The Start of Breakdown
Published excerpt from: “The Life of a Loser (a work-in-progress, so to speak).” Portfolio milieu 2004. Vancouver, BC: milieu press; 2004.
It was during the last two years of my five year stint in Colorado that I experienced my first breakdown. It’s kind of scary when you actually have to start numbering them.
It was in February 1998 that I first contemplated seeing a therapist. At that time, I got the name and number of a therapist recommended by a friend. However, it wasn’t until June of that year that I actually decided to make an appointment. By July I had already moved on to a different therapist. And by August I was somewhere I never would have guessed at the beginning of that crazy year.
There I was, waiting on a stretcher in the Emergency Department with my friend and co-worker Anne, who also happens to be a therapist. She was the one who brought me here, against my will, might I add. I think it was something I said about being at peace with the idea of death that prompted her to bring me to this place. Now I remember why I don’t share things with other people. Let me tell you, time does NOT fly when you are NOT having fun. I could feel every minute of those nine hours we waited until someone actually came to talk to me.
“I hope that’s not who’s going to be interviewing me,” I say to Anne, referring to the scary-looking woman heading in our direction. “Seema?” says the scary-looking woman. My luck, of course. She is heavily, and I mean heavily, made up. In addition to her make-up, she has a look that is both severe and condescending plastered on her face. Her stare tells me at once that she already doesn’t like me one little bit. I don’t know if it’s the colour of my skin, the fact that I look like a dyke or the way I am dressed – or perhaps a bit of all three. I don the apparel of the depressed – an old pair of sweat pants and a ripped, paint-stained T-shirt. After totally cutting me down with one stare, she glances over at Anne, who also looks the part of a dyke, and then back at me. What she is thinking is more than a little transparent.
She then motions for us to follow her into a room with a closed door. She is accompanied by a young-looking woman, whom I presume is a student. However, she never does actually introduce herself or the young woman before beginning her barrage of questions. She begins with a few basic demographic-type questions. In response to her questions, I tell that I grew up in Winnipeg, I have lived in Denver for three years, I went to medical school, I am currently working with the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She then asks Anne who she is and, repeatedly, what her relationship to me is. As if she knows we are more than ‘friends’ and ‘coworkers’ – which, by the way, we are not. Anne then throws in the fact that she is a therapist. The scary-looking woman (SLW, for short) then repeatedly asks me if I am comfortable having Anne present for the interview. I assure her I am. I think the more accurate question is whether she is comfortable having Anne in the room.