medicine / uni in general? Being alone with those kinds of feelings is an incredibly isolating and lonely experience. I have a couple of friends entirely removed from uni who between them do know most of the way I am feeling in general, and I trust them because they understand and respect my position with regards to my career. It took a long time to get to that point as I was very wary of doing so, but I’m glad that I did. Yes it is hard when you feel that your friends may freak out with what you want to tell them. Which is why somewhere like this is so good because aside from the fact of being able to be anonymous, it is a place where, relatively speaking, we are able to say things such as how we’re feeling, without everyone suddenly rushing around in a mad panic – people take it as it is, they understand, because they are contending with similar issues. It’s not the same as having friends in real life, no, but for me, the friends who I told were people from a place similar to this who started as just another username but who over many months became friends away from the internet. So they ‘got it’ in a way that few others would.

It’s ok to want attention – wanting attention is not a bad thing, we all need attention, and need someone to care. Someone to notice that we’re really not doing so ok. Wanting to self harm so that people notice is understandable – but I’m glad that deep down you recognise that it’s not the way to do it. I think in the same way that you feel your friends may be shocked or scared by you telling them how you’re feeling, they may react badly to finding out about self harm – in terms of feeling worried about you and telling someone. They may not, I don’t know. But there is also the issue of scars in medicine – remember that once you start clinical medicine you’ll be required at times to wear short sleeved theatre scrubs, and trying to explain things away is very difficult.

Well done you for making the decision to live, and to persevere with life – keep fighting, day by day. When the bigger picture becomes too much to take in sometimes, take it day by day, one day at a time. I know it can sound very clichéd to say that there is more than one way to get to where you want to be, and sometimes we have to take the scenic route or a different path to the one that we’d originally intended – but it is true. Whatever circumstances may be so very tough at the moment and before, even if they don’t work themselves out in quite the way that we’d like, if we search hard enough there is often a way to make them that little bit less painful and less damaging so that they are navigable day to day. Medicine is a difficult career choice, yet at the same time it is one of the most stimulating, rewarding things that there is. There are days you come home and want to pack in the whole lot and feel you can’t do it and it’s not for you and it's entirely overwhelming. Yet there are other days where you can come away knowing that you made a difference to someone, somewhere, and it is that feeling, and keeping those days in mind that gets me through the darker ones. And when the darker days come, something that I have found helpful is:

“Sometimes courage doesn’t roar. Sometimes, courage is the small voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I will try again tomorrow’ “

Hang in there, the system can feel very hostile sometimes and difficult to navigate through – but you are never alone.


Cheers for the reply. It makes me feel better. I am doing ok, I think I have dealt with the original situation, which wasnt THAT bad, its not like anyone had died or anything like that - it wasnt great, but it wasnt THAT bad, but the way I dealt with it wasnt good. In trying to deal with the problem, I created so many other problems, which I am totally to blame for, and thats SO hard to accept. I have pushed a lot of my friends away, and now we are all gonna split up in clinical years so I am kind of on my own. My flat mates think I am a freak, (understandably), I never speak to them and havent come out my room for ages some days and havent done my washing up for ages at times. And nobody believes me when I say I am gonna fail, cos I passed the xmas exams wthout doing much work in term time, infact I did a lot better than some of my friends - so now they wont listen if I say I am stressed over work. And my best friend doesnt believe me - I told him I dont want to end my life, but he thinks I am just saying that, so he doesnt know how to act around me, so we havent got on that well, he s so angry and upset, but wont hear me out when I try to explain myself. Most people at uni think I am weird, understandably, and I am just sad to have reached the end of pre clinicals and made SUCH a bad impression. So I am basically unpopular, have people talking about me, am so behind with work its unbelievable (and the thought of admitting it to my family if I fail is not a gd one) and I have told some of my friends secrets that I wish I hadnt shared...and above all, basically its all my fault and now I have to live with the consequences of my stupid decisions.


I too studied at med school. I am all finished there now - but I know exactly what you mean about not being able to tell anyone and I think it would be good to have a forum somewhere for people in this situation. It is very difficult and not PC for a student medic or a doctor to tell anyone about their feelings because of the stigma attached. I will keep an eye on this thread and try and reply if needed. (((hug)))


we could - but we kindda need to know who each other are so we can contact each other :D Don't know how without saying who we are lol!.... maybe robin or a admin/mod could help put us in touch somehow :unsure: I'm sure there's a solution!


Well-Known Member
If I may interject a question amongst this discussion and hopefully someone can help field it.

I'm in my third year of university now. I'll hopefully be applying to medical schools in my province at the start of next year for entrance the following year. (These are Canadian schools for anyone more familiar with our system.) Interestingly, medicine is one of the few genuine interests I have left in this world. My grades this year have been suffering due to the state I'm perpetually in, but I still maintain them above the cutoffs and cumulatively with my lower year marks, they are still competitive.

So the question is, how will my depression/suicidal thoughts affect this career path I'm choosing and my application process? Undoubtedly, the admissions committee will notice a drop in my marks. Is this something I should be mentioning to them? Will it they look down upon this or will it at least help explain my relatively poor performance?

Thanks for any help.


well medicmember, I could create a new email account and give you the address, then you can contact me. (dont want to post my main ad on here, but I could create a new msn ad or something). If you think its a plan then leave it with me for a few days and I can give u an email on which u can contact me.


Hi Erbos, I am a second year in the UK. I saw your comment, I am not really qualified to help but I think whether u disclose it to them or not, a) you must make it clear you are no longer suicidal, b) you must make it clear your depression is under control. I do not know whether you should disclose it or not, but if you do, you should make sure you do both a) and b).
Sorry I cant be of more help. I can try and find out by asking around, but I cant promise anything and remember I am in the UK.
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