Friday, 6 March 2015

Shrink Tales #2: In Which i Told my Shrink That it was Okay and That it Happened Sometimes

Hospitals scared me. No real people. No home. No smoking zones.
I thought of her at hospitals. I thought of myself four years ago. Had anything changed?
I hated being sick. Sickness was when my body was not under my control. I hated that. When Calico spoke of his migraine of two decades i was enraged. How could a sickness do that to a human being. And yet there i was in a mundane room. Over exposed and good for nothing but sick people. Like me.

When it was time for the second visit i chickened out. I had a screening to attend at 6 p.m and thought i would be late if i went to the hospital. Sethuvamma said that the doctor visited the hospital only once a week and that i would have to go. That did it for me. I became irritable. She said she wanted to take a cab. I wanted to go by auto(rickshaw). Slammed doors and tears later i was at the whiteness of the hospital. I had Derrida for Beginners with me along with the previous session's prescription where she had asked me to try out 'self soothing methods' which involved ice cubes and scribbling in red. I had done none. There had not been an occasion. I was happy the entire week. I had got a new bicycle. Sethuvamma was going to buy me a phone. I asked for a bicycle instead. It was cheaper too, i added. I had wanted one since i sold my earlier Hero when i was hard up on cash. We went to Bentinck Street [that's where you should go if you want to buy a bicycle in Kolkata] together and bought one. I rode the thirteen or more kilometers back to the institute. When i reached the room i found three big cartons with Amazon written on it. She had sent me lots of goodies. She later told me that she wanted me to have a new beginning. She sent a lot more things of which i liked a pair of earrings the best. Golden, it was a leaf.

None of that helped me at the hospital. Tears poured down as Sethuvamma stood guard at the door of Ms Mullick, my psychologist. I couldn't concentrate on the pictures in the book let alone its deconstruction. I stared at the fish. A fish tank was the silliest thing to be in a hospital. What purpose did it serve anyway! I went out to have a smoke. Sethuvamma followed me because she thought i was going to leave like the one time i had. I was sulky and hurt her by saying i was going to smoke. There were more packets arriving at the hostel. I was even getting a new phone. Buddi had sent it when he got to know that my Samsung was getting switched off without provocation. I was numb to everything.

Ms Mullick asked me how the week had been. I suppressed my tears and said that it was fine except when it was time for therapy. She asked me if i were in similar situations often. Where i felt that i was being forced to do things. I realized i was when she asked me that. It was like the time when your room was always dirty. There would be one moment where you decide to tidy it up. That would be when your mother walks in to tell you just that. Then you wouldn't want to clean the room only because she asked you to. To this problem of mine she said that i would have to practise self soothing methods again. Also asked me to set goals. By then i had started crying again.

She asked me what the matter was. Then i told my shrink that it was okay and that it happened sometimes. Only after saying that did i realize how stupid i sounded. She was easy on me. Thank heavens that i am not a psychologist. If it were me i would have laughed out loud. She said she knew it was okay and that she only wanted to know what my thoughts were at that moment. Damn! What was i thinking!
Oh. That was what she wanted to know.

I said that i was feeling bad that i was being changed. She asked me how that was. I said i felt that the world was not a place for a person like me and that i had to do what she asked me to do so that i could belong. So that i could be happy. Said that my pain was also what made me me and parting with it would be sad. It was like when you had a break-up. When it hurt badly you were also happy somewhere because it also meant that you loved that person so.
She thought for a long time. She said that the fact was that the world was not a place for anybody. I didn't get what she meant by that. Nor did i try understanding. What she said next caught my attention. She drew three blocks with 0, 50 and 100 written in them. She said that my pain was at 100. She said that a happy person's pain was at 50. And that 0 was how much pain a person in comatose had. She said that she couldn't even help me be at 50 and that she was only trying to make me be at around 80-90. That was because at 100 my pain was asking me to harm myself.

I was relieved. I paid attention. Like in school. The class was interesting you see. I had to feel that the teacher/professor knew something i didn't to pay attention to them. Ms. Mullick seemed to know things i didn't and things i could understand.

So when i thought i was losing control i had to think of my goals. She went back to the situation of Aalayam losing the memory card which contained a day's footage. That was what she remembered of me, she said. So when a person was in such a situation they had to think of what the immediate goal was. That would be to shoot it again. What could be done so that it could be shot again and such.

It sounded easy. Only it wasn't. If i had seen the footage (reviewing dailies in film maker's parlance) and saw that it was bad i would easily have scheduled a re-shoot. Why then was i not able to even think of such things when Aalayam lost the card? She then took me to stress levels. When stress levels were at its peak and it overflowed one lost their sense of logic. She said lose and wrote loose. The prescription now has 'loose sense of logic' written on it. It was true either ways, i thought.

Back in the institute i spoke to her. I had received all of her presents. She said she wanted me to even start smelling new. Toiletries imported from Paris, my dream land, shampoo and soaps that i had seen only with NN, badminton rackets, an oven-toaster-griller and what not. When i spoke to her i started faltering for all the new beginnings and material comforts i then had. I spoke of my end. I spoke of the hotel room i was going to die in. For the first time i tried the 'self soothing methods'. I scribbled in red in the book Emm, my neighbour had gifted me. It didn't soothe my self.

Later when i looked at those pages i felt really bad that such a nice book was being wasted that way. So i tried converting my scribblings in red to some sort of sketches. Came out very badly, but it was okay. I felt i was doing something.

The first one is me leading myself on. There is a bigger me and a smaller me. I followed myself on, balloons and all.

me, myself and balloons
The second one is a self portrait. That was how i was most of the time. She said she sometimes wished she could wear her pain on her sleeve. I don't wish that. I wanted everyone to see and touch what my pain wasn't, what i wasn't. And my pain, my baby, i would nurture. A potted plant, like the only clitoria on campus which sits smugly in my balcony. Brought all the way from Kozhikode, Kerala to Kolkata, West Bengal. Along with it what people didn't see board the train was that bitch of a pain mantled in laughter and sunshine. Mine. Mine. Mine.

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