updates: the remote employee without child care, the regretted recommendation, and more

It’s “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My employee wants to work from home without child care for his baby forever

The advice from everyone at Ask a Manager was hugely helpful and affirming in this situation. I ended up presenting the problem to my boss and our board of directors and we all agreed something needed to change immediately. We gave Larry a choice between truly committing to a full-time schedule (one that didn’t entail providing childcare at the same time) or switching to part-time work. He chose the latter option and it’s been incredibly positive for everyone. I no longer have this ongoing tension with him about his productivity, I’m not stressing about it and the rest of the team is more able to rely on him because the expectations around his workload are very clear. I think Larry is also happier and less anxious because he’s not trying to juggle so much at once. I could not be more pleased with the outcome!

2. I wrote a recommendation that I’m now doubting (#2 at the link)

I wrote in asking what to do about possibly revoking a recommendation for a university professor in IT who wants to go back to school for counseling, and more specifically, sex therapy.

I took your advice and had a conversation with her about her problematic social media post. At first, she seemed to listen, and she even deleted the offending post. I was heartened. But, a few days later she sent me a message telling me I was small minded, judgmental, and the friendship is over. Interestingly, she unfriended me and every other woman we are both connected to, yet kept my husband as a friend on social media. So, I’ve seen her subsequent posts, which are going more and more off the rails. Examples:

1. She changed her profile picture to her wearing lingerie with her legs spread at the camera.
2. She went on a rant about how she is monogamous and polyamory is an “alternative lifestyle” she does not accept. (One commenter told her it was borderline hate speech, she did not like being called out and totally denied it.)
3. She posted that she was done helping people. They don’t deserve her help.
4. This is the worst one, she bragged about telling a suicidal woman to “sit down, and shut up,” for having the audacity to give her some life advice.

She has started school, so it is too late to revoke my recommendation. Going to her school with this information now feels retaliatory, even though I know it’s more complicated than that. I wish this conflict had more resolution, but so it goes. I don’t have the bandwidth to deal with it or her anymore. I’ve just been diagnosed with ADHD at 45 and need to focus on exploring treatment options, but that’s a whole letter. I am curious to hear from readers, though, how ADHD has affected them in the workplace.

Thank you again for your sound advice.

3. My company wants us to meditate and do yoga and alternative healing (first update here)

I thought I’d just share a second update as your instincts were right all along, as were many commenters’, and it turns out things were even worse than I knew at the time!

As mentioned, quite a few people were let go or quit – more than half the staff, though they were replaced. And some of the issues I’ve heard from them since goes beyond a grey area to some outright illegal stuff, including being told to end relationships with people outside the company (because those people were “against” them), and full-on diagnosing employees with mental illnesses when they tried to critique practical problems at work. Previously mentioned “new age” practices like group meditation and tarot readings were also used to gauge employees’ energy, auras etc. and to make hiring and firing decisions.

In general the most toxic trend just seemed to be that they claimed to value honest critique and diverse opinions, and then fired anyone who shared them (with a troubling trend of favoring white, cis employees while outwardly promoting diversity – but what else is new).

4. There’s nowhere to lock up company electronics in my new space (#4 at the link)

I thank you and everyone who provided helpful advice. I did leave out some context in my original letter, which you can find in my comment here.

I especially thank those who replied directly to my comment. After your advice and reading those replies, I sent an email to my boss that summarized my concerns, formally requested information about locking drawers, and included a few acceptable accommodations if that wasn’t possible. He got the hint that I was formally documenting this and brought the matter up with the person responsible for the office consolidation. Shortly afterwards, he sent me the specs for the locking drawers that would be at my desk.

I am glad the matter ended there. The company was great to work at until they had a large layoff (which occurred prior to this issue). After the layoff, it became an ongoing battle to obtain *necessary* things needed for my job. I eventually became worn down from the stress of this and left for a similar position elsewhere.

At the new company, on my first day, I received everything that I was fighting for at the old company. My boss and coworker have these same things as well. It’s much less stressful and I wish I had left the old company sooner.

Thank you again for the advice!

{ 151 comments… read them below }

  1. pope suburban*

    Poor LW2. I can’t imagine it’s fun to be in that position and I’m truly sorry. It certainly sounds like this person is going through some personal difficulties right now, though of course I’m not qualified to say if they’re clinical or not. I would say it’s alright to trust in the other members of this person’s degree program, and/or their advisor. If something is that badly wrong, chances are that people will see it without you getting re-involved in this person’s seemingly-messy life. There is nothing wrong with placing that trust in others and focusing on your own life.

    1. Golden*

      I agree with this point about trusting the other members and/or advisors of the degree program. Academia is such a small world, and news of ‘shenanigans’ like this spreads fast. So, rest assured that it will likely get figured out whether you’re involved or not.

    2. Robbie*

      I would also guess that this individual isn’t the first to go through personal difficulties after starting school (for whatever reason) and this isn’t unheard of.

    3. Valkyrie*

      THIS! I have an MA in counselling psychology and could have literally been booted from school for unethical behaviour. And, tbh, posts like bragging about being nasty to someone who’s suicidal is unethical – depending on the wording, it could be a breach of confidentiality, and even if you could argue that “well, lots of people experience suicidal thinking or intention” that doesn’t excuse it, you just really should never speak about the specifics of your clients to anyone else. For example, all of my clients know that I get supervision due to being a new therapist, but they know who I talk to, that they’re only other therapists who’re bound by confidentiality, etc…. everything about this just sounds wildly bad.

      I know Allison has talked about it being bad when certain professionals (e.g., teachers) are held to a ridiculous standard for their out of work conduct, but there is a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference between, say, posting a picture of you having a beer or even tasteful pictures from a boudoir photoshoot or something and posting things that are downright unethical and unprofessional. It sucks but the reality is that some jobs care about your non-work conduct for a reason – for example, if I saw my therapist, doctor, or my child’s teacher yelling at a cashier, the reality is that I would care about that a lot more than if I saw my mechanic behaving the same way because, well, as long as you fix my car it doesn’t matter, but when your behaviour/comportment is a major “tool” at your command, it just matters more.

      1. LW#2*

        To my knowledge, the suicidal woman, was just a random unfortunate soul. She’s only one semester into the program, and isn’t seeing clients yet.

        1. pope suburban*

          Given that, I really suspect that someone will see what is going on with her and intervene before she can do…well, any more harm than she’s done as a private citizen with no particular authority over anyone. I understand feeling that “if you see something, say something,” but that’s not always great or practical advice, and there is nothing wrong with anting to stay away from someone who is behaving in the ways you’ve described here. It’s not just prudent to look out for yourself, it’s important, and I hope hearing from everyone here helps to set your mind at ease.

          1. LW#2*

            Everyone here is so thoughtful. It absolutely helps put my mind at ease. All the drama threw me for a loop and the compassionate comments in my first letter and the update helped carry me through a very turbulent time. Thank you all.

            1. OrigCassandra*

              All best wishes to you. You were doing whatever you could think of to do, in an extremely awkward situation.

            2. Retired Prof*

              I once had a similar experience. I recommended a student for a program to become a teacher, then later had some interactions with him that showed me he was not a good risk to put into a classroom with children. I worried about it a lot. In the end he failed out of the teaching program because they also saw what I had seen. This is likely to happen in your case as well.

  2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    I’m happy about the outcome for #1. I wish more companies were flexible and accommodating about full time versus part time for working parents (or anyone for that matter!). I mean, why not hire 2 part time people if you want to be a company that supports families, or give WFH options, etc. I think the one good thing that has come out of the pandemic is that there is a lot more discussion about these situations for everyone.

