Heyyy yall💕

I know its been a couple of weeks, and I'm so sorry that I'm not as consistent as I used to be😩 I'm definitely trying to get back to it... my life has just been sooo all over the place recently. I actually wanted to title this blog "Wtf is going on", but I decided to just stick with an inspirational title lol😭 ...but my sentiments remain the same, bc I really don't know wtf is going on.

Ahh, I don't even know where to start for real. Medical school is ALOT. Looking back on all my past blog updates, I was constantly trying new things, figuring out what works for me, and even after every set back, I at least always felt like I was on the right track to figuring it all out... Not this time though. I started this year so motivated to do well. At the beginning, it definitely took me a couple of weeks to find my groove, but once I got into it, it was all uphill from there... Until one day, it just wasn't. I can't really say when exactly it started, but I think little by little, I just became tired of studying. I would go home after a day of classes EXHAUSTED, take a nap, wake up at 11pm, do the bare minimum for what was due the next day... and then go back to sleep. Or some days, I wouldn't wake up at all, and would find myself scrambling in the morning trying to get things done before class. Or sometimes, I would stay at school all night until about 4am, and would have literally accomplished absolutely nothing. I was prepared with this amazing study plan at first, but then one bad day turned into two bad days, which turned into a week and some days... and now here we are, with an exam in one week, and extremely behind🥴 I'm sure y'all know it was never my intention to fall behind. I don't think that's ever anybody's intention- things just happen. Even when I was "staying on top of things", I wasn't able to finish my to-do list everyday simply because there wasn't enough time.. and with each passing day, my work load just kept increasing & increasing. Combine that with taking some "self-care" days and doing absolutely nothing- at some point, it just seemed unmanageable, really. I would find myself going home, sitting at the computer to do work... and just completely unable to focus. I had lost all of my motivation. I had no interest in doing my school work. I was the walking meme for "I HATE IT HERE", literally. I just couldn't do it. Everyday I would come to class and talk to my friends about where they were on their studies, and hearing how far ahead of me everyone was only stressed me out more. I didn't want to talk to anybody or study with anybody anymore, I just wanted to go home, and try to get my life together.

I remember being SOOO FRUSTRATED with myself, because I knew I needed to get it together, but it seriously felt like I couldn't. I had no interest, no motivation, no nothing. And its like I cared, but at the same time I didn't... if you know what I mean? I wanted to do better, but in the moment, the only thing I wanted to do was nothing. I just couldn't bring myself to START doing work. And on the rare occasion I did get myself to get up and do something, my focus didn't last much longer than 15 minutes before I decided I needed a quick nap (which I would never get back up from lol). I was just drained, and over it. Being honest with y'all- I hate school. I always have. I don't like studying, at all. But for me, it's always been like a job that I just know I have to get done. The end goal always mattered more to me than the present, so I was able to stick through studying even though I dreaded it. However, lately, that motivation & drive has not been there. Every night I would go to sleep with intentions on being extremely productive TOMORROW. I was praying that God give me the strength to endure, I was writing down my intentions, making a list of all the bad habits I needed to get rid of, lowering my social media limits to only 30 minutes a day... literally ANYTHING I could think of to get myself back motivated, I was doing it!!! BUT IT STILL WAS NOT WORKING! No matter what I tried, I legit just couldn't do it. I was overwhelmed, yet over it; wanting to work, but couldn't... At this point, I had no idea what was wrong with me. I think I had actually decided that I was just way too lazy to be in medical school, and this was not the career for me lolllll. Everything in my heart didn't want to, but I was slowly but surely giving up.

Last week, my school made us have a mandatory 3 hour stress management workshop. All of the students, including myself, were so mad that we had to sit in a 3 hour class, when we had an exam we could be studying for. Or even at the least, we could have been using those 3 hours to catch up on sleep... I didn't even think I needed a stress management workshop, fr. In my mind, I wasn't stressed enough, and that was the problem. I always thought that when you're stressed, you work harder... and you might get sick or something, because stress is never good for you, but at least you're still getting your work done. I felt as if I personally didn't have enough stress, and that's why I just wasn't being productive. If anything, I needed a workshop on how to light a fire under my butt to increase my stress & get me back being productive lol. Anyways... I am so so grateful that SIU made us have that stress management workshop, because as it turns out, there was a lot I actually didn't know about stress. For instance, when you become TOO STRESSED, it can lead to symptoms such as chronic fatigue, impaired concentration & attention, anxiety, anger, depression, pessimism, isolation, detachment, lack of productivity, and poor performance... or in short, BURNOUT. Our workshop was led by Dr. Debra Klamen, who had each of take a quick quiz about how we were currently feeling about/ dealing with medical school... and my results showed that I was MOST DEFINITELY experiencing burnout. Y'all know I'm a cry baby lol, but I was literally in there holding back tears because I finally felt so... seen. Idk. I had just been feeling so alone lately, mad at myself for being so lazy, and finally, there was a reason for my lack of motivation. It wasn't that I was just a failure, and I guess that was a relief for me.

