SMILE (Part 6) – or Don’t Fall in Love with your Doctor


Tell Me about the Voices

“Tell me about the voices,” Robert says.  He looks like Elvis, during the fat stage, with slicked back hair all greasy and black. He’s my new counselor since I told everyone how much Lori sucks.  That she doesn’t take me seriously, chastises me like a mother. “Are they internal voices, or external?”

“You mean do they sound like the devil?” I ask.

“Well, that could be a voice.  But are they in your head, an internal monologue? Your voice? Someone else’s?”

“I guess they are mine.  Me. Just softer sometimes.  Or louder.  Slower. Faster.”

“What do they say?”

“I’m stupid. And dumb. And I shouldn’t talk and why do I talk and I can’t believe I said that and everyone hates me and why is it always so fucking hard to wake up and face the day and I’m a bad parent and a lousy wife and I’ll never do anything right.  I’m a fuck up and a reject and open that car door and tumble out against the pavement or jump – jump –jump off that bridge, look that water all dragging and cool, jump-jump-jump, you know you want to.” I’m moving my hands like bird wings, fast and fluttery, punctuating every word. “Make people pay for not understanding. For not caring or helping you when you’re obviously going crazy.”

“Why do you think you’re crazy?”

“Because I’m here, duh.”  I think he’s stupid, too.


Flowers Never Grow in Snow

Shen brings the kids on Tuesday. I have to get special approval, a pass that allows minors to visit.  The staff says there are a lot of people here with different backgrounds and issues that might scare kids, might not be safe. So they funnel us into a group therapy room with mismatched chairs and a huge dry erase board.

We don’t make eye contact, just talk through the kids like they are tiny interpreters.  “Astera got an “A” on her spelling test,” he says.  She smiles, wide and toothy, nods.  “Ezra’s sleeping through the night, finally.”

My daughter and I play tic-tac-toe.  My son runs from one end of the room to the other, fast in his little black converse and faded jeans.  My daughter is in a floral jumper with striped tights that clash. We dump out a box of crayons and a princess coloring book.  My son runs over and madly mixes them up, a mess of colors smacking against a plastic conference table.  He grabs the black and blue crayons in his chubby fists, shoves them in his mouth and screeches.  Astera is mad, says she needs those colors to finish coloring the flowers in front of her palace.  “It’s an ice palace,” she says and points to a spindly, silver turret dangling icicles she has carefully drawn in.  There’s a tiny window at the top she has forgotten to color.  It’s lifeless and flat against the icy blue and silver façade.  I think there’s a princess trapped in there.  Or a monster.  She points to sharp crystals breaking out of the moat, geometric shapes with pointed tips tumbling on top of cartoon tulips she drew with pencil.  “I need those colors,” she strongly states.

“But, flowers never grow in snow,” I say.

She’s mad and tries to scrunch it up.

“But wait, it’s perfect.  It’s perfect,” I start to say but Ez is running out the door, little black converse untied and ready to trip him up.  Astera’s mad.  Shen’s chasing him, calling to Astera it’s time to go.  I’m exhausted, holding the unfinished ice palace in my hand.

“Wait, here,” I say but they’re heading towards the nurses desk, waiting for the doors to click and hiss open and let them out.

I don’t argue, just let them rush out the door with a flimsy wave.  “Bye, bye, bye,” I whisper. I’m too exhausted to raise my voice.  I’m worn out from their visit.  Even though it only lasted thirty-two minutes.



My 72-hour hold is up, but Dr. Lopez wants me to stay longer.  Says I’m making great progress, but it’s just the beginning.

“The beginning of what?” I ask him.  We are alone in a tiny room with no windows, just a round table and four uncomfortable office chairs.

“The beginning of getting better,” he says.

I laugh.  “Is there a cure? Cuz this shit sucks. Can’t you just knock me over the head with a blunt object? Rearrange my brain?”

“No, just some hard work and persistence and patience. But you can lick this part of the process. I think the meds I put you on might be working.  You’re laughing.  And looks like you finally washed your hair.” He winks.

I think I might love him.


18 Responses to “SMILE (Part 6) – or Don’t Fall in Love with your Doctor”

  1. Dr. Lopez sounds like a hunky-dunky. I fell in love with my hospital doctor too. I still keep trying to run into him. What a fool I am.

    • I also loved the insurance guy for Blue Cross and Blue Shield and tried to stalk him at a coffee shop for a month. No luck! Weird how easy it is when in an altered emotional state to get stuck.

      • To get stuck but be convinced that you’re 100% normal. At least, me. Because I think me & Dr. Finch could really HAVE something, ya know??

      • Oh. Dr. Finch. Maybe he and Lopez should have a sexy doctor show…..

      • YES! And WE will be the sexy crazy patients who walk into their office and say “Dr Finch did I leave my panties here last time? No? Well where are my panties? ‘Cause I don’t have any panties on!” Something really intelligent like that.

      • Better make some mad money for that, I say. Mad, sexy money.

      • Or mad sexy love. SOMEthing better be mad, and sexy, dammit.

  2. It’s kind of weird how easy it is to fall in love.

  3. 10 Steve

    your ability to arrange and express events with a magical spin is as always, fuckin awesome.

    • What a compliment. Also suggests a slight delusional quality on my part, eh? 🙂

      • 12 sm

        Slightly? Never said that. You have a knack for seeing reality thru filtered glasses.. and then intoxicating those around to have them believe in your vision. If reality is mass perception you lived in an altered state. And have gained some fans and attention along the way. You are far from ‘normal’.

  4. I missed a few days and had to read the last 3 entries all at once. Great pace. Intense perceptions. Ice castle–cold, brittle, and with persistent warmth, it will melt into spring flowers.

  5. 15 BehindMyBooks

    I’m currently reading through all of the posts I’ve been missing this week(or maybe last week too…who can keep track anymore).

    First, I really appreciate your writing style. It is very strong, and to the point, but still includes the beautiful and perfect descriptions.

    I’ve never been hospitalized, because the docs are convinced it would do more harm than good (too true.), but my mother was a regular for years at hospitals all over the country. I appreciated reading about your kids, as I was the kid in that situation. Of course, I was also the sixteen year old. Much more helpful. I mastered the art of sneaking in Mocha Latte’s, Rasinettes, Coloring books and stuffed animals (she wasn’t allowed much of anything.)

    I’m babbling, but the point is, I am pretty well acquainted with hospitals, and I love reading your descriptions, they are so wonderfully correct.

    • Your response means a great deal to me. I know my kids were young (and might not want to remember) but my mental health story doesn’t /hasn’t ended there. I think I have more awareness and perspective, but I do have periods where I struggle more than others for sure. I am finding many of us have some shared experiences, no matter what side of the coin we are on. Again, thanks.

  6. Eek – I go offline for a few days and now I’ve got to play catch up!! Love this one.

    • Ah sorry bout that! I’m trying to release this piece as consistently as possible (daily) and experimenting with release times. Trust me, I’ll take a break one of these days…. sigh….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: