Closed Doors and Open Hearts

Monday, November 16, 2020


This month I feel anxious and the sense of gloom and defeat washes over my senses as I gaze out into the gloomy, rainy weather outside my window. I am warm in my blanket cocoon, but my heart races, and I feel the cool clamminess of my feet as they touch each other under the blanket. My body is in fight-or-flight mode despite no sense of current impending doom. Yet it is all around me, washing over me. This residency interview season, already delayed due to the pandemic wreaking havoc over the globe, changed the rules of the game in ways that were both good and bad. My interviews this season will be virtual, good, and bad. The trickle of rejections weighing out the interview invitations seems to be crawling at a snail's pace, bad. I don't know what to do with my time and I hate not knowing. The wait until March will be filled with sleepless nights going over the mistakes I made during my Zoom interviews. There is no escape for my mind because the world needed to shut down for a while and slow its pace so that it could recover and breathe. But my breathing rapidly progresses and I pace across the room until I decide it is too cold to walk around without my blanket shroud. 

    My mind cannot stop reminding me of my mistakes during my recent interview. Why did I not mention my strengths more often? I wondered if the program director thought my excitement and pleading eyes bordered on desperation. I sigh as I continue to stare out into a grey world cut starkly with the green of the cedars and pines lining the front yard. The stoic serene quality of their straight trunks extending to the sky normally brings a sense of calm over me but today they loom over me with foreboding, blocking me from the outside world. The slow pattering of the rain hypnotizes me and I dissociate into a different realm of everything and nothing. I am transported to my past achievements and failures, failures mostly. I don't know what I would do if this doesn't work out. What if I cannot continue working on becoming a physician, what will I do with my life? Nobody would be surprised if I didn't make it, everyone already doubts I will match anywhere. My own faith in myself wavers and oscillates over the day, week, and possibly month. 

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

    I am suddenly filled with the overwhelming urge to do something, anything productive. Maybe I can drown my anxiety by studying for my final board exam that is looming in the distance. A test I still am not sure when I will take because of immigration uncertainty and the fact that America will not let me cross its borders. What a strange conundrum to be stuck in where I have nowhere to go or look forward to in my near future. No, that is not true. My life is not reliant on future issues alone. Luckily, my time staying with my parents proved to be fruitful for my overworked brain. My parents have been working on renovations that I was happy to be involved in. I escaped into the wonderful world of colour palettes, painting, floors, and countertops. There were so many decisions and problems to troubleshoot as the renovations progressed. It is absolutely wonderful and completely nonmedical. Clean, straight corners, precise measurements, my mind whirled cheerfully at the design. Surgical, stark, but with a hint a colour became the theme of this additional space. I never knew painting walls and ceiling could be calming and soothing for the agitated mind.  The physical exertion and music playing in the background transported me to a blank mind, into a world of nothingness except for the burn in my arms and back. I was in shock and awe that there could be a moment, even for a minute, where my mind would not be a spinning hamster wheel. When I am done my tasks for the evening, my arms ache and my legs wobble as if they are made of jelly. I barely make it up the stairs to the second level and slump down into the couch exhausted but content. 

    Having different hobbies and tasks helps balance out my life in a healthy manner because it diverts my focus from obsessing over any one thing in particular. Life isn't about being stuck with only one direction or a narrow mindset. It helps to broaden my horizons and encompass all parts of life in moderation so that my growth is even and expansive of various skills. I also need variety in my life to push away boredom which can also induce my anxious and obsessive behaviour. This is also probably why I picked a career in primary care instead of a particular specialty. I enjoy the challenge of having a different problem to tackle and the world is made up of so many different types of people. I look at the body and person as a whole because their physical health and mental health are connected and it doesn't help to focus on just one aspect of an entire being. I need to remember there is more to a person than their current condition or state of mind and that they belong to a family of their own with their own trajectories, goals, ambitions, and people whom they love and who love them back. In the greater scheme of things, we are all interconnected and work together in this fishbowl we call home. 

Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on Unsplash

    Sometimes, I need to be reminded to treat myself in a similar manner and listen to what my body or mind is trying to tell me. The fatigue clouding my mind as I force myself to complete questions could be resolved with a few moments spent with my husband and focusing on him and our relationship. When I need an escape from home, maybe all I need is a walk in the cool autumn air and listen to the crunch of the leaves under my shoes and the ever so silent rustle of gravel as my dog explores the trees and shrubs around us. The crisp air caresses my face with a cool touch that awakens my senses and refreshes my mind. I take gulps of this fresh cold air as if my lungs have been deprived of something essential for too long. This is when I realized this is all I needed to continue. Just this small moment of treating my senses to a welcome and pleasant change before I walk back home and continue the grind. I smile as my dog's wet nose bumps into my hand as he reminds me that he is there with me. I grasp my husband's hand with mine and stroll along the trail in silence, each experience a different reality, together. These are my precious moments that retain my sanity for another day. I am ready to face my fears and my uncertain future with an open mind and an open heart and take what comes my way.

Until Next Time,

Introduction photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash


  1. Your emotions run so deep and I sincerely hope you get matched in interview and your life continues to progress in a magnificent way.

  2. I love the way you write, it's so deep and just perfect! Just taking a moment and breathing, while truly being present in the moment is just so important. Thanks for sharing this beautiful thoughts and epiphanies :)

  3. You write in such a beautiful way ... Thank you for sharing your words!

  4. This was such a powerful and aching piece. Thank you for sharing this vulnerable moment.


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