Once I left the workshop, though, those same feelings of wanting to do nothing overtook me again. Even though I kind of had an idea what was going on with me, I still wasn't really doing anything about it. We had learned some stress management techniques at the end of the workshop, but at the time, I didn't really think that was going to help me fr. I just needed to figure this out. The next day, I had decided in my mind that I was going to overcome this, yet again, and I was not about to give up. At this point, my God mother Shawn had been texting me for a few days trying to talk, but I hadn't gotten back to her simply because I just hadn't been feeling like myself. I didn't want to talk to anybody fr. But once I had decided OFFICIALLY that I was about to get my life together, I decided the first step was to finally give her a call back. I sat in my car in the school parking lot & called her, and she told me that she just wanted to have a 10 minute prayer session with me... wow. This was exactly what I needed, little did she know. I sat in the driver seat, bowed my head and closed my eyes, and just listened to her pray over me. It was truly the most beautiful moment ever- to just have someone call you, and pray over you, saying everything that you needed to hear. God had sent her to do this for me- he had to. He knew I needed it more than ever. She prayed for my endurance with school, and that I learn to appreciate how far I've come, and get excited about how far I have left to go. She reminded me that God wouldn't have led me to this point if I were not meant to be here. She prayed for Beauty and Brains, and all of the BBGirls, that we all find success in our endeavors, and continue changing the narrative for what it means to be Black, brilliant, and beautiful. She got me inspired to start believing in myself again, and I legit cried for the whole prayer, because it really felt like God was talking directly to me. I was excited to get back to work, finally. I was ready.

Later that same day, before I sat down to do work, I started talking about my career goals with my mom. At the beginning of the year, I thought I wanted to become a dermatologist, but then I got over that within my first couple weeks of medical school lol. I had kind of decided the new direction I wanted to head into, but I was hesitant to tell my mom because I didn't think she would really support me... and I just didn't want her to kill my dreams before I had even gotten a chance to give them a shot. Something came over me that day though, and I finally told her that I think I want to become a holistic psychiatrist. I had done my research on the field, and everything about it fit ME as a person so well. I had only chosen dermatology before for the cosmetic aspect, the money, and the lifestyle, but it wasn't something I was truly passionate about. I realized I can spend hours googling/studying topics that I actually care about, but it always feels forced to study things that don't really interest me. I no longer was focused on the superficial aspect of my career, and instead, I wanted to find my passion. And I finally realized (after some extensive research, and some self reflection) that studying mental health... that is what I'm passionate about. From deciding to study neuroscience in college, and just my overall fascination with human nature, and WHY people are how they are. That is the stuff I like to study. I wrote all of my med school admission essays about somehow wanting to integrate western medicine practices with holistic healing methods, and wanting to study the ENTIRE person, not just their specific disease/illness. I figured this all out in Summer 2018, and I KNEW that was what I wanted to do... but I didn't really know how that was going to work out, or where it would lead me. But having a career in psychiatry... everything finally makes sense. That's who I am. That's the job that fits ME, and would leave me feeling fulfilled in life. That's the job I would be excited to get up for work everyday, and honestly, I would be GREAT it simply because I truly enjoy it. Granted, I'm only in my twelfth week of medical school, and I may change my mind again... but at this moment, the idea of finding a career that truly fits me got me excited. Surprisingly, when I told my mom, she was actually very supportive. I had been keeping this desire a secret for so many weeks, and finally letting it out and having my mom's approval made everything seem so real. I got EXCITED. I was inspired. I spent like an hour after that mapping out my life plans, the years I will graduate which programs, the age at which I want to open up my own clinic, and an office for Beauty and Brains, etc. I literally had my entire life mapped out in front of me, and now I was extremely motivated to get back to work.

I sat down at the computer, and as soon as I got all my work pulled up to start, I just felt... like I couldn't do it. Idk how to explain it. Those same feelings from before overtook me, yet again. But this time, I remembered something that Dr. Klamen had taught us during the stress management workshop: the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Basically, all you do is close your eyes and try to clear your head. Take a deep breath through your nose for 4 counts, and then hold your breath for a full 7 counts. Finally, you exhale very slowly through your mouth for 8 counts. I sat there for a second at my computer, took a few deep breaths, and when I opened my eyes, I was back working. I felt like I was back in my groove, finally. THANK THE LORD!

Granted, that was only a few days ago, but the 4-7-8 technique has been working wonders for me. Each time I'm doing work, and I notice myself losing focus or lacking motivation, I catch myself, take a minute to breathe, and I get right back to it. I try to do at least 5 breaths total, but usually, I don't even count fr. I don't quite understand the science behind this deep breathing technique, but I can say 100% that it definitely helps me to calm my mind and increase my focus. Yesterday was an extremely productive day for me, and I had my second sleepover of the year at school (yay lol). I'm dedicated to finish strong, and somehow still pass this next test even though I've been slipping recently. Today, I feel more like myself than I have in a while. I'm not sure if it was coming to the realization that I was in burnout, Shawn's prayer for me over the phone, my newfound career inspiration, the 4-7-8 deep breathing technique, or a culmination of them all... but regardless of what caused it, I'm ready to get back to work, and do what I gotta do to pass this test.

All of this to say y'all- nothing is ever easy, but you live, you learn, and no matter what, you find a way to push through. That's all we can do.

Thanks for reading! I love y'all! Keep breathing✨

Until next time,

-Janet Maia💕