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It was an early October morning, the constant sound of rain and wind attacked the freshly paved road. My new white adidas browned in the newly formed mud alongside the sidewalk. I tried not to focus on what my mom would say when I walked into our rotting apartment. Her snarky remarks and stale eyes bit at my arm like frostbite. Maybe it was actual frostbike considering this rain was quickly turning into a light hail. But back to my mom.. For months now she has been attacking me for the smallest things. Ever since my dad passed away, she has been micromanaging my life and critiquing my every move.
I’m sick of it. That’s why I went to this party last night. Not because I wanted to see all my friends I’ve missed, but because I wanted to drown out the mental pain my mom has been causing me. And that’s exactly what I did that night. I drank and drank until I could not feel anything. Shots, mixes, god knows what, I drank it. I guess I got really bad because when I woke up I was laying at the bottom of the wooden staircase in a pile of my own vomit. Yum. Anyways I hauled out of there as fast as I could. Everybody was passed out on the tiled floor and couches so my exit was not as embarrassing as I had imagined. Of course I had to let my emotions get the best of me, what else is new. I should’ve left when I was in control of myself. I just simply could not control myself anymore. It’s as if my mom was truly damaging my mental health and I felt so helpless because there is nothing I could do.
Her judgmental glare haunted me now and I fell to the sidewalk in a heap of tears. Here we go again. The mud began sinking into my still fresh wounds and stung the raw flesh. I didn't have time to wince at the physical pain I was experiencing because my mental battle was so much worse. Tears stung my bloodshot eyes and I began yelling, shaking, and crying harder. Why am I like this? Why am I so weak? Why can't I have a mom who actually supports and loves me? The rain began falling harder on my back as if it were remembering my many tears. Reality began to fade and I lost all control of myself on that sidewalk. Just me, the cold earth, and the solemn rain, conversing, feeling sorrow for each other. After several minutes into my dramatic breakdown a gentle voice cracked my daze.
“Hello” a woman's voice cooed in my right ear, sending chills down my spine. “Honey are you okay?” She spoke again, this time caressing my back. The soft and gentle touch and tone of voice provided me with instant comfort. Slowly, I lifted my head up and my hair was matted to my gray face. I swear I looked like I was straight out of a horror movie. Embarrassed, I pushed my hair back almost immediately. “Oh my!” She exclaimed, gasping into her freshly manicured hands. The woman was dressed up quite professionally, in a fitted skirt and collared blouse. Her slicked back hair reminded me of my mom, and instantly I looked away revolted by even the thought of her. Unlike my mom thought, this woman seemed to have her s*** together. “Are you okay?” She spoke again this time looking directly into my hazel eyes. God, I hated my eyes. They were the color of literal feces. Her eyes shone a bright blue in the piercing sunlight. Embarrassed again, I looked back down at the ground, getting glimpses of my scabbed up legs. Wow.. last night truly was a trainwreck.
The woman repeated her question one last time raising her voice slightly. I guess I hadn't been responding because she seemed slightly irritated. Whoops. I waited a few seconds to respond thinking of possible responses.
“Um what? Yeah I guess” was what I came up with. Clever response Camryn nice one! I laughed in my head. Did I look okay? Why did she even ask such a question. How stupid. ANyways, why would I express my emotions to a random stranger? It’s not like she's the world's best therapist or anything. Talking to her would do absolutely nothing for my betterment so why bother?
“I have trouble believing that” she remarked running her fingers over my wounds. I felt a little shame for lying to her, but I was simply confused as to why she would care, I don't even know this woman. The thought irritated me.
“Why do you care anyway? I don't even know you” I snapped ripping her hand off my arm. She looked at me with shock filling her blue eyes, then a slight smirk arose across her slim face.
