On my morning drives to the hospital, the tears fell like rain. The prospect of the next 14 hours – 8am to 10pm with not a second’s respite from the nurses’ bleeps, or the overwhelming needs of too many sick patients – was almost too much to bear. But on the late-night trips back home, I’d feel nothing at all. Deadbeat, punch-drunk, it was utter indifference that nearly killed me. Every night, on an empty dual carriageway, I had to fight with myself to keep my hands on the steering wheel. The temptation to let go – of the wheel, the patients, my miserable life – was almost irresistible. Then I’d never have to haul myself through another unfeasible day at the hospital.
By the time I neared the end of my first year as a doctor, I’d chosen the spot where I intended to kill myself. I’d bought everything I needed to do it. All my youthful enthusiasm for healing, big dreams of saving lives and of making a difference, had soured and I felt an astronomic emptiness. Made monumentally selfish by depression, I’d ceased even to care what my husband would think of me, or that my little boy would grow up without his mother.