I Just Missed My Cat

By Olivia Norwood Art by Erika Rutz

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I was sad is all. Not depressed, not yet. Only a little sad. A little. And my mom, she got me a psychiatrist. A goddamn psychiatrist for a goddamn twelve year old because my goddamn cat died, so I was pissed.

“Hi there,” she beamed. “I’m Dr. Endells. You can call me Justine, though. It’s so nice to meet you!” It wasn’t much of a beam in the way you would think. Certainly not sunshine and clear skies – more of a fluorescent light. Phony.

“You, too,” I muttered before adding in a quick, “I’m Scarlet,” as if she didn’t know. As if my mother hadn’t had a long – almost endless, I’d bet – conversation with her via cell phone, holding her up from anything and everything she had to do, to tell her about me. Before our eyes met, she probably knew the color of mine. What size pants I wore. My preferred style. My mother, she probably gave her a tedious forewarning about how I’m death-strikingly shy, reminding her constantly that it’s not her fault, that it’s probably just the anxiety.

“Not that I should be diagnosing her,” I’m sure she babbled. “After all, I’m not the professional here.” And next comes her forged laughed. Her desperate laugh – the laugh that told Dr. Justine Endells just how much she wanted her to help me. Needed her to help me.

Cure me of my cat-missing disorder.

Because that’s all there are anymore, disorders. Diseases. I mean, God forbid someone just hates winter; it’s got to be Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD, how cute. And the only way on Earth someone would ever push the spines of their books into place, aligned with one another, is if they suffered from OCD. A teenager lies to their parents to go to a party and they’re a compulsive liar. A kid gets distracted, jumps off the walls or simply doesn’t want to do his math homework, and he gets put on Adderall for ADHD. AP and Honors students get stressed out over all of their projects and presentations, and they have an anxiety disorder!  Of varying types, of course, as the list goes on and on and on so that everyone could check themselves into at least one of the goddamned boxes.

See, it’s all a big ol’ scam. You’re sad? Oh, go to a psychiatrist! Do it, they’ll help you. Yeah, they’ll point out every little thing that’s wrong with you until every single character trait that you describe to them is now seen as a character flaw. But that’s okay, it’s only because of your disorders. Your endless disorders and diseases. You’re ill, you’re sick. You’re infected. You need their help. You need them to give a name to everything you’re already dealing with to justify your insecurities. And every insecurity they create.

“Did you know,” Dr. Endells started at our third session, “that your breathing is unhealthy? See, your chest moves when you breathe in – it ought to be your stomach.”

Who cares? My cat; I am here, against my will, because I miss my cat. I do not give even a little bit of a shit about my breathing! But that’s just what she does! What they do! They make you feel awful for the better part of the hour you’re with them – or however long of a sentence you’ve been dealt – and at the end, they hang you, dangling by a microscopic glimmer of hope. Just enough to trick you into thinking that, Oh, maybe if I continue with this, I’ll be better in due time.

They know how the mind works, yes, that’s their job. But they don’t try to make yours healthy – they manipulate it. Influence it. Alter it. Demolish it. And make it seem as if they’re cleansing it. Renewing it.

And maybe they are, of yourself. Of your humanness.

That’s when you get depressed. Nice and suicidal. Getting analyzed on a weekly basis. Willingly, for most people; and paying for it. I never noticed my compulsions before I met Dr. Endells. Never noticed them because they never mattered. I like my glass on the right side of my plate, big deal. It’s a preference, not a fucking syndrome.

And by the way, I’ll never called that bitch Justine.

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Paul is a writer, editor, and musician who lives, works, and plays in West Michigan.