“Hi! I am Dr. Monica Shields, therapist down on Atlantic Ave. and you are?” She greeted extending her lanky arm. My dropped open almost instantly. No way was this the Monica Shields. I read her book probably around three times. Her work is beautiful and I resort to it in my darkest moments at home. I cannot believe I disrespected my idol like that. Once again I was thoroughly embarrassed by myself, my appearance, and my words. After snapping out of my daze, again, I immediately grasped for her hand and introduced myself.
“Hi! I’m Camryn Rodgers. 17. Huge fan of your work” I greeted, shaking her hand vigorously. She looked at me with soothing eyes and a huge smile widened across her face. Her teeth were so white I was almost blinded. Not even kidding. Everything about her was simply perfection. I cannot believe I didn't recognize her. Maybe it was because my eyes were still fogged up by the puddles of tears that resided in them. Once again I got lost in my thoughts and failed to hear yet another thing she asked me. Once I made eye contact with her she repeated herself saying:
“Are you busy right now?” She questioned looking down at her rose gold Michael Kors watch. “I have a pretty open schedule today and was wondering if you would like to have a quick chat in my office? It’s only a couple blocks down” She asked in a cheery tone. I thought about her offer for a quick second and decided that if anyone were going to help me resolve my issues it would be her.
“Of course! I have nothing better to do” I exclaimed. Picking myself up off the cold ground. To my surprise the rain had stopped and a rainbow began to stretch out across the foggy sky. Maybe this was my day. Maybe all my problems will be solved by meeting with Monica. Ah, I was so excited.
“Awesome!” Monica replied. Swinging her purse around her shoulder. “Let’s head over there now before the rain comes back” She added.
We began walking down the street, and I’m not going to lie, I felt heavily insecure. Monica walked with such long elegant strides which exuded confidence. I, on the other hand, hobbled behind her trying to keep up. Her heels even clicked a melodious tune against the torn up walkway. My mother’s heels would not have made such a beautiful tone. Her heels always annoyed me to the point where I had to cover my ear from the wretched noise. Monica’s on the other hand was soothing and provided me with comfort? Why? I’m not entirely sure. My strides began to shrink and I feel behind Monica and her confident strut. As I distanced myself, I noticed people begin to stare at me. Both looks of disgust and pity filled on goers’ tired faces. I hate the city. I began running to return back to Monica’s side. Even though I only just met her, she made me feel safe. I feeling I have been lacking recently.
After about ten minutes of walking, Monica turned around and smiled at me, once again flashing her bright white smile.
“We’re here” she sang out enthusiastically. “Ready to go in?” She asked, pointing to the wide glass door. She seemed more excited to go in than I was. Her giddiness warmed me up inside and I was excited to actually talk to someone who would listen and respect what I had to say. I was so ready to go in who was she kidding.
“Of course!” I cheered entering the building behind Monica. I looked around and was surprised to find that the interior of the building was bland and boring which contrasted its vibrant exterior. As we walked down the long claustrophobic halls Monica greeted everyone she passed with a simple smile and “hello”. I felt ill. Hopefully her office was not as small and dusty as these corridors were.
“Here we are. Room 301” Monica stated, after our two minute walk from the entrance of the building. Monica rummaged through her black leather purse and pulled out a shiny silver key and began to unlock the huge metal door. I crossed my fingers, hoping that her office would not make me feel as uncomfortable as these hallways did. They reminded me of my mom’s apartment building, cramped, dark, and musty. Purely revolting. Swiftly, she undid the lock and swung the door open into her office. Tentatively I entered the room, and to my surprise the room was actually spacious, open, and quick beautiful. The office illuminated from the dozens of floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the city scape. The layout of the office was very sleek and modern. A cozy sitting area was set up right in front of the windows, and the desire of plopping down on the plush white couch overtook my body.
As if Monica was reading my mind she motioned to the couch and offered me to sit down. I gladly took the offer and gently laid down, sinking into every square inch of the couch. I was in heaven.
“Wow” I gasped sinking further into the soft fur lining of the couches cushions. Monica let out a soft chuckle and say in the wooden chair adjacent from me. She pulled out her silver Macbook Pro and began responding to some emails.
