Getting Happy... when you wish you were dead
“Good morning, Donald. How are you today?”
Dr. Cosmé Lozano is about five foot seven, a little stout, with black wavy hair and well tanned skin. He’s wearing the usual white doctor’s coat, carrying a file folder, and seems fairly relaxed. That’s about to change.
My voice is quiet, matter of fact, and I’m looking Dr. Lozano straight in the eye. “Conrad, actually.”
“I beg your pardon?”
I explain quietly, in a voice that says I’m distinctly unhappy to be having this conversation. “My name is Conrad. I use my middle name.”
Some tension creeps into Cosmé’s voice now. “Okay. Conrad. I take it you’re not particularly happy.”
“Yes, and you have an amazing grasp of the obvious. Why on earth would you expect me to be happy?”
“That’s what I’m here to find out. You know I’m here to help.”
I share my perspective on that statement with a voice lacquered in scorn. “No, actually, you aren’t.”
“I’m not what?”
Now the anger starts coming out. “You’re not here to help. You’re here to dot the i's and cross the t's. You’re here to fill in forms and justify your existence. The one thing you are most definitely not here to do is help.”
“What makes you say that?”
“How about because you walk through the door with a cheery smile on your face, calling me by a name I don’t use, and you start with an incredibly stupid, unthinking question. ‘How am I doing?’ I’ve been imprisoned for no good reason! How do you think I’m doing?”
Now, when you think about it, this probably isn’t the harshest sort of thing a doctor in a psychiatric wing has had said to him, right? But Cosmé was getting a little cheesed off.
“We’re really just here to help.”
That just pissed me off. My voice got louder and harder. “No, you aren’t. Everybody has been saying that to me since I was tackled by three cops last night.”
I sneered and attacked him with a whiny voice, ‘We’re just trying to help.’
“The nurse and doctor at the hospital kept saying it last night. They said it every time I caught them in a lie. ‘We’re just trying to help.’
“Everybody’s just trying to help. So you arrest me, you confine me against my will, you tell me if I’m not a good little boy, you’ll pump me full of drugs and maybe strap electrodes to my head. But you’re just trying to help.
“Face it, Doctor, you don’t know what help is. All you know is filling forms and pushing pills.”
That little tirade, while momentarily gratifying and entirely accurate, was not what Cosmé wanted to hear. He let his frustration show.
“Listen, if you don’t want my help, just say so. I can have you out of here tomorrow morning.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Certainly. I can have the paperwork done today, and you’ll be out of here by tomorrow morning.”
I shook my head in disagreement. My voice was clear and back to being an indoor voice. “No, you can’t. In fact, that would be a very bad idea.”
His eyebrows went up and his eyes widened at that. “Why is that?”
“Because I was sent here on a seventy-two hour commitment. If you let me go early, that means I’m right and everyone else involved is wrong. That means I get to sue their asses into the next century.
“No, I don’t think you’re going to let me go. I don’t belong here; that’s right. I should never have been tackled by the police, arrested or confined, but I was. And now you’re stuck holding the bag.
“You can’t let me go without causing a whole lot of problems.”
Cosmé was in an interesting spot. Yes, everyone in Springfield had made a mistake. He could see they had committed someone for observation without good reason, but he couldn’t just let me go. He decided to stop arguing and just go with the truth.
“You know what? You’re right. I can’t let you go
“So since we’re here together, and you don’t think I can help, what are we going to do?”
I looked him up and down, and thought for a minute before answering. When I did, my intention was to discover whether Dr. Lozano just might be helpful.
“Hmmm… A much better approach,” I said slowly.
“The truth is: I don’t know whether you can help me or not. I know for certain that no one from last night can be of help because they did nothing to be helpful. They didn’t make any effort to listen. Worse. They assumed everything I said was a lie to avoid being committed.”
In a softer voice, I said “Ironic that. They are so steeped in telling lies, and claiming they’re helping, they can’t imagine anyone telling the truth.”
I snapped back from my reflective attitude, and addressed Cosmé again.
“I don’t know whether you have the ability to be of help to me or not, but I’m willing to find out.”
That was the start of a ninety minute conversation; far longer than Cosmé had intended being with me. In the end, we were willing to “give it a try” as it were.
He understood that I needed him to hear what I was saying instead of hearing what he expected to hear. I understood he needed me to be open about myself, and continue being honest and straightforward with him.
We would end up talking together a lot over the next few days.