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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
America had a truly historical moment on Saturday, March 24, 2018. The March For Our Lives was led by the student survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL. There were 800,000 teens and adults who attended the March in Washington, DC. Many more attended in cities across the U.S. to demand change in gun laws and talk about gun violence in America.
Gun Violence in America
A March led by our minors is amazing. Even more amazing is that they included all others affected by gun violence in America, including domestic gun violence victims, police gun violence victims, and more. This was not just a march to stop school shootings and school violence. They made a statement that "Enough is Enough".
They were also incredibly articulate. In an era when so many think children are just children, it was wonderful to see them show the world that our American children can stand up for themselves, provide valuable statistics to support their positions, and be able to address our Congressional leaders with words and action. They are stating that when they are eligible to vote, that they will vote based on this sole cause. Many don't believe they will follow through on their actions. However, many don't realize that once your voice has been heard, you are a force to be reckoned with always.
Students Speak Up
Several students stood out. Emma Gonzalez spoke and stood in silence for about 6.5 minutes to honor to victims of the Marjory Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018. This was less than the duration of the school's shooting. It was symbolic of the time that students and teachers died, were injured, and were hiding in fear. The silence was deafening and powerful.
Samantha Fuentes, another Parkland school shooting survivor with gun wounds on both legs and shrapnel on her face stood up for herself and her friend, Nicholas Dworet, who died and would've turned 18 years old on the day of the march. Overcome with emotion, she vomited behind the podium and persevered with her speech and led the crowd in a Happy Birthday song to her beloved dead friend. She was courageous and empowered. David Hogg, another survivor stated, "The people in power are shaking." The most popular chant at the march was "Vote Them Out."
The students have detailed explanations in their "Manifesto to Fix America's Gun Laws," as listed in their words, in their guest editorial in the Guardian. These are the nine (9) gun law changes they request, as written by the editorial staff students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas newspaper, the Eagle Eye:
Ban on semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds
Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons (e.g. bump stocks)
Establish a database for gun sales and universal background checks
Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement
Close the gun show loophole and loophole for second-hand gun sales
Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform
Raise the firearm purchase age to 21
Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals
Increase funding for school security
Democracy at Work
This march shows how a democracy works. It shows that everyone can use their voice. It has empowered many of our youth for the future. The future is in our children. Wait and watch because gun violence is only the beginning for these children, these future lawmakers, these activists; their future has so much more ahead!