I feel better today. It’s all because I had an appointment with M yesterday.
We talked about psychiatry and whether I like it or not. I told her the things I didn’t like. For example, the fact that I don’t think I like inpatient psychiatry that much. She told me that I don’t have to like everything about psychiatry. She says that that reflects just how demanding I am with myself, how perfectionist I am that I feel I have to like every single little thing about psychiatry or I instantly panic thinking that it’s not for me. She said I don’t have to be perfect and like 100% everything about psychiatry to know that I am passionate about it. And, she said, I could always work in outpatient (of course).
It really took a huge weight off my shoulders, to have her say that. It gave me hope, for some reason. She also said that being such a perfectionist with myself is a way of seeing everything in black and white. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it’s true. For example, I’m such a perfectionist that I think I have to like psychiatry 100% and if I don’t then that invalidates any interest I might have in it. Or, another example, M said, is how I’ve been having anxiety with patients ever since I failed the ObGyn tests. Unconsciously I invalidated myself by forgetting all the other tests I’ve passed to get to where I am now. My thought process is black and white: if I don’t pass one test then that invalidates everything else I’ve done. And it shouldn’t be that way, but heck, I guess I have to live up to my Borderline label (just joking!).
I also told her about how some doctors and residents at the unit have become desensitized with time and sometimes even laugh at the patients. I told her I hate that, that I don’t like it at all. She told me that that’s wrong, that one shouldn’t become desensitized, that just because one has been working in psychiatry for 30 or 40 years it doesn’t mean you have the right to be less sensitive and respectful toward your patients. That’s good advice there to any other medical student reading this.
Finally, we talked about my weight. I told her that I feel obese, that I’ve gained 20lbs. in a year, and that I miss being thin. Again we discussed how my being thin for some reason is the only thing that makes me feel unique. M told me, flat out, that I’m not obese. Then I told her that even though I feel obese I have to admit that while sometimes nowadays I do feel pretty, before, when I was at my thinnest, I barely ever felt beautiful. To that she responded with: “What is the problem with gaining a few pounds then?”….I was dumbfounded.
I also told M about my mom saying I would look like a sausage if I ate any more. I told her how I knew she said it jokingly and didn’t mean to hurt me, but that it still hurt nonetheless.
When I said that, M smiled. She said that the fact that I can recognize that my mom didn’t mean to hurt me but still did, was a sign that I’m starting to see things in gray, that both good and bad can coexist in a person…that I’ve been getting better all along.
I know I should be glad, but it honestly gave me mixed feelings. Seeing things in gray feels uncomfortable, I hate the ambivalence. I told her that, and she said that I have to take small steps.
Of course. Small steps.