spouses, hvng time to spare...anyone have anxiety?

HI everyone… I was hoping that some of you could impart some wisdom…and share your experiences with this–since it seems to a growing problem here for me…
I work full time…and am taking Organic Chemistry (for the second time…got psyched out the first time). I’m so engulfed in work and school, and trying hard to do well (got a 94 on my first exam). IT’s quite a task for me. When the weeeknd comes, I want to study–or do work from home that I’m missing because I’m not getting it done during the week. I feel like time is absolutely prescious and that I can’t spare the time on doing things that aren’t related, or that I don’t want to do (hence–there’s goes compromise with my husband). He’ll want to go and do something…and generally we’ve always compromised on these things since we don’t really have the same taste in passtimes. Lately though, I’ve been less agreeable to compromise–and don’t want to “take a drive to Pittsburgh to see so&so’s baby” because “I have to study and can’t spare the time!!” My husband is of course important to me too–but does anyone else feel like this??? I feel like I’m trying to do important things—and others are wanting to pick out paint colors for the bathroom or want me to help them move. I feel badly not having the time for my friends as well---- HELP! Does anyone have any experiences like these??? I’m not even in med school yet (dare I say)…what will happen then??? Am I just not time-managing well enough?? Thanks, Anna

I am of the frame of mind that if my friends do not realize how overwhelmed and consumed I am at times…then maybe they are not good friends after all. I tend to hang out with very very low maintenance friends and we get together when we can, we help each other when we can, etc. So do not feel bad because you are busy this is the way life is sometimes. About your hubby, well he “should” be able to realize how important this is to you if you guys have discussed this. Although yes, compromise is needed in every marriage there are also times when compromise is just not an option. My husband knows that when a test is looming ahead there are NO activities I will be doing period. This happens a lot…at my medical school we are NOT on the block system so we have exams almost every week. You need to sit down and have a heart to heart with your hubby, let him know how much this means to you and that right now you are very focused with school/work/home anything else will just throw you off balance. This said, when you do have a break take him our or do something that you may not think is the best thing…but will make him happy. Good luck!

I’m going to disagree just a bit with efex here… there are times when no one can ever really appreciate how overwhelmed you can be by this pursuit, even your best friend (which should be your spouse, hopefully). DO NOT think that they “should know” that you are so single-minded that you can’t even imagine coming up for air. No one is a mind reader. What you need to do is anticipate: PUT YOUR EXAMS ON THE CALENDAR, for example (and sorry to shout with all caps, but it’s important), and tell people that you are not going to be available at all the weekend before a big test. But the weekend after a big test, you absolutely had better make a date with your husband for a nice dinner and movie, just for example. You definitely need to do stuff besides study: different people handle this differently, and so I’m not going to suggest things like “be sure there’s one night each week that you set aside for together time,” or other cheesy ideas, but figure out what you can do to connect. (my husband and I love “The West Wing,” and have watched it together religiously every week, even if that means taping it and watching it later, just to give an example.)
When I was doing my post-bacc full-time, I tried to call my husband at work between classes… or I’d call him from the car. We would try and talk about the key stuff, like who would drive kids places or when each of us would be home, but I would also call him to share stuff I’d heard on the radio or my accomplishments on the latest lab quiz. We were also lucky to have a circle of friends with a regular monthly dinner date - we wouldn’t always be able to go, but it WAS a high priority and I’d try my best to work around my studying and work in order to be able to join our friends.
Something key in all this is to make SURE that your s.o. knows how happy you are to be doing this and how jazzed you are by your accomplishments. If your spouse only sees you working yourself to death, but isn’t given the chance to share in the exhilaration of an A on an exam, for example, it’s going to be pretty easy for him to feel neglected. He WANTS to share in your achievement! Be sure to give him the chance.
Hope this makes sense, and good luck to you.

I just want to echo what Mary said about making sure that your loved ones see the positive side of this endeavor as well as the stressful side. My close friends and I have a network of blogs where we post various goings-on in our lives. I try to use this space to talk about what I love in this process. I made the mistake in the beginning of focusing on the stressful aspects when talking to them because like you, I just didn’t feel like anyone understood how difficult and draining this can be at times. Because of that, I continually felt frustrated by what I thought was their collective “not getting it” and lack of true support. It wasn’t until I began sharing some of the anecdotes from my shadowing experience or some of the happier moments from lab and class that they truly began showing support and understanding of the “why put yourself through this” question.
As for the significant other, I continue to struggle with this. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that compromise becomes very hard when you have so little free time to yourself. My solution is to set aside at least two evenings a month that are school-free and just for my own benefit. This is typically when I watch hours of tv that I’d dvr’d, have a glass of wine, and enjoy some take-out. Giving myself these solo dates makes the compromise with my s.o. so much easier.
Good luck!

