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Put Your Heart On


Working the suicide prevention hotline was my therapist’s idea. She thought it wasn’t so much I had a serious problem, as I didn’t know what serious problems were. She said my anxieties and depressions were small potatoes. Perhaps even a mild form of OCD; an inclination towards “unrewarding routines.” My therapist was surprisingly blunt in her approach. I knew this going in.

“You have what everybody these days has,” she said during our second session.

“How’s that?” I said.

“You’re too sped up and worried about the wrong things.”

She had also wised up to the fact that I was squeezing her for drugs. I’d managed to get an extended prescription of Paxil from my primary care physician, but the supply was long gone. It’s harder than you think coming off anti-depressants. You get these sensations in your brain that could best be described as electrical shocks. Frequently I would excuse myself from the desk at my temp job to sit in the bathroom stall and stuff toilet paper in my ears. This, combined with the whoosh of the flushing toilet, temporarily relieved my symptoms. The therapist told me these sensations were normal and I could expect them for six-to-eight weeks. I nearly slapped her when she said this, such was the clinical aspect of her delivery, but instead I grabbed her and attempted to kiss her on the mouth.

“You’d be perfect for the suicide hotline,” she said, pushing me off. Nothing fazed her. She was a stunningly mature woman, all thighs and pursed lips and strutting around the edges of the desk, stopping to re-adjust her bra. She wore her bleach-blonde hair in a tight ponytail that stretched the creases in her forehead.

“Give me your leg,” I said. This is something else they don’t tell you about coming off the drugs.

“Do you still talk to the pillows?” she said.

I told her once that I liked to pretend my pillows were various women I’d seen throughout the day. I propped them up next to me and we talked as I unwound, spiritless at times, drained from the thousand invisible cuts. I turned out the lights and laid them next to me, closing my eyes and imagining their skin. I even tried fabric softeners to get a smoother feeling to the pillow covers. It’s generally a bad idea to tell your therapist things like this.

I felt an electrical shock and sat back down.

“C’mon, not this time,” I said to nobody in particular.

“It’d be like the pillows, only you’d be talking to real people. Mostly people who are lonely like you. People who think things are worse than they are and trying to make up for it somehow.”

“I don’t know.”

“Trust me.” She hiked up her skirt to cross her legs and looked at me with only the tiniest upward curve to her lips.

This was more than I needed.

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