Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hop, Skip and Jump

Last night a very odd thing happened and I’m asking for your opinion to let me know if I am overreacting. I admit, it’s a possibility, but I don’t think I am.

My hubby’s been away at a conference and I have been a little out of sorts. I also can’t really cook anything edible so the kids and I have been eating out. Last night, the kids chose IHOP, The International House of Pancakes. That was okay with me. I love having breakfast food for dinner sometimes.

The kids had chosen a large booth in the corner of the restaurant. We were just sitting, chatting and laughing at a story Little Daughter was telling about her mispronunciation of a spanish word, when I notice that Middle Daughter’s therapist and her family had been seated at a booth in the middle of the restaurant. It wasn’t really close to us and there’s no way any of us could have overheard any conversation occurring at either table.

Middle Daughter has Anorexia Nervosa and a Body Dysmorphic Disorder and she sees this therapist regularly. This is not a secret and I am very proud of my daughter for facing her problems head on and realizing that there is no shame in having a problem and seeking treatment.

The therapist caught my eye and I waved to her (because that’s the polite thing to do) and she waved back. But then she got out of her seat and came to our table and said that she would move to the complete opposite side of the restaurant so it would be less awkward.

WHAT? Like coming to our table and telling us she is moving because we are there isn’t awkward? WTF? Can’t she just say “Hello, nice to see you. Enjoy your dinner.” and go back to her table?

Middle Daughter told her not to move, but the therapist went to find the host and then moved her entire family to the opposite side of the restaurant.

I was taken aback. Why would she move like that? I haven’t stopped thinking about it since it happened.

First of all, your relationship with doctors and therapists is supposed to be confidential. By doing that, now I would think that everyone in her party knows that at least one person at our table is a patient of hers. Secondly, I don’t get why running into her in a restaurant would be considered awkward.

I ran into my own therapist one time at the grocery store. He was treating me for depression, panic attacks and trichotillomania and he didn't abandon his shopping cart and flee to another aisle.

My dentist has gone with me to see Bon Jovi and he didn’t exchange his tickets for different seats because he knows I have panic attacks in the dentist chair.

Another time, I ran into my OB/GYN at a Mexican restaurant. The host had seated us right next to each other and he didn’t go bolting across the restaurant because he’s seen me delivering babies. He just introduced me to his family and we all just went about our business of eating dinner.

To me, mental illness is no different than a physical illness. Your brain is a body part just like anything else is and there certainly is no shame in seeking assistance from a medical professional for any problem, physical or mental.

I can’t help but be an “actions speak louder than words” kind of person. I’ve experienced too many people telling me one thing and yet doing the complete opposite and to me, the therapist hop, skip and jumping to another table made me feel like there was shame in the relationship my daughter with her. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's how it felt.

I was very upset over this and I think therapist’s actions were very disrespectful to my daughter.

What do you think? Am I overreacting?


archshrk said...

Well, given the nature of your daughter's therapy, I could see how the situation could be awkward, but coming to your table and telling you she was moving tables would only make it worse.

But the whole situation reminds me of the restaurant scene from Defending Your Life. Albert Brooks' character is embarrassed and wants to leave when he sees his "prosecutor" at a nearby table. Meryl Streep's character doesn't help the situation. Ah, I love that movie.

Gypsy Princess said...

Not over reacting. Its up to you to set the tone and the therapist should follow. My preference would have been for everyone to ignore each other. I had trauma when my therapist flagged me down in a mall. Now mind you I was much younger then, but I just did not feel comfortable. I think it was that I had a problem with that therapist period.

But later experiences taught me that I set the lead, I wave they wave, I want to talk, they will talk.

BUT what she did was completely out of line and rude. Why come over and announce that? I think you should find out how your daughter feels about it staying with her. As you said, the therapist made the relationship seem shameful. Which is as far from the truth as you can get.

Crystal said...

I have no clue... I'm floored! That is very odd.

Malcolm said...

No, I don't think you are overreacting at all. Your daughter's therapist totally mishandled the situation. It's ironic because the situation wasn't awkward until the therapist made it so.

This Eclectic Life said...

My vote is that you are NOT overreacting! What in the world was that therapist thinking? I'm outraged just reading your post. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable sending my daughter back to her. But, I think you should tell the therapist just what you told us. She needs to hear it. She made a stupid mistake. I'm so sorry that happened to y'all!

pjazzypar said...

Hey RC,

First of all you are not overreacting. I worked as a family and individual therapist for children in California and I lived in the same area that some of my clients lived in. We talked about this topic at work because it was bound to come up and in my case it did.

I was in the supermarket when I saw a girl I was currently working with. I only acknowledged a client if they spoke to me first and I left it up to them to explain (or not) who I was to the people accompanying them. If the client did not acknowledge me, I simply acted like I did not know them too.

I would never approach someone in a restaurant. Your daughter's therapist displayed unethical behavior and I would like to think it was poor judgment on her part because I would hate to think that she is that stupid.

On a personal note: often times young girls are too ashamed and embarrassed to seek help for eating disorders, which is probably the most common problem among adolescent girls. I commend your daughter's bravery and wish her the best of luck on the road to recovery.

The Rock Chick said...

Thank you all for your input. I didn't think I was overreacting, but there have been times when I know that I have :)

I did speak to the therapist and basically, she was concerned that her presence would have affected my daughter's eating during our dinner. She did not want my daughter to feel that she was being monitored or spied on and she said that if she had bumped into us in any other venue, she would not have moved.

I guess I understand it but I still think the whole big announcement about moving was out of line. Tough call, I guess.

Malcolm said...

I'm glad to hear that you addressed this with the therapist. Although she had good intentions, I agree that she shouldn't have made the announcement. To be fair, it's not always easy to know what to do or say in those types of situations.

Jessica Morris said...

I guess her reasoning kind of makes sense... and maybe she thought if she just moved without announcing it to you guys that you would be offended... still totally weird.

Di said...

I agree with you 100% that we should be allowed to feel as proud of battling our mental illness as those who are battling cancer, diabetes or whatever other illnesses. I mean, my friends playfully tease me about my monthly electroshock treatments. Really, I have them. And really, they do!

That being said...unfortunately we are in the minority. So, I would give the doc the benefit of the doubt that she was trying to be respectful of YOUR comfort level and that by coming over to your table and telling you, she was acknowledging and respecting your desire for candor with regard to your daughter's illness. She could have just averted her eyes and slunk to the other side of the dining room which would have made you REALLY uncomfortable.

Especially with the food factor in your daughter's illness, it was probably for the best. And who can say how to best handle something like this?

Jenny McB said...

I am glad that you said something to the therapist afterwards. I don't think you overreacted, but at least the therapist gave your daughter as a reason. That's a good thing.