• Quote of the Day
    "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."
    John Wooden, posted by David Baxter

stargazer

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I just exploded at a government agency official who I thought was treating me disrespectfully after I'd waited on a long hold (to be expected) to the Social Security Administration. My expectation was that I would be treated with the same level of respect I had offered -- maybe she was in a bad mood.

(I also didn't think the information she gave me was factual. It was certainly unreasonable, but then, so is the SSA.)

This is the first time I've exploded in a really long time. I've snapped a few times (on the Internet, not in real life), but I haven't exploded like this. It scares me a little bit. Also, I'm concerned about how long it's going to take me to "come down." My hands and fingers are still shaking. I have to work today, and function.

When things like this happen, I tend to withdraw afterwards, and be too afraid to follow through with the beauracratic procedure, because I am scared I'll lose my cool again. All I was doing was asking for a change of address form, and she told me it had to go to my sister, because she's my Payee -- that made no sense to me.

Then I told her I had lost my Social Security Card, and she said she would send me the form to apply for a new one. I asked her, "does my sister also have to fill out THAT form?"

You're probably laughing (whoever you are) but I can assure you it got worse from there.
 

David Baxter

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Re: Anger management: What are you so angry about?

You're likely dealing with a government clerk with little or no knowledge of you or mental health issues, SG. It's not difficult to understand why you became angry but in all likelihood she's responding to the fact that a family member is the payee and assuming that implies "legal incompetence"; hence the brush-off. It's not fair but it is the reality of bureaucracies.
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger management: What are you so angry about?

You're likely dealing with a government clerk with little or no knowledge of you or mental health issues, SG. It's not difficult to understand why you became angry but in all likelihood she's responding to the fact that a family member is the payee and assuming that implies "legal incompetence"; hence the brush-off. It's not fair but it is the reality of bureaucracies.

I'm cooling off now, and I can see that all you have said is true. I also think that she may have been in a bad mood this morning, as it seemed evident even when she first answered the phone. And I don't usually say that -- I'm usually quicker to think someone's a "jerk" (like the clinician I've dealt with a couple times at County Mental Health here) than that they're just having a bad day.

This all started, by the way, when I came home from work in a perfectly good mood last night, saw I had a voice mail message, and it turned out to be that clinician, rather than someone pleasant, such as my daughter. His very tone of voice angered me, and I had a hard time winding down to get to sleep.

I'm reluctant to follow through with going to County Mental Health, because I keep thinking I'm going to get angry at the clinician, and I don't know how to get past that.

(LATER):

Well, I think I successfully channeled my morning anger in a positive direction. I wound up calling County Mental Health & explaining the entire situation to the person who answered the phone. She transferred me to the chief psychiatrist there. The psychiatrist told me she would email the clinician and let him know that I would be calling him later to say that I will be coming in, but that I would prefer to be first dealing with a different clinician, to start things off.

She said he's actually a very knowledgeable clinician, and I said I didn't doubt that, but that it might have been something so simple as a temperament conflict, in that he tends to speak very very slowly (as if I wouldn't understand him, or something?), and I tend to speak & react very quickly. I tend to become impatient with people who talk slowly, unless they have sufficient charm & charisma to make up for it. (Like my boss, for example -- he speaks very slowly, but there are certain gradations in his tone of voice that I can focus on, that make up for the slowness of speech, so I don't become bored or uneasy while listening to him. In fact, I'm sort of jealous of people who can do that, because I think they make good teachers. I talk too fast, and too much.)

I know that all of this doesn't speak very well for my character, but I do make an effort to overcome these natural tendencies, moment to moment in my day-to-day life. Sometimes, however, they get the better of me.
 
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David Baxter

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Re: Anger management: What are you so angry about?

Well done, SG.

Did understand correctly that the Chief Psychiatrist is telling you that you can transfer to a different clinician?
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger management: What are you so angry about?

Well done, SG.

Did understand correctly that the Chief Psychiatrist is telling you that you can transfer to a different clinician?

