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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1909289
Phoenix discovers through experience what his psychiatrist goes through with his patients.
Phoenix awoke to the sound of his phone beeping that it had received a text message.  Phoenix rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep, but another beep signaled that yet another text message had been received.  Phoenix could guess who it was, but did not anticipate the urgency of the messages.  He got up and looked at the texts.  His friend had not slept all night, for the second night in a row.  She was now refusing to take her medications.  Phoenix knew this was a bad sign.  The next text asked if Phoenix could come over.  Phoenix replied that he was just about to ask if he could.  When he got to his friend's house, he gave her a big hug.  She hugged him back and wept bitterly.  Phoenix's hunch that she was experiencing a mental meltdown was correct, unfortunately, confirmed by her incoherent babbling in between sobs.  She was not thinking clearly.  Phoenix began his assessment carefully, as not to seem too nosey, but to find out if she was safe at the same time.  She was not thinking of harming herself, and stated this outright.  What she also stated was that she wanted to talk to her daughter, who was at work.  Phoenix told her that they needed to think of how they were going to manage this crisis outside the hospital, or he was going to have to take her to the hospital otherwise.  At first, Phoenix feared that the hospital was going to have to be the first and only option he had.  Planning was not going well, as that required some clear and organized thinking on his friend's part.  She had not eaten yet that day and it was almost noon by the time Phoenix found that out.  He offered to take his friend to a restaurant so that she could get something to eat.  Low blood sugar could very well be contributing to her confusion and lack of concentration.  After they got something to eat, she seemed more coherent and better put together.  She said she felt better, as well.  Phoenix pushed her to plan some steps in managing her current crisis.

Following this prodding, the two of them decided to take the dog for a walk.  Fresh air was the idea.  That, remarkably, seemed to help some and Phoenix dropped by his house to get some chamomile tea for his friend to further the benefits.  By early afternoon, his friend was feeling drowsy and decided to take one of her sleeping pills and try to sleep.  Phoenix left and prayed that she would fall asleep.  An hour later, he received a text that she had not fallen asleep yet, but was still trying.  Phoenix did not hear from her for several hours after that.  He thought, "Well, she either offed herself or she fell asleep."  Phoenix was shocked at this thought.  It was so...blunt...and...well...  It shocked him because he was used to adjusting his thoughts to be politically correct and socially acceptable.  He actually failed to put that thought through the refinement process before having it.  He now understood how his psychiatrist must feel at times.  Phoenix cared.  That was not the issue.  His patience and the fact that his friend was refusing her medication was the issue.  It led to frustration for Phoenix because, although Phoenix