I am a pulmonary-critical care medicine physician. I had a medical issue in 2020 and was on limited call responsibilities. When I came back, it was in the throes of the first wave of COVID.
It goes without saying that the last three years or so have been very difficult for everyone in the medical profession. We lost a truly horrific number of patients to COVID — in the early days, even entire families. Morale was at an all-time low. We have had a tremendous turnover and burnout in the intensive care unit. Those were dark days for everyone.
I found myself taking my work home with me. I was plagued with anxiety and insomnia. I was irritable and lashing out at my family. Out of frustration, I started jotting down random ideas. It quickly became an escape valve to purge the frustrations of grueling workdays.
I found myself writing in the evenings after getting home from the hospital. I tried writing notes and outlines, but the writing took on a life of its own. All of the frustration and helplessness spawned by this pandemic poured into my keyboard. I never dreamt that it could be so wonderfully cathartic. I wrote free hand. Fiction — where I could craft the happy endings which were in such dismally short supply in real life.
Fast forward to August 2022. Writing has become my outlet, my lifeline. It is almost a compulsion. It has gotten to the point where I am unable to sleep until I write at least a couple hundred words. After jotting down a few paragraphs (or pages if I am feeling inspired), I fall asleep, feeling almost liberated and lightened from the burdens of the day’s work.
I never dreamed I could write. To my shock, I ended up writing and publishing a sci-fi romance which has been the source of endless teasing and laughter from my friends and co-workers. It makes me blush — and gave my ICU nurses something light and fun to talk about. I still write to exorcise demons, particularly since COVID keeps rearing its ugly head.
COVID has affected all of us. Worse, we all know that it is not going anywhere. Physicians are used to being able to make a difference. COVID was a very rude awakening — and a very humbling one. I think most of us have some degree of depression. Find an outlet for your pent-up frustration. Turn it into something positive. Pick up a new hobby, be it writing, painting, pottery, gardening, or cooking. Do something that will allow you to relax and express yourself. It has been one of the best happenstances of my life — and has gone a long way to helping me keep my sanity during this accursed pandemic.
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