Friday, September 25, 2009

The client has ADHD. So does the counselor.

Now that I am Program Coordinator of the Dual Diagnosis Recovery Program, I am supposed to have a caseload of 20 clients. This is because I need to review the progress of dually diagnosed clients who are on other counselors' caseloads, schedule all the psychiatrists' appointments, and write curriculum for our dual diagnosis recovery group(s, in the future).

Instead, I currently have 31 clients -- which is high for a counselor who isn't coordinating a program -- and it's wearing on me just a little. I'm supposed to have written at least 10 group session handouts. So far, I've done 2.

My boss told me to transfer some clients to the new counselor, Yingele. (He's not Jewish but I like the name for him.) Yingele went to the same social work school I did, one year behind. We never met; in social work school, first-years and second-years are rarely in classes together. He's a very nice guy, very smart, and eager to build up his caseload. So I gave him one of my clients, an 18-year-old who is very scatterbrained. Not entirely his fault, though. He has ADHD.

"How are things working out with that client I transferred to you?" I asked Yingele.

"Well, he missed his appointment," said Yingele.

"Happens a lot," I said. "He has ADHD."

"So do I," said Yingele. "I was supposed to call him to remind him, and I forgot."

Wha-ha-ha-ha-hat????? I was astonished at how casually Yingele slid it into conversation. But I recovered quickly and said, "Guess it's a really great fit!"

I thought that would be that. But today, during team meeting, when the foibles of a client with ADHD were mentioned, Yingele piped up, "Yeah, been there, I've got ADHD, too!"

"I would never have guessed," I said.

"I take a lot of Adderall," Yingele said.

Later in the day, another client with ADHD rolled in; not surprisingly, he'd missed orientation. He was supposed to be on my caseload, but I'm currently overloaded, so I went to Yingele's office to see if he wanted to take the client.

"He forgot about orientation," I said. "He's another one with ADHD."

"Oh good -- that reminds me..." said Yingele. He took a pill bottle out of his desk drawer, shook out a capsule, popped it in his mouth, and swallowed.

I was mildly shocked, and very envious. It's so cool that Yingele can be so open about his diagnosis. I wish I could be. But if I tell people I have bipolar disorder, then every time I'm in a bad mood -- or a really good mood, for that matter -- I'll be scrutinized and second-guessed.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Best to tell the truth. Otherwise, one simply adds to the stress by hiding it. No reason to think that you're not being "scrutinized"/"second-guessed",
    regardless of what you do. No point, therefore, in making life more miserable by trying to make them think about you in a way that they probably won't.

  2. What a great attitude he has! I love it!


  3. Roy, I have to disagree. There's no need to give my co-workers personal information about me that they could potentially (and incorrectly) use against me. I think there's less stigma associated with ADHD than bipolar. But I do love his attitude.

  4. I was misdiagnosed with BP disorder years ago, and recently "cleared" of the diagnosis from my psychiatrist 'cause he said as long as I don't take illicit narcotics, my symptoms would disappear and I could stop taking my meds. BH this was the case and I feel very lucky.

    And so I sympathize with you not wanting to disclose your diagnosis for the very same reasons you mentioned in your last paragraph.

    I was never allowed to be happy about anything or have just a usual bad day like everybody else. Friends and family always intervened with their second-rate medical opinions about my so-called affective disorder.

    Over six months after I stopped taking my meds I was really excited about getting back to Israel and this girl (who I'm no longer friends with) said I was acting manic and that I need to see my doctor and get back on my meds.

    I think she was just jealous of me because I can bounce back from hard times better than her, but that's beside the point.

    Honestly don't blame you for wanting to keep your illness to yourself. It just makes people think they know better than you do about your own health.

  5. Thanks, DOL. I'm sorry you had to suffer so long before narcotics were ruled out as the source of your behavior. And thank you for reading!

  6. Nah, I knew for a long time that was what was keeping me down. It just took me that long to kick the drugs.

    A lot of my problems are related to things that have happened to me and I used drugs to numb myself, which in turn induced severe psychiatric problems.

    I think it's wonderful you help people with substance abuse problems. Addiction runs in my family and I've seen it destroy other families as well.

    May Hashem bless you and all your handiwork. Praying you find your bashert very soon.