I hope the link in the tweet above still works. It’s a blog post about why anyone would choose to become a psychiatrist. I’ve tried to answer this in a previous post. Because I’m still evolving, I suspect my perspective about this shifts over time. It’s also affected because I’m continually facing fresh experiences as a general hospital psychiatric consultant, the changing landscape of our health care system, and the feedback I get from medical students, residents, and colleagues.
I think one of the reasons I chose psychiatry and would still choose it today is because the work I do constantly reinforces the importance of and inevitability of change. After all, a big part of psychiatry is about helping others do just that–change. In order to do that, I’ve been working for a long time on becoming more aware of what I say and do, seeing how and why I must change too. It’s painful sometimes. I regard heroes like Dr. Paul Fink as role models whose achievements I can only admire and hope to emulate in a feeble way.
Dr. Fink died a month ago and I read a short piece in Psychiatric News about how his leadership changed other professionals, and even changed the course of psychiatry. He embraced change and was a change agent himself. The irony is that his own father thought his choice of psychiatry as a profession was “a colossal disappointment,” as he wrote a few years ago.
I have my bad days, as we all do, when I’m reminded of Maya Angelou’s observation: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
You know, I’m reminded of that on my good days, too. But sometimes for reasons that I find difficult to fathom, I can see only my flaws (“Hey, I’m just a geezer psychiatrist!”).
I’m not the only one bouncing back and forth between the rungs of the readiness-for-change ladder.
“What we most frequently see when the mind is focused and clear are the habits of mind that create unnecessary suffering, habits fueled by greed and hatred and delusion. Over and over we struggle with our lives, resenting our experiences, blaming ourselves for not being other than who we are. We are unable to see past the immediate, overwhelming drama of our personal story to find relief, indeed, liberation, in the consoling realization of an astonishingly lawful cosmos: paying attention to current experience stops the stories that create and recreate suffering.”–on The Wisdom of Discomfort by Sylvia Boorstein, from a Q&A from Tricycle Magazine.
I’m still learning how to accept myself for who I am, still moving on this path I so very much hope has a heart as described by Carlos Castaneda through the lyrical and very real Don Juan Matus, “…looking, looking breathlessly.”