Many times a day I ask myself: Can I become a doctor? Am I enough? Am I right for it? Is it too much? Should I just give up and give in to my Cerebral Palsy and everything it implies?
I was born prematurely and that caused me to develop Cerebral Palsy (a physical disability that affects my legs). It’s chronic and not progressive meaning that my walking is a little off, I get tired when I stand on my feet for too long and I need to use a walker to move around.
Ever since I was very young my biggest dream and goal has been to become a doctor. I am a total hematology nerd and I love kids so I thought pediatric benign hematology was the perfect fit for me. Benign blood disorders are so interesting to me! Recently though, my interests shifted a bit more towards psychiatry and even though benign hematology still has a special place in my heart, I think my goal as a pediatrician should be to advocate for children’s mental health, especially when it comes to children with CP or any other condition.
I’m not in Med School yet and it’s still way too early for me to worry about my specialty. A girl can dream…anyways…let’s jump straight to the heart of this post, shall we?
Originally I wanted this post to be about my struggles as an aspiring physician with CP and mental health conditions (I suffer from depression and anxiety). But then I thought…let’s make it more personal and more relatable. Let’s talk about me. Not just about Cerebral Palsy. Who am I? What are my struggles? I’ll try to tell you a little bit about it. I hope you find it helpful.
I started writing stories when I was 12…so it’s gonna be 10 years soon. I’ve been thinking about why I started writing about Liz (aka my protagonist. She’s a paediatric benign hematologist who trained in Boston and moved back home to Southern California after her husband passed. She has 3 kids. In the past she suffered from depression and anxiety and one of her biggest passion and commitments is to advocate for children’s mental health).
I’ve come to the conclusion that I did it to deal with feelings of loneliness and self loathing that started haunting me when I was in school. The other kids were mean to me. They treated me like a burden and a bother because of my CP. I was always on my own and would make people copy my homework to earn their liking. As the time went by, I became more and more convinced I was someone worth hating. That there was something inside me that pushed people away. I started hating myself. So I thought I would create a better version of myself. Someone who represented everything I wanted to become and more. That’s who Liz is.
To my dismay when I am stressed or down I get angry at myself because I am not “her” yet. When I find myself slipping into this stupid self pity thing, I try to stop and think rationally. Here is what I try to tell myself.
- I cannot be the adult super cool version of her yet. I’m 21.
- She struggled too. I write openly about both her struggles and my own, in order to deal with them.
- Struggling is normal.
- Not even her (aka the person I wanna become) is always perfect or beautiful or always has everything together. So why the heck should I be?
I created her starting from a mix of who I was and who I want to become.I am not exactly her yet. That’s okay. Strive for progress,not perfection. Cherish every little accomplishment, every little tiny baby step. One way or another..it will be worth it.
Now I wanna tell you something. Whether you are a writer or just someone with big goals and dreams, whether you are a pre med, a doctor, a pre law student, an athlete…someone with big dreams for their life…listen up.
If you too have an “Elizabeth” (aka the future version of yourself you’re striving to become. I gave her a name because I happen to like writing. Yours might not have a name,or might just be called like you…it’s you after all!) in your life, that’s okay. That’s great. It helps to have precise goals for your life. But please…never get angry at yourself because you’re not that person yet. Please never hate yourself because you’re not there yet.
Please let that person empower you.
Don’t let it destroy you.
Emma is a 21 year old pre-med living in Italy. She often says: “While Medicine is my love, English is my freedom”. English is actually her second language but sometimes it feels to her more natural than her first. She’s not properly bilingual yet, but that’s what she’s aiming for. Her biggest goal is becoming a doctor, hopefully a pediatrician and mental health advocate for fellow CP and mental illness warriors like her.