Yes. The procedure now will be to call the first clinician and explain that I prefer to be transferred. In the meantime, the chief psychiatrist will have emailed the first clinician to explain the situation. I told her I would wait a while, then call later on today (to give him a chance to check his email first).

Gotta run now (literally) and get to work. But this is all good news.
 

David Baxter

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Re: Anger management: What are you so angry about?

Yes, it is indeed good news. I can't imagine therapy with a clinician you find abrasive or irritating benefitting you.
 
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Re: Anger management: What are you so angry about?

stargazer, I hope it all works out for the best for you.
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger management: What are you so angry about?

I got a call from the new clinician, and he didn't strike me as any better than the first guy. At one point I could tell I was becoming angry inside, and I said: "I have anger issues, and I don't want this conversation to continue. I'm getting off the phone now. Goodbye."

Then, however, I ran the whole thing past my boss, because I felt vulnerable and was visibly shaken (or at least I thought I was.) He said that the clinician had actually sounded very "objective," the way I told it.

So then I said to my boss: "Maybe I over-reacted."

And my boss said: "Maybe you didn't."

Now I'm confused. What IS a clinician anyway? In the other County, I didn't see a "clinician" at any point. I saw a therapist first, and later a psychiatrist. And both of them ALWAYS treated me with respect. So I don't know what gives.

I wrote the above from work a little earlier. I'm at home now & am attempting to gather my thoughts around all of this. I sort of feel like each of these clinicians has been pressuring on me on some level, and in some way not discrediting my right to make my own choices. I can't quite put my finger on it, but their behavior toward me is definitely triggering me. It's making me want to bite back at them. I don't like to be disrespected. I can't think of anything I like the least.
 
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David Baxter

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

I got a call from the new clinician, and he didn't strike me as any better than the first guy. At one point I could tell I was becoming angry inside, and I said: "I have anger issues, and I don't want this conversation to continue. I'm getting off the phone now. Goodbye."

Then, however, I ran the whole thing past my boss, because I felt vulnerable and was visibly shaken (or at least I thought I was.) He said that the clinician had actually sounded very "objective," the way I told it.

So then I said to my boss: "Maybe I over-reacted."

And my boss said: "Maybe you didn't."

I have no idea what your boss meant by either "objective" or "Maybe you didn't". You say that, on the phone, the second clinician didn't sound any better than the first - what do you mean by that?

Now I'm confused. What IS a clinician anyway? In the other County, I didn't see a "clinician" at any point. I saw a therapist first, and later a psychiatrist. And both of them ALWAYS treated me with respect. So I don't know what gives.

"Clinician" is a generic term for a mental health or other health professional who works in a clinical setting, i.e., directly seeing clients or patients.

I sort of feel like each of these clinicians has been pressuring on me on some level, and in some way not discrediting my right to make my own choices. I can't quite put my finger on it, but their behavior toward me is definitely triggering me. It's making me want to bite back at them. I don't like to be disrespected. I can't think of anything I like the least.

Above you said "both of them ALWAYS treated me with respect" and here you say "I don't like to be disrespected".

Two things:

1. In what way did the behavior of these two people seem disrespectful? It's hard to guage people's reactions accurately over the phone at the best of times and you have noted that you were angry during these exchanges which may further have colored your interpretation of the conversation.

2. I don't think anybody likes to be disrespected. Were you respectful to them? In the second case, it sounds like you were angry to begin with and within a short time hung up on the guy.
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

Thanks for replying. Again, I've invested about a half-hour in a detailed, point by point reply, but Dell zapped it into cyberspace (intentionally, I believe), and when I went to press the back button, Dell had removed the back button from my computer screen. I'm going to rewrite it on a Word doc, and paste it into a new reply. It might take a while.
 

Daniel

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

Again, I've invested about a half-hour in a detailed, point by point reply, but Dell zapped it into cyberspace (intentionally, I believe),

I sometimes use Word when writing a reply to help ensure anything I am writing doesn't get fried by my opening and closing of many browser windows.
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

“I have no idea what your boss meant by either "objective" or "Maybe you didn't".

