I Chose Happiness!
It was back in 2012 when I was lying in the males’ quarters, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, in one of the busiest hospital in Cebu, Philippines when I said to myself “I choose happiness”. That moment became the most significant turning point in my life.
I was in deep depression, it was my rock bottom. All the signs and symptoms of depression manifested in me. I know this because I am a doctor. I had suicidal thoughts because death seemed to be a great escape from all the burden and misery surrounding me. Negative thoughts occupied my mind most of the time and I always heard myself saying that I am not good enough. Sometimes, I would stare blankly during a meal and my wife would snap me out of my daydream and she would ask if I was all right and I would lie saying “Yes, I’m fine”. She knows that I’m stressed with work but she didn’t know how depressed I was.
It was not always like this. I was a cheerful person. I got sad sometimes because of the normal hiccups in life but never this miserable. After the medical board exams, I immediately went into General Surgery training. The start of the residency training was going quite well. I was getting along with my colleagues and I loved reading my books and eventually I got high scores. In the middle of my residency training, I got interested in Plastic Surgery. I then learned that another government hospital in my place was going to open a Plastic Surgery Department.
I transferred to the other hospital when I got accepted in the Plastic Surgery training. The first few months were good, I was really high, I said to myself that it was what I was meant to do. Problems started to come up after a while, my surgeries started to have many complications. My mentors were perfectionists, any minor detail that I would miss, I would be reprimanded. I know it’s part of the training but I was not handling it well. I was doing good in the general surgery training and suddenly I’m a no good surgeon in this new training. It all went upside down, I lost my touch. I don’t know if I got lazy in reading my books or I just lost hope in reading because I did not seem to know the answer to the simplest question my consultants threw at me during our mini conferences. I was getting desperate and it went down into a vicious cycle. Each day I slowly slid down to the pessimistic path. I tried to stay afloat for 2 and a half years, but I wasn’t successful, I was drowning in depression. It was so hard to get out of bed in the morning, and all I saw in the world was despair. I blamed myself for transferring to this subspecialty and I blamed myself for not being good enough. I was angry at myself and I was angry with my mentors. I was anticipating that they would kick me out, and when that happens how would I feed my family? My two kids are already going to start with pre-school, where would I get the money if I lose my job? I do not want to go back to general surgery because I don’t want to operate anymore, I was stressed out, all enthusiasm was sucked out of me.
In the middle of this crisis, I would sometimes go to my Uncle’s clinic which was only a couple of blocks away, to have lunch with him. When he saw me, he immediately knew what I was going through. He advised me to listen to some of his audio books about positive thinking and self motivation. He told me that there is a ‘secret’ about living our lives and that happiness is a choice. I heard, but I did not listen, his advice just flew out of my other ear, maybe because I was too depressed to listen to anything. After lunch, I would go back to the hospital and lie down on the bed thinking about negative things.
However, one afternoon, I suddenly had an epiphany! I told myself “I cannot continue to punish myself like this” and in that instant I remembered the words; “Happiness is a choice.”. So I shouted the words in my mind, “I choose happiness!”. The next day, I went back to my uncle’s clinic with my flash drive and copied all his audio books and videos. Upon seeing my enthusiasm about all of this he said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. The first video that he advised me to see was “The Secret” and that movie literally changed my life.
I was kicked out from Plastic Surgery training in the middle of 2012, I cried, but it didn’t really affect me that much anymore. I knew that there would be more work opportunities that would come up. I am Catholic, so I replaced the word Universe with God because for me, they are synonymous. I did not have a clue what I would do after Plastic Surgery but I just kept my faith that God would not abandon me. I followed the teachings of The Secret and I started to give thanks for all the things around me. I started to notice the trees, the sun, the clouds, the flowers, how wonderful the creations of the Lord are. I started to eat well again. I picked up my life slowly.
My cousin suggested that I apply as a doctor offshore, on an oil rig. I thought it was a great idea, the salary was great too. So every day I visualized that I was already working on the rig and thanked God for the job as if I already had it. After 1 year and 5 months, I finally got the job. I also had many job opportunities that came my way while waiting for my dream job. I was getting the money that I needed for my children’s education, paying off my debts and I even put some money in financial investments. My life turned around because I shifted my thoughts and feelings to what I really wanted instead of thinking about what I don’t want. I visualized my perfect home, my perfect job, my perfect car, my perfect vacation and my perfect relationships.
Now, I continue to share my experience with my close friends and I tell them that all we need is to believe, have faith and give thanks. And one more thing, feel good!
Thank you, Rhonda.