2008-11-18

Memoir, Continued...

I don't know if I'm going to be up to date with NaNoWriMo, but I've decided to keep on writing and posting my memoir anyway, as often as I can. So here is the next chapter in my amazing life story!

The next day my parents take the day off of work. I am used to mu mom coming and going from her work as she pleases. She’s one of the bosses in her office and she can pretty much set her own hours, by now. But my dad rarely, if ever, misses work. Even when he’s sick, he makes himself go. So its freaky that today he’s taken the morning off!
“I told them my daughter is very sick, and I need to take her to the doctor,” says my dad.
That makes me bristle. “I’m not sick.”
“You are, you’re very sick,” says my dad.
How can you ev en spend time around people who believe you are crazy? People who refuse to understand what you ar going through, or how they have caused you any pain, and instead try to tell you that its all in your brain? Every moment is extremely awkward. I feel like I’m being watched under a microscope.

The meeting with the psychiatrist takes place at the Bridge Youth Services, a place I’ve gotten very familiar with over the years. When I was thirteen years old, the summer after my dad got his DUI, my family started going to the Bridge for family counseling The Bridge was a program through the township, the only place my parents could afford at the time because it offered sliding scale fees. I think it was my dad’s idea to go there. After his DUI, he was sentenced to go through rehab for alcoholism, and he joined AA as well. He became a very introspective person. He worried about how his drinking in the past had affected my brother and me.
Anyway, we went to a few family counseling sessions there. Our counselor, Wendy, would talk with us all together as a family, then just with our parents, and then just with my brother and me, and then back to all of us again. I remember we acted cheerful and high-spirited during the sessions, cracking lots of jokes and using lots of sarcasm, making Wendy laugh and causing her to comment that we were actually a ver close and strong family. But I think it was really the opposite. Even in counseling, we couldn’t face each other, we couldn’t be truthful, so we laughed instead.
During one of the sessions, my brother brought up some argument he’d had with my mom. On the way home my mom scolded my brother, telling him he shouldn’t have brought that up because it was between him and her. My dad protested, pointing out that the point of family counseling was for us to be able to work through our problems. My parents got into one of their many arguments, and my mom accused the rest of us of ganging up on her. When we got home, she didn’t get out of the car. My brother and I went upstairs to my bedroom, and we watched out the window as Mom drove away.
So it must have come as a relief to everyone, at the next session, when Wendy announced that she wanted to start seeing me by myself. The rest of them were obviously healthy and secure individuals, and were free to go about their lives. I was the Problem Child.
From then on, I went to counseling with Wendy once a week, on and off. I sort of liked having someone to just sit and talk with for an hour a week, who listened and took notes, and sometimes gave me advice. But every so often my mom just stopped makng appointments for me, or stopped bringing me to the appointments I already had. She said it was because I wasn’t getting any “better.” Whenever my school work got a little worse, or I acted more argumentative than usual, my mom would make me an appointment with Wendy, and bring me back to the Bridge.

