More Deadlines

It’s Thursday night, and I have more writing deadlines. I’m late on my professional blog post at GoodTherapy.org (again), and I have a sermon to do for Sunday.

For the first 12 years of my parish ministry life, I preached about 46 Sunday sermons a year. I had time away for vacation, and occasionally for continuing education, or a bout with laryngitis, or a special guest preacher, but otherwise, I had a deadline every week. In addition, each year I had a half dozen Lenten sermons to write, a dozen or more funeral sermons to prepare, half a dozen wedding sermons, and a dozen or more newsletter columns to do. When I joined a staff for my last 8 years in the parish, the rhythm slowed to about every third Sunday plus the added services which I led. That’s a lot of writing to the clock. That’s a lot of writing, period. I know I learned to cope with this demand while an English major in college. What I remember most about my Major are the piles of papers I had to produce in every class. I was writing something, or some things, for some class All. The. Time.

I don’t like that pressure. Never did. Even if I got good at it. So this is me, procrastinating, writing on my blog because I want to.

Writing well is not easy. It takes a lot of thought, and a pretty sharp mind. And a good deal of discipline. Just to be clear, I do have an idea what I’m going to write about on the GoodTherapy.org blog: I will be talking about how hard it is for family members to really listen to each other. And for my sermon, I will be talking about the OT story of Jacob wrestling with God as he makes his way back home to finally ask his brother Esau for forgiveness. So, I’m not a total slacker. I’ve got my central ideas for each project.

But whining occasionally helps me get back on track. And writing in my journal, or warming up on here. So tomorrow afternoon, after the gym, and my noon meeting, I’ll be on the deck, writing my first drafts. Fountain pen to paper. Promise.

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Oh No You Don’t

Medical docs, you don’t get to run over a patient and their therapist with your assumptions just because you believe you can.

Yesterday one of my long term clients called me to ask for a psychiatrist referral. The message was a puzzle, so I called her back to learn the details.

She had been in to see a doctor for medication for an infection. After that examination, blood work and diagnosis was over, the doctor asked my client about an older mental health diagnosis that was in the chart. “Well, I see that you were diagnosed XXX in the past.” “Yes,” my client answered, “but my current therapist assures me I don’t have XXX anymore.” Well, that information was ignored. My client was ushered in to see yet another physician who “specialized” in mental health issues. He proceeded to give her a brief screening, and in a few minutes told her that while she probably didn’t have XXX anymore she probably had ADHD.  She should see a psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis and get appropriate medication.

This is an abuse of power, as far as I’m concerned. I have seen this client dozens of hours over a span of more than two years. I have more training and experience in mental health diagnosis than these doctors ever will, and I am the health professional on record who is providing mental health care. If they had bothered to LISTEN to the client about her experience, paused to consider my license and the limits of their training, my client would have been spared their authority run amok.

I’m just glad my client called.  I could assure her she didn’t need screening for ADHD, and save herself the $300 + she would have spent to see a shrink for a disorder she doesn’t have.

What is astonishing to me? These doctors believed they had the whole picture on our patient after 10 minutes, and ran right over her own health care history. Medical arrogance is everywhere, but here, for this one person, is a stunning example of it when it comes to mental health care.

Medical docs, I’ll make you a deal: I won’t try to set broken legs or cure infections if you don’t try to heal the mind with 5 questions and your electronic prescription software. You’re out of your league, believe it or not (and I know you don’t).

Just Kidding…..Not

I’ve had the pleasure of being around girls in their early teens quite a lot the past few years, and I have noticed a quirky turn of their conversation that has got me thinking.

One girl in the midst of a conversation with another girl will say something critical, blunt, or even hostile;  pause;  and then follow up immediately with a smile and “Just kidding!” Thinking it might have been a style of humor unique to one (particular) girl I know very well, I listened for it when these girls were together in groups, or chatting back and forth on Facebook, or in conversations I overheard while driving or waiting for them (I’m always waiting for them).

from the film ” Mean Girls”

Over and over the same pattern. Critique, “just kidding,” then the other girl usually follows with a response that might be equally snarly and if not met with a light heart and smile in return. The first girl might answer with another blunt remark. Et cetera. I’ve often wonder how these relationships survive this emotional dodge and weave. And the answer is, many don’t.

I think that this particular stage of relationship building, coupled with the rocketing growth of body and brain in this age of adolescent girls makes this a way that girls are able to manage aggression with one another. In the same way that adolescent boys may push, poke and even swing at one another on a daily basis, girls push, poke and swing with words, attitudes and facial expressions that emote hostility and aggression.

I’ve not been reading the adolescent literature lately, and so I can’t quote the latest author that has put this observation into article or book form: I guarantee someone has had this thought before me. But I wonder if any one who is around this age group (11-17) of girls from a different part of the US or outside our country shares this or a different observation.

I know a few readers of this blog are living around the world in quite different cultures. If you have an observation, comment below. I’d love to hear what you’re hearing! No kidding.