“Sorry. This will only take a minute” She apologized, looking deep into her computer screen. I didn’t mind. I was having the time of my life lying down on this couch. It has to be hands down the comfiest couch I had ever sat on. Definitely beats the ratted up one back home. The thought of the couch back home reminded me of my mom. Was she even concerned I was gone. Did she know I wasn't sitting in my room? Does she think I am sleeping still. Little did she know I snuck out to a party last night and now am talking to a famous therapist. I looked down at my phone to see if she had contacted me. Nothing. The time stared back at my face. It was only 10 a.m. on a sunday morning. She must still be sleeping, I thought as I sank deeper into the couch’s immense comfort.
“So how is life at home” Monica began speaking, as if once again reading my mind. “How are your parents? Do you have any siblings?”
“No. No siblings” I stated dryly thinking about how much I would have loved to have a little sister to push all the blame onto. Being an only child is horrible. And when I mean horrible I mean it. Being lost in your thoughts at all times, having no one to talk to or play with. If I weren't an only child I could get away with so much. Well I already do get away with a lot, considering my mom had no idea where I was. But I guess you can call that bad parenting.
“I’m an only child too!” Monica exclaimed. “How do you like it? I love being an only child for all the attention my parents give, but I have talked to a lot of people who actually hate the attention and desire more freedom and responsibilities.
“Personally not a fan” I said with a slight laugh. Laughing was always my way to cope with discomfort. The topic of home life and being an only child was never a comfort zone for me considering the situation of my dad recently passing and my mom converting into a psychotic witch after being laid off from work. My home life never was or is now something I feel good talking about.
“Why is that? Is it an issue with your parents? Are they too controlling? Talkative? Burdensome?” She asked with questioning eyes. She seemed so interested in my life, and I guess that is apart of her job, but the feeling of being accepted and wanted was never something I really experienced back home.
“Well, a couple months back, October actually, my dad passed away from an unexpected heart attack. At the time my family was doing alright. We weren't necessarily the happiest family, we would argue constantly about small issues and sometimes arguments heated up to the point where a vase or tv would get shattered. But other than that we were doing okay financially. Now however my mom and I are starting to have trouble paying the bills and keeping up with the rent on our apartment. The stress has gotten so bad for my mom that she takes her anger and frustration out on me… because I am the only child” I ranted to her with tears starting to trickle down my right cheek.I tried to avoid making eye contact with Monica, fearing that she would have the sad puppy dog, sympathetic eyes that she had when looking at me earlier this morning.
“I see” she said jotting down quick notes on her computer. “And these injuries… how exactly did these come about? You mentioned your family had arguments that sometimes led to destruction of objects, did this happen during one of those incidents?” She asked with a very serious emotion on her face.
“Oh no! My parents never got physical with me, ever. It's more yelling and verbal attacks. My mom is just always so interested in my business and always wants to know what I am doing, and where I am at all times” I said in a disgusted tone to really show how annoying my mom has been. I looked at Monica’s face to see if she would understand what I was saying, but her expression remained the same.
“Okay. But sweetie, how did you get these injuries, do you play sports?” She said again examining my cuts and bruises further. I rolled my eyes at her concern. The situation in which I got these injuries was actually quite embarrassing and I didn't know if I wanted to share this with a person I looked up to.
“I don’t really want to talk about it, it’s embarrassing” I responded laughing once again.
“Obviously I’m not going to force you to respond, but I do think opening up to me will be the most beneficial thing for you to do for self betterment” She stated calmly. I thought about this statement for a moment and decided that she was right. If I wanted to get myself in a better mental state, I had to open up and admit to my problems.