    1. Anna*

      I so wish my company had part time jobs. I work for a large media company and have 4 children. I feel like I either have to continue not seeing my kids much or quit. None of my company’s competitors offer PT for what I do though.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Sigh. Yes. I was originally taken on as a part-time worker because my boss wasn’t entirely sure there was enough work to keep me busy, and for the first few months I did spend some time twiddling my fingers. However, I soon became a victim of my own success, getting more and more work. Any time I complained about my workload, I was reminded of the fact that we had agreed that I could go full-time later on. While I had agreed to that, I hadn’t expected it to happen quite so soon, and I saw that my kids much preferred to be at home than in day-care during school hols. So I was willing to work more hours while they were at school, but only if it meant I could take time off in compensation during the hols. Also, my colleague got a pay rise and I didn’t, and the boss justified it by saying he didn’t have to pay us the same because of me being part-time. He wanted to reward her for working full-time. So I wasn’t going to go full-time unless I was given a pay rise commensurate with hers, but the boss refused to entertain the idea.
        He finally decided to hire another person to work with me after we had a huge argument, I think he was contemplating firing me. However, there was literally nothing he could fire me over, since a vague oral promise doesn’t hold up in labour law courts.
        Turned out, there was enough work for her working full-time plus me working part-time, and we still had to outsource some of the work. So he could easily have hired her way before that, and saved money in that it was cheaper to have employees do the work than contractors. He’d not done that out of pure malice, to punish me for not agreeing to go full-time.

        Once my kids were old enough not to need me pick them up from school, I said I was willing to go full-time (and there was more than enough work to justify that) but again, the boss was petty: while he’d obviously have to pay me more because of me doing more hours, the hourly rate would still be the same as the part-time rate. I could have signed a new full-time contract on that basis then taken him to court for not paying me the same as the other colleague, but I really didn’t want the hassle.

    2. Myrin*

      I’m job hunting right now and was quite heartened to see a decent percentage of places I was/am interested in offering positions for either one fulltime or two part-time employees; definitely a trend I’d like to see more of!

    3. Kate*

      When I worked for a large national company I had a baby who needed extra care. I did FMLA and then my state’s medical leave, but it became clear that I wasn’t going to be possible for me to return to the schedule that I’d had previously and I was going to have to leave my leadership role. (It was a high management role in retail that required a highly variable schedule: at least one shift a week starting at 7am, two shifts per week ending after 7:30pm, and every four weeks an inventory shift that ended around 2am.)

      I also happened to be one of the top performers at the company, as well as several other women who also were starting families. I worked up a job-sharing proposal, in which two part-time employees shared a full-time role, and backed it up with studies showing how this improved coverage and employee retention. This was 16 years ago and they didn’t go for it.

      That company proceeded to lose more and more women (and some men) who were starting families. All top performers and it’s led to an immense brain drain. I wish companies would see the benefits to job-sharing and part time work. Yes, it’s not for all positions – but it certainly can be for many.

      1. Artemesia*

        my first exposure to job sharing was a couple who were academics in the same field (but not same sub-specialty) and they were hired into one full time tenure track position. Their biggest battle was getting employee health care covered; the rule was that the company paid for the employee and the employee could add family at a fee (not a huge fee, but a fee). They wanted both to get employee provided health insurance and eventually won the fight –This was in the mid 70s at a prestigious private southern university; they were just starting their family and had two young children. Eventually both were tenured and received full time positions as the kids were older. The university benefited greatly from having two specialties for the price of one and each scholar was able to focus on their scholarship with the half time teaching load and became distinguished in their field.

        1. AstridInfinitum*

          I had 2 fourth grade teachers. One taught some subjects in the morning and the other taught the rest in the afternoon. It seemed to work out for them really well as they did it for a number of years. I’m not sure how the benefits or anything behind the scenes worked, but as a student, I felt good about it.

    4. EmmaPoet*

      Once nice thing about library work in my area is there’s a lot of part-time options, and 20 hours a week gives you full benefits. I had minor surgery on my health plan, and my cost out of pocket was $5.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        I’m glad to hear that. Before I left old job (ack!, almost two years now) I was trying to fight for pro-rated benefits for our part-time employees once they hit a certain period of employment. Especially sick and vacation time (two different PTO pots). We were already having to pay in state retirement after two years. I just kept getting treated like this was the most horrible idea ever by the board.

    5. LüftenFrau*

      Other countries, it is way more normal! I live in Germany and was negotiating a new job contract, and stressing about how this job would use all of my brain and I wouldn’t have any energy left for my toddler. My European friends asked me why didn’t I just negotiate less hours? It had never even occurred to me. Because in the US all benefits are tied to the job, it didn’t occur to me that part-time work was possible with full healthcare/etc. And now I work 25 hours a week and have a little breathing room for toddler.

  3. 2ManyBugs*

    Before my ADHD diagnosis, my partner once described me as “somehow the flakiest and the smartest person I’ve ever met”, which made a lot of sense in hindsight. In terms of how it affected my work – on the one hand, people knew I wasn’t the best at routine, stable tasks, even if we didn’t know exactly why. On the other, I managed to garner a reputation as the Go To person for pulling projects/teams out of the fire and into a stable place, so that’s where I focused a lot of my efforts.

    Therapy revealed that a lot of what I’d thought were ‘normal’ working efforts were actually (generally successful) coping mechanisms to mask how scatterbrained I really was.
    – If you speak up once or twice at the very beginning of a long meeting, no one will notice when you check out for the rest of it. (Useful on days when it felt like my brain was filled with static.)
    – Forgetting to follow up can be missed, because people aren’t that focused on what you’re doing, provided you *do* follow up eventually. If they have to chase you down, they get annoyed. If you send them an email with the solution 2 days after you said you would, but they hadn’t asked for it yet, they just move forward.
    – Say “Thank you” instead of “sorry” wherever possible.
    – Do favors as often as you can, for as many departments as you can. Building up a reputation as helpful definitely saved my job a few years back.

    And of course, if straight therapy is failing (like it did for me), medication IS an option. In my case it was a lifesaver; I don’t have nearly the problems I used to keeping track of my work. I only take it on workdays, and it’s out of my system by the time I clock out, so my partner gets to keep enjoying me at full Flaky Genius capacity and meanwhile I don’t feel like I’m constantly on the verge of being “discovered” as an imposter and fired. Good luck!

    1. Paris Geller*

      “Before my ADHD diagnosis, my partner once described me as “somehow the flakiest and the smartest person I’ve ever met”,”

      Well this is just yet another sign I really should look into getting evaluated for ADHD since this is basically how people have described me since. . . childhood (from parents: so smart but would forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on, from sister: smarter than anyone I know without any common sense, from partner: you’re so smart but PLEASE don’t lose your credit card/phone/car keys again. . . )

        1. Anonny*

          It was like trying to think through sticky, semi-set glue, all the time. I started meds about a month ago and it was one of the biggest almost-instant leaps in my mental health and quality of life.

      1. TJ Morrison*

        I don’t suspect I have ADHD, but your keys comment reminded me of my ability to regularly lock my keys in the car. I have been carrying two sets of keys, one in each pocket (giving away my gender there) for the last ten plus years now. Haven’t been locked out of my car since. (even though I still lock keys in the car.)

      2. Anonynonybooboo*

        Like others have said here, I had some pretty well developed coping mechanisms in place for my ADHD already, and in fact most people referred to me as the most organized person they knew. What they didn’t know is the enormous amount of effort I had to put into staying that way.

        I didn’t start medication for my ADHD until my 40s/the pandemic, and it’s made a huge, life altering difference.