I know exactly how you feel. It seems like school is so important because being a doctor means everything. But what I’m learning is that it’s okay to just get a 90% instead of trying to get 100%. The extra effort it takes to get that extra 10% sometimes isn’t worth it in the scheme of things. What I’ve started doing is allocating Saturdays to spend with my fiance. It doesn’t matter how much homework I have, I take the majority of the day off to spend with him, to go out with friends. It helps me to relax too, which means I’m more productive when I pick everything up again on Sunday. I sometimes feel guilty for taking time off, but then I remind myself that med schools are looking for people with personalities and lives outside of medicine as well as academic mastery. Sometimes you have to let one slide a tiny bit so that you can get some time in on the other one. Good Luck!

I have to agree with Leia…if you weigh things properly and try to stop yourself from being a perfectionist, then you should be able to work things out so that you have an ample social life as well as academic success. My first semester I was militant…no time for anyone, my studies were of the utmost importance and anything else was secondary because I had waited so long to do this and this was my time to shine and no one was going to get in the way of my succes…guess what…my three year old wasn’t having it! I realized that my family has to be right up there with my goals because they are part of the reason I am doing this. It’s not fair to shut them out. And you know what? After I stopped stressing so much about the little things, I found that I got the same amount done in a smaller amount of time and my family didn’t have to suffer the consequences of a stressed out mom. So just breathe , relax and enjoy it for what it is … This is your life and noone can take from you what you work hard for…and remember that your husband and children (if you have any) are part of the journey you have chosen… so don’t shut them out. It’s all about managing yuor time correctly and really taking a moment for your own sanity to relax. I am getting the same A’s I got when I was stressed…the only difference is that I didn’t scarifice my family in order to get them, they get me and I still succeed…it’s a win/win situation!

Thanks everyone for the responses…I really appreciate the suggestions. I started marking test days on the calendar—so my husband knows when time will be thin!! I have also set aside time once per week where I’m not studying or doing anything school/work related—and to just do “whatever” with him and or friends. I think that will be a good decision. Until now, I thought I was handling this pretty well—but this semester is Organic I for me…and everything seemed to become more anxiety-provoking…hence the need/compulsion to study to the point where I have no life!!! Natural I guess for some of us Organic newbies!! Thanks for the suggestions and best of luch to everyone. Thanks, Anna

All of the above are great suggestions, but I wish to chime in with a couple of broad concepts that have worked to keep mine & my wife’s relationship healthy.
1 - Keep your respective other/others (if you have a family) invested in the process. There is a temptation to try to isolate them from what you feel may not be all that interesting about your day to day life in education. Or, you may seek to avoid entangling them in the stresses that you are experiencing. While this may seem like a noble undertaking, what you yield is a partner that no longer feels like a part of something that is critically important to you. Every step along the way, Wendy & I discuss it to assure that she has as much input on the decision as is feasible - this is her life too. This applied to selecting med schools to apply to and for narrowing down the list of residency programs. No matter how bad ass a residency program, if she was not gonna like living there, it would not have been worth it.
2 - Dance with who brung ya! Keep your priorities straight & your spouse/SO should be at the top. Equally important, they should be vested in supporting you. There will times that doing so is damned tough. But, if you keep your eyes on the prize - that is surviving with a healthy, happy relationship - then this journey will actually strengthen your committment to one another.
3 - No matter how busy or tired you are, make time for those who love you. Unless it was an exam block or a finals week, Friday night belonged to Wendy. I might study until she got home from work, but as soon as she hit the door, the books closed and were not touched until Sat. We might just sit & talk (one of my favs) or go out…but it was “our” time. Plus, during med school, I only studied part of Sar &/or Sun, never all day so I could spend time with her. Similarly, as a resident, I always make time every evening I am not on call for Wendy & Dillon - no matter how tired I am or how much I need to read - they get Daddy/husband time. I need it as badly as they do.
4 - Never drop your guard! As strong as mine & Wendy’s relationship has been through this - and the process has made it stronger - things can get away from you if you don’t pay attention. I was so totally miserable as an intern, I broke a couple of my rules. I tried to “protect” she & Dillon from my unhappiness & ended up creating isolation b/t us. Our marriage hit a very rocky time towards the end of the internship. Had we not had a fantastically strong foundation of communication, cooperation & compromise - I don’t think we’d have survived as a couple. With a young child, that would been a total disaster!
These four precepts, simple as they appear, will not be easy to honor. However, if you both commit to trying to do so, it will pay huge dividends in the long run. As phenomenal as it is to be a physician, it is not worth loosing those who mean the most to you. And, neither the process nor the profession need to cost you your family & happiness; however, it will require committment, diligence, compromise & COMMUNICATION to avoid a negative outcome.