I must be crazy. I must be insane. The doctor said so. The doctor said so
As told to Rochel Samet
For the first hour, I’m glad to be back at school. Then I escape to the bathroom, lean my aching head against the mirror, and try to work out why, exactly, I was eager to leave the house this morning.
Pesach vacation was a long blur of dizzying symptoms. Of course, Ma insisted that we go to the rheumatologist appointment. More questions, more blood tests, more mysteries. The results were all okay, except for something to do with thyroid. Thyroid? We’d been through that before.
So the road was closed. No more doctors, no more tests, no answers. Just joint pain and stomach cramps and nausea and exhaustion and fears, and nights waking up in cold sweat.
Pesach cleaning was impossible, and Pesach itself not much better. Last week was Chaim’s wedding, it’s a blur in my mind already. And now I’m back at school, and hiding out in the bathroom, feeling nauseous.
The bell rings. I should try to get to the next class, at least.
Just my luck, I turn the corner and nearly crash into Miss Halb, who just finished teaching my class. Awkward.
She doesn’t look fazed. “Libby, we missed you in class,” she says. I flush. There’s nothing to say.
Miss Halb rummages in her bag. “I have something for you, actually,” she says. “I know you haven’t been feeling well for a while. I just wanted to tell you, I have a cousin, she’s a little older than you, lives out of town – she has a condition called Crohn’s. She’s happy to talk about stuff, medical struggles, you know.” She finally pulls a folded slip of paper out her bag. I take it because I can’t think of what else to do. “If you want to give her a call, this is her number,” Miss Halb finishes. She hitches her bag over her shoulder and walks off.
As soon as I can, I stuff the slip of paper into my own bag, all the way at the bottom. There’s no way I’m calling anyone.
I have no idea what an endocrinologist is, but it sounds painful. Ma tries to talk about the appointment as we drive there in the car, but I’d rather sleep.
“I don’t care,” I tell her. “They’re not going to be able to help, anyway.”
The office smells of taxis. I try not to gag.
The doctor is thin and balding, with beady eyes and a paper-thin moustache. For a change, he doesn’t ask questions, just nods at Ma’s brief explanations and scrolls through my blood test results, looking bored. Ma lapses into silence. The doctor still hasn’t said a word.
Finally, he looks up, squints out of small black eyes.
“Well, it’s pretty clear what’s going on,” he says, voice clipped. For one split-second, my heart does a somersault and there is a rush of blood pounding in my head – finally, the answer! – and then everything shatters.
“I’ve looked through your blood test results,” the doctor continues. “You’ve been tested for everything, and your results are all normal. Physically, you’re 100% fine. And you, Mom, should be taking your daughter to see a psychiatrist. Most likely this is a classic case of depression.”
So it’s true. It’s all in my head.
I stumble into my room, slam the door, sink onto the floor.
Headaches, stomach aches, joint pain. Muscles in agony, sleepless nights, sweating with all the windows open. Dry eyes and nausea and sickness and pain and it’s all in my mind.
My legs are kicking at the walls, thump, thump, thump. It hurts. Everything hurts. But why? Physically, you’re 100% fine.
I must be crazy. I must be insane. The doctor said so. The doctor said so.
There is a scream in my heart, in my throat. And then my mouth opens, and I am screaming and crying, and I don’t care who hears, because Libby, you’re crazy, nothing matters, everything hurts, and my world is dark.
*Names and details changed to protect privacy
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 812)
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