Knowing my boss, I think he was trying to help me reduce the extent to which I might exaggerate or dramatize the situation. He was trying to make the situation seem more tolerable to me, so I could deal with it without getting too uptight. He wanted me to see the clinician as “just doing his job” (that’s probably what he meant by “objective”), and he wanted me to perceive my own reactions as reasonable, rather than overly reactive, so that I would feel comfortable to proceed, and not feel as though the whole thing were too much for me to deal with.

“’Clinician’ is a generic term for a mental health or other health professional who works in a clinical setting, i.e., directly seeing clients or patients.”

Thanks for the clarification. I’d not have guessed that.

"You say that, on the phone, the second clinician didn't sound any better than the first - what do you mean by that?”

Let me explain below. Late last night, I didn’t have the energy to tell the full story, and I am aware that I left out the details.

“Were you respectful to them? In the second case, it sounds like you were angry to begin with and within a short time hung up on the guy.”

That's a good question, and I can see how it might have sounded as though I went into the situation disrespecting the new clinician, but that was not the case. I was respectful toward both of them. I listened to them, and I was nice, friendly and courteous -- in fact, I was really trying to make sure things got off to a positive start, so I was doing my best to convey to him that I'm a nice guy and that I would not be difficult to work with.

Now, the conversation(s) lasted a long time, not a short time, and I only hung up when my buttons began to be pressed. I had a one-hour work break, was sitting in a restaurant, and these conversations lasted the better part of the hour.

“In what way did the behavior of these two people seem disrespectful? It's hard to guage people's reactions accurately over the phone at the best of times and you have noted that you were angry during these exchanges which may further have colored your interpretation of the conversation.”

I agree that my anger during the conversations might have coloured my interpretations of them. However, I believe I can answer why their behaviour seemed disrespectful. The common thread in each case was that they seemed to be placing their own agendae ahead of my own, as though my schedule was something that ought to be overlooked and disregarded, rather than respected. Basically, I didn’t feel that my time was being respected.

Please indulge me while I give you more detail. There were three conversations yesterday during my work break.

(1) In the first conversation, the clinician asked me, among other things, to contact the people in the other County and get the number of the clinic, the address of the clinic, and the number of my old doctor.

(2) In the second conversation, I called the old clinic, and was reminded by the secretary in no uncertain terms that it was illegal for her to release that information before I had signed a written release at the new clinic. I also felt as though she were blaming me personally for making this request, when all I was doing was following through. I felt as though I was being put in the middle.

(3) In the third conversation, I called the clinician back and told him what the secretary at the other clinic had said. He said he’d go ahead and call the clinic himself, then we proceeded to make an appointment.

He insisted that I come in this morning. I told him I could not, because I work today, it’s the last day before Thanksgiving vacation so we’ve rescheduled all the students and are cramming them in, I don’t drive, and it would take me too long to take two bus connections there and back.

He then said I had to make an appointment “as soon as possible” and I began to wonder what the rush was, and to feel pressured. But I went ahead with the procedure to make an appointment anyway, and when I offered the information that I work on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays (only to indicate that it would work better on Wednesdays or Fridays) he said it didn’t matter what my work schedule was, because whatever time they gave him was the time I had to go with, and that “I” would have to be flexible.

Since my perception, by that time, was that “he” was the one who wasn’t being flexible, I started to get mad – internally. I did not express the anger externally, but I feel that if I hadn’t have hung up, I’d have exploded in the restaurant during my dinner break. I say that, knowing me, and where I am right now, at this time of my life.

And, once again, I had to get back to work. I did tell him this once again, just before saying I was starting to get angry.

I emailed my therapist last night and said I would not be following thru with the procedure to transfer my records to this County at this time. Based on how the procedure is making me feel, I would much rather deal with the people who already know me, at least until I feel more secure in my current job situation.

