Author Topic: Playing doctor? How to respond..  (Read 15299 times)

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Ladybugs

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Playing doctor? How to respond..
« on: January 03, 2013, 01:35:45 AM »
Hello, I'm new here. My situation involves a well meaning family member (sister) who is a lawyer. To be brief, about three years ago I was treated and diagnosed with anxiety. My own family doctor dx me, plus another one, and a therapist. The psychiatrist has been treating me for it for three years and he knows me pretty well.

About a year ago my sister told me one day that she read something and believed the doctors and therapist had all missed that according to her I have bipolar.

I told her basically "hmm, well, I dunno...my doctors never said this,...." T which she kind of dismissed this fact with "we'll I'm your sister and doctors aren't always right and besides I read about it"

Ok, I figure I am open minded, if I have it, I should get treated for it. I told her graciously well, maybe ill mention it to my doc and see what he says

Fast forward, my doctor says he isn't sure where she gets this idea from but I do not have bipolar, I have general anxiety and I mention this to sister.
She sounds almost offended that I don't have faith in her knowing her bc she's my sister and "wants the best for me"

I tried to disengage by saying I really appreciate her concern but three medical professionals say I just have anxiety. She makes me feel as if I almost have to apologize for not taking her word for it but we let it go.

Every once in a while she would bring it up and I gently deflected her "medical advice" telling her I am being treated for anxiety. On one of these occasions she got angry and told me that my "denial" only proves that I have it. So then its a catch 22, with me either accepting her suggestions and advice for bipolar, or if I tell her sorry this is what the doctors say then I am in denial

Months went by and we didnt talk about it and I hoped it had passed,

But recently she handed me a gift bag over the holidays and told me it might be better if I opened it privately bc she didn't want me to feel embarrassed opening it in front of others. I was puzzled wondering why she would pick out a gift that would embarrass me.

I opened it later privately and it was a self help book for bipolar. 

I would like your thoughts on this. The other thing is she has not kept her medical opinion to herself. She talks to our mom telling her I have this. I know she's done this bc recently when I told my mom my doc was changing my anxiety medication, my mom said "if that's what you really have..."

I asked her what do you mean if that's what I have?  Se didn't admit my sister had talked to her but it was obvious. She said doctors don't know Everythng which is the same thing my sister earlier told me. My sister is smart she's a lawyer and my mom tends to think there is nothng she doesn't know. But she has no medical training.

I would like input on the following

** should I respond to this gift, and if so , how?  I thought maybe I could send a thank you card saying thank you but do you have the receipt to exchange it for a book on anxiety instead?

** I feel like to some extent her interjecting her opinions is hindering my treatment for anxiety. Is there any non confrontational way to request that she no longer practice medicine without a license bc its interfering with my own treatment

** should I speak to my mother about this and if so, how?

If even one doctor had said I have bipolar I wouldn't mind so much, although I do feel like its wrong for them to discuss my treatment apart from me in this way. 

I don't like to guess about people's motives but knowing her I would say she is playing the role again, although well intentioned, it feels like an insult. On another level it is really aggravating how my mother seems to think there is nothing she doesn't know.  Even to the point of knowing more than doctors. Because sometimes if I'm anxious she will say oh, that's the bipolar talking.
 
My doctor said its really important for me to have strong family support for my treatment, but since she told my mom its bipolar, neither one of them are supportive, (I go to anxiety support group and my mom said I'm wasting my time and this in turn causes me more anxiety bc I feel alone in dealing with this)

Any input appreciated, I want to have a good relationship with her but I just want them both leave the medical care to the doctors and support me in that.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 01:41:21 AM by Ladybugs »

Slartibartfast

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2013, 01:48:00 AM »
I think you'd be best off to thank your sister for the book, but reiterate that it's not at all helpful.  "I appreciate that you were thinking of me, sis, but I'm not bipolar.  I have an anxiety disorder."  If she tries to start in on the "But doctors aren't always right" thing, you can cut her off right there: "Sis, I've done research too.  I'm not bipolar.  That's a term that gets overdiagnosed a lot nowadays, and I don't have those symptoms.  I did my own research, I've talked to my doctors, and we've come up with a treatment regimen for my anxiety disorder.  It's really helping.  However, my doctor says it will be a big help to me if I have support from my family - which I can't get when you're going around behind my back telling mom and anyone else that you know better than I do about my own body.  I know your concern is out of love, and I appreciate that, but please help support me through the disorder I have, not a disorder I don't."

