I enjoy connecting with other people. It’s sort of what I do. Today a client asked me how I knew they had ADHD because I have a reputation of being rather anti-ADHD. But there are clients I see who truly have it, and when they do I treat it. I wouldn’t say I’m anti-ADHD more like anti-overdiagnosing and anti-overmedicating. I told that client I have hundreds of conversations a day. Literally. If I really break it down, between clients, families, phone calls, insurance companies, office staff, my family, etc.
I have hundreds of conversations a day because my job is about talking to people. I’ve worked in healthcare for ten years. After a certain amount of time I got a feel for what it’s like to talk to some one with ADHD. The conversation is not linear, and they tend to interrupt a lot. Not in a rude way but in a they can’t contain themselves way. I often have to repeat myself, and I make sure they put any and all information I give them into their phone with alarms set for reminders. They are often generally disorganized. In adults they have multiple planners, or a planner that they can’t find in a ginormous purse. The list goes on. These may sound like gross generalizations, and to a degree they are. But like I said you just sort of get a feel for these things (I also make clients get formal testing- it’s not like if you have a big purse you have ADHD. Please don’t think that!)
I’ve talked about being discriminated against, and that’s something else that you sort of get a feel for. My life is about forging connections with others. I joined a nation wide group of mom’s who all work in psychiatry. It was a great way to connect with others with shared experiences. After a time the idea came up to form subgroups. The idea was to be geographical but some one also entered their idea to have a Christian subgroup. I talked to my wife about it because I said I really wish I strongly identified as Christian so I could try and join their subgroup. We laughed. Because we both made the assumption that the subgroup would not be welcoming of LGBT members. We were not wrong.
It reminded me of hearing a story from a woman at the Women’s March on DC earlier this year. She talked about seeing women with pro-life signs join the march. Marchers around them didn’t quite know what to do. People assumed that the Women’s March would be for liberal women only. But here were women coming forward to say they didn’t stand for the discrimination of the new administration, while identifying themselves as pro-life. It was confounding to everyone present.
My wife recently asked me if I thought she had a learning disability. She takes longer to process things and sometimes needs ideas or questions repeated in a different way for her to process them. She also has horrible short term memory but I’m not convinced that’s not volitional. She never forgets when she has a haircut scheduled. But her damn shoes in the doorway that I chuck outside every other day. Seriously.
Anyway, no I didn’t think she has a learning disability. I know her history. She spent the first nine years of her education in a private school run by her church. To review briefly- her church is similar to a cult. The education she received was no where near the education I received in the public schools. It was religious based with no true academic rigor. The science was based out of religion. I told her no, she wasn’t disabled. Based off what I knew about her schooling she had been stunted though by her formative years being spent in a school that did not teach. She was not challenged.
She did not disagree with me.
It’s actually something that’s come up several times over the years of our relationship because there are basic ideas and concepts we learn from kindergarten through eighth grade. She missed those. Knowledge I take for granted she may not have learned.
When either of us hears something starting with “Christian” as the descriptor our defenses are automatically up. As lesbians we can certainly identify as Christian. But there’s lesbian Christian and there’s orthodox Christian. Every time we hear “Christian” we just assume it’s orthodox Christian. Actually what I literally translate it to in my head is “Anti-Lesbian. Danger. Danger.” It doesn’t feel safe. Unfortunately I’m usually right.
I really loved that group of women I had been able to connect with. But when that sub-group option came up I got a pit in my stomach. Then when I confirmed through various channels that the subgroup was indeed anti-LGBT the pit turned into overall unease and now of course a blog post. The subgroup idea was to separate off so people could meet in person. So it’s not like I have to be a part of the subgroup. But all of those Christian members are still part of the group at large as well. Now knowing they are there, I feel like they are lurking in the background, waiting to pounce. It’s sounds so crazy when I write it, but discrimination breeds a certain level of paranoia.
A safe space has been taken from me. That’s two in one week. First New Hampshire, now this group. It pisses me off.
Some people I’ve talked to are like well it’s no big deal, discrimination exists. What are you going to do about it?
The truth is I don’t know. I’d like to join the subgroup and stir some shit up. But I likely won’t. Most likely. Maybe. It’s still a possibility.
I’d like to eliminate discrimination. But how the hell does one do that?
I’d like to not have Christian equate to discrimination. For many churches it doesn’t. But for many it does.
At the end of the day I’ve decided to form my own subgroup. I submitted it for review. The subgroup for all LGBT identifying individuals in the group. It has garnered a lot of interest and I think is going to actually happen. I like that saying, “I don’t get mad, I get even.”
I totally get mad. But after I get past that I get even. In this case it wasn’t about “getting even” but more like evening the playing field. Literally within one minute of throwing the idea out I had people responding that they would be interested. How many other women were sitting there feeling uneasy? Too many.
For those that know me, you know I love me some Disney.
Pocahontas: The ripples
John Smith: What about them?
Grandmother Willow: So small at first, then look how they grow. But someone has to start them.