I was giving a lot of thought to this afternoon's appointment. It was my first time seeing a psychiatrist, and the possible repercussions were bothering me. I mean, sure, I had always been sort of regarded as "off-the-wall", perhaps unconventional, maybe "eccentric" even, but no one had ever called me crazy, at least to my face.
For instance, I never thought of my little brother as the embodiment of world destruction. Nor did I see him as the Anti-Christ. He was a royal pain in the ass sometimes, but what little brother isn't? I had been recommended to see a psychologist to assess what he termed "suspected hypomania", and he arranged for this meeting with the psychiatrist just to "make sure everything is okay". At a rather exorbitant $225 an hour, you would think they could do a little bit more than that.
I did a search for hypomania on the Internet. The condition was characterized by a high energy level and euphoric mood that could last for several days and then change to irritability, intolerance and rage. Other symptoms included extroversion, loss of judgment, rapid speech/flow of ideas, an increased sex drive and a low need for sleep. It sounded like I was a prime candidate. Except for the rage part.
As far as I was concerned, none of this was a big surprise to me. I was certainly extroverted, was fairly friendly with strangers, was usually in a good mood, and I was fairly productive and creative. I didn't sleep a lot, and while I didn't consider myself promiscuous, I possessed a healthy sex drive. I was the one everybody attached the word "hyperactive". Self-esteem was not a problem of mine, and I didn't think I had any problems with the squandering of funds. In fact, I was quite frugal. And I couldn't really see any issues of judgment either, but then again, I would tend to be biased in that regard. I simply wasn't aware my mere existence was looked upon as a pathological condition.
Only given the day and time of the appointment, along with the name of the doctor I was supposed to visit, I really didn't know what to expect. The name on the card was Dr. Lofgren, and I half expected him to be a portly scholarly man of Norwegian descent, but I wasn't betting the family jewels on it.
The modern office complex where the psychiatrist was located was in a better part of town. After I entered the building, I walked down a long carpeted hallway to a large waiting room that appeared to be the reception area for several medical offices in the complex.
Checking in with the receptionist, I speculated from the style of her glasses and the lines on her face she was around 50 years old. She gave the definite impression she would much rather be somewhere else.
I sat down across a young woman in a ponytail, who appeared to be perfectly normal aside from the fact she was muttering "shit, piss, fuck" at random intervals. That and the slight unpredictable jerks of her head occurring each time she voiced the words. It was a little disconcerting, but as I tried to concentrate on the pamphlet I had picked up at the front desk, the receptionist called my name.
I stood up and started to walk in the direction of a doctor who appeared at the door to the hallway. I only glanced at her at first, and she happened to be quite cute. She was about 5 feet 6 inches tall, with somewhere between small to medium breasts with long slender legs, and her blonde hair looked as if it went to the middle of her back. She was dressed in a knee-length beige skirt and a light blue oxford button-down, and was holding a clipboard. In fact, although I was unsure why, it seemed I knew her. I had never been to this clinic before.
"Right this way, Daniel," she said to me, and as she passed me, seemed to study my face closely before walking with an unhurried pace down the hallway. I took the opportunity to observe a rather stunning ass in the motion of a seductive sway, with the tight-fitting skirt serving to highlight it nicely, and all too soon we were at the psychiatrist's office. She opened the door for me, I walked in and she followed casually, sitting down behind the desk. She looked more than vaguely familiar. "I'm Dr. Lofgren, Daniel. Please have a seat." She looked into my face for an extended moment, and in what seemed like an afterthought stated, "And you may call me Suzanne."
"Suzanne?" I thought to myself, in somewhat of a daze as it came back to me. "Suzanne Barrett?" I reasoned silently as I made out who she was. "Suzanne? But I thought your name was Barrett? And I thought your hair was light brown?" I asked with a confused tone in my voice.
"Danny? Is that really you?" she asked with a smile on her face. "I was thinking you looked awfully familiar. I didn't recognize you with that big ol' Cheech Marin mustache. Hmmm. Small world, isn't it?" She looked genuinely pleased to see me.
