Dr. Shapiro was in that evening, meeting individually with each resident in Shawna’s office- as he was hired from outside and not affiliated with the clinic. I fell asleep on my couch waiting to be called, of which to my surprise was not until nearly midnight; I was dead (tired) last because I was a new intake, as to allow for all the time necessary.
Dr. Shapiro occupied the armchair, so I found a sunken-in part of the couch with a couple pillows to spend the next couple hours. He appeared roughly three and a half decades of age, with darker skin that suggested a middle-eastern ethnicity, with a surname of Hindi origin. He wore sophisticated black glasses and I never once saw him wearing anything but a flannel button up with a perpetual five o’clock shadow. He always had a blue can of Monster Energy drink or a Grande Starbucks drip in his hand; of which continually tormented my then somnolent self. He had a very calm, equable temperament- just appropriately intimidating, speaking a bit on the slow side, as though he were incredibly carefully assessing every word he used.
He first asked me essentially all of the same questions that Shawna had the day before, to gain a baseline understanding of a very long, convoluted history of medications, hospitalizations, and general mental health status. Yet he was abnormally thorough from any psychiatrist I had met before, then asking the most random and seemingly unrelated questions, before moving on to questions about relationships and sex life. For whatever reason, he seemed the most intrigued by my having been single for the past nearly four years, without dating or any apparent intention for change- as though it were so unheard of. After briefly explaining the one relationship and why I thought it turned out for the best, the conversation somehow took an unexpected turn.
“You’re implying that you were together for three years, and never slept together,” he said incredulously.
“It wasn’t just me being a prude- it was both of our upbringings.”
“That’s hardly ever stopped anyone else….so you’re how old-” he glanced down at the paper to his side, “24- and you’ve been just fine remaining single, no casual encounters or the types of things.”
“So- and just continue to humor me for a minute, it’s not my intention to make you uncomfortable- if you see a good-looking guy with his shirt off or something, you don’t feel at all aroused?”
“Hm.” I conveyed my continuing skepticism as to the relevance. “I guess not; no- it doesn’t do anything for me in that regard. Is that so strange?”
“Less so for women- I’ll give you that- but I talk to a lot of people and generally, that’s how most people operate. They get hungry, they get horny, instinct makes all of those things rather…simple.” he paused as though failing to think of a more fitting word.
“That’s because people are generally simple. That’s how the human race goes on.” I knew I sounded like an arrogant asshole. “but attraction is far more complex than just a body or a face.”
“Do you like women?”
“Oh god- Not you too…” Now I saw where all of this was going. “No, it’s not like that at all!”
“Would you even allow yourself to really ask the question- with your upbringing and all? Because you seem to exude a rather masculine type of presence, in addition to your former responses. I just want you to be honest with yourself- there’s nothing or shameful with if you were of such orientation.”
I laughed, rather irritated. “As though ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are mutually exclusive; You’re mistaking my personality for being a lesbian- a personality that’s the product of a life spent fighting for and against most everything; a life spent alone for the most part- apart from again both fighting and coalescing with the enemy for momentary security. You mistake my anger, my bitterness, my inner revulsion and disillusionment; and you mistake my being fucking tired of being undermined by being pushed around: told what to do and disarmed so that I couldn’t fight back; told what to wear, where to go, who to talk to or not talk to, what to want, who and how to love; always feeling wrong, always being told what’s best for me and that I didn’t know it myself- because I was just a girl. Well guess what? I’m fucking done with that, now I’m going to fuck things up myself, with no one to blame but me because this ship’s going down anyways. They can all hate me here for bending the rules, for not taking your stupid fucking antipsychotics, or for truly believing I know how to take care of me better than they do- but I just don’t give a shit anymore.” I took a breath, wringing the throw pillow in my grip.
“Touchy. Will that be all?” He sat legs crossed, fingertips touched lightly to his chin, looking all the part of the cliche, contemplative psychotherapist; but with a disquieted look of evident curiosity.
“No. That’s not even mentioning the kind of pain I’ve lived with everyday for years- do you think I have anything in common with anyone my age? Much less any half retarded 25 year old male with only enough blood to operate one brain at a time. I’m not looking for any goddamn pity or a metal for martyrdom- but most people don’t know anything but the trivial, garden variety kind of struggles that we most all face. You want to know why I chose to stay alone? Because I’ve been sick for years and years, and it has been getting worse every year it would seem. It had begun to become unmanageable around when Caden left; Physically and emotionally- so intimately intertwined that there’s seemingly no escaping it or breaking the self- perpetuating cycle; and I don’t really want anyone to see me, because I don’t think that they’d understand.
Sure, the residents here may know what it’s like to deal with the additionally indescribable torture of an eating disorder, or a few of them drugs; but most people don’t or just can’t fucking understand what it’s like to wake up in pain, push through every crawling hour in pain, and then try to fall asleep in it; or what it’s like to lose the choice or freedom of doing what you want to, or going where you want to; to not be able to drive because the pain and the sick feeling in every bone fucks up your head so bad; or what it’s like to wish so fucking badly you had the guts to pull the trigger of the barrel in your mouth. No, there’s absolutely nothing left for anything else- not for dating, or seeing people- much less meaningless sexual escapades with people who are gonna leave your ass when they find a newer one anyways. Besides, I’d be more like a tripolar house cat than a girlfriend.
So. I know I’m self destructing, I know my coping mechanisms aren’t sustainable, and I don’t give a fuck because I’m on my way down anyways- and I’m not gonna drag someone else down with me- And if you think I’m trying to act tough and callous, it’s because I’m probably weaker and more afraid inside than anyone; and I’ll get aggressive in whatever manner necessary to save- or at least help- my ass. So fuck this, fuck that, and you see that fucking thing over there-” I lobbed the pillow across the room, knocking a picture frame on the wall off center, “fuck that thing too.”
“I see…”smiling nearly imperceptibly. “Well. while I still think that you perhaps protest too much regarding the original topic, I’ll put that one away for now. “I’d take a guess that you’re not going to want to take anything I suggest. What do you believe will actually be of help to you, within my power?”
He was right that he likely wasn’t going to be able to persuade me to risk any more meds- I had already tried most antidepressants at least once, usually gaining only the side effects- of which I eventually stopped reading entirely; which did nothing to appease such disappointing results. Additionally, I confessed a propensity for eventually not following doctors order- much less regarding taking medications as prescribed; admittedly a result of being forced to take numerous medications as a minor- always to my detriment, or cornered into taking them as an adult; but it was with good intentions so that made it OK, they said. I never wished to be forced to do or take anything from anyone- ever again. Anti psychotics were more than off the table for me- even if it was a requirement of everyone’s treatment plan to take a “mood stabilizing” drug- aka Risperdal, Abilify, Lithium, etc. I as pleasantly as possible told him he could think me arrogant, or a know-it-all, or “non-compliant” as my chart read- but that after years of trial and error, I had concluded that my body hated 99% of psychiatric drugs, and I merely sought to get him to approve my vitamins and only one of the prescriptions.
He looked over the long list of vitamins I had been taking and the couple prescriptions that I had decided to try and push through. “Yes, so I had been rather curious to discuss this last one with you…