Monday, July 13, 2015

At a crossroad

Back in February, I was in a poor state psychologically. My depression was still in remission but I kept on having acute episodes of depression. I would feel low for a few days and then, in the morning, I would wake up and was depressed plus anxious about the day ahead and challenges that it would present. I would become more depressed plus anxious, having my arms ache, my chest tighten, having difficulty breathing and feeling that my heart was racing. That situation came to the point I was taking sick leave one day every month. I didn't want this to continue, as it was unfair for the colleagues who had to deputise in my absence  the community in general since they paid my wages.

Something had to change - I discussed my problem with my family and then my boss about what I was going through and brainstormed some options. I decided to go part-time, which I only started recently. With the time off, I hope to sort out the rest of my higher training in family medicine and decide what my options are regarding my future.

The main reason why I have gone part-time is that I don't like my job as a family medicine doctor in the Hospital Authority's general out patient clinic. There are a lot of problems, from patients, other doctors, the health care system and society itself. I will elaborate about these issues at a later date, most likely when I leave Hong Kong since I will be burning a lot of bridges when I do that.

That's another problem I have as well - I don't like living in  Hong Kong. Or rather I feel I don't fit in here. Whether it is still the language problem (I'm not very fluent in Cantonese) or the cultural integration is still being resisted by me, I still spend a lot of time at home and not want to go out. Appearance wise, I'm Chinese but culturally, I attach myself to Britain - I enjoy British cuisine (stop sniggering, there is actually good parts about it), I follow mainly British sports and I watch mainly British TV shows.

I have gotten a lot of grief and ridicule when I describe myself as English or a "banana" (yellow on the outside, pertaining to my Asian looks, while being White on the inside, as I think like a Westerner). Mainly this comes from my parents, who often say "Why do you want to be British? They hate Chinese people and they don't want you as a citizen!" and some of my colleagues, who find it funny I like things like British food and the way of life, such as shops not being open on a Sunday - a totally foreign concept to them.

So with this time off, I'm hoping to finish up my family medicine higher training, although I may not need it. If I was going to stay in Hong Kong, it would be probably best to complete the training and take the Exit examination but it is not absolutely necessary. It just means I get paid less than the people who have passed the exam and I'm already well paid in this job already - why do you think I have the luxury of going part time?

I'm trying to find out if I can go back to UK or head off to Australia to practise medicine. I know I can go to Australia, since I'm already a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, which means it would be relatively easy to work there. For UK, I might need to take a language proficiency examination and a medical knowledge examination but I don't think that is too much of a hassle. My only worry is that I need to pass my Exit examination here in Hong Kong in order to be able to practise in the UK. If that is the case, I'll just head to Australia instead.

Another option is doing my dream job and heading off to volunteer for Medecins San Frontieres for a while. I know that entails needing a Diploma in Tropical Medicine - again, another excuse to get out of Hong Kong.

I know I'm not going to make a lot of people happy about my decision and remarks - parents, friends, colleagues - but this is my life, my opinion and if they do like me, they respect the choices I have made in my life.