“Well, recently I have underwent a significant amount of pain in my life and coping with this pain hasn't really been going the best for me. I am constantly sneaking out of the house, and partying. Last night I snuck out my bedroom window. We live on the ground floor of an apartment building so sneaking out isn't too difficult, and I went to a party with some friends from school. I drank shot after shot, and even smoked a little I think. Usually drinking and smoking make me feel at ease, but last night I let myself get too out of hand. The drinking wouldn't stop and I began to get sloppy; slurring my world, tripping over my own feet and finally the stairs. Somehow I managed to make it up the stairs to the bathroom, but the trip down was the disaster. I began down the first step and went down. Tumbling step after step until I hit the glass door at the bottom. The glass cut through my skin, I guess, but I couldn’t feel it because I was that intoxicated. The motion and force of hitting the ground made me vomit and pass out. Great scene.” I stated. I looked up from my clammy hands and was surprised to find Monica staring straight into my eyes. She lacked any sense of empathy, and I was shocked. She was a therapist, wasn’t she supposed to feel bad for me?
“Camryn. Your actions are all understandable. When people experience such tragedies in their life, they usually cope with it in an unhealthy manner. Your tendency to gravitate towards depressants is very common. You are a teenager. However, I am not saying your actions are justifiable. I want to help you, I really do” Monica said sternly. “Please just listen to me. I think you are developing and have developed a form of depression. With the tragedy of your father, and mother’s job loss, you seem to be feeling helpless, lost. Am I right? Your mind isn’t functioning normally. It really is not healthy” She concluded.
“I wouldn’t be depressed if it weren't for my mother’s obsessive qualities” I retorted. Monica shifted her glance and really studied my face.
“Do you really think your mom is an evil person?” She questioned me.
“Yes” I replied blatantly.
“Why? Please explain to more, why?” Monica pushed. Why didn't she believe me that my mom was insane. Did she think I was overreacting? I could not believe this.
“Well, where do I begin? She took away my keys many times, she constantly calls to see where I am even when I am next door, and she even threatened to pull me out of public school. Do you see how annoying and disrespectful this is? She is taking away my life” I confessed.
“Camryn. Are you sure your mom isn't just trying to protect you? You are clearly struggling mentally and have been making some poor decisions. You are having a rough time, and as your mother, I think she has noticed that and wants to help you. Have you considered that?” Monica debated. With a clear mind, her points seemed rational. How could I have not seen this sooner? She took my keys away because I had come home drunk on multiple occasions, so she didn't want me to leave and hurt myself. I constantly run off so she wants to make sure I am safe and doing well, and she threatened to take me out of school because I am constantly in fights and have bad grades. She wants to make sure my future is bright and hopeful. How could I have missed out on this. I’ve actually been the one hurting her. My poor mom.
“I didn’t realize this/ How could I have been so oblivious?” I said tearing up.
“It’s because you’ve been focusing on everything but. Your head is not in a good place, it distorts reality and makes everything seem dark and horrid. It happens with depression sweetheart. It is a serious mental illness. Unfortunately I cannot cure you, but I can recommend you to a doctor who can provide you with medication and I am always here to talk if you are having a difficult time. Here’s my number. Please keep it, put it in your phone, on a fridge, anything” Monica pleaded handing over a business card. I gladly, retrieved it and stuck it in my back pocket. I said my goodbyes to her and started off toward home. I decided to walk home and get some fresh air. I was still upset with myself that I could not see what was actually happening in my life. My mom j=must be so ashamed of me. The whole way home I thought of apologies to offer my mom once I walked in the door, but the words slipped from me. As I approached the door I stopped. I needed to do something. Needed to say something to my mother. To thank her, for saving my life.
My experience with Monica ultimately saved my relationship with my mother. Were it not for her, I would have never come up with the realization that my mom’s actions all had good intent, were all in attempt to save me and my sanity. If I were to not talk to her that day I couldn’t tell you where I would be in life. I can tell you now I would not be as healthy as I am today. Today, three months later, I am living a strong and healthy life, and although I still suffer from depression, I have found ways to calm myself when I am having episodes. My story may not have been as inspirational as others, but I just wanted to share how important family is and how suffering a mental illness can affect your views on life greatly. Never give up. Always have hope and find help if you truly need it. Life is worth living.