"Yes, it's really me, Suzanne... it's great to see you, considering the circumstances."
I had been quite enamored with Suzanne Barrett in my freshman year of college, where we were enrolled in the same English 101 class together at UCLA. I guess you'd call it a crush, but I was hesitant to act on it as she was three years older than I was. There were about 125 other people in the lecture hall, but we usually sat near each other in class and talked when we could. I also helped her with a few papers as the semester went on, and it included meeting her at her place. She was a senior at the time, acquiring needed credits for her undergraduate degree. She had mentioned that she was pre-med, but I was under the impression she was going into pediatrics. It was a major surprise, as I had no idea she had chosen psychiatry as a career. It had been about 8 years. I was delighted to see her, even considering the circumstances.
"Danny! It's so good to see you! I hadn't looked at the client roster before I came in today," she told me and smiled. "What are you doing in Birmingham?" She seemed to an unspecified glow about her.
"It's really nice to see you as well, Suzanne. I'm a writer these days. Short stories, novellas, and, umm... other things," I told her, neglecting to mention that my main source of income was from writing erotica under the pseudonym 'Dick Bigger'. "I live out in the country about 60 miles south of town. Dirt road, well water, lots of trees, deer in the back yard, the whole ten yards; a good place to write," I explained. "How about yourself?"
"I'm impressed, Danny. I do a little writing myself besides the technical drafts and such I have to do for universities and such. I ended up in Birmingham because of a teaching job at University of Alabama at Birmingham that opened up, and I also have a burgeoning 'roving' practice, where I see clients all over Shelby County," she related. "So, what has it been, 8 years or so?"
"I believe so," I told her, and looked to see her poring over the file my psychologist had prepared. I was kind of uneasy watching her read the file, for no other reason that I didn't know what it contained.
We began talking, discussing both the past and present, and she explained the reason why her name wasn't Barrett anymore. She had married an older anatomy professor at the medical school she had attended, and she had stayed together with him for almost 7 years. As she spoke, she gave a few not-so-subtle indications that the relationship wasn't satisfying either physically or emotionally for the duration of the marriage. She was in the process of coming to closure on divorce proceedings that were for the most part cordial, as he was a wealthy older man grateful for the time Suzanne had given him. She gave the rather distinct impression that she wasn't financially hurting. She also explained she had taken to dying her hair blonde shortly after her marriage. It was something her husband had requested, and she thought hair color wasn't all that big of a sacrifice. Besides, she told me, she had always wanted to see how she would look as a blonde. I would have told her she didn't look bad at all. Not bad at all.
"Well, we've wasted enough time. Hypomanic, huh? Hypomania can be an indication of the onset of bipolar disorder. Do you think you are bipolar?" she asked me with a serious look on her face, although her blue-gray eyes sparkled.
"I really don't know. I've done a little research on the 'Net after I was asked about the hypomania, and while I haven't exactly exhibited the more serious symptoms of manic depression, such as psychosis, a lot of what I saw in the descriptions of hypomania certainly apply to me," I told her honestly. "And I can tell you this, Suzanne," I went on to explain, "I'm scared shitless... if you'll excuse my french."
"That's perfectly reasonable. While we don't know if you have it or not, I can administer sort of a screening to help us get a clearer idea," she told me. "Any objections?"
"No, none whatsoever," I told her quietly, although I was very nervous about the evaluation. Really nervous.
"Okay; has there ever been a period of time when you were not your usual self and you felt so good or so hyper other people thought you were not your normal self, or you were so hyper that you got into trouble?" she asked calmly, looking into my eyes.
"No... but I think I've been close," I told her, then asked, "and is it okay to call you 'Suzanne'? I'm afraid I've been presumptuous." I watched her jot a quick note into her notebook. At the same time, I noticed that her breasts looked as good as they did in college.
"No, Suzanne is fine. I remember those times when you helped me out on those papers at school. I consider you a friend," she told me, and I thought back to the essay I helped her with on 'The Oxbow Incident'. "But tell me; what do you mean by 'I've been close'?"
.... There is more of this story ...