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I thought my career as a doctor was over. It was the arts that saved me

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

I used to ignore my creative side, but after I was signed off work with depression and anxiety, I made space for the things I loved

As a hospital doctor I am used to working under pressure, and had always felt I thrived on it. But when I took time out of clinical training to pursue a PhD, I found I was intensely unhappy. I suffered a range of physical symptoms: palpitations, early morning waking, nausea, severe headaches, poor appetite, diarrhoea, dizziness, breathlessness and tremors.

My day was constantly interrupted by intrusive negative thoughts; I once walked for 30 minutes with “I hate my life, I hate my life” on a loop of internal monologue that I feared had no end. I listened to podcasts and audiobooks fanatically but could not drown out these thoughts, and no rationalisation of all the wonderful things I had in my life could make them stop.

Related: ‘Creativity improves wellbeing’: art transforms mental health ward

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