21
May

Coming Out To Your Doctor

Coming Out To Your Doctor - Difficult & Private

Coming out to your doctor may be difficult, especially for if you are a teen.  Often, a teenager comes out with a million thoughts running

Coming Out To Your Doctor

Coming Out To Your Doctor - Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

through their head.  Will my doctor accept me?  Will my doctor help me?  Does my doctor understand me?  Will my doctor tell my parents/keep my secret?  According to poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 18% of all LGBTQ Americans refrain from seeing a physician for fear of discrimination

 

What If I'm Scared of Coming Out to My Doctor?

Coming out to you doctor may feel very scary and unsafe.  Consider asking your doctor if their office is a safe office where acceptance is commonplace.  Whenever the LGBTQ child is suffering, the most important thing I can say to them is, "You are safe.  You are safe here."  Because every child is special.  After all, one of the best gifts a pediatrician can give to any child, especially the LGBTQ child/teen is letting them know they are special and wonderful just as they are.  It is not my job to help the child/teen figure out their sexual orientation.  It is my job to make them feel comfortable enough so that I can help them with any health issues they may have to date. 

 

Come Out When You Are Ready

Coming out to your doctor can help you in many ways.  However, given the difficulty that this may involve, you may want to consider calling your/any doctor's office first to ask if they care for any LGBTQ patients.  Remember, you don't have to give your name out at the first call.  Ultimately, this may help you feel more comfortable and ready.  

 

How To Come Out To Your Doctor

There are many conversation starters you can use, such as "There's a conversation I need to have with you" or "How do you handle patient confidentiality?"  Consider telling the doctor in a matter-of-fact way.  Chances are, you are not the first LGBTQ patient they have ever had.  Follow up with a prepared list of questions that you have for your appointment.  There is a "Do Ask, Do Tell" brochure that may help answer questions about coming out to your doctor.  It is also important to know that there are laws that protect you and your doctor, so that your information is kept private.  Ask about confidentiality will make you feel safe as well.  In addition, you may consider bringing a friend, partner, or family member for support.

 

Doctors Can Offer Support in Many Ways

I've had teens come out to me as their doctor, some have been painful to witness.  Painful for me, because it incredibly hard to see someone suffer and be in such tremendous emotional turmoil and/or physical pain) for simply saying their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  In the past, I reassured a transgender child in the midst of an immediate, intense, and severe panic attack by continually repeating, "You are safe.  It's okay.  You are safe here.  You don't have to talk about it, but if you do, I'm here for you."  I have had patients who became successful adults with great careers who thanked me for accepting them because I was the first person they came out to or that I cared for them and their issues with compassion and maybe even some tough love.  Most recently, I held and rocked a child that I cared for over 15 years until they stopped their uncontrollable shaking because they couldn't face themselves and their sexual orientation.   That child motivated me to write this blog.  I want to help other LGBTQ youths know that they don't have to suffer, that their doctor can help them.  Chances are your doctor cares and wants to help you in your journey to physical and mental health and peace.  

 

Do I Have to Tell My Doctor I'm LGBTQ?

It's best if you do tell your doctor.  Your doctor can't give you the best medical care if he/she doesn't know that you are a LBGTQ person.  A doctor needs to know a patient's sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual activity history, to best help that patient and their medical and psychological needs. 

 

Medical Help & Disease Prevention Available

Sexual history will help me test for, diagnose and treat STDs.  Also, a pediatrician or internist will be able to teach you how to prevent HPV and offer the HPV vaccine to prevent this cancer and wart causing disease.  In addition, if you are HIV negative, but at high risk for developing HIV, then your doctor may start PrEP medicationWhat is PrEP?  Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is Truvada, which is a daily pill that when taken helps prevent HIV in people who are high-risk by up to 92%.  Your doctor may start this medication, if you agree to take it every day and follow-up with appointments every three (3) months.  Consider bringing a List of Top Ten Issues LGBTQ People Can Discuss with Their Doctor with you to your appointment.  In addition, if you are a transgender youth or adult, your doctor, yes, even your pediatrician, can refer you to a specialist for hormonal treatment.

 

Psychological Help Available

A doctor will also be able to make some psychological recommendations, if needed.  LGBTQ teens are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, have increased risk of suicide, abuse, may need referral to a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and/or a support group, like the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), and GSA Network.  GSA is a student-led or community based organization.  GSA is an important resource on social media on Twitter (@GLSEN)  and Facebook.  GSA Network is also a resource available on Twitter (@GSANetwork) and Facebook.  Local support groups area usual available for GSA and GSA Network on social media and in as clubs many schools.  Lastly, your doctor is a source of support, simply be accepting you and caring for you.

 

Doctors Willing to Learn LGBTQ Issues & Needs

Your doctor may be comfortable with caring for you as a LGBTQ patient.  However, we are not classically trained to care for LGBTQ patients, so there usually is a learning curve.  However, if your doctor says, "I don't know how to care for that issue, but let me do my research; I'll get back with you on that particular issue," then you have a great doctor indeed.  A doctor that's willing to learn, cares for you, and is honest is the best kind of doctor.

 

Additional Resources for LGBTQ Teens & Parents

• Coming Out: Information for Parents of LGBTQ Teens is a helpful resource from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

 

• How To Support Your Child Who is Questioning Their Sexual Orientation by Everyday Feminism which includes definitions of many LGBTQ+ terms.

 

• Transgender Children & Youth: Understanding the Basics by the Human Rights Campaign.

 

• Teens & Gender from an NPR interview which includes many gender terms, such as gender questioning, gender queer, gender fluid, agender, etc.