        Where I struggled the most (and where I notice the difference when I don’t take my medicine that day) is in Executive Functioning.

        I take the medicine on days I work, and I am able to work through my to do list, I can task switch WAY better and then get back on the original task far quicker, and I find that I don’t have to use a lot of my coping skills those days.

        It’s hard – I always felt part of what made me, ME, were the symptoms of my ADHD, and I was afraid of what I would be without them/on medication.

        Turns out I get to keep all the good parts (hyper-productivity) and cut out a lot of the annoying parts, like the part that feels like my brain has 83 tabs open, one playing music, one playing an ad, and one with a long-running script that’s causing a lock up.

        {Also, I am a woman which makes the ADHD so much harder to diagnose in the first place}

        I wish I’d gotten medication sooner.

    2. Robbie*

      Putting the ADHD stuff under this thread.
      I was literally just diagnosed last week, but this all rings so true!
      For me it is that my brain is either at 0 or 100- there is no in between. This means those crunch weeks with 384930 different things and stuff is on fire? I am totally fine, my brain is doing great and are flying smoothly.
      But those weeks where everything is calm and I only need to do some light work? My brain says “nope! It is either all or nothing, so this week it is nothing!” Naturally, this causes problems because my job is a mixture of those weeks.
      I have found that on the “nothing” weeks, scheduling appointments or meetings helps keep my brain busy. Also setting up some accountability with people (e.g. telling them I will get them a project by x date), even if it can be far more flexible, gives my brain that sense of urgency to actually do the work.

        1. Robbie*

          I work as a clergyperson in the church, so they tend to be pastoral visits with congregants, or phone calls with other clergy to check in. Basically meetings that I know will require mental energy, but not a lot of follow-up (eg. I can visit with some of my folks, but they don’t expect me to solve their problems afterwards). It has taken way too long for me to find this pattern; I was listening to non-ADHD ministers who were insistent upon a weekly routine that just didn’t fit me in any way.

          1. Retired Prof*

            Robbie, you might benefit from the book The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine. He breaks out attention issues into various types, since the useful accommodation depends on what type of attention deficit you have. You are describing highly variable mental energy, which is my pattern. You’ve discovered your own system for it – use the high energy days to fly through your creative work, and the low energy days for routine stuff. That’s me as well. A high school counselor once told my ADHD kid that he needed to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and I just stared at her in astonishment – I had never even realized that there were people who could do that.

            The Levine book helped me and my children realize that whatever your attention issue is, it is not a character flaw, it’s just how your brain is wired, and you can have a better life by adjusting your work life to your brain instead of trying to bend your brain to fit your work life.

      1. Chelle*

        Yes, I have this same problem and handle it in a similar way! I also make sure to write down absolutely everything I commit to doing, so that even if it slips off my radar for the day, I have the details when I get back to it.

        I also rotate between half a dozen task management systems, as my brain craves novelty. I’ve done OneNote, Outlook tasks, physical pieces of paper, calendar holds with tasks in them etc. They all work for a while and then stop working, so don’t be afraid to mix it up!

      2. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Argh, that is so true.
        It’s a big problem with any kind of routine physical work. It takes just enough bandwith that you need to pay some attention, but too little to actually keep your brain busy. So it constantly wanders off to find something else to do, and then you start making really obvious mistakes because you’re not paying attention anymore.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Same thing with routine desk work. It looks, walks, and talks like a no-brainer, BUT woe betide you if you get fooled into not thinking. There’s always some subtle detail that requires attention!

          1. Koalafied*

            Yes, all those tasks that are like, “make a new thing that is identical to a previous version on 38 attributes and different on 2.” The temptation is strong to assume that the 38 pieces that never change must be right and it would be a waste of time to check them one by one every single time, and if you get into that habit you can get away with it for a really long time, until the day you can’t. For months it won’t cause any problems and you’ll feel validated that you’ve been so much more productive by cutting out proofing – even worse than feeling validated, you’re likely to even be rewarded for the productivity!

            As a consumer every time I run into a problem with a product or service my first thought is usually to assume the company is chronically understaffed and as result has no culture of QA or proofreading because I’m pretty sure that’s how most employers have operated since roughly 2008 when corporate America laid off half their staff and discovered they could get away with operating with 50% lower labor costs.

      3. Obfuscated Orangutan*

        Yes! My psychiatrist explained that this is all due to adrenaline. It balances our brains and gives us the focus/attention we usually lack. That is why time pressure allows many of us to get things done *just* under the wire. Too much adrenaline, though, and we have all kinds of other problems. ADHD really is about fundamental brain differences.

        I learned I likely had ADHD from internet memes, and my psychiatrist was able to explain so much of what I’ve experienced in life. He also explained how ADHD affects people differently at different stages of life. It is fascinating stuff!

        1. Ori*

          Huh. I’ve been thinking of seeking assessment for a while. My work cycle basically involves either being a high performer in high pressure, fast paced environments – then burning out in a couple of years. Or just about hanging on to my job in more relaxed, slow paced environments in which for some reason I make more mistakes.

        2. LW#2*

          Yes, this. This is pretty much how I survived life up until diagnosis. Not a fun way to live having to have a crisis after crisis to obtain hyperfocus. Also, Estrogen fluctuations wildly affect ADHD symptoms. (This is a poorly researched area because Women and ADHD, ugh.) When I went through menopause the symptoms were so disabling I couldn’t work. I couldn’t even get a job because I was so emotionally dysregulated and clinically depressed I couldn’t make it through an interview without bursting into tears. I didn’t think I’d survive it, it was that bad. greatly improved when I went on HRT, including the emotional dysregulation. I found a job in Special Education working with kids with ADHD (which is how I noticed similar patterns in myself) and created a business (violin teaching) that I can apply my strengths, and minimize my weaknesses. Yeah, I forgot to bill a client for three months, but, it’s process…

          1. AnonForThis*

            Oh, yes to the menopause thing. It was as I was in perimenopause that the symptoms went from “I’m just weird and need to learn to cope and I have to work harder than everyone else” to “No really, something is seriously wrong with me and I am not functional and can’t handle it any more and I need to find out why now.”

    3. Meghan*

      … And that’s one more thing to add to the list of “Things to tell my doctor about when I explain why I think I have ADHD” because I basically do all of those already.

      Or, in internet speak: I feel called out.

    4. Queen Ruby*

      You sound exactly like me! My dad (still, ugh) wonders how I can be so intelligent and such a mess all at the same time. What can I say…. it’s an art! lol
      I was diagnosed with ADHD at 33. I was on adderall for a short time while I was in grad school, but then went off for a few years. And totally hit bottom. Not only could I not function because I couldn’t focus on anything long enough to finish it, I was extremely frustrated, which made me miserable, depressed, and combative when anyone tried to tell me what to do about it. I mean, I’m super smart, I know better than anyone else, so My Way can’t be wrong! But yes, yes it can. And it was!
      I lost several jobs during those years and suffered through some serious financial setbacks and in retrospect, it was because of my ADHD. There were times I couldn’t even get a sentence out before I’d get distracted. It was awful. I went back on adderall 3 years ago at age 39, and it has absolutely changed my life. Now I’m not the flaky genius, as you so succinctly put it. I’m a very high-performer at my job, and I’ve more than doubled my salary in those 3 years. I still struggle sometimes with financial stuff, but at least I can stop worrying about my job performance. I feel like I’m close to reaching my potential for the maybe 2nd time in my life. It’s done wonders for my self-esteem and my personality. Just mind blowing how different (better!) life is now!


