Friday, November 14, 2008


There was a point, sometime in the past two years, where I seemed to have stopped living. The vibrancy that once infected my days, the joy in rain & snow & hot chocolate seemed to fade away. I might venture to say that at some point, I was depressed. And actually, depression, in some form or another, is so common in medical school that they specifically warn us about it during our orientation week. Throughout our first two years it becomes somewhat of a joke, our professors lightly referring us to the psychologist on staff should we need any “mental help”. And quite frankly, it isn’t taken seriously enough.

Those of us who struggled to get out of bed some mornings, either from real depression or the mountain of textbooks that needed to be read & material that needed to be memorized found ourselves in make-shift counseling sessions with our peers. Mine were each Thursday morning at 10am over coffee with five other women. We titled the time “study sessions”, but every week they inevitably turned into what some might consider a support group. And I have every ounce of faith that those five women saw me through what might have been real live depression.

And although I am doing much better (I still don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, but I’m thinking that now its just because I’m not a morning person), I still struggle with finding the JOY in each day that I once abundantly noticed. When I drive, the vibrant orange trees are just trees, the cute old man is just old, and the annoying pain patient is well, just annoying. It seems that somewhere in the midst of my textbooks and sky-high stress levels I’ve not only lost the ability to find joy…but also the patience to look for it.

I’m kind of understanding now what it means when people say that physicians had a class in medical school on how to be arrogant, rude, and a bit lifeless at times. I’m understanding now what it means to lose the tolerance for mediocrity—I’m expected to perform perfectly at my highest cylinder, and in turn I now unrealistically expect it from others. And I’m understanding now what it means to be so overwhelmed by the humanity that you encounter each day that you eventually lose sight of your own [humanity].

And in the midst of this struggle, I’m faced with the challenges of understanding where God fits into medicine, how medicine melds with faith, what my role is in mediating the two; answering the tough questions God’s way…questions about the sanctity of human life & at what gestational stage I personally believe human life begins, questions about the science (if any) behind homosexuality, pain, and neuromuscular disorders, questions about compassion & how much I’m supposed to shell out to my difficult (not to mention draining) patients, questions about how this insane thing called the practice of medicine is going to fit into my life as a mommy someday…

All this thinking has me distracted…so distracted, in fact, that I’ve stopped looking forward to the days’ experiences & started dreading the new ethical, moral, and heartbreaking cases I’ll have to mentally sift through before I can fall asleep at night. Something which very well may have contributed to my almost entire lack of sound sleep for the past 2+ weeks.

But like every change that needs to be made, it is easiest to start simply. I’m not entirely sure what “simple” is like these days…and I certainly feel like I have a long journey of “recovery” (can I even call it that?) ahead of me…in addition to more questions with answers that need to be sought out through prayer & experience.

"I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away.

...[But] life's made up of more than that one moment. Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. And strung together, built upon one another, lined up through the days and the years, they make a life, a person. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small...

This pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience...

You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.

You are more than dust and bones.
You are spirit and power and image of God.
And you have been given Today."

~Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

And so my goal is to remember that…just that as a simple first step.

I have been given Today. For a purpose. For a reason.

And if I do not find success in anything else today, I will find success in Today and its purpose.


Alex! said...

wow. well let me tell you, this depression is not necessarily particular to students of medicine. i know i am faced with the issue of getting out of bed and not having joy in life daily. and it sucks. i pray that God will give you a heart for His beauty and His creation and will give you His wisdom and insight whenever you find yourself faced with difficult decisions. He is love and He is joy and through him we can experience those, once we break down our human outlook...
sending a smile your way :)

LobotoME said...

great post ---

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