American Mentalist: The Gatekeepers

Alessandra Nicholson

Session 4:

We were 4 hours into discovery when she asked confidently, “How can I help you?” In my mind a sudden burst of thoughts and emotions began to stampede. Was this bitch serious? Did she not know she was supposed to be the one telling me how she could help?

She said, “I just feel like there are gaps, and I want to understand how you were able to make these shifts in functionality – does that make sense?”

It, in fact, did not make one solitary stitch of sense to me.

I responded, “Okay.” The universal signifier of misunderstanding.

If more detail was what she required, more detail she was going to get.

Only because she asked, not because I believed it would help her do her math. She had come up with the answer – she was just reluctant to admit it.

The truth was she couldn’t help, not even a little bit, not even at all.

Turning the question to me was simply unfair. To ask the person drowning if they see a way someone else can save them is asinine, futile I’d say. Even if I knew, how could I communicate that to her amid drowning?

I stared blankly at still waves in the oil acrylic depicting the endless ocean with an eternal sunset that sat next to her desk.

I mean I would say, however she’d be more likely to make a note in my chart, that I was non-compliant and beyond saving. It would have been the truth but for all the wrong reasons.

Session 3:

Another 45-minute opportunity to renew the inner workings of my mind.

She said, “I’m sorry that happened to you but can you see how the ways your resilience saved you?”

I felt my entire profile was screaming that I was unsaved – in need of active rescue.

Maybe she didn’t see the same. Perception matters most after all.

“How does it make you feel?”

Fucking frustrated my dear lady.

I responded that I could, in fact, see how my resilience scores had been impacted by one-off adults who spoke a spirit of life into me that allowed me to feel like I could breathe in a space I could not, but that I just wished that they had pulled me from the water – you know, to stop the drowning.

“Fuck them,” I replied. I imagined the foam atop the waves in the acrylic also hid deep rage.

“Have you given any more thought to meds?” She asked. “We need to stabilize you before additional treatment.”

Like asking someone to remain calm when they’re drowning…

Session 2:

For 45 minutes I explained that since I was born other humans have flat out refused to accept my bodily autonomy to the point where even as an adult, I was forced to announce to a room full of other adults that they need to ask for my permission before they touch me, especially my private parts.

She said, “I know that was hard, but good for you for setting strong boundaries.”

Pride welled up and threatened to flood all of the places I had just kept dry.

“Thank you,” I responded. It felt good to be the boss of me for once.

As we exited the session, she gently laid her hand on my back before pulling it away as if I was on fire.

“I’m so sorry.” She looked horrified, as if she’d only just seen her reflection in a mirror and it was serving gargoyle fierceness.

As I locked eyes with the waves again and slightly entertained a fantasy of slipping underneath their strength, I responded, “At least your violation was innocent.” A final submission of my lack of the same.

Session 1:

She said, “Welcome in, what brings you to therapy?” On the wall was the image of a lighthouse. I wondered if I’ve finally found safety.

“The darkness is creeping in again. I wanted to solicit some help before it gets too deep,” I pleaded.

We discussed modalities, we discussed medications, we made promises to continue if it was helping and I booked a second session.

I set a strong boundary – I’ll try anything – just no meds.

Session 5:

Perhaps It’d be best to finish drowning in peace.

The portrait of a lighthouse on the ocean stared back at me.

It was a pretty enough place to go under the waves.

Finally, finality.