One thing shrinks always do when you feel like killing yourself is make you promise not to hurt yourself without calling them first. At least, that's what my shrink always did and the few others I visited during my lifetime. It's annoying because once you make the promise, you're kind of stuck. I imagine shrinks feel like failures when patients kill themselves.
There was one shrink who I only saw once. It was about fifteen years ago on this very day when my mental state was such that a psychiatric evaluation was required. My regular therapist, A.T., recommended an associate of hers but Buzz Kill wanted me to go to somebody on my HMO list because it was substantially cheaper. I never told that man I felt like killing myself because he was convinced I was uberdepressed on account of PMS. I will concede that PMS can exacerbate any emotional situation - but it's not the root cause of said situation. I did tell the man that I felt like I should be in the hospital since AT told me to say that, but he said I couldn't get the rest I believed I needed in a psych ward. He prescribed Zoloft and sent me on my way in under fifteen minutes which is the amount of time HMO psychopharmacologists allot for their patients. It was raining that day, and I sat on a bench in Central Park after the appointment thinking I should kill myself to spite that son of a bitch.
There must have been a follow up visit, though, because once I got out of the bin, AT made me have an appointment with him to tell him why I didn't call him when I was fixing to go to the hospital. Apparently, it's protocol to call your psychiatrist when you're being committed, but since I hated his guts, I wouldn't call him. Maybe the hospital did, though, because at that appointment, he said he was surprised to hear I had been to Four Winds especially since I had told him that I liked the Zoloft because I wasn't eating as many carbohydrates as I had been. I must have talked to him after I started taking the medicine or he wouldn't have known about the carbohydrates.
The reason AT wanted me to go see that fool is because I rarely told anyone I how felt about anything unless I believed that person would understand my feelings. It was a troublesome situation for my parents because if I had an issue with anything at all, nobody heard about it for weeks and weeks. When the situation finally became so intolerable that I could no longer pretend everything was fine, I exploded. In my own defense, I have to say that I'm pretty sure that behavior developed because the whole time I was growing up, if I didn't want to do something - like do something with the Beaumont relatives - I was told that it didn't matter how I felt, I would smile and be nice. So I smiled and was nice until I fell the fuck apart.
It was pretty much standard operating procedure back in those days, so I don't blame my parents. In fact, they surely heard the same thing from their own parents in the unlikely event that either one of them thought they had a right to express their feelings on any topic at all back when they were kids. By the time my mother was seven, Granny had run off somewhere and left my mom and her brothers with their own grandparents. Anyway, I had an entrenched behavior pattern that involved not talking to people unless I thought they would understand my point of view.
When Velvet was around three, Buzz Kill started going to therapy. I can't remember why - but he went to an HMO shrink, a young woman who had just gotten out of school. He liked her, though, and asked me to come with him one day. The young woman, who was maybe 25 years old, proceeded to tell me that I was overly attached to my child and that my refusal to lock the bedroom door at night proved I was overly attached.
She had no clue that at my grandparents' house in Beaumont, nobody was ever allowed to lock their doors. That house had a garage apartment where my parents lived when I was born. My dad had two younger siblings - my uncle who is eight years older than me and is now my aunt, and my aunt who was three when I was born. We moved to Houston when I was two and my sister was born because my dad graduated from college and got a job there. When we came back for regular visits, we slept in the big house with everybody else. I never once thought to lock a door, so the lock thing must have been one of those unspoken laws.
Looking back, though, I'd say the reason we couldn't lock the door is because my grandfather would have had trouble getting into our rooms at night. At the time I went to that little shrink with Buzz Kill, I hadn't remembered about my grandfather. I was only three at the time so it's no surprise I didn't remember until Buzz Kill shut the bedroom door one morning around dawn. The sound woke me up, and when I opened my eyes all I could see was Buzz Kill's blue boxers. The sight of those boxes triggered the memory. So my grandfather had nothing to do with why I wouldn't go back to Buzz Kill's little shrink. In my view, she shown she had no idea what it was like to have a kid so I wasn't going to talk with her about how I felt about mine.
I was about eight or nine when I first remember thinking I'd like to kill myself. I was in the bathtub and pondering drowning. I never mentioned that I felt like killing myself, though, until I was married and my mother admitted that she thought about killing herself sometimes. At the time, Granny the Ho was visiting the California relatives, and my mother was composing a letter to her brother saying that since Granny had lived in her house for sixteen years, my uncle could keep her for the next eight. I helped her write the letter, and Granny stayed in California. Then my mother told me about the time she wanted to kill herself by letting the car run in the garage, but that old Pontiac station wagon was so long that the garage door wouldn't close. My sister was at the kitchen table that day, a married woman herself, and she admitted that she occasionally found herself in the garage looking up at the rafters wondering if she had a rope somewhere.
Evidently suicidal ideations run in the family. Must be in the gene pool because I don't think my grandfather ever visited my sister, although she could still be keeping that secret. I know my mother has her own history with step-fathers and uncles. Granny had her own episodes - most notably with her uncle, The Deacon, who raped her when she was twelve. My mom told me about that when I was in the looney bin and finally told my mother what happened with my uncle when I was fifteen. He was still my uncle then and not my aunt like he is now, and I still hadn't remembered about my grandfather - who apparently perpetrated some unspeakable act on my uncle when he was still a kid. That house in Beaumont was weird.
When I'm spiraling downward into suicidal despair, I always find myself back in that house, alone and afraid and convinced nothing will ever change. I live in that place for a while and then start pulling myself out of it - kind of like how you turn a cork screw the other way to remove the cork. If I were a hopeful person, and I guess I must be or else I'd be dead by now, I'd hang on to the image of a staircase that spirals out of sight, like Peter Gabriel sings about in Carpet Crawlers. Gotta get in to get Out.
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