Monday, November 12, 2007

The Shrink Next Door

This is our 600th Post!
Lately my neighbors have been apologizing to me, which feels a little bit weird. We'll have brief (OK, sometimes not so brief) conversations and they end them by saying something to the effect of, "I'm sorry to chew your ear off," or "I know you're off duty, so I'm sorry about that," or words to that effect. They know I'm a psychiatrist so I guess they think they're burdening me when they do the normal problem-sharing thing that goes along with being a friendly neighbor. Now, it's possible that I get more than the usual share of mental-health related problem sharing because they know what I do for a living. And it's true I know lots of stuff about who in the neighborhood is on which medication, or who would never in their life take that particular medication, or who is looking for a psych referral (I give them names but they rarely follow through), just because of what I do for a living. But it doesn't feel like they're burdening me. I like my neighbors. I've never had a bad one, and that's pretty unusual considering how long I've lived here.

That being said, I can't say that I've ever gone to my mechanic neighbor for car advice or to my hair stylist neighbor for coloring advice (although Dinah probably thinks I should) but that's not because I don't think they'd help me if I asked for it. It just never occurs to me to ask. It is nice to know though that any one of those folks who apologized to me for "problem dumping" would be just as quick to listen to me if the tables were turned. That's just being a good neighbor.


Anonymous said...

This is totally off subject, but can I ask you a question? I was on 100 mg of Zoloft for about 2 years, when it just suddenly stopped working. I would STILL take the medicine, but started having terrible withdrawal symptoms. Finally, my doctor switched me to Celexa (only 20 mg) and the withdrawal symptoms from the Zoloft seem to just be getting worse. I can't even go to work anymore, I feel so terrible all the time. Do you have any advice?? I can't take these "brain zaps" anymore.


Midwife with a Knife said...

Hm... Sometimes I wish people wouldn't ask me pregnancy questions, but only because answering them makes me feel a tad uncomfortable, but only because I worry that if I give them an answer, it's based on limited clinical information, and very likely to be wrong. I usually go with "You should bring that up with your obstetrician", or something like that, but I worry that that seems a bit unfriendly. I don't think that people asking is impolite, I just haven't figured out a good way to answer.

Rach said...

I had an interesting (similar) line of thought this morning in the car. No one in my line of thought would ever ask me questions about "Hey, I have an idea - can I pick your brain!"... So what is it about MDs that makes people think that they can randomly start asking clinical questions just because someone with medical training is present?

I dunno... It's like when I was a kid, and my dad's friend the dentist came for dinner, and he felt compelled to have me show the dentist my teeth...weird.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it's different then anything else...if something legal comes up, I ask the judge over coffee, friend came over yesterday to talk with my husband about a very specific work issue of his (this is called asking for free advice). It's all part of friendship, and I have to say, there is the assumption that one might be interested in what one does for a living. This really doesn't bother me.

I guess the difference is that your neighbors are engaging in routine chatting, that venting about one's events/problems/issues is the mechanism of connection, we all do it (I'll rant at anyone who'll be ranted at, thank you, and they don't have to be a shrink), but there's something that people find a little disconcerting about doing it to a shrink.

It can get a little weird when friends/neighbors want to draw you in to the details of their psychiatric lives in a "take sides" kind of way: My shrink did this, shouldn't he have done that?
Mostly, I don't mind.

What I don't do: if I run into my docs/kids' docs/other professional in a social setting: I don't discuss my personal (their professional) issues in a setting where they are on "free-time" since the expectation is that I will see them in their offices and pay them for consultation. For this, we have weather and sports.

Anonymous said... neighbor is my car mechanic. I don't ask him for free advice...I just say "Mike, my car is acting weird, can I make an appointment at the shop?" He charges me, but I am sure I get the cute neighbor discount. And he drives my car into his shop and delivers it upon his return. Then we talk about the crazy neighbors down the street.


My Own Woman said...

You are truly blessed if you have never had a bad neighbor!

Assrot said...

Completely off topic but hoping to maybe stir up another topic for discussion. I'd truly like to hear what a "good" shrink has to say about the following.

I'd love for some of these psychiatrist's blogs to talk about the medicines they prescribe and how very, physically addictive they can be. For some reason I have had bad luck with shrinks to the point I will never see another one unless forced to do so. Everyone I have ever had has given me bad advice, bad medicine that they lied and said was not physically addictive and most have usually sent me to their idiot psychologist buddies once they bled my insurance for all it would pay. Can we get someone to tell the God's honest truth about psych meds and how truly addictive they really are and how hellish getting of of them is? I'm hoping that I just got a couple of bad ones and that the entire profession is not like that but I hear so many horror stories from other patients that I wonder.

Dragonfly said...

Happy 600th blogiversary!!
I get asked medical questions all the time - even though not a doctor yet (and NOT allowed to dish out medical advice). Most memorable are being asked by a teacher colleague of my mothers to assess a child for potential autism (in front of said childs mother!!!!), and being told that my number has been given to someones niece and to expect a phone call from them in the next few weeks to discuss their pap smear results.
Some can get quite difficult to get out of, even when I tell them I am only a med student. Do you get asked to write prescriptions out of the office?