I have a friend who knows how to paint, repair, and update a number of things around her home (and mine).  She loves doing it, has excellent attention to detail, and the results are outstanding!  When I ask her about changing out light fixtures, she is clear that she doesn’t attempt anything electrical and that is the time to ‘call the (expert) electrician’. 

Note: She does happens to be an expert in caring for sick babies after her long career as a Neonatal ICU nurse.

My meilleurs ami is a long-time reading literacy coach.  She has trained schoolteachers across the country on reading programs and best practices for improving student reading skills.  She is who I call about anything education or reading related.  Like an electrician with anything electrical, she is also an expert in her field when it comes to reading literacy.

I used to fancy myself a public health expert, but that is no longer true.  I haven’t worked in public health daily for over 4 years and it is time to call the real experts about current public health issues.

I’ve been thinking about how important it is to know our own limitations and when to call in the experts on a variety of health issues.

As a nurse, I am quite fond of ‘diagnosing’ myself and others.  But even though I may delay a little too long, I usually know when a call to my internist, the expert, is in order. 

I think we are even more reluctant to get help from experts for behavioral health issues. Maybe it was how our generation was raised by often stoic parents? I think my mom would have benefited from anti-depressants (and her being treated would have helped me growing up).

Behavioral health is an area where many of us, me included, are reluctant to acknowledge our vulnerabilities. There are times when self help books, personality tests, meditation, prayer, and supportive family/friends just aren’t enough to do the trick. Instead it may be time for behavioral health experts (mental health providers, counselors, physicians, etc.).

I know this first hand. I spent years as a terrified flyer!  I had a prescription for Xanax to help with my anxiety, but I finally reached the point where my fear stopped me from getting on a plane.  I finally got expert help and attended a ‘fear of flying’ clinic at the airport in San Francisco.  The clinic had a counselor, pilots, maintenance people, air traffic controllers, and other experts. My graduation in 1999 was a round trip flight from San Francisco.  My fear didn’t disappear overnight, but I had the tools I needed to fly again.  I just wish I had gotten expert help sooner. While I am no longer a fearful flyer, I still use the deep breathing and progressive relaxation techniques I learned at the clinic to manage anxiety, like having a dental procedure.

Speaking of anxiety, I’m delighted that routine anxiety screening is now recommended for anyone under 65 so people can get expert help if needed.

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

George Bernard Shaw

And for you Brené Brown fans:

 “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Brené Brown




  1. Such an important issue. I currently have two friends that are going through this with their husbands. I think we cannot ignore the significance of the issues people are facing on a daily basis in the world we live in today. Getting expert help and learning coping skills is so important.


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