Her red, puffy eyes, and tear-stained face said what she couldn't- surgery was the only option. On June 12, 2002, my mom went to the doctor's office for what should have been a routine checkup, but she ended up getting much more than she bargained for. We all knew something was wrong. Just the week before, she had begun to feel tightness in her chest as she walked up the steps, and had even blacked out behind the steering wheel on her way to work. Yet we kept our silence, because we didn't want it to be true. It couldn't be. My mom was born with a heart murmur, an abnormal sound of the heart that is usually harmless. In my mom's case, however, it was a signal of malfunctioning heart valves.
In the days following her diagnosis, I became an angry, depressed and frustrated 9-year-old. I constantly questioned why, as I tried to wrap my head around the idea that the future was uncertain. Knowing the scenario was life-or-death was scary enough, but losing my mom was unimaginable. She was my greatest role model, with her intelligence, unshakable faith, and above all, strength. As the date for her surgery approached, my grandmother began praying with increased fervor, and enlisted the help of family members and friends. While looking from the sidelines, I felt helpless as I thought, 'she's preparing for my mom to die'. As untrue as this thought was, it engulfed me like a swarm of bees; it could not be escaped. With nowhere else to turn, I looked to my depleting faith for guidance.
On June 24, 2002, the night before my mom's surgery, I had the most profound prayer experience of my life. As I knelt by my bedside, I began pouring out my soul to God. I explained to him that I knew he held the power to make my mom well, and I believed he would do so. As I finished my prayer, I felt an astonishing peace within me- it was as if I knew my mom would be alright. The next day, I explained to my grandmother the experience I'd had the night before. She smiled through her tears, congratulated me on my faith, and returned to her prayers. Seeing her react this way stirred something in me, although at the time I didn't know what it was.
Two days later, I had tears of joy streaming down my face as my mom emerged out of the car from the hospital. She was in terrible pain, but still managed a smile after seeing my 23-month-old brother and I. For the next few weeks, I was occupied with household errands and entertaining my brother. However, when I had a moment to myself, I questioned why my grandmother, who had experienced much more than I, wasn't able to feel the peace that I had. Could it be that I was on a different spiritual level than she was? Or maybe it was due to the fact that I was a child. These questions, and others like them, have plagued me for several years, and still do, leading me to the study of psychology.
While studying psychology, I want to look not only at the physical side by observing people's reactions to different situations. I also want to examine the emotional effects of these circumstances by monitoring the reaction of the brain. As a result of careful observation, I hope to understand exactly what I felt during the weeks leading up to my mom's surgery. Why was I angry, frustrated, and depressed? Was it because the situation was out of my control? Was it because for once in my life, I had no idea what to expect? What made me decide to look to my faith for guidance? Why did I pray then, when I hadn't prayed previously? Why didn't my grandmother and I have the same reaction?
I desire to examine how the brain and mind function in relation to one another. I intend to look specifically at the correlation between faith and the mind. Why is it that when a person has a firm belief in a higher power than themselves they feel more at peace? How is it that their religious belief affects them physically as well? My ultimate goal is to become a psychiatrist, and in doing so, help people with whatever mental health issues they may have. I want to use the best possible combination of treatments to ease people's suffering and pain. At the moment, I may have a lot more questions than answers, but I am more than ready to begin my search for the answers.