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Kacie Rahm

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Therapy
By Kacie Rahm
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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for english, 3 years old

Douglas Kinkade was my least favorite patient. That sounds awful; you shouldn’t choose favorites in my kind of business. It’s extremely unprofessional. This requires some explanation.
I usually dealt with rich young adults, with no real problems. Their parents funded their weekly visits to me, in which they would drone on endlessly about their trivial troubles. I can successfully say that these patients were not mentally ill, just whiny and selfish. I didn’t mind, I just took notes and got paid a fairly hefty amount. I stepped into this profession thinking it was going to be easy. Every session I would find simpler than the last. All of that changed when I met my new patient: Douglas Kinkade.
Doug, as he preferred to be called, was mentally ill. He, without a doubt, had real problems. Even though he too stemmed from wealthy roots, it was clear that he was different from my other patients. I saw Doug once a week, and each session I grew more and more fearful of him. He would saunter into the office, kick off his shoes, and lay back in that leather couch as if it were a hammock. Douglas would answer each question I asked him with another question, and I never really accomplished anything that could help me understand him. Sessions were generally unproductive; sometimes he would interrogate me, or nonexistent people he believed to be in the room. All I ever truly learned from Doug was that he was insane. His particular mental disorder was hard to pinpoint, perhaps he suffered from many. It was clear, however, that he had troubles.
After just six sessions with Doug, I began to seriously doubt my commitment to psychiatry, perhaps it was simply too much for me. I had a hard time feeling safe. His actions were random and frantic, and often gave me a sense of danger. I was always dreading my scheduled meetings with him and was always so relieved when the timer went off after an hour of panic.
After about twelve sessions, I had decided he was too difficult for me. I referred Doug to the Montgomery Mental Hospital for intensive treatment in bipolar disorder as well as schizophrenia. Douglas accepted the referral without much surprise, and entered himself into treatment promptly. Douglas requested just one thing—weekly visits from me while in treatment. I decided to fulfill his wishes, because I felt safe under the high security at Montgomery.
Every Thursday at three I would travel about three blocks from my office to visit Doug. I would go through screening and have my keys, belt, money clip, and other potentially dangerous objects held until I returned. I would enter Doug’s room and he would insist I lay down on his bed as he sat in a chair and asked me questions. Each Thursday at three I would honestly explain my week to Douglas. Each time I gave him a detail of my life he would shake his head as if in shame and take notes. It was liberating to have someone listen to me for a change, but his reactions always made me feel tense.
After my visits I had to constantly remind myself that he was the crazy one, and his psychoanalyzing me was a twisted form of revenge. I would go home from Montgomery and surround myself with the freedoms of a normal person. I would indulge on sweet and fatty foods, watch endless hours of television, and send e-mails to coworkers and friends on my computer. Each liberty of mental health made me feel a little saner. But there was always a strange dizzy feeling I got when I thought about my visits to Doug. It made me ill.
One particular Thursday I visited Douglas, and I was insistent on acting more like his psychiatrist and less like his friend. I was no longer going to make myself sick from playing along with his perverse games. I walked into his room and he pointed to his bed without a word. I stood with my arms crossed and narrowed my eyes at him. Confused, he tried to push me towards the bed a little. That was the last straw. He was clearly not taking me seriously, I was a professional!
“No!” I yelled. I was not about to be treated like a nutcase.
“Ok, Lucy, if you’d like to stand, that’s okay, I’m just trying to make things more comfortable for you,” he replied to my miniature outburst.
“Douglas, it’s time to understand that you are my patient. I don’t visit you to be psychoanalyzed. I visit you to help you with severe mental problems that you can’t accept.” To this statement Douglas drew back, I could almost see the light bulb perk up above his head. He frantically wrote on his clipboard, as if he’d just discovered the meaning of life.
“Douglas, stop writing about me! I’m tired of this!” I retorted, enraged by his severe stupidity. I realized what I was saying could end my career. I didn’t care. Doug had ruined it for me already, and now he was going to sabotage it completely. The moment he stepped into my life my simplistic world changed, became hectic and scary. Doug needed help, and without any motivation, it was obvious it wouldn’t be mine.
“Lucy, are you telling me you’d like me to stop visiting you?” Doug asked. Poor guy, I was beginning to feel bad for him. He truly believed I was in need of his assistance, he probably had no idea that he lived in a Mental Hospital.
“Douglas, I’m telling you that I am going to stop visiting you. It is clear that your condition is not improving and you refuse to accept my help or even admit that you need it.” I left him with those words and turned towards the door. I looked over my shoulder to see his distraught face. He shook his head like I’d seen him do so many times before, defeated. Then without a word, he eased towards me. I saw something in his hand; he was hiding something long and skinny. I tried to get a better look as he grabbed my arm. I glanced down just in time to see a hypodermic needle piercing into my arm.
I gazed into Doug’s watering eyes as I clutched his shoulders. My head was spinning; my knees were buckling under my body. This was that same ill feeling I got when I thought about my visits to Montgomery. I attempted to stand, but my body was sinking into the floor. Without another word to Douglas, I closed my eyes.
What seemed to be seconds later I opened my eyes. I found myself on Doug’s bed with three unfamiliar men dressed in suits staring at me. Doug loomed around the back of the room, pacing nervously. “Who are you?” I managed to ask drowsily.
“I’m Dr. Stevens; this is Dr. Higgins and Dr. Smith. We work here,” replied the man sitting to the far left.
“It’s about time someone got here, that man, he’s insane you know, he stuck a needle in my arm, I’m guessing a tranquilizer. He needs to be locked up. Give him padded walls, a straight jacket, the works! How did he even end up getting a hold of tranquilizers? You ought to up the security in this place.” As I spoke, I could feel the disbelief, sense it on the faces of the men. The doctor’s looked at me with that same pity that Doug had earlier.
I was starting to get very nervous. The men were taking notes; Doug was comparing his notepad with an entire file that I recognized from my previous visits. Everyone was acting as if I was his patient. I looked down and realized that I was wearing the paper hospital gown that I had seen Doug wear each time I traveled here. On my feet were blue footie slippers made to keep hospitals sterile.
Words were traveling through my head at alarming rates. “Crazy, schizophrenic, nutcase, cuckoo, insane, psycho.” Each word was one I had used to describe Douglas Kinkade, my least favorite patient. Suddenly, it occurred to me that these words were now being used to describe me. On Douglas’ lapel I noticed a metal pin. More words I couldn’t bear to read. “Dr. Douglas Kinkade, Montgomery Mental Hospital.”
This was really beginning to get out of hand. “Can’t you people see? You go through years of education to be able to recognize insanity! Now, where are my clothes? I’ve had a stressful day and I’m ready to go home!” The men continued writing, muffled words were exchanged between them. A somber attitude hung in the air like smoke. The three doctors and the imposter began gathering up their things. They checked watches nervously and advanced to the door.
“Where are you going? You can’t expect me to stay here with these head cases!” Nobody was listening to me. “I’m not crazy! I’m a psychiatrist!” My pleas fell on deaf ears, as the four men left the room, closing the solid metal door behind them.


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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 3/27/2008
Very nicely done, Kacie. That was an unexpected "twist" for me. Thank you for sharing your short story. Love and best wishes,

Regis



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