You slave through several years of undergrad, study for hours and hours for the PCAT and finally earn your pharmacy school acceptance letter. To yourself you think, "I know pharmacy school will be hard, but at last my stress will be reduced because I've finally made it, I'm a pharmacy student!"
Alas this is not the case.
Sure, for the first few weeks of class you ride the wave of accomplishment, taking pride in earning admittance to a school few others enjoy. It's a wonderful feeling and ultimately you feel pretty damn good about yourself.
Only it will not last.
By December that stretch of unbridled joy will seem but a distant memory. Replacing it will be stress-induced insomnia coated with a bitter taste of self doubt.
One of the things that your school will not tell you, nor your friends, is how emotionally and mentally taxing pharmacy school is. If not for the material, than for the expectations of the school or the manner in which courses are taught.
You find yourself sitting next to a dual Ph.D. on one side and on the other sits the wiz kid who powered into pharmacy school riding a 4.0 after two years of undergrad. Suddenly you are no longer a big fish in a small pond... and you come to the realization that there are individuals, perhaps several, in your class who could mentally wipe the floor with you.
The first round of exams come and... they're not what you expect. Maybe you do well, maybe you do not, but you quickly realize these are not the same type of exams from semesters past.
Dozens of hours of studying and sleepless nights may yield a mere sixty percent on an exam. Material you thought you knew like the back of your hand vanishes under the complexity of exam questions.
Doubt sets in.
"Do I belong here?" you begin to wonder. "Did they make a mistake? Maybe I shouldn't do this... maybe I can't do this."
You moods became more variable as your patience wains. It's not common for you to suddenly snap at someone under even mild stress. Self-doubt clouds your mind from exam to exam as you scrape together the will to continue.
At times you do not think it will get any better. Friends speak of struggling during studying and exam taking, yet they proclaim earning an "A" while you quietly mumble about your "C". Socially you distance yourself as you internally chastise your inability to maintain pace with your friends.
You have the Pharmacy School Depression. Mentally you have been broken... perhaps you are merely a shell of who you once where.
The semester draws to a close and you feel as if you are on your last bits of sanity. Suddenly the tough facade that everyone else has erected begins to crumble.
The dual Ph.D. you sat next to? Barely scraping together Cs in a class... and wondering if pharmacy is for him.
The wiz kid? Can memorize the material, yet cannot figure out how to apply it in several courses.
One friend mentions how they almost withdrew from school towards the start of a spring semester. The other mentions that they scored well below you in some exams... only never mentioned it.
You come to realization that you are not alone. No matter what someone's intellectual pedigree may be, no matter how enthusiastic or how cocky someone will be, at some point they will have to face this bout of Pharmacy School Depression.
There is no escaping it. There is no denying it. For some it becomes encompassing and they do drop out. For others it becomes even more serious requiring hospitalization.
Yes, it does happen.
For those who survive, it is almost as big of an accomplishment as being accepted into pharmacy school. And as you walk out of an exam room for the last time, you look back on what this year has brought upon you.
Are you the same person? Are you better off? Or worse off? Can you still do this?
The last question is an easy answer... Yes. For you are not alone, and actually never were alone. We all suffer for with it, but few speak out.
So upcoming first year students, when you are in the greatest depths of self-doubt and despair remember that you are truly not alone.
We've all been there... whether we want to admit it or not.
Mary's desk, December, 2013
15 hours ago