Clinic Part One

Enjoy, squirm, like, hate, I don’t care. I know my stuff can be pretty dark for such a light title to a website. I am a very sad dog, but this is from a very sad time in my life. Post in the comments if you liked it. Tell me what you want to see and I will provide. There will be more coming if you like this kind of stuff.

Dedicated to my mother

I was so nervous to go to the clinic that the night before I cut myself so deep I could see the stark white connective tissue of my arm. I was instantly reminded of my father’s story of when he tried to kill himself. He said fat leaked out of his arm. I could picture the fat pouring out like slugs, but that didn’t happen with me. Mine wasn’t deep enough. And mine was made in anxiety like all the other little cuts that neighbored it, I pressed too hard with this one. Although it’s hard to describe every fish of thought in the stormy ocean that was my mind that night. I now wanted to live, because I wrapped my arm in a red towel, I’ll never forget that irony.
It wouldn’t stop bleeding. It stung, for my insides were forced to feel the outside air. Blood beads up from small slices, but rushes forward bravely when the gates of skin are left swinging. Every time I carefully removed the towel, the blood swelled like soap from a sponge. All I could see was scenarios where I had to wake my parents, so I would have to get stitches. How would I explain a cut so deep without my mother yelling?

I searched through our cabinets of the kitchen, a feat much more difficult with only one hand. I couldn’t find gauze or medical tape for the life of me, so I proceeded to scavenge through our junk drawers of which we have several. The kitchen light was bright white compared to the pitch black outside. The last time I dared to look at a clock it was four. I was used to this time, lived through many a night being awake at this time. I finally found what I wanted, a roll of masking tape. I took it and wound it around my arm. Then one last piece over the laceration itself. Somehow, at some time when the light was dim through my bedroom window I went to sleep. I slept.

I awoke the next morning, hiding my arm from my parents like always. I removed the tape and cleaned the cut. It stung fresh like tiny needles driving their way into my flesh. I finished getting dressed, taped the cut, and got into the car.   

It didn’t start out this way. The clinic was my last stop. It all started at age twelve, but to tell the story from there doesn’t seem right. Let’s just say, I had had the weight of the world resting on my back for a long time, I was like Atlas only without the muscle mass to hold up a planet. This year it was going to change though. I was going to confirm there was something wrong with the way I was, the way my mind worked.

We started calling doctors the day I was officially on insurance. It took weeks to find someone who would see me. Mental health is a busy industry. I got my first evaluation over the phone. I had to sit and talk to some stranger about all my symptoms. I think it really came down to whether or not I had missed any work because of my illness, which I hadn’t because I had never had a job. So I got referred to another doctor.  

It was two weeks before I got my appointment. When the promised day came, I have to admit I was nervous. I had rehearsed what I was going to say, and what my symptoms were.  It helped distract me from them.
The office building was a white stucco structure set on a hill like a castle. I remember my father spilled water all down the front of his shirt, I couldn’t stand to be seen with him. I also remember a tree with so much bird poop on the concrete beside it that I was physically frightened of passing under it.

The sun was bright. I walked in with my mother. The lobby was empty, every wall was dark wood. There was a fake plastic tree, and a small radio that was tuned to a radio station that spoke German. On a desk and next to a sign were forms for us to fill out. The sign told us to wait. We obeyed the sign. I stared at the door to the next room.

The forms were finished and as our appointed time approached, the doctor came out of her room. There was no one in the room with her. She had made us wait for nobody. My mother left. I followed the psychiatrist into her room, which was unnecessarily long. It felt like walking down a hallway instead of across a room. The couch was dark leather like the same color as the walls. It was one of those with the buttons pressed into it. I sat in it slouched like every other seat.  

She asked me the standard questions, plus a few I never expected.

“Are you married?”

“No.” Of course not.

“Any children?”

“No.” That would require another person in my life.

“Are you currently in a relationship?”

“No.” Not for over five years.

“And if you were in a relationship, would it be with a male or female?”

“Female.” I have to admit I was at first confused by the question; the last person to ask if I was gay was my last girlfriend. We didn’t have a great relationship.

“Now what seems to be the problem?”

Here we go my shining moment. I started in on my spiel. I described the depression that had kept me nailed to my bed like a dead frog to a tray of wax. The suicidal thoughts that had driven me to write several notes and wonder what my eulogy would be like. The missed school, the crippling anxiety that pressed down on my shoulders like stone gargoyles. I told her of the ups where I would scream and laugh uncontrollably. How my thoughts would flurry around my head like a snowstorm of words and phrases.

Her pen flowed freely across the page. She flipped over one and then started on a new one. I told her about my family and their history. A tree full of hypodermic needles and white powders, whose sap was a hundred and fifty proof and whose leaves were withered with mental illness both classified and unknown. My very own grandfather was a mental mystery for my grandmother had hidden his records in shame. All that was known was his mother went through men like chain smoked cigarettes and had spawned several men that died by their own hand. My aunt had been bipolar and allergic to the only medicine that made her stable. She took the medicine anyway and let her kidneys shut down, her own mind killed her. My uncle is an anti-social bipolar that relied heavily on self-medication and embellishment to gain disability benefits.

I was ready for a medication. A diagnosis, a confirmation that whatever demon stalked my family on both sides was currently residing in my head. Anything. Something. God, I just wanted the help I had prayed for daily as a child. Please help me.

I got forms. Sheets of paper that introduced me to a place called SMI. This stood for Serious Mental Illness. Why was I being shown this? Because she said she couldn’t help me. She was sending me off to be evaluated. She wished me the best, and I left the first doctor, my second referral. I couldn’t believe it. The feeling of rejection was like being hollowed out of my insides.


2 thoughts on “Clinic Part One

  1. Thank you for this, wonderfully written. Relatable for me.

    I especially love the paragraph where you described your family histories. Beautifully done methaphors. They flow seemlisly.


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