The week after my first roommate left, three weeks after her mother killed herself, five weeks into my college experience and two into weeks into the actual semester, I went to my favorite class, Early Childhood Education. Molly made the dry text seem relevant, and I couldn’t be bothered studying stuff that didn’t seem relevant, so we were a good match, this class and I.
On this particular day, as I left class, she handed me a note that said “Piers. 3 pm.” I looked at it quizzically and she said, “just go there, you have an appointment.” I waved to Gerry, my housing coordinator friend, and passed the Dean of Student Housing, and found myself, quite by surprise, at the campus psychologist. I learned I had an appointment with him by arriving at his door, not unlike television intervention shows today.
The room may actually have been smaller than the Johnny-on-the-spot single- sized dorm room I would have in a few years time. There was a bright yellow chair and a couch, no windows, and had there been one I might have jumped. It was (I would later learn) a typical first “session,” I talked a bit, cried a bit and left with another note with an appointment to a “real” doctor who could prescribe “real” pharmaceuticals.
After a few of these meetings, Piers took me to a nearby restaurant known for free hot appetizers just about walking distance from school. This was the 70’s, there was little concern that a thirtyish psychologist accompanied by an eighteen year old college student at a Holiday Inn Happy Hour might be a tad inappropriate. A few others gradually joined us for these soirees, forming a tightly knit group that grew, along with Piers’ influence, over time.
A few months into the counseling/medication ritual I wrote my parents a letter. I meant to communicate how much better I was feeling and that there might be a medical reason for my sleepless mania; that I had turned a corner regarding my major. I was on a filthy carpet on a lounge floor, must have been during one of my roommate debacles, pouring my heart out in this letter, which would never be mentioned to me. I realize now that they might have read the words “psychiatric consult” as “You were a shitty parent.”