      I’m curious to hear from anyone who’s gotten an AD(H)D diagnosis as an adult, if folks would be open to talking more about that process. I’m pretty sure I’m the poster child for “they didn’t diagnose little girls who daydream 30+ years ago,” but don’t really know where to start.

      1. Properlike*

        It’s hard to get a diagnosis as a woman, even in more “aware” places. Mine manifested as emotional dysregulation, which is known to many in the field who know AD(H)D, but not all, and that makes it confusing. But the first day of Adderall cured decades of anxiety in a way all the anti-anxiety and anti-depressives did not.

        Understand, too, that medication won’t cure everything. Here I am commenting in this comment section while “working.”

        1. LW#2*

          I was shocked at how much Adderall reduced my anxiety, probably because I’m not missing half of everything going on around me now…

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            Not Adderall, but everyone was flabbergasted that when put on proper ADHD meds, my son’s anxiety symptoms vanished. They went from the “we need to address the glaring ADHD symptoms first, then see what we can do to address his anxiety” to “wait, where’d it go?”

        2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

          Well, damn. That sounds super duper like me. Anxiety is pretty much my middle name.
          I don’t live in a particularly “aware” place, which makes it all that much more difficult.
          Thanks for your honest and gracious response.

      2. Ella*

        I did. Here’s the steps in a nutshell:

        1. Write a list of reasons why you think you have ADHD. Stick to the DSMV. RSD is real but they don’t diagnose by it. Use anecdotes instead of listing symptoms.

        2. Take list to a GP and tell them them you think you have ADHD. They will ask why. Provide your examples.

        3. They will ask if you want a referral. IF you want meds (not everyone does) insist on going to a Psychiatrist. Psychologists don’t prescribe. If you want therapy, ask for a therapist or a psychologist. Both types of psychs are good, they just do different things.

        4. Go to psych. Take your notes.

        5. Get diagnosed and start treatment.

        It can get a bit more complicated than that, but that’s a start. Good luck!

        1. Starbuck*

          Lol, any advice for someone who’s stuck at #2? I’ve been hearing the advice “go see a doctor” for years but I don’t know how to do that? It’s the exact kind of task that’s way to vague so I can never figure out what the steps are. I have health insurance that is decent enough but no idea how to navigate it and there’s no one in my life that can help me with that sort of task.

          1. Hanani*

            I’m not sure if the following guide is what you’re looking for, so please excuse me if not, but this is what I tell my students about finding a medical professional:

            Your health insurance website should have a list of in-network doctors that you can sort by specialty. Look for “general practice” or “family medicine” or “primary care” and pick one who is geographically convenient. Call that office (should be a phone number right on the website), ask if they are accepting new patients, and if yes, ask to make a new patient appt. They’ll schedule an appt with you, it might be months in the future, you go, and bring up your concerns while you’re there.

            The “better” way if you can manage is to get recommendations by asking friends/family/neighbors and research possible doctors, since you won’t necessarily click with everyone. But just picking one and going can be an important first step. If that one isn’t a match, you can go look for another one.

            1. Starbuck*

              Thank you for the response, I will try to figure out how to put that into practice. I live in a rural area so part of the problem is a lack of options I think. I don’t know anyone in real life who would be able to make a recommendation. My local contacts are either my coworkers (def not asking them for medical referrals, I don’t need them to know about this) or fellow 20-something friends who don’t/can’t afford to go to a doctor.

              1. mlem*

                Before you entirely write off coworkers, remember that you can tell people you’re thinking about getting “a primary doctor” or “a new primary doctor”, just because it seems like a good idea. Plenty of people are happy to recommend a primary doctor/general physician without thinking there’s anything weird about it. (My insurance covers annual physicals and most people won’t think twice about that idea.) NO ONE has to know why you’re deciding to deal now.

              2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

                Rural solidarity. I live in a Little Town on the Prairie (not that one). Most GPs and the nearest hospitals are at least 45 minutes away. Makes everything SO much more difficult. If I want to go see a doctor for anything, there goes half my day, and nobody does evenings/weekends around here.

          2. Carlie*

            Does your insurance have a help number? That would be my first stop. Tell them you are interested in seeing if you have it and they should give you the steps. You might need a primary doctor’s referral or might not, and they should have a provider list that you can search for providers who list it as a specialty. You can choose and call from that list, and ask if they are accepting new clients and if they do the diagnosis.

          3. Cymru*

            Also, use this exact comment as an example of your executive dysfunction levels for tasks that require multiple steps. Because this comment was a huge example as to being overwhelmed in that area.

            1. Starbuck*

              Lol yes, it’s so frustrating – I know I need help with life stuff, but the exact kind of task that I struggle so much with is exactly what I need to do to get the help! It’s brought me to tears more than once trying to figure it out and getting stuck. Last time I tried, they recommended some kind of online text chat service and I just gave up in disgust.

              1. Coder von Frankenstein*

                If it helps any, here are the answers I gave to my therapist’s intake questionnaire, asking how my suspected ADHD impacts work, personal life, and school:

                I’m a computer programmer. At work, I delay endlessly working on boring tasks, and my managers constantly struggle to get me to fill out routine paperwork. I do very well when I have a) something interesting to work on, b) a hard deadline looming, or c) an urgent problem to solve–a co-worker at one job nicknamed me “Spider-Man” because I liked to swoop in and save the day.

                When engaged with a project, I am very detail-oriented and thorough, and I deliver top-notch results; this has enabled me to do okay at work despite having many weeks when I get basically nothing done. In meetings, I lose focus quickly as soon as the conversation moves away from topics relevant to me, and I have to keep my laptop closed or not bring it–otherwise I invariably end up surfing the web or doing other work. As you can imagine, this was a serious problem when COVID hit and all meetings became Zoom meetings.
                PERSONAL LIFE
                My relationships in the past (long in the past now), I tended to blow up through being hypersensitive to criticism and shutting down rather than working through problems. Whether this was due to ADHD or not, I don’t know–I saw one article suggesting this was a symptom, but I have no idea if that article had any grounding in reality, and I don’t want to fall into the trap of assuming every mistake I’ve made in my life was ADHD.

                Eventually I figured out that the problem here was me, and I have tried to train myself to not take criticism personally; but by then I had mostly stopped even looking for relationships. For the last decade I have made occasional attempts to date via online dating sites, but building a relationship with a stranger is a constant struggle and I invariably bailed out after two or three dates.

                Romance aside, I tend to have a small number of close relationships with friends and a couple of family members, and let the rest fall by the wayside.
                I hated school from start to finish. I hardly ever paid attention in class, blew off much of my homework, and skated by on test-taking ability. If it weren’t for the SATs, I doubt I would have gotten into college.

                Once I got my B.A., I left school and had zero desire to ever go back. (Ironically, I work at a university now; but I’m in the IT department and stay well away from the academic side.)

                1. Thegreatprevaricator*

                  The work effects are very familiar to me. I’ve started to look more closely at the idea that I may have adhd, partly through my sister highlighting her experience. She’s not diagnosed but works in an adjacent field and would be top of the class on a screening questionnaire. I have been finding some of the information and tips in ‘how to adhd’ youtube channel helpful. My issues have been present since childhood and definitely sit on the ‘bright but flaky’ side of things. Years of advice and struggle focused on what I felt was a character flaw. Being late, procrastinating around certain tasks, difficulty completing, always working up to the deadline, really struggling with big/ long form writing tasks, really bad at estimating time, rubbish at remembering birthdays/ to post things etc. I don’t lose stuff unless I’m distressed/ preoccupied- the week my grandfather was dying I left so many things on public transport.

