Earlier this week I interviewed a patient in front of our residents and medical students. A woman in her early 50s, she had been hospitalized following a serious suicide attempt.
The patient had borderline personality features, including cutting, that had begun in early adolescence. She also carried diagnoses of MDD eating disorder, and substance abuse.
What struck me on meeting her was how composed she was. She was calm and rational. She had it all together. She could see the path forward, understood the error of her ways, was intent on living healthy. It was an easy interview. I was terrified.
She was the last person to speak to her dad before he took his own life. She was 13. She retained considerable guilt about his death and had never completed grieving it. I feared she would follow his path.
In my own life, and observing friends, patients, and loved ones, I have come to value toughness, discipline, and resolve. But I have also learned to appreciate the roles that softness, flexibility, patience, acceptance, and humility must play in keeping us strong and resilient. I told the patient that palm trees survive hurricanes by bending. I hope it helps.