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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The effort that went in to YOU

I am currently rotating on the psychiatry service, making up a rotation that I kindly deferred until my fourth year of school because I really had no interest in psychiatry. And though I still really don’t think I could make a career out of being a psychiatrist, I thank God that I didn’t skip this rotation altogether (which I was hoping for during that past few months) because I am learning more and more about life and the difficulties normal people face than I have on any other rotation. There have been so many heart wrenching stories of young and old folks who have seemingly everything together, but are depressed and suicidal. There are the stories of the folks who were just using a little alcohol or drugs (illegal and/or legal) here and there to cope with a tough spot in life, and they end up a few years later dependent and in need of treatment. And then there are of course the patients who most (including me at most points in my life) would really just consider “crazy.” (Although I have come to realize that I use this label in order to remove myself from having to put forth the effort to understand what is really going on in that person’s life).

And yet, the accumulations of all these stories have struck a particular chord with me. This chord is the abstract concept of the amount of work (and I use that term loosely) that went in to YOU. Really. Stop, think about it.

We often consider the best things we produce in our lives those which we work really hard for: our outstanding work projects, a special dinner we have made, a well executed competitive performance, a well groomed garden, or even a medical degree. These are all great things, without a doubt. However, they really pale in comparison to YOU. You are the product of years and years of hard work, a joint project of your parent(s), siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, priests, teachers, mentors, friends of friends. All of these people and more have collaborated and put forth effort to produce the ultimate result -- you.

How special is that? Really, it’s amazing.

But then, of course, things can go wrong at any time. We can very easily misstep and become one of the stories of those hospital patients. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that those people are failed projects, just ones that need a little extra work J).

It’s mind blowing to consider the number of people over the years who have helped you become who are you. And it’s not over, more and more people will collaborate with others to help you become the person you ultimately become. It seems almost selfish if we don’t then in turn try to be cognizant of the “projects” that are going on all around us and not do our part to help out. Most of the time, we probably do without even knowing it.

I guess the point is, put the time in, because you were and will continue to be worth it, and so is everyone else.


  1. well said, my friend. there's something to be said about having an open mind and treating every person uniquely, no matter how much we'd like to stereotype them (which applies to all our patients, not just the ones we see on psych). making every effort to help our patients is a sure way to sometimes fail, but it is also the only way to sometimes succeed...

  2. Joe,

    -- Such a good, heart-felt reminder of the importance each one of us plays in those around us. Any day. Every day. At any age.

    I'm thinking too, how lucky your patients are to have a physician with compassion, intuition, depth, and sensitivity.

    Thank you for sharing your important thoughts in today's post.