Waitlisted

Just try getting a shrink in New York.

You’d better be suicidal if you don’t want to wait for months.

I don’t mean vague-plan-and-means suicidal – that won’t cut it. I know. I’m vague-plan-and-means suicidal and I’ve been waiting for a month and a half for my first appointment at a large, well-known clinic that serves New Yorkers with and without insurance.

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No, you need intent. You need to want to die. I know because whenever I call the intern who’s handling my case at the clinic to plead for an appointment he asks me about intent. At the time of the call I don’t want to die, so I say no. So he tells me I’ll have to wait, because it’s a walk-in clinic and there needs to be room for everyone. There are mornings, though, when I wake up hours after I meant to and my life feels outside of my control, when I look at my pill bottles and…

So a word to the wise: if you need help ham it up. Come in off the street with pills in your belly or self-inflicted cuts on your arms. Tear your clothes and shave your head. Make all the gestures, give all the cries for help I don’t give for fear of scaring the people who care about me.

Ham it up. And when you get help, tell me what it’s like.

“Thank God for trump”: Staying unbiased in social work

I was speaking with a client the other night and was struck by her rigid view of the world. Her boyfriend’s friends are” evil,” she’s being “attacked” by her family members.

I like to use humor, and I nearly said this: “In all my years I’ve never heard of anyone who’s actually evil – with the possible exception of Donald Trump.”

Trump was on my mind because he’d just won the Indiana primary. As much as I’d like to sit back and eat popcorn while watching the Republican Party explode, I find it so disturbing that so many Americans could be won over by hate.

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The implications of Donald’s success paint a darker picture of humanity than my clinical experiences, which generally leave room for human strength and resilience. Trump is different. The fact that vast numbers of Americans would be attracted to somebody who basically embodies the fantasy of grotesque wealth no matter the human cost – I find that chilling. To me, Trump is saying “I hate all these people, but if you support me you’ll be rich like I am”; and it’s hard to see Americans buy that pitch.

Here’s why I’m glad I didn’t make a comment about Trump with the woman. During our conversation she kept bemoaning the world’s problems. Then she said, “Thank God for Trump. At least something’s right.”

I didn’t laugh in her face. Maybe that would have been justified during a normal encounter. But this is social work.

I encouraged her to volunteer with the Trump campaign.

Let’s face it, social workers tend to be liberal – myself included. Liberalism is about helping people while conservatism is about people helping themselves, so it’s hard to understand how a conservative could be a social worker (I’d love to talk to one! Please get in touch.) We need to be really careful around our political biases. Because I came damn close to ending my conversation with this woman in need before it even started.