So I walked in to work that day after my visit with my doctor, and I felt okay. I didn’t feel like myself. Kisha was the first to notice, but Kisha usually notice when I am feeling a bit off.
“What’s wrong?” Kisha asked. I just looked at her hoping that she’d get the message that I did not want to talk about it.
“Can we just talk later?” She gave me a nod and turned around.
Richard* came out of his office and walked past me. I was zoned out for a second when he tried to speak. I didn’t hear him. But I felt someone breathing and sniffing on my back.
“Earth to Keith!” I heard him and jumped. “Do you get any sleep at night, or do you just wait to get here to zone out?” Richard said. Richard is the director of the department. He is an asshole all the time.
“Not right now!” I said lifting my hand up to him waving him away.
The session was playing over and over through my head.
i had a breakdown… I am Mariah Carey I thought to myself. But I’m black… I’m Justice. I’m not crazy.
The black community has a way of not talking about mental illness. It isn’t an important issue with them. Race is more their thing. Depression, Bipolar disorder doesn’t come up as much. So many of us are dying on the inside, and we fail to talk about it.
But I’m Justice, and Justice doesn’t have these issues… Keith does.
I had done such a good job at keeping my “Keith issues” separate from the issues Justice had. But Justice was born entirely to block out the issues Keith were having.
(I know… I know… You don’t follow”
“When things become overwhelming, it is perfectly normal to go through the emotional turmoil, but You should be doing it with people around you,” Dr. Gajera said. “Why didn’t you move with your family?” He asked.
“It’s complicated,” I said. I paused. That year had been a roller coaster for me personally. I had already been through a break-up. Then someone I was seeing, died in a car crash. Out of nowhere, the family left, and I found myself alone.
“I barely remember that time. I ask Christina about it all the time. She tried to explain what it was like for her, but I am missing my thoughts and feelings.” I said. “But I can’t remember everything. I remember being homeless. I remember having a job. But the day to day and exactly the time span of me being homeless… I forgot. I remember trying to survive. That’s all.” I remember Tiger trying to get the truth out of me. I remember not being able to face any of it. But everything from that time I can see in flashes. It doesn’t slow down because that is how it felt to live it.
“Were you sad?” He asked.
“I had sad days,” I said. “There would be days where I would be behind the counter at Cosi, high off of energy that I was getting from the customers and my co-workers. Then I would run in the back of the store, and I’d cry. I’d cry and cry.. Then I’d wipe my tears, run into the bathroom and fix my face. Next thing you know, the world was literally eating out of my hands.”
“Almost like dual personalities?” Dr. Gajera said… He was writing down notes and ever so often, he would stop and glance real hard at me. I wouldn’t look him in the eye, I averted eye contact with him. He was so cute, and I was so embarrassed that I was depressed.
“I guess,” I said.
“Have you been sleeping?”
“Have you been eating?” He asked.
“No.” I looked down at my hands. My pointer and middle fingers were tapping my knee in groups of six. Tap, tap, tap, tap,tap, tap… Rest. Then again… Rest. again. Rest.
“Are you nervous? Anxious?” He asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. Tap tap tap tap tap tap… Rest… Again…
“Why are you doing that?” He asked.
“I’m waiting for it to feel right in my head. or for my head to tell me that it’s okay to stop doing it,” I said.
“What happens if you try to stop?” Dr Gajera asked, still straight-faced..
“I will still be thinking about it. Something will tell me to do it until it’s right. Or something bad will happen or something.. But it will bug me and make me anxious.”
“Do you have other ticks like that?”
“I repeat myself a lot. Under my breath… My sister used to tease me about it a lot.” I laughed. I explained how I’d sometimes say something, and then repeat it over and over under my breath. I would repeat it until I duplicated the same way I originally said it at first, or until my brain let me know it’s okay.
“I do the same thing with coughing or clearing my throat. Or hitting myself. My brain either likes the way it feels or wants to feel it again.” I paused. “I’m not sure. But if I try to stop it, it bugs me and I don’t know why and I think about it if I try to stop.”
“You obsess?” He asked.
“I guess.” He pauses. He continues to write notes and says.
“Does your friends say anything about it?”
“No one pays attention to it. If they notice, they haven’t said anything.” I said. “My sister is the only person who says anything. I think she thinks it weird and funny.No one else pays attention.”
Dr. Gajera continues to write notes and we sit in silence for a few moments. In those moments, my thoughts were racing. Am I going to be late from work? If I get evicted where would I live? I wonder what I’m going to eat today? Am I hungry? Why is he so fucking cute? I wonder if Mr. Marshall if in North Bergen today? Do I stink?
My thoughts were racing a mile a minute. I must have looked very uncomfortable, because when I looked up at Dr. Gajera he looked as though he was trying to get my attention.
“What were you thinking about?”
“A lot.” I said. “But mostly if I’m as crazy on paper as I seem.” He smiled and said.
“Wow! I’m not really certain which medication to start you on first?” We laughed.
“I want all of them.”