                  What helps: working in a place which gives me autonomy but provides structure. I was self employed for a while which meant I had to create my own structure and that was harder work. Time blocking my calendar – this helps me with poor time estimation because I see how long something will take! It also helps me to stop task hopping, which can drain executive function. I don’t worry if I actually end up doing something else in the time block, its flexible and I can shift it around. Pomodoro timers are the brute squad for dealing with long form writing tasks. These are a regular part of my job and what I struggle with most. I use the timer to help me supported by time blocking. Recently I have been gamifying it slightly by challenging myself to reduce the time spent on this task. This has been helpful in encouraging me to use short bursts of focus. I take scheduled breaks without guilt.

                  All of these are coping strategies that might suit an ADHD mind, although not everyone’s mind. It’s taken me years to figure out the best context and tasks to support me, along the way I’ve lost jobs and not finished masters qualifications. Plus the impact on my wellbeing and home life (if I’m doing one of the big bad tasks, everything else kind of goes to hell for a few days). Because I have coping strategies and it affects me in specific area that’s regular but not too frequent I’m not pursuing a diagnosis. But just the thought that hey, maybe this is just the way my brain works has been a massive source of relief to me.

              2. BubbleTea*

                ADHD Twitter is super helpful, and if you tweeted saying that you needed help step by step with something I’m certain you’d get people responding and able to do that. “How to ADHD” is a great start for coping strategies, and if you follow/tweet to her account, it’s a good gateway to ADHD Twitter. Black Girl Lost Keys is another good resource, again very active on Twitter.

          4. PeanutButter*

            I started with my primary care physician. If you don’t have one, call the number on your health insurance card and ask to be assigned to one. It took a number of “no, really, these traits are NEGATIVELY IMPACTING MY LIFE” visits before I got a referral to a psychiatrist for medication. My life is completely changed now, taking Adderall XR was like putting glasses on my brain. The first time I planned to do something mildly unpleasant that had a lot of steps and just…got up and DID IT instead of procrastinating was amazing.

          5. Ella*

            I kept the steps brief for the people with short attention spans, but since you asked I’ll go into more detail about step 2.

            I will start from absolute zero and walk you through step by step. Please ignore the stuff you know.

            How to get in to see a doctor:

            – The first thing to know is that you don’t need to go to a special doctor straight away. The first doctor you see just needs to be a normal, standard, “looks at rashes on small children and warts on old men” kind of doctor. They’re called a general practitioner, or GP. Think Doc Martin from the BBC series.

            – Many people have a GP from when they were children, but many people don’t. Some GPs take new patients all the time. Some are full. But it’s normal to be looking for a new GP, so don’t worry that you’re doing something weird or unusal. You’re not.

            – Pull up a google maps tab and search ‘doctors near me’ or ‘GPs near me’. GPs work out of clinics, so you will get a list of clinics, not a list of names. Write down some convenient looking ones.

            – Pick a clinic and look up their website. I’m not from the US, so I’m not 100% familiar with how your insurance stuff works, but I believe there is usually something on their website about whether they work with your provider. Something something “in network”. If not, repeat with the other possible clinics on your list. If you find one, great! Skip the ‘check insurance’ part of the next step and just do the other bits.

            – Pick one of the clinics. Any one will do. You’re not locked in if they’re terrible, you can just go to someone else by following these steps again. There’s no rules about changing. It’s commonly done. Don’t worry about picking a GP. You don’t have to. So now you need to get in contact. If you hate phone calls you can just walk in off the street and talk to a receptionist. Otherwise you can call the number on the website, which will also get you to a receptionist. Say to the receptionist something along the lines of ‘Hi, I’m looking for a new GP. Does your clinic work with my insurance company XYZ insurance?’. If the answer is no, say ‘OK, thanks for your help, have a nice day’ and then try again at a different clinic. If the answer is yes, you’re good to continue (I think – as I said, I’m not from the US).

            – Now to become a patient. Ask ‘Are any of your doctors taking new patients?’. If the answer is no, start again at the previous step with a new clinic. If the answer is yes, then say ‘Great! I’d like to make an appointment to see someone please.’ (Or insert name if the receptionist gave you one). The receptionist will either a) book you an appointment and tell you that you need to provide details before your first appointment or b) ask you for details then and there.

            a) Doctors are usually pretty busy, so the receptionist will possibly offer you a time and date and ask if it suits. If it does, say yes and they will book you in. If it doesn’t suit, suggest an alternative that suits you. Again, this is very normal. Its just like booking a business meeting or hiring a plumber (if you’ve done either of those).

            b) They will want to know your full name, date of birth, address, contact number, email, and insurance details such as provider and your number. They will also want your permission to get your medical records from any doctor you’ve seen before, but it’s OK if you don’t have anyone or you don’t remember who you saw as a kid.

            – Now is the opportunity to ask what your insurance does. You’re not the first new person to do this and the receptionist will be all over it, so don’t be afraid to say something like ‘I’m new to this, so I’m not sure how my insurance works. Do they pay on the day, or do I pay and forward them the receipt?’. They are the right person to ask and they will be able to tell you what the deal is. Those are the two most likely options.

            – If the appointment is during work hours, tell your boss that you have an appointment beforehand. If you’re not sure how much notice is appropriate, go with a week. Depending on your work, you might just say ‘appointment’ or ‘doctor’s appointment’. Nothing more. Some jobs will make you take leave, some won’t if you’re quick. You might get asked to come back with a note.

            – Go to the appointment. Some clinics have a surgical mask only policy at the moment. Some accept cloth masks. Some don’t require masks. The receptionist will have told you. You can go in normal clothes, or work clothes if necessary. Walk in the door and up to reception. State your name and appointment time.

            – The receptionist will ask you to fill out a form with medical details on it, such as do you have asthma, heart problems etc; were you born XX or XY (they have to know, they won’t tell anyone); have you ever been pregnant (ditto); and other details about you and your immediate family. Just write what you know and hand it back.

            – The receptionist will call your name and direct you to the GP’s room. They will introduce themselves and ask why you have come to see them. Say ‘I think I have ADHD’, and give details when asked. You have now had your first GP appointment. Ask for a note before you leave if you need one.

            If I’ve missed anything that’s not related to insurance let me know and I’ll fill in the gaps. Hope this helps!

        2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

          This is incredibly helpful. I do actually have a GP, because I deal with a lot of other ongoing minor-to-annoying medical situations. I will see if I can start documenting all of this…

          …maybe after the Christmas season, which is incredibly busy in my line of work.

      3. Chelle*

        I was diagnosed at 28, and I was one of the lucky ones–I needed a new PCP anyway, sought out one that said he did ADHD diagnosis/med management, brought that up with him at the first appointment, and he gave me a short screener and said “Yep, you definitely look like you have ADHD. Want to try meds?”

        Adderall has been hugely helpful. My worst habit was getting “stuck”–eg, can’t quit work for the day until I finish task X, but also can’t make myself do task X, so I’m “working” until 9 or 10pm, just procrastinating and not able to accomplish anything else. Adderall has helped me remove the block so I can just do the thing and get along with my life.

        1. Liza*

          I literally just opened my eyes wide and gasped when I read your description of getting stuck. I’m working on getting diagnosed with ADHD (I’m pretty sure I have it and it’s gotten stronger lately) and that’s something I’ve always done and had no idea it was ADHD-related!

      4. AnonForThis*

        Me, at almost 50! I started nonstimulant meds a few months ago and it’s been like the good part of Flowers for Algernon. I can choose a task to do and do it! I can remember some things! I can prioritize!

