Monday at 3:00pm. A day and time I so horribly dreaded. If it weren’t for my scholarship potentially being revoked had I not complied with their protocol, I without doubt would never have showed up. I was so bitter and irate about being accused of having an eating disorder. Because of my resistance to seek therapy, my roommate was asked by the sports medicine staff to personally drop me off and pick me up.
I couldn’t look at her. It was a car ride of mere embarrassment, mortification, and fear. As she navigated through the campus of Michigan State University looking for the unknown Fee Hall, she explained she would be back at 4:00pm to get me. We pulled up to the front circle, and I barely could get a thank you out to her. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated her support, but, at that time, I was not thankful to her for where she was taking me.
I opened the building doors, and after immediately entering, I read the horrific words on a sign that pointed to an office: Department of Psychiatry. Whether it was my denial of my current condition or the social stigma of seeing a psychiatrist, my stomach rumbled, tears flowed, and I felt a severe tightening in my throat. I reluctantly approached the check-in counter and signed in. The ever-so chirpy receptionist advised me that she will be calling me up shortly to fill out paperwork. I couldn’t help but walk away believing she was playing the guessing game in her mind. Is that girl failing out of school? Has she threatened to kill someone? Was she caught driving drunk? I was obviously in a psychiatrist’s office because of some crazy issue.
I took a seat. There was a mother and her son on the bench next to me and an older gentleman across the way. This scenario truly could not have been any more awkward. As we all made eye contact and nodded, I felt we weren’t actually saying hello, but all agreeing that we have severe issues since, in reality, we are in the waiting room of a psychiatry office. I wanted to crawl under my chair. What if someone I knew saw me here?
“Erin,” I heard the woman call. I stood up, walked back up to desk, and she explained I needed to fill out the new patient packet. I thought to myself, I don’t want to even be here. I showed up because I was forced to, and now you are making me do work. I turned around, and saw someone had taken my seat. Are there that many psychotic people where the waiting room was filling up that quickly and my seat was reoccupied?
I started completing the paperwork. The list was infinite, but I remember feeling crazy and neurotic just from reading the checklist. Depressed? Anxious? Irritable? Severe weight loss? Fatigue? Drug use? Alcohol use? Suicidal thoughts? These questions were not for someone like me. I was a kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and athletic girl just trying to succeed in both college classes and sports. So I nicely walked back up to her and said thank you, but this sheet does not apply to me.
I couldn’t imagine what person was going to open the door and call my name. But, just as I had started trying to picture it, a thin, elderly man with a thick white head of hair, long gray beard, and walloping eyeglasses opened the door. As if there really was something wrong with me, this guy could help me? He looked exactly like the typical psychiatrist I had seen in movies and TV shows.
We entered his office, and he introduced himself. I sat on the couch and cried for the entire hour session. I don’t even think he heard the sound of my voice. The idea of being seen by a psychiatrist overshadowed any thoughts or admissions that I actually might have had a problem. He walked me out, thanked me for coming, and said, “I will see you again next Monday at the same time.”