As for your mom, I think next time it comes up you can be honest with her too: "Mom, Sis has it stuck in her head that I'm bipolar.  I'm not - I did my own research and I talked to my doctors, and I don't have bipolar disorder.  I don't know why she won't just drop it already.  However, what I really could use help with is X, Y, and Z - my doctor said having family support would really help me."

bloo

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2013, 01:51:08 AM »
This seems like a relationship issue. Is your sister's...pushiness a new development?

Your sister is a lousy doctor, but a sounds like she's a good lawyer if she's convinced your mother and worsened your anxieties about the situation.

Throw the book out and dial back the time you spend with them.

The TARDIS

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2013, 02:00:06 AM »
Your sister sounds toxic to me. I suggest a cut direct for now and try to talk to your mother about how your sister is jumping to conclusions incorrectly. Lay everything out. If your mother still refuses to support you, look to a friend for support.
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WithoutIssue

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2013, 02:41:37 AM »
Can I just say that this topic title, combined with the previous poster's name, has absolutely made my day  ;D

However that does not help you OP. I'm so sorry you are going through this; as someone whose DH has a specific depressive disorder I know that some family members really do seem to get a bee in their bonnets about diagnosis/treatments etc. There is so much info in the public domain that a little knowledge becomes a dangerous thing. We have adopted the beandip wherever possible, but have had to flatly state that we are following the plan set by my DH's doctors and the matter is not up for discussion. This may be the tack you need to take with your sister.

For your mother, are you able to sit down alone with her and talk with her, maybe your doctor can give you some good explanation in layman's terms to make it simple and clear to her that despite your sister's opinion your mental health is correctly identified and being managed and it is not something come to lightly?
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 02:55:24 AM by WithoutIssue »
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MariaE

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2013, 02:55:53 AM »
I think you'd be best off to thank your sister for the book, but reiterate that it's not at all helpful.  "I appreciate that you were thinking of me, sis, but I'm not bipolar.  I have an anxiety disorder."  If she tries to start in on the "But doctors aren't always right" thing, you can cut her off right there: "Sis, I've done research too.  I'm not bipolar.  That's a term that gets overdiagnosed a lot nowadays, and I don't have those symptoms.  I did my own research, I've talked to my doctors, and we've come up with a treatment regimen for my anxiety disorder.  It's really helping.  However, my doctor says it will be a big help to me if I have support from my family - which I can't get when you're going around behind my back telling mom and anyone else that you know better than I do about my own body.  I know your concern is out of love, and I appreciate that, but please help support me through the disorder I have, not a disorder I don't."

As for your mom, I think next time it comes up you can be honest with her too: "Mom, Sis has it stuck in her head that I'm bipolar.  I'm not - I did my own research and I talked to my doctors, and I don't have bipolar disorder.  I don't know why she won't just drop it already.  However, what I really could use help with is X, Y, and Z - my doctor said having family support would really help me."

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FenigDurak

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2013, 03:09:09 AM »
I would be inclined to start giving incorrect legal and career advice to the lawyer sister. Then when she corrects you or even asks where you heard such misinformation, you can suggest it was from the same source as her medical information. Because we know that they can't put anything on the Internet that isn't true.

This however never fails to come across as condescending and very unlikely ehell approved.


Seriously though, consider taking your mom with you on your next Doctor visit. He can properly educate her and answer questions so that the next time your sister pipes up about bipolar disorder, you two will have a united front.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 03:10:52 AM by FenigDurak »

Ladybugs

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2013, 03:42:09 AM »
Unfortunately as far as my mom goes, for some reason she has placed my sister into the golden child role, and seems to have a need to see her as almost infallible and so once sister says x, its almost impossible to get my mom to consider she isn't correct.
I suspect even the chief of psychiatry at the best medical center in the country couldn't dissuade her from believing what sis says must be right, bc my mom already is aware that two doctors a therapist said its anxiety and its been a standing diagnosis for several years. Mom was supportive of my treatment for anxiety until sis told her its bipolar. It would help alot to have family understanding and support.

Also what using a bean dip approach ?