        It began by being told by a therapist I was seeing for anxiety that they thought I should be tested for inattentive ADHD. I didn’t follow up for a couple of years on that, but kept seeing more on the internet that I really related to about it and then sought out and found a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in ADHD. It took a while to be seen, but diagnosis was a few questionnaires and life history discussions. Caveats that I have great insurance and had providers in network, but it was fairly smooth. I think being older helped, for having such a long track record of the same issues over and over.

          1. Sharpieees*

            I have too. It’s heartbreaking. I recently went back on meds that temporarily worked for me in the past, and so far so good. I am crossing my fingers that they won’t wear off again.

          2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            Oh yeah, I ran out of my anxiety/insomnia meds over the Thanksgiving holiday and this really resonates. (Got them refilled, back on, getting back to whatever “normal” is for me, but whoa.)

      5. Coder von Frankenstein*

        45-year-old male, working as a software developer, which fits my particular brand of ADHD pretty well (primarily inattentive, capable of intense hyperfocus when interested in a task, extremely good at tackling sudden crises). Diagnosed just a couple of weeks ago. Please note: I do not necessarily recommend the following process. It worked for me, but it’s entirely possible I got lucky.

        After coming to suspect I had ADHD, I spent a while looking for psychiatrists in my area who listed it as one of their specialties. I tried a couple but they were booked solid for months. Then I happened across an ADHD clinic which did telemedicine and had chosen not to accept insurance. I was a little wary due to the latter, but at that point I figured what the hell; I could afford to drop a few hundred bucks (300-something for the initial evaluation, 100 per month thereafter) and was willing to risk it to see if they could help.

        I won’t say the therapist blew me away with his keen insight and helpful guidance. He’s okay. The medication, however, is life-changing; so much more control over my focus, able to manage my time far better and switch easily between tasks, both at work and at home. I’ve had some trouble with insomnia, probably due to the combination of going on Adderall and quitting caffeine, but I think (hope) that is now subsiding as I get used to it.

        Mostly I view the current arrangement as a way to try medication and fine-tune the dosage under medical supervision. I intend to look for a different therapist eventually, preferably one who takes insurance, but in the meantime, the medication alone is worth it.

      6. ellex42*

        -“I’m the poster child for ‘they didn’t diagnose little girls who daydream 30+ years ago'”

        Ditto on ASD in girls. At 47, I can look back and say “wow, I ticked an awful lot of the DSM-5 boxes for ASD as a child, and still do”, but can also say “wow, I tick an awful lot of the boxes for girls/women successfully masking ASD symptoms”. And even though my parents were both involved in working with kids with various learning disabilities, including autism, there just wasn’t a lot of diagnosing happening for girls/children who didn’t display obvious behavioral problems in the 70s and 80s.

        Somehow, I managed to come up with a lot of the therapeutic coping methods on my own as well, and now that I’m working from home, everything has become so much easier that I’m resolved to never stop working from home again.

    6. Ella*

      Letter writer, if you’re interested in medication, I would like to add that I, too found meds to be a lifesaver. I kept all of my creativity and great ideas, but I can now choose which ones I want to focus on instead of feeling agitated if I don’t follow them all up. I feel like I’m in charge instead of my ideas being in charge of me. But I had to titrate through all dose levels of three different types of medication to get here, so don’t be disheartened if the first dose of the first meds don’t work.

      Other benefits I’ve found:
      – I can do boring tasks without feeling like I want to scream
      – Day 4 of the right meds I had to memorise a 9-step process that took 20 minutes and I managed to repeat it flawlessly all day without messing up or getting bored
      – I don’t feel as agitated during dull meetings
      – I’m not losing things as much
      – My colleagues take my suggestions more seriously because I can lay them out in a more coherent way

      – I have to take short acting and if I’m late with a dose it takes an hour or more to get back to “fully medicated”
      – In my country I can only have enough short acting to last until 4pm, so goodbye productivity after then. I try and do organisational tasks then, but NO EMAILS! (Lesson learned the hard way).
      – I don’t crash as hard if I eat protein around half an hour before the meds wear off, but that’s not always possible.
      – Dehydration. I have to rehydrate with electrolytes, just water isn’t enough.

      For me, in my job, the downsides are minor and the upsides are huge so I love my meds. For my Mum who works in childcare, the downsides would be prohibitive and she doesn’t want to take the medication anyway, so she doesn’t. That’s important. Don’t let anyone bully or guilt you into taking medication unless YOU want to. But if you do, well, get excited because it’s amazing!

      Another general note on meds, if they make you sleepy it’s because your dose is too low. Currently, your brain is in panic mode trying to find enough dopamine to stay alive (rats have been shown to die without it). Once you get a little bit more, your brain calms down, but it still wants to conserve the relatively low amount so it tries to get you to nap. Once you’re closer to average levels of dopamine, that effect will go away.

      1. kanzeon88*

        Why on earth do they only allow short-acting until 4pm? They don’t care if the ADHD affects your personal life?

        1. Chelle*

          The short acting only lasts 4-6 hours. My doctor told me I can take a second one if I need to, but not to do it too late in the day because it would impact my sleep, and also I can only get a 30-day supply at a time. I generally don’t take it on the weekends and usually don’t need 2/day, but I bet if the above commenter does, she has to budget when she can take a second.

          YMMV, but for me, I’ve found that my personal life has improved plenty by just being able to complete my workday in a timely manner and roll into the evening feeling accomplished. If I have annoying/complex tasks, I save them for Saturday and take an Adderall then; otherwise I don’t usually take them on the weekends.

          1. kanzeon88*

            That makes sense! I’m glad your system works well for you. My husband is the one on meds, and his is long-acting. It’s made a huge difference at home for us, so that’s suited us well. But I know everyone is different!

        2. Ella*

          Thanks for asking! I’m in Australia. The short acting only lasts 3 hours for me and I need 10mg per dose. The law is 30mg is the max daily dose for an adult in my state (40mg for a child). So I’m stuck with 9 hours worth and I choose to start at 7am. My psych would prescribe it for me, but the law doesn’t care about my personal life. I get my 9 hours on weekends too though, which is nice.

    7. Anonomatopoeia*

      I have no dx, but based on things I have learned in the past couple of years I suspect I would score “WTF how do you function” on an ADHD test. Things I know:

      — Particularly during busy or hectic periods, I try to leave each day with a physical list sitting ON MY KEYBOARD where I cannot possibly miss it that is the current running list of things I need to find out, solve, or do soon and soonish. Throughout the day I (try to) cross off and add, but then at the end of the day, I (try to) rewrite it into the still-needs-doing list.
      — I know that I require deadline pressure to complete lots of kinds of things. Sometimes I assign myself hard deadlines in order to get something done. This only works sparingly and/or with external accountability, though.
      — If I file it, I better be legitimately done with it, because I actually forget I own major living-your-life-comfortably items if I put them away in a closed drawer. “How do I not own any socks?” (I do. I do own socks. I have, finally, after being an adult a long time, sort of learned to remember that the last time I had no socks, I did have socks and they were in the drawer where they belong, but it’s still even odds I will fix my problem by buying more socks. Or silverware. Or folding chairs. Etc.) So I don’t put things away in file drawers unless I think I am sufficiently done with them that something will prompt me to look IN FILES if I will need them again. If I HAVE to file them on the daily, those go in folders that live in a stacker or holder on my actual desk.
      — Email and digital files are great, but see previous: they are hella problematical for me. Some strategies: if there is a path to where the digital files are stored which I can bookmark, I could set up my browser to open with that path? Or an outlook reminder to look at that file place each day/Monday/whatever? This could also work if I had to file things behind a lock for security or privacy reasons.
      — I read the meeting minutes to all the meetings I have access to, including the meetings I attended. If there are opportunities for feedback, and I did in fact do this reading, I can have an opinion and thus present myself as someone who is paying attention.
      — If it’s a project that is going to involve going through a long list for a long time, I probably should delegate this task, because I am GREAT at setting the criteria, dividing things into the groups, making places for all the parts, having a solid big picture plan for where this project is going. I am TERRIBLE at following through the entire list item by item for days or weeks.
      — I help people every time there is a call and I feasibly can, or, every time I notice help is needed. I agree with this advice a lot. It’s particularly useful if the people you are helping are likely to be able to help you back (but I mean, not just them, and not in a quid pro quo way, just, if the admin assistant, who is the keeper of the keys and the budget stuff, knows you will always come answer phones so they can get a potty break or whatever, they are sort of likely to be more willing to help you patch up when you screw up, and they know where everything is to do it).