 

• Sexual Attraction & Orientation by Kids Health.

 

• This blog also has information on Children & Affirmations and Daily Affirmations & Quotes that are helpful in general.

 

 

16
Apr

Test Anxiety Strategies

Are There Test Anxiety Strategies That Can Help?

test anxiety strategies, relaxation techniques, test anxiety, relaxation, guided meditation, affirmations

Test Anxiety Strategies - Photo by Tim Gouw

Yes!  There are many test anxiety strategies on how to deal with test anxiety.  First, I'm going to review the causes, the symptoms,  and who gets it before I discuss what test anxiety strategies to use for managing test anxiety.

 

What is Test Anxiety?

Test anxiety is a feeling someone gets before or during test taking.  It is a type of performance anxiety, that occurs when someone is typically concerned about getting a good outcome.  The result is physical and psychological symptoms that occur before or during tests.  Test anxiety can negatively affect learning and performance.  The good news is there are test anxiety strategies on how to deal with it.  

 

What Causes Test Anxiety?

It is caused by fear of failure, poor test preparation and/or problematic test taking history.  There is pressure to perform at your best level.  This can motivate the test taker.  However, it may also create fear of failure.  Good test preparation is important for a good test result.  It is also important to prevent test anxiety.  A calm test taker tends to know they've studied to the best of their ability.  They also tend to have studied over time, and not in just a few days or at the last-minute.  If the test taker has had a history of negative experiences with test or poor grades on test, this can also cause anxiety on future tests.

 

What Are Symptoms of Test Anxiety?

Symptoms are physical, emotional, and/or behavioral.  They range from mild or very intense. 

 

The physical symptoms may include: headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fast heart rate, fast breathing rate, feeling like you can't breathe.  If the anxiety is severe enough, a panic attack may occur.  When someone is having a  panic attack, it is generally very debilitating.  A panic attack can make a person feel paralyzed internally or externally, like they can't move, can't talk, & they may feel like they're having a heart attack.

 

The emotional symptoms may include crying, feeling fear, feeling sadness, and helpless.

 

The behavioral symptoms may include negative self talk, inability to think clearly, and inability to function.

 

Who Gets Test Taking Anxiety?

  • Worriers - If your child has a tendency to worry, he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety. Even if your child is prepared, your child's worrying could cause test taking anxiety.
  • Perfectionists - If your child aims for self perfection, then he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety.  Even if your child does wll in school, the very thought of getting questions wrong, or getting less than an A, leads the perfectionist to have test taking anxiety.
  • Unprepared People - If your child has not learned the subject matter, not practiced with classwork/homework, and/or studied the material, then he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety.

 

How To Manage or Prevent Test Anxiety ?

There are many ways to help your child manage, prevent, and/or minimize test anxiety.  

 

    Talk About It

  • Ask your child what's making your child feel nervous.
    • Talking about their feelings make children have less anxiety.  Stay calm too as this helps your child stay calm as well
  • Accept mistakes
    • This can be a part of you child's life lessons.  Teaching your child to handle things when the outcome is not what they expected will help them in life, not just in test taking.
  • Boost your child's confidence.
    • Tell them how wonderful they are.  Ask them to give themselves compliments.  What do they like about themselves? About their great brains?
  • Always offer support.
    • Remind your child that you are always there.  Sometimes, they don't want a solution.  Sometimes being a listener is all he/she needs.

 

    Review Studying Habits & Test Prep

  • Have your child practice on sample tests.
    • Having experience with what the test will feel like will prevent anxiety.
  • Focus on test preparation.
    • Establish a routine for studying and preparing for the upcoming test is very helpful.  Studying a little bit at a time, over a set time period.  It is usually better than craming it in the day before the test.  It also also for better retention of the facts.  
  • Learn your child's best study habits.
    • When does he/she study best?  Is it morning, afternoon, or night?  
    • Does he/she need breaks? 
    • Could hunger be slowing his/her learning/studying? Consider snack breaks in between studying.
    • Does he/she need to do something physical or move around in between studying.
  • Review test taking strategies.
    • Teach your child what to do if they are stuck on a test question.  If they can't answer one, then teach them to mark the question and move on.  They can get back to it later.  
  • Help your child feel their best the day of an exam 
  • Review all methods and test after the test is complete.
    • What were your child's strengths on the test?  Where are their weaknesses?  How could he/she have improved test prep?  What did he/she do that was just right?  What can he/she do again the next time?  Or do differently?  Ask them to evaluate this with you.

    Sleep & Screen Time

  • Find your child's best number of sleep hours.
    • Does your child need eight (8) hours a night?  Ten (10)?  Twelve (12)? Try to make sure they get their best sleep before tests.
  • Monitor your child's screen time.
    • If your child has too much screen time, especially at night, or the days or week before an important test can do more harm than good.

    Relaxation, Guided Meditation & Affirmations

  • Practice relaxation techniques.
    • Deep breathing 
    • Taking a bath
    • Listening to relaxing music
    • Create art.  Drawing and/or coloring is fun and relaxing.
    • Play a board game that's fun with the family the day before the exam.
    • Watch a funny movie with your child.  Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.
  • Use Guided Meditation.
    • I recommend and use, I Am Peace, by Susan Verde.  This is a wonderful book.  It is geared for children.  I think it's a great book for any age.  The last page has a Guided Meditation.  I've read this out loud to my son while he is lying down with his eyes closed.  I must say that both he and I are relaxed at the end, every time.
    • The Balloon
    • Follow the Leader
  • Use Affirmations
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