To stress this point, for the next three hours at work, I was “on automatic.” All I could think about were the previous negative events. So I began to feel:

(1) afraid that I might turn in a poor job performance

(2) resentful that people who are supposed to be helping me might in some way be hurting me (not intentionally of course -- but there's no doubt I'm being triggered by all of this)

So if the procedure of obtaining local therapy and psychiatry through Country resources is going to trigger me, rather than help me, I really don’t think I need it -- at least not now. I've only had this job for two months. If I've held the job for six months or so and it looks secure, maybe then would be a good time to get the records switched.

I have a four months supply of medication anyway. I told the clinician that, so again, I don't see what the big rush is, other than to make me feel more uptight.
 

David Baxter

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

Let me try to address some of this point by point:

(1) In the first conversation, the clinician asked me, among other things, to contact the people in the other County and get the number of the clinic, the address of the clinic, and the number of my old doctor.

Given that a typical psych clinic (like doctor's offices) has a lot of clients to see, appointments to juggle, and calls and faxes to deal with, this would be pretty much standard practice to ask you to provide numbers and addresses if possible, especially for trying to obtain information about an out of town practice.

(2) In the second conversation, I called the old clinic, and was reminded by the secretary in no uncertain terms that it was illegal for her to release that information before I had signed a written release at the new clinic. I also felt as though she were blaming me personally for making this request, when all I was doing was following through. I felt as though I was being put in the middle.

Again, I'm not privy to tone of voice, etc., but it would be the obligation of the staff in your old clinic to remind you of that. It's not a matter of blame at all, but rather a matter of law and ethics on the part of the clinic.

(3) In the third conversation, I called the clinician back and told him what the secretary at the other clinic had said. He said he?d go ahead and call the clinic himself, then we proceeded to make an appointment.

He insisted that I come in this morning. I told him I could not, because I work today, it?s the last day before Thanksgiving vacation so we?ve rescheduled all the students and are cramming them in, I don?t drive, and it would take me too long to take two bus connections there and back.

He then said I had to make an appointment ?as soon as possible? and I began to wonder what the rush was, and to feel pressured. But I went ahead with the procedure to make an appointment anyway, and when I offered the information that I work on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays (only to indicate that it would work better on Wednesdays or Fridays) he said it didn?t matter what my work schedule was, because whatever time they gave him was the time I had to go with, and that ?I? would have to be flexible.

I would say that this person might have put things more tactfully but again s/he is basically just stating the reality of most clinics or psychological/psychiatric practices. I have had a lot of medical appointments these past few months and I've always made a point of telling them that I'll be driving in from out of the city and would prefer an afternoon appointment. That didn't mean that I was always able to get afternoon appointments, however - some were as early as 8:15 am. The reality is that they have to try to juggle appointment times with a lot of people and I did have to take what they could offer me.

As to why the urgency, I don't know, other than that given your recent exchanges with the other clinician and then the Chief Psychiatrist they might have some concerns about whether you could be destabilizing. Remember that they don't know you or your history yet, really. The person you spoke with may simply have felt that the sooner you got in to permit a better assessment of your mental/emotional status, the better.

Since my perception, by that time, was that ?he? was the one who wasn?t being flexible, I started to get mad ? internally. I did not express the anger externally, but I feel that if I hadn?t have hung up, I?d have exploded in the restaurant during my dinner break. I say that, knowing me, and where I am right now, at this time of my life.

And, once again, I had to get back to work. I did tell him this once again, just before saying I was starting to get angry.

Whatever was expressed overtly, I suspect that some of your anger was slipping through, which again would have perhaps colored his reaction to you. And remember that the guy you talked to most recently undoubtedly had some information from the previous two.
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

I've read your responses carefully, David, and they all make sense to me. The last point is something that someone else brought up in a PM (probably concerned I'd be offended, which is understandable, though I am not.)

I can't reply to all of this point-by-point right now due to time-pressures, but I think it's safe to say they don't know me and might be concerned I might be de-stabilizing.

I also am concerned I might be de-stabilizing, so I have a personal need to avoid situations that might aggravate the potential for de-stabilization. I'll pursue further connections with annoying bureaucracies AFTER the first Thanksgiving I will have spent with family for five years -- not before.

