Thursdays With Dr. Sykes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     It’s a beautiful place. The trees grow in every direction. They create forests that look like a woven mat of branches and leaves. The roots curl up and out of the forest floor, pointing toward the sky like delicate fingers. The leaves are never brown, but vivid red. The sky is purple and the stars always shine. In this place, I am the hero. I always come out on top, and everything always works in my favor. The only problem with this place is it’s only in my head.
In the real world, I am average. I am mediocre. I don’t have any noticeable talents, and I’m constantly reminded of this. My shrink thinks this is a self-esteem problem. I think that’s a load of s---. I’m beginning to think that if you are a teenage girl who’s not quite up to par and knows it, they chalk it up to the elusive “self-esteem problem.” I’ve been visiting Dr. Sykes for about six weeks, all for the low price of $300 an hour. You write one morbid diary entry and dye one perfectly purple streak in your brown hair and you’re sentenced to an eternity of therapy.
My mother and father are good people, but they’re ignorant as hell. I’m surprised they even thought of putting me in therapy. I was sure they would never risk scarring their perfect family image. That was the first real thing I told Dr. Sykes. I’m sure he put it down on his stupid pad of yellow legal paper as “a breakthrough.”
Actually, I know that’s what he wrote, because I stole his stupid UN-legal pad of paper. It drives you crazy sitting there having someone judge you, and never showing you what he’s thinking. Dr. Sykes is nice enough, but he spends most sessions talking in circles.
“So tell me, Violet, what are you feeling?”
“Trapped in this office. Can I jump out the window?” I chuckle at my own sarcasm, but not Dr. Sykes.
“Hmm, that is very interesting. Violet, do you often find yourself trapped?” Dr. Sykes begins to scribble on his pad.
“Yes, I often find myself trapped in this office.”
“And how do you feel about that?”
At this point in the session I want to laugh, and sometimes I do. How cliché of him to say that. Dr. Sykes is full of clichés, and for a man who’s paid $300 an hour, you’d think he’d think up his own generic material to feed his patients. Dr. Sykes glares at me for mentioning his heavy use of clichés.
My favorite part of therapy is the little speech at the end of each session. It’s like Jerry Springer’s final thought. They’re full of clichés like “Get the guts to do something about it,” “Good things come in small packages,” “You gotta sink or swim,” and my personal favorite, “A change is as good as a holiday.”
During his 10-minute monologue, I tend to return to my beautiful place. I actually like to daydream about it during most of the session, and most of my days and nights. I like to envision myself climbing those trees and jumping off into the deep sea. I feel free. I can swim in this infinite abyss and play deep-sea diver to forgotten shipwrecked treasures. I can sail to the edge of the world and flip over and sail underneath it. I get so wrapped up in my visit to my make-believe land that Dr. Sykes says it’s time to go.
The drive home isn’t that much fun. My mom probes me during the entire ride. She asks the dumbest questions - what we talked about, how I felt, blah, blah. This should be the end, but it isn’t. I still have to endure my father’s round of questioning as well as probing from my brother and sister. It feels like I’m at Dr. Sykes’ office all over again, except I’m being interrogated by my own family.
Today is my last visit to Dr. Sykes. I’m elated. I decide to throw him a bone and tell him about my fantasy world. I’m sure he’d like to know where my head goes during our sessions. He looks at me rather strangely and asks, “How often do you daydream about this place?”
I answer with all honesty, “A lot, but it’s no big deal. Everyone daydreams.” He scribbles in that pad again.
Dr. Sykes sidewinds into another round of questioning - got to make this last visit count, I guess. “How do you feel today? What about in school, home, anywhere?” He spits these out like they are his final words on earth. He’s leading into the self-esteem issue.
“Dr. Sykes, trust me, I don’t have a self-esteem problem.”
Then he seems to study my face. He takes off his glasses; his dark eyes are more intense when freed from the glass barrier.
“I know.”
I can’t believe my ears. Dr. Sykes, that ol’ champ, he knew all along. Before I can rejoice in the fact that he finally understands, he asks, “Do you often use your world as an escape from reality?” I look at him like he’s Quasimodo.
“Obviously, that’s why it’s called a fantasy.”
He looks me straight in the eye and says, “Perhaps you use that world as a way not to participate in your own life.”
Dr. Sykes has finally hit the nail on the head, if he doesn’t mind me borrowing one of his classic clichés. At last he figured me out, long before I did.
So, depression is my final diagnosis. I don’t know what to do so I begin to cry. He passes me a tissue and calls in my parents. My last visit with Dr. Sykes won’t be for another six weeks. .

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 22 comments. Post your own now!

Zero_Kiryu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm
Wow. Depression? That wasn't expected, but I can see where you're going if I think about it: the morbid diary entry, the purple streak. And I guess depression is a self-esteem problem. I disagree with totally_ruthless. The ending isn't weak, it's a surprise that was slowly worked into the story with her behavior and thoughts and stuff. Good job.
totally_ruthless said...
Sept. 19, 2008 at 10:38 pm
the ending was weak. but everything else was very entertaining.
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