Arts and Poetry, Mental Health and Wellness

Who Am I?

Every morning, a routine — grab a pill, water, my antidepressant for the day
As medical students, we are expected to be flawless, crisp white like paper
deviations create uncertainty, imposter syndrome

As I walked into my first day of medical school, my mental health walked out the door
Microaggression after microaggression wearing me down like an invisible knife
cutting pieces of me until I have nothing left but empty space
no joy, no laughter
sadness, depression
until I lose my humanity

Who am I? Who have I become?

I am expected to take care of others when I can barely breathe for myself
My lips crack a smile, a habit
I am okay; I repeat to myself, I am okay
Just one more day
Fake it till you make it
When in reality, day by day, I lose pieces of myself until there is nothing left to give
until all the fake smiles have run out

I am a storm that began the day I was born
to pain
to agony
intergenerational trauma
substance use, sexual and physical abuse, neglect
sprinkle in some poverty; we are almost there

Who am I? Who have I become?

How can I restore my humanity?
my sense of joy
my laughter
it has been ages since the last time I heard her

Healing is a process, a painfully slow process
to gain acceptance and ownership of my experiences, my trauma, my life
Healing takes time, some medication and a good therapist
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel

Soon I will become a doctor
taking care of others when I barely learned to care for myself
To love myself for who I am
To love my trauma that made me

My healing journey inspired my poem. During medical school, I felt that I was expected to be perfect and neglected my mental and physical health in many ways. When I had a moment to check in with myself, it was clear that I was anything but okay. Over the last year, writing has become a form of liberation and an opportunity to heal. I learned to embrace the traumas I experienced and those passed down to me. This poem is a short reflection of my healing journey.

Image credit: “iPhone Background – Swirl by Patrick Hoesly is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Micaela Torres Micaela Torres (1 Posts)

Medical Student Contributing Writer

Charles R. Drew/UCLA University of Medicine and Science

Micaela is a first-generation medical student at the Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program interested in surgery. She completed her undergraduate degree at UCLA and MPH at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her experiences growing up in a low-income, medically underserved community motivate her to advocate for equitable surgical care. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and reading.