Off to enjoy the blessings of the holiday, and be grateful thereof.
 

David Baxter

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

That sounds like a good plan to me, SG. I hope you have a wonderful time with your daughter.
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

I did have a wonderful time with my daughter and stepdaughter. My stepdaughter and I talked for over two hours, and we reconciled. I hadn't seen her for three years. She lives up in San Francisco, where she's a first year law student, and we decided to meet regularly for coffee, and to be involved in each other's lives again.

I'm still feeling very grateful, but I'm on the verge of getting annoyed by the bureacracy again. I got a letter from the clinician today giving me an 800 number to call for an appointment, but when I called for the appointment, they said that he had to call me.

I asked if I could just come in and sign the release, and they said no, that I have to have an assessment first, which is done by appointment. They said he could call me tomorrow to make the appointment, and my anger already started rising within me.

I was thinking: "I'll be darned if I'm going let this clinician mess up the day of my workshop rehearsal in the morning, and my piano and voice students' recital in the evening, and all the making of the programs and certificates and buying refreshments and everything else that's going to go into what is supposed to be not only a busy day, but a totally great day. It would take just one disturbing phone call to ruin the whole thing."

Then she asked me if I wanted him to call me tomorrow, and I just said: "Naw, I'll call back later on."

I'm not as annoyed as I was last week, but maybe if I take it slow, and gather more useful information in the process, it will go more smoothly. The sense of hurry and rush was a lot of what was getting to me last week.
 

stargazer

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

I just called the 800 number that the clinician gave me to get my MediCal services transferred from one County to the other. It turns out that it's actually the number of a local County office that won't open till 8am (another two hours and twenty minutes from now). That explains why the people in the previous County where I am still technically receiving benefits had never heard of the 800 number.

This is actually encouraging, because I can call them right after 8am and probably not be on too long a hold. I am feeling that I am in a fairly patient mood today, compared to last week, and I'd like to get as much of this tackled today as possible. (Friday is my semi-day-off.)

(LATER):

I'm actually somewhat proud of myself, because I was able to tackle the first bureaucratic hurdle without losing my cool. I then produced the following email to my sister, because as my Payee, the ball is now in her court.

Hi Barbara,

I called the 800 number I was given for transferring MediCal records, and it turned out to be a local information number. They said that because I am on SSI, and because you are my Payee, you will need to call the SSA number: 800 772 1213, in order to submit a change-of-address from [OLD ADDRESS] to [NEW ADDRESS].

Also, because I do not have a "red white and blue" MediCARE card (and I'm supposed to) we have to request that I be sent one. All I have is the "blue and white" MediCAL card. As it turns out, MediCare is my primary health plan, and the MediCal is just for back-up. However, MediCal covers dental and optical, wherease MediCare does not.

She explained that I qualified for MediCare because I've worked all my life and paid into Social Security. In addition, I qualified for MediCal because I'm on SSI. I'm actually lucky, because I qualify for both, and many people do not.

They might also refer to MediCare as being an "A-B-D" plan, with the following nuances:

A = hospital
B = doctor
D = drugs

I just wanted to prepare you for this, because I noticed that she sometimes talked in language she assumed I would be familiar with, but was not. On the other hand, she also repeated basic information five or ten times that I had understood the first time -- so I guess it all evened out.

Anyway, this is the next step, and we'll see where it leads us. Let me know how it goes.

Love,
Andy
 
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stargazer

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Re: Anger and Bureacracy

So: my sister called me later on yesterday and told me that she'd submitted my change of address with the SSA. They said it would take 30 days (not 60 days, which is what the clinician told me) for the MediCare card to arrive, but that they would send a verification slip within 7 business days, so I could have something to show at a hospital in case of a medical emergency.

I still have the clinician's number and can call him to set up a doctor's appointment here, but I have a few loose screws in my head to fasten first.
 

Halo

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Yes it does sound like things are coming together nicely...well done :goodjob:
 

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