One returned my call. His ad in the Yellow Pages said that he was open seven days a week. I explained that I suffer from nervous exhaustion and anxiety attacks. I asked if he had the power to prescribe... he interrupted me to say that he had a psychiatrist on staff who could prescribe medications. I said that all I needed was a prescription for rest, peace and quiet. I explained that I couldn't face the SHAC assessment. He asked if I was speaking about a job interview and I tried to explain what SHAC was. He misunderstood my goal and thought that I was trying to avoid something or pull some kind of scam and that in fact there was nothing wrong with my nerves, even after I told him that I didn't want a prescription for mind-altering meds. Why do people misunderstand me so? The luggage man took me for a thief, then the shrink takes me for a scam artist or a drug addict. I insisted that I had to see someone that very day so that I would have a doctor's order by Monday. He said that he was going to contact a colleague and get back to me. He called later to say that he had been unable to reach his colleague and offered to see me on Monday. We made an appointment. I thought that I could use the doctor's appointment to get out of the SHAC business. His fee would be $150. Later, on my way to the library I crossed the street without realizing it, I was totally distracted and woke up when I heard the loud and insistent honking of a car. The driver, a black man, asked me if I was trying to kill myself. He was not saying it in a mean way. I apologized, said that I was distracted. He looked at me with curious eyes and told me that one of these days I would get killed if I kept doing this. I promised I would be more careful. This show of concern by a fellow human being comforted me.
Sun. the 29th:However on Sunday the terror returned with a vengeance and I called the suicide hotline. I was seing with blinding clarity, now that my enemies had gotten hold of my case analysis showing that I was aware of what laws had been broken to obtain my eviction, how relieved so many people would be if I just died, and I feared for my life more than ever.
I told the shrink who answered the phone that I was so afraid to be killed that I thought of killing myself. I said that I had survived an attempt against my life and knew too much because I knew who, how and why etc... He answered in a professionally soft voice, and said to reassure me that we are all human and that I shouldn't blame myself for feeling that way. (But I had not said that I was feeling guilty!) He offered to visit me, I hesitated then accepted to see him at the shelter. He said that he would come with a colleague.
He came promptly. He was tall and blond, around fifty, and his colleague was a short older woman with white hair. and I asked the staff to let me use one of the offices for the interview. One of the first things the shrink said was that a tape recorder (I didn't see it was a tape recorder, I thought it was a CD player) which was sitting on top of a computer should be removed because it could damage the data in the computer. Strangely he didn't say that it was against professional ethics to record a patient without the patient's consent or knowledge. Then I started wearily with my story. I recounted how the bus snuck up on me and that it was impossible that the driver had not seen me. I said that since my fahter's death my mother had made up every possible excuse not to give me my inheritance although she had given it to my other siblings.
At this point the male shrink suggested that I return to France so I could take care of my inheritance problem, and take a lawyer on a contingency basis so I would not have to pay the lawyer out of pocket. I answered that every time I had taken a lawyer my mother had contacted him or her behind my back and turn the lawyer against me. How else to explain the fact that Montalette had advised me to give up my claim on FF1,75 million? Who would benefit if I abandoned my claim? The male shrink answered that maybe the lawyer had advised me to drop my claim because she thought it was not worth her time to fight for a sum she thought was too small. "In this case," I said, anger rising because the shrink was taking my enemies'defense, "she should have refused to take my case, not accepted it and then advised me to drop it!" At this point the woman broke in out of the blue and said "Maybe the reason the bus didn't stop after he had hit you was because the driver was on the left side and you were on the right side so he did not see you!" "Come on!" I exclaimed "How could he not have seen me? There is perfect visibility from inside the bus, and the driver could not have failed to see me when I was leaning against the flank of the bus and my shoulder brushed against the glassed front door!" There was a pause. The male shrink said that it was inconsistent for me to ask money from my mother when at the same time I was accusing her of a crime. (Really I don't see what's inconsistent about it. Does committing a crime against your creditor relieve you of the debt?) But I didn't say that because this false reasoning caught me up short. "And from whom am I supposed to get money then? Am I supposed to prostitute myself just because my mother doesn't give me the money she owes me and prevents me from working?" I said that since last October I had been compelled to have sexual relations with an old man who gave me not even enough money to survive and that I hated his guts and resented my mother fiercely for compelling me to resort to that. "You must have very low self-esteem to sell your body for so little money!" he said. Then he advised me again to go back to France and get a lawyer on a contingency basis (although this does not exist in France, much less for estate matters). "Listen," I said at the height of exasperation, "I didn't call you to get legal advice and I resent your giving me unsolicited advice. I'm a reasonable person and I don't think you have enough knowledge of this case to to determine whether I'm telling the truth or not, and whether this incident was or not an attempted murder, and whether I'm justified in being terrified or being paranoid."