    8. LW#2*

      This is excellent advice. My favorite part is saying “thank you” instead of “sorry”. Since going on meds, I have become a rock star at work. I was recognized by the school district. My coworkers have given me feedback that I am more confident, less anxious and show much more initiative. Meds changed my life overnight.

      1. Jacey*

        That’s so wonderful to hear, LW! I was also diagnosed and got on meds as an adult, and it really was a night and day change in both my personal and professional life. Here’s my one big tip for dealing with ADHD at work: keep a small notebook and pen with you to take notes, and always have the notes with you in the same pocket/bag; if possible, leave the notes in the exact same space on your desk at the end of every day so you don’t have to remember to take them home and then back to work.

    9. Florp*

      I’m reading this thread and I feel so seen! Getting diagnosed as an adult was wonderful–I grew up in an era when everyone thought “girls can’t have ADHD.” It was validation for how my brain works, and I got to acknowledge that I had developed a lot of successful coping skills all on my own (thank goodness for the invention of the cell phone and PDA). I did feel some grief for all the lost potential during the years that I didn’t get help. But there’s so much help and advice available now (and good drugs!) that I at least feel I’m not wasting the rest of my life. Plus, I’ve been able to recognize when my kids are struggling with something treatable, and advocate for them in ways my parents couldn’t for me.

  4. Heron*

    #2: Here’s hoping the woman won’t end up getting the degree. Some people go into the mental health field for not-so-good reasons, and she appears to be one of them!

    1. Excel Jedi*

      Fortunately, she doesn’t seem to have much of a filter. Sooner or later she’ll (hopefully) give herself away and be asked to leave the program.

    2. Batgirl*

      All the red flags and alarm bells are ringing here for me. This person sounds like one of the predator examples we get given in safeguarding training as teachers. Referring to students sexually before switching to a sexual therapy field? Prioritizing sexual expression over others’ comfort? Mmm nope. Please keep the vulnerable people away from this one.

    3. JelloStapler*

      If she is showing her inability to treat others, it will show in her practicum and therefore her grades at very least. Very likely her practicum supervisor would also raise concerns or refuse to let her continue (since it is technically on the supervisor’s counseling license and leaving them open for malpractice).

      1. Chicanery*

        I’d like to trust that this is true, but I’ve met enough really unethical therapists (and heard stories of more!) to know that sometimes people like this do somehow get through their programs and become licensed.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I find it super troubling that she’s going for a degree in sex therapy yet openly said “how she is monogamous and polyamory is an “alternative lifestyle” she does not accept it.”

      One thing you can’t be as a therapist is openly judgemental, especially in sex therapy. People are coming to you with problems with relationships that are likely not usual situations. I feel compassion for any future clients of hers who are polyamorous!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That caught my attention too. It sounds like maybe she’s going through some stuff, but none of it is LW’s problem and hopefully someone in her life will help her.

      2. Kat in Boots*

        Right?! And if you know, as a therapist, that you are unable to be non-judgemental in certain cases, you have an ethical responsibility not to take those cases on!

        This situation sounds full of bees, but it is not the recommendation letter writer’s responsibility. She wrote a letter in good faith, based on her honest appraisal at the time.

      3. kittymommy*

        Honestly this comment and the lack of compassion she seems to have shown to an individual who was suicidal makes me think it may need to be reported to the school/program. There is a chance it might come off as retaliatory but they’re egregious enough I’m not sure that matters, especially if the only connection is FB friends with a spouse.

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Makes me remember of my school psychologist, who always blamed the victim. She even had the gulls to ask my mother for my mobile number when I graduated.

  5. Pool Lounger*

    Letter 2–I really hope people at this bad therapist’s school can see what’s going on, and I hope someone brings these posts, esp the one about the suicidal patient, to the program’s attention. I have a mental illness and have been to terrible psychologists, but none this bad. This person could contribute to people dying and to ill people getting worse or giving up on therapy all together. I feel so, so bad for this person’s clients.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I wonder if OP2’s husband would be in a position to report this stuff to the program that “Ms Gone Off the Deep End” is enrolled in. She’s not practicing yet, but in some programs you have to follow the Ethics Rules for practioners even while studying.

  6. RabbitRabbit*

    For #3, I know “cult” was used a lot the first time it was mentioned – and wow, is it ever going out of its way to be one with the whole “leave relationships outside of the company” thing. Wow!

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Absolutely, which is why I called it out. 100% on the money from the LW. Trying to cut people off from non-members is a giant cult red flag.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Honestly, it reads to me like OP was just better at reading the warning signs than others were. Part of why this site is important- because it helps make openly known the warning signs of toxicity for all workers.

    2. Meep*

      I am having a hard time grappling with this one. On one hand, while no one but a mental health professional should be diagnosing anyone, it is, unfortunately, common to that alone is strangely not unusual to me. (I know that sounds bad to say but online communities are littered with people self-diagnosing and diagnosing people they dislike as having “mental breakdowns”. It is unfortunately common).

      On the other hand, tarot cards used by bigots is a new one for sure.

      1. Faith the twilight slayer*

        Because if the Goddess says it’s OK to discriminate, you’re 100% totally allowed to, I guess?

        1. Nessun*

          Oh for sure. /s

          I and others I know have used Tarot for business purposes, but it’s more of a gut-check than a driving force – and of course that’s just going to reinforce whatever you planned from the beginning, if you’re closed-minded. Awful people will use every tool they can to be awful; guess I shouldn’t be surprised by what you can find in their toolboxes anymore.

    3. LW 3*

      It’s really one of those things where I can go back and read the letter and feel a bit better that I sensed something was up back then (but also didn’t know the half of it, or even 1/10th).

      I think one detail I’m realizing now is that the pandemic did a lot of their work for them, letting them isolate employees from one another and their loved ones, but also let them blame some blatant structural issues and toxic management on employees’ (supposed) pandemic anxieties. Still so much to unfurl.

  7. Bookworm*

    Thanks to all the LWs for the updates. Also glad that it really seems to have worked out all around for LW1. Figured at least one party would be unhappy but it seems like this is the best fit for all. So glad it’s a happy outcome and you’re pleased with it!

  8. AnonEMoose*

    LW2, let me frame it for you a little differently – you would not be retaliating against her by going to her school about her behavior, you would be protecting potential future patients of hers. A bad mental health professional can do a lot of damage.

    So…a lot of counseling programs have a standard called “fitness to practice,” or at least they should. If you did want to bring this to her university’s attention, get screenshots of the posts, and then find out where to send them at her university. They may contact you for more information, but it shouldn’t be a huge deal. But again, it isn’t retaliating against her, it’s about keeping her from doing further damage to future patients. But, if you just can’t, that’s totally valid, too, and likely that level of trouble will very likely come out in other ways.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      If her social media is public, someone is bound to find it and this by itself will definitely show that she’s not fit to practice. Similarly, it sounds like she has no filter (at least online) and that will likely spill over into her public/professional life if it hasn’t already.