So, it doesn’t surprise me now that the psychiatrist my parents are dragging me to is somehow mixed up with the Bridge.
Wendy is there to introduce us all to the good doctor, a skinny, balding man in a suit and tie. He shakes hands with us all, smiling as if this is a happy occasion, and leads us into one of the meeting rooms. I slump in my chair. The doctor, whose name is Dr, Gamze, asks my parents what has been going on that has caused them so much concern.
I stare at the floor, my eyes dropping, pretending to be anywhere else but here. My mom does the talking.
“Nicki has always been very withdrawn,” my mom says. “She argues a lot with us, an then she’ll just go up to her room and slam her door. Her school work has been very poor over the last few years. Its like she’s not even trying. She’s been disappearing a lot, going off all day and then refusing to tell us where she’s been. And then, the other day, my husband went looking for her and found her hanging out with these carnival people. So he dragged her home and we screamed at her and grounded her. The next day I called home, and my son told me Nicki was gone. I left work and went looking for her, and found her hanging out at the park with three homeless men. I dragged her home again, and told her she wasn’t to leave the house. A couple hours later, I got a phone call from the police. She’d gone up to the police station, and basically told them we abused her, and they were about to take her away.”
“She made allegations of abuse?” asked Gamze.
“Well, we don’t know what she told them, She was just refusing to see us, refusing to go home with us.”
Gamze nodded, scribbling in his notepad.
“I had this realization, as I was brushing my teeth this morning, that all this started when she got her period,” says my mom. “I’m thinking it could be hormonal.”
I want to fall through the floor.
“I’m going to make an appointment with a…”
“A gynecologist?” interjects Dr, Gamze.
“Well, an internist, and get it all done,” replies my mom.
“No way,” I speak up. “I won’t go.” It’s bad enough having to talk to the psychiatrist. I don’t want anyone actually touching me!
My mom shoots me an irritated look.
Dr. Gamze asks my parents about my family history, and I barely pay attention while my dad tells him about my schizophrenic grandmother. My dad’s family tree is actually filled with people who either drank themselves crazy or just acted nutty but never got diagnosed. And my mom’s side, too, for that matter. But my poor grandma always ends up taking all the blame when anyone asks about our family’s history.
Finally, Dr. Gamze tells my parents he wants to talk to me alone. I don’t look up as they reluctantly leave the room.
“So,” says Dr. Gamze. “Do you want to tell me your feelings on all of this?”
I sit up and look at him. “Its complicated,” I say.
“Well, I don’t know, maybe its not all that complicated,” says Dr. Gamze. “Why don’t you try me? I’m smarter than I look!”
I laugh, surprised.
The doctor grins at me. “See, when you first came in here, I thought for sure I Was looking at a very depressed young lady. You were kind of like this.” He demonstrates how I looked, slumping in his chair and staring at the floor. “But as soon as they left the room, you were like a whole new person! You’re sitting up, you’re smiling, you’re making eye contact. I think you’re just very angry at your parents.”
I nod. “I am angry at them.”
“And why is that?”
“They’re ating like I’m crazy,” I say.
“I don’t think anyone thinks your crazy. I think they’re just worried about you.” He has this fast way of talking, almost brushing my words out of his way as he speaks. “Now, these homeless people you’ve been hanging out with, how did you meet them?”
I shrug. “I just sort of started talking to them at the train depot, and they were nice.”
“Really, What kinds of things do you talk about with them?”
“Just anything, I guess. School, and life, and whatever. They like to talk to me. They say I add sanity to their lives.”
“Uh-huh. Are you sexually active, Nicki?” the doctor blurts out.
I shake my head fiercely.
“No? Not at all? And these homeless men, did you ever kiss them or hug them or anything? Were any of them your boyfriend?”
The conversation is officially grossing me out. “NO,” I say. “Its not like that. They’re more like big brothers to me.”
“Right. So this business with the police station, where you didn’t want to go home with your parents, what was that all about?”
I half-heartedly explain my fears about being “put away,” and my feelings of emptiness if I had to stay away from the homeless people. I don’t bother to go into detail this time. I’ve told my life story so many times in the past twenty-four hours, its starting to seem watered-down.
“I see, I see,” says Dr. Gamze. “Well, what I think is, you’re having a little trouble separating from your mother, and she’s having a little trouble separating from you. How does that sound?”
It sounds completely wrong, and totally out of context with the conversation we just had. But it sounds like something that won’t get me thrown in a hospital or put on medication. So I just nod and smile.
“Great!” says Dr. Gamze. “So, I’m going to call your parents in here, right now, and I’m going to tell them that you’re really going to try harder to get along at home. Okay?”
“Okay,” I say.

I sit in the waiting room while Dr. Gamze confers alone with my parents. After a few minutes, they all come out together, and Dr. Gamze shakes all of our hands again as he bids us goodbye.
As soon as we get out the door, my dad says, “That was pretty bogus!”
“Yeah,” I agree. “That dude was a freak.”

1 comments:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Mon Dieu. Was she (your Mum) trying to make you have a hystercomy? That's the only thing I could pick up in this chapter. Good on you for keeping on writing this thing. Wendy seemed like a nice psychologist type.

Yes, it is true that (a third of) people on the spectrum 'regress' during puberty - but I don't know about broader phenotype/shadow syndromes. And again, this may or may not happen with girls with AD(H)D ... But I think your Mum may have been clutching at straws there. She is not a professional, and she was reacting to a situation in which she no longer had control.

There is a really interesting magazine/journal which is making a call for papers at the moment ... RADICAL PSYCHIATRY. The current/future special will be about Girlhood, and the otherness of the female adolescent. Look at the bullet points and see if yours could fit as an empirical article.

Radical Psychology Call for Papers about Girlhood

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