This gave them pause. The man tried to cool me down with some platitudes but his artificially soft voice increased my anger. Finally I asked him what was his diagnosis and as I expected he said that I was paranoid. "I thought paranoid people were violent and attacked those they felt threatened by" I said. He replied that there were many nuances in paranoid disorders. He suggested that I start a treatment of Paxil. I asked how long a tretment took. He said two years, about. I said that I needed to think about it and would give him an answer another day. He also offered to take me to Westchester Hospital Center where I would strt treatment but I declined. Calm was restored and after about an hour and a half the two shrinks departed. I felt better for having voiced my fears but at the same time I felt betrayed by the medical establishment, because the two shrinks had taken the side of my enemies. But I had not entertained high hopes of a different outcme so I was not devastated.
More than ever because my audience were mental health professionals I felt the double bind: either I was the victim of a crime or I was mentally ill. Still, in such a short time I hadn't had the opportunity to present all the evidence in support of my crime thesis, and until I was given that opportunity, nobody was in possession of enough data to make a determination. But if the shrink was in cahoots with the murderer, that was another kettle of fish altogether, and that was the hypothesis I tended to adhere to. How else to explain the strenuous efforts of both shrinks to convince me that the bus driver and the estate lawyer were innocent? At the end of the session, in the hallway the man said that it was ok to disagree and we could agree to disagree. As they were about to leave, I told them that just because I had failed to convince them did not mean that I was paranoid. After they left I called the shrink who had given me an appointment for Monday and told his answering machine that I had just seen somebody, I reminded him that I had told him that it was an emergency and I had to see somebody before Monday, and I cancelled the appointment. In the evening I learned that two women from the shelter would go with me to get tested. This made me feel slightly better.
Mon. the 30th:So on Monday I got up at 5:30AM because we were going to be picked up at 7AM. I went downstairs early and saw a van with three rows of seats parked by the entrance, and a single black man on one of the seats. I went to have breakfast to a coffee shop in front of the church and kept an eye on the van. I didn't see anybody get to it until about thirty minutes later. At this time I came out and met the two women by the van, then the driver showed up and we all got in. The drive took about twenty minutes on the highway. We arrived at the Westchester County airport and the van turned right just before the entrance to the airport, where the men's shelter is. The SHAC center was a group of trailers with wooden gangways that one reached by wooden stairs, adjacent to the men's shelter. All these trailers gave a look of impermanence to the offices but they were indeed permanent and the men who arrived at the shelter were immediately processed by SHAC. For us girls it took a little longer, one needed to be chauffeured there.
The first man I saw was not a shrink but a social worker who tried to evaluate my ability to work. I also had a physical, had to give a urine sample. Everything was fine so far. It was not as bad as I had been led to believe. When it was all over around 2PM we waited a few hours for the van to drive us back.
Back in White Plains I went to the coffee shop to have lunch. Shahab was about to start lunch when I arrived and he was speaking with with an Indian man who was also there last Monday. I had felt some irritation at this man from the first because he was making a lot of noise, mainly by laughing loudly and moving around a lot like a restless child. In short, as I understood it later, he was trying to attract my attention. This time he sat facing Shahab with his back turned to me, on the banquette right behind me and he wasn't sitting still but fidgeting and jumping so that my own seat was shaking at his every move. Later he sat with his back against the wall and his legs resting on the banquette, and by doing this he was touching my jacket which I had draped on the back rest. I felt this like an invasion of
to be continued... Last updated Dec. 04/99