Funny idea about me now giving her legal advice. Hmm, I can act as her advisor on her cases or tell my mom she has this case all wrong, and this is how she should be handling it...funny idea


iridaceae

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2013, 05:02:25 AM »
You might try saying every time this brought up,  in a very serene manner "Sister is a lawyer not a doctor.  A law degree does not make her an accurate diagnoctitian. When she gets her MD she can get back to me on what she thinks I am."  This may be something that you will have to repeat ad nauseum to make Mom understand that lawyers are not doctors.

cicero

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2013, 05:38:48 AM »
hugs. (My son is battling depression and anxiety and has also been diagnosed with Asperger's and has also been diagnosed with other things, and we have also been given "unwanted and unasked for medical diagnoses advice over the years). it's a difficult road and I wish you all the best.

Your sister is correct. Doctors do make mistakes. (oh, wait - so do lawyers. isnt' that why they have malpractice insurance? ) but anyway, stop discussing this with her. The next time she says "but really sis, you have bipolar and here is why..." say to her "sis, i am not discussing my medical issues with you". if she continues "but that just proves that you are bipolar!" (which btw is such a stupid argument on her part), don't take the bite, don't respond - walk away, hang up, bean dip. you don't *have to* have this conversation with her.

IOW - don't try to prove that you are right and she is wrong; simply don't acknowledge her words as being worthy of response. because they're not.

talk to your doctor - and bring this up in your group - that you *don't* have family support and you need more support form this (or other) groups. and ask your mom if she would be willing to come to a group session with you - it's possible that if she sees other people who are like you, she might be able to come to terms with who you are. (it was helpful to me when i met with a support group that DS was going to - because i could relate to the others as "sweet people who are battling depression" which in turn helped me to relate to my son.)

as for the book - it's probably not e-hell sanctioned but i would return it to her and say "sis, ii think the store clerk misled you. see, you got me a book for bipolar, when actually all i have is anxiety disorder. they are not the same. "

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2013, 06:16:02 AM »
"You are bipolar!"

"And you are stupid. But I'm getting better."

No, you can't say it out loud, but it isn't rude to think it.

What about "You are bipolar!"

"And you have Death Watch Beetle."

"What?"
 
"Oh, I thought we were assigning random conditions to each other." The sillier the condition, the better. Blue Screen of Death. Dutch Elm Disease. Kennel Cough.

MamaMootz

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2013, 06:45:18 AM »
Can you ask your sister (and your mom) if it's more important to them that they are RIGHT or that you get well?

I also recommend what is known around here as the Toots Special. Find one phrase that shuts them down and keep repeating it over and over again.

Sis: The docs are wrong, blah blah blah
You: I am not bipolar. I suffer from anxiety.
Sis: They don't know everything blah blah blah
You: I am not bipolar. I suffer from anxiety.
Sis: You should read the book I gave you it proves I'm right and you're wrong and neener neener neener
You: I am not bipolar. I suffer from anxiety.

And so on.

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AliciaLynette

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2013, 06:54:35 AM »
"You are bipolar!"

"And you are stupid. But I'm getting better."

No, you can't say it out loud, but it isn't rude to think it.

What about "You are bipolar!"

"And you have Death Watch Beetle."

"What?"
 
"Oh, I thought we were assigning random conditions to each other." The sillier the condition, the better. Blue Screen of Death. Dutch Elm Disease. Kennel Cough.

Actually, if one of my relatives was doing this to me, I'd have no hesitation in saying "And you're stupid." in response, because the fact that they don't believe and therefore can undermine a doctor's diagnosis and mandated treatment plan means that they are getting cut out of my life to some extent anyway!  So the fact that this response is rude is irrelevant at this point, they're already rude by not listening to and working with you!

Maybe ask your mum when exactly your sister passed her medical degree if she starts again?  When mum says 'She hasn't got a medical degree' then ask why she thinks that someone without a medical degree knows more than two doctors and a therapist?

Hope you can find some help and that your family can back off, or start supporting you properly!
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MorgnsGrl

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2013, 07:08:12 AM »
Not that it's any of her business, but I wonder what would happen if you asked her to make a list of symptoms/reasons why she thinks you are bipolar, and then you crossed out all the ones that don't apply to you. If she could see a written list that was mostly crossed out that might be enough to convince her. Not that you HAVE to convince her, because you are totally right in saying that she isn't qualified to diagnose you. But I do wonder WHY she thinks this. It's sort of a weird imaginary diagnosis to come up with.

Stormtreader

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Re: Playing doctor? How to respond..
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2013, 07:16:28 AM »
Say youre concerned she may have Munchausens By Proxy since she seems so invested in making people think you have a condition you dont. If shes taking one or two symptoms and FORCING them to fit, then you can too.