I noticed from the moment I picked up the phone that my client was unusually quiet. She’d been dealing with mental health issues as well as some back pain.   She had been with a competent therapist and psychiatrist for a while to manage her mental health.

She found my material particularly helpful because she could now talk with both her therapist and her psychiatrist more specifically about what was going on with her. The key was when she began using the Appointment Preparation Worksheet ahead of time.  She felt more focused on her issues of the moment instead of thinking through things hurriedly and forgetting important stuff because, as we all know, appointments end all too soon sometimes.

The results for her were profound:  it was easier for her psychiatrist to tweak her medications, her therapist was able to target her needs and suggest specific helpful strategies more clearly, and she was able to observe what her situation was as it was happening because she was tuned into the philosophy of  Patient Power.

When I heard the lifeless tone of her voice, I listened as she described how responsible she felt for the well being of others and how frustrated she was by her inability to just “be okay already.”  She was she was giving up, that there was no help for her and she was unwilling to keep trying so hard to “get it right.”

Please remember that I am not a medical provider.  I am passionate about helping people who don’t feel well speak the same language as their providers so that they can get their healthcare needs met.

Having said that, the first step in speaking the same language as someone else is to meet YOURSELF where you are in the moment.  No one does this perfectly – that’s not the goal.  What I want you to remember is that it’s important to do the best you can to notice your thoughts and feelings and I strongly suggest getting it out of your head and writing it down so you can see it more clearly.

It was her husband who showed her a potential blind spot when he said that he had been reading about bipolar and questioned whether she may have it.

When he said that to her, she said she wanted to throw up – just the idea felt both true and impossible at the same time.  She couldn’t face that this too could possibly be adding to her already complex situation.   That’s the dilemma she called me with.

I listened more carefully to her story and felt her pain.  I felt her husband’s concern for her as well.   I understood her fear, her disappointment, and her love for her family.

What do you think”, she asked me.

I shared how I heard her husband’s concern for her, understood her fear, her overwhelm, her pain and her love for her family. We took some time with this part here as I felt it was important she feel truly acknowledged and appreciated for sharing something so difficult and personally devastating.

After she clearly acknowledged that she didn’t feel unsafe, I made the following suggestion:

“Give your husband a 7 day dosage log and you can both prepare one separately to note the effects of your meds, your mood and also that you’re taking them as scheduled.  Both of you can also keep track using an Appointment Preparation Worksheet of your current symptoms, questions, and how things are changing. That’s the first step.

You can also make an appointment with your therapist and your psychiatrist after you observe this together for a week to ten days.  Then you can go in with clear information if you decide that it’s time to be evaluated.”

She agreed that this sounded like a good plan and would get back to me to let me know how it goes.

Here’s the important learning’s from this case study:

  • Vague information won’t get the job done: Going to your provider in situations like this with unclear vague information is NOT the way to get the healthcare you deserve.
  • Specific information helps:     Sharing short phrases about your state of mind, physical condition, etc gives your provider clear information so they can custom tailor their recommendations according to your unique needs.
  • Listen Up:  Other people’s perspective on your behavior can be very useful (not necessarily definitive though) and we’re all here to help each other.

As always, if you are in dire straits and feel so much pain that you can no longer keep yourself safe, it is IMPERATIVE that you err on the side of caution and seek help immediately.  Only you can be the judge of that.

In Part 2 of this, I’ll share the results of this case study with you and we’ll find out together what this client learned.  My prayer is that she can continue to deal with life’s daily changes in a way that works for her.

I deeply admire her willingness to explore her issues as well as her husband’s courage to share this with her.

What are you willing to notice about yourself today?  Is it possible you have a blind spot like this client did and need an outside perspective?   Or, maybe you’re the person who’s noticing something about someone you love and want to consider talking with them about this?  I welcome your thoughts, comments and insights.

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