Therapy is expensive. When you don’t have money or insurance, but need a doctor with a degree in mental garage mechanics, you get sent to community organizations and hospital outreach centers.
The outreach center on Newton Street was for people with drug and alcohol problems, not my-daddy-died-and-i-hate-the-world problems. But since I didn’t have money or insurance, it was where I had to go. The lady with the degree wanted me to say I was addicted to pot. I didn’t think that was the problem. The problem was the years of emotional abuse and dysfunctional familial relations that left me feeling like shit. The lady with the degree did not agree. The second time she saw me, she put me on a medication. It was free and came in sample packs from the drug company. I can’t remember what it was now. When I moved into my first apartment a few months later, I saw the same sample packs in the kitchen cupboard, left there by the previous tenant. Must have been the drug of the year.
Group therapy was a requirement to keep receiving treatment. That always seemed kind of weird. No one there seemed to have a drug or alcohol problem. They all seemed to have much worse problems, like physical abuse or actual mental problems like schizophrenia. In my first group session, I recognized a kid there from my days in Stuarton. He had been a friend of Jane’s. In the group therapy session, another lady with a degree whom I had not met before asked each of us in turn how we were doing and what symptoms we had felt during the week.
The kid next to me went on about feeling depressed. Yes, she had taken her meds. No, she was not sleeping well. Yes, she still had the dreams. No, she was not drinking. Yes, she was smoking cigarettes.
The lady with a degree made little notes on her clipboard and made a pronouncement on medication: increase dosage, evaluate progress in one month.
And so it went. Most people either got an increase or a different med, or an additional med.
Then it came to Dillard, the kid from Stuarton. I’ve been hearing voices again, he said. The lady with a degree wanted to know what they said. Just stuff, he said. They don’t tell me to hurt people, he said. She wanted to know if he was taking his meds. Yes, he said.
I knew this kid. I knew he did not hear voices.
I saw him a few months later at the club. Hey Dillard, I said, weren’t you in my group therapy? Yeah, he said, I thought I saw you there. So, I said, do you really hear voices? No, he said, They just like to hear that.