      If it isn’t public and/or she’s good at maintaining a professional image, I think it’s fair to bring the evidence to the university with the message that you had previously recommended this person to the program but have since had good cause to reconsider your opinion. This is not someone who should ever be treating or counseling others.

  9. CatCat*

    #3 is just… what.

    Wondering what to put on UI application when let go after a tarot reading. “Firing was in the cards”?

    1. LW*

      LW here and this is actually a concern for some of the more junior members! Luckily the more senior people who quit/were fired are happy to write letters of recommendation about their time together, and counselled them to come up with a true but vague line about why they left and then shift the conversation to something positive.

      One problem is that the company’s leader is still quite well-regarded, so until any of this becomes public they basically need to smile and nod when their tweets or talks are shared in their new companies’ slack channels. We’ll see what the future brings!

  10. JelloStapler*

    LW1, That’s awesome, I would love to be PT, but I carry health insurance for the family not offered below 30 hours (‘Merica!)

    LW2- You’ve got to hope that if she is that unethical and bad at helping others, she will fail her program. Oooph.

    1. JelloStapler*

      ETA: In many counseling programs such as these you have a practicum, in which you are graded as a class towards graduation. If she is acting like this with potential clients, her supervising therapist will raise concerns and fail her.

  11. CBB*

    LW#2: She did you a favor by removing herself from your social media feed. Would your husband be willing to unfollow her too?

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I actually wondered above if husband should be reporting what he’s seeing to the counseling program the former recommendee is enrolled in?

      1. pancakes*

        If he wants to, he could, but it’s not clear whether her account is public or private. Either way, if the only reason he’s still following her is to potentially collect screenshots of her being messy, or, worse, for entertainment value, I think it’s time to unfollow. With this woman’s perspective being what it is (a mess!), it seems extremely unlikely she’s self-aware enough to consider that people might be hate-reading her posts rather than following her because they think she’s an interesting person who posts interesting stuff. There are lots of people who feel that attention is validation.

  12. Myrin*

    #1, what a fantastic outcome (that I honestly hadn’t exptected when your letter came out). It’s especially remarkable that this ended up being a positive change for literally everyone, Larry included!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – I went back and I remember commenting at the time that this was a situation that was not going to work the way Larry was thinking. I’m glad OP1 was able to get the boss and board to be reasonable that “we don’t have to fire him, but this also can’t continue either” was really needed. Loving that in the end it worked out for both Larry and the business.

  13. throwawayforthis*

    #2– what you wrote is so nearly identical to someone i know (including schooling to become a sex therapist, and saying things on social media that if a therapist said them to me i would report them to the licensure board) that i had to double-check that there were details that didn’t exactly match and these aren’t the same person (i think). i am trusting that the people running the program will see what’s going on, as the person seems unable to control it. and if the person somehow does finish the program, i’m trusting in the licensure boards.

    1. LW#2*

      Oh yikes, there could be more like her? That’s frightening. At this point I have to trust in others, the longer I’m in her orbit, the more her chaos drags me down. I have to admit, I’m super curious, though, how far the similarities go for these two people.

      1. throwawayforthis*

        the person i know does not work in IT and has never been a professor. and i think is poly. but yeah, getting out of this person’s orbit was the best thing i did

    2. pancakes*

      I’m not quite there with trusting, but it seems just about inevitable that she’s going to run into serious stumbling blocks in trying to get through this program.

  14. Sara without an H*

    Once again, we have a pattern. Updates #1 and #4 reflect what happens in healthy workplaces. As for #2 and #3, I really have no words. The only upside is that the individuals in both these cases are acting out badly enough that word is probably going to spread quickly.

  15. Meep*

    LW2 – I am very sex-positive and anti-slut-shaming and even this response is a bit much. Your complaint was mild and I personally wouldn’t have bothered, but the response was not even on the same planet as measured. Yikes.

  16. Pamela Ewing*

    Re: LW #2:

    “polyamory is an “alternative lifestyle” she does not accept. ” is not borderline hate speech. It’s probably not something that someone who wants to go into sex counselling should be saying on their social media, or to patients, but comparing it to hate speech is ridiculous.

    1. feral fairy*

      The LW didn’t make that comment though. It was made by someone else who was Facebook friends with the subject of the letter. I don’t think the LW included that detail because they also believe that it’s hate speech, but it is certainly prejudiced against people in polyamorous relationships.

    2. scribblingTiresias*

      I mean, it sounds exactly like antigay/antitrans hate speech to me.

      If *nothing* else, it’s likely to trigger any queer person who reads it.

        1. Single Noun*

          “Alternative lifestyle” is the exact phrase that came a lot from the anti side of the gay marriage fight.

    3. Observer*

      Blocking the person who called her on it, though, is a major red flag. ESPECIALLY in conjunction with everything else.

  17. Bratmon*

    > 1. She changed her profile picture to her wearing lingerie with her legs spread at the camera.
    > 2. She went on a rant about how she is monogamous and polyamory is an “alternative lifestyle” she does not accept. (One commenter told her it was borderline hate speech, she did not like being called out and totally denied it.)

    Wow. I was kind of prepared for either of these. I was not prepared for both.

  18. WellRed*

    I’m thrilled that the outcome for No.1 was so positive but wondering how they pulled it off. Hire an additional person? Redistribute work to other employees?

  19. Dark Macadamia*

    Inappropriate boundaries, judgmental about sexual relationships, and *doesn’t want to help people because they don’t deserve it* – wow, she’s going to make a great counselor/sex therapist! O.o

  20. Elizabeth West*

    being told to end relationships with people outside the company (because those people were “against” them)


  21. ADHDer*

    LW2: I was diagnosed just after college, so I’m fortunate in that aspect (the fact that it took that long is crazy, my test results said I’m in the 1st percentile for auditory focus!). The key is to figure out how your specific brain works, and lean into the strengths. WFH for me has been a blessing, I’m in control of my environment and don’t have to mask all day! I have my fidget cube and swear by my plum paper planner. I also have a boss who understands my productivity will bounce between “can’t focus to save my life” and “hyperfocused to the extreme” and is fine with it as long as stuff gets done.

    Really, the tl;dr is to take the time to figure out what you need, then talk to your management about how you can work your position to fit your brain. FB support groups have also been wonderful!

  22. Soon to be She-cessed*

    I went back and reread the childcare letter and saw Alison’s (very reasonable imo) asterisk and cried a bit inside. I wish childcare was back to normal by Jan 1! Very glad it worked out with Larry. Maybe everything will be more normal soon.

  23. Kimberly*

    LW2 – congrats on getting the ADHD diagnosis! Getting my diagnosis was life changing for me. Get a good doc that you trust and who trusts you and start trying out treatment options. Pills don’t teach skills, but they help A LOT. My work productivity and general happiness has shot up through the roof since my diagnosis and treatment. I have a new lease on life. Good luck!

    1. LW#2*

      Thank you! Yes, the medication works wonders. My executive dysfunction is extreme, though, and the meds haven’t done as much for that.

      1. Lemon balm*

        LW2- I have just been diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 35!
        It has been life changing in all ways. Especially work.
        I have started medication (have done therapy for a long time) and it has been a game changer for me. I can actually sit through meetings and focus. I can get things done on time. My anxiety has gone down.
        But honestly it explains so much of my struggles early on i.e. starting off great at a job then struggling because it was no longer stimulating, procrastinating, and forgetting tasks.
        In the last couple of months I have taken on more work and actually was able to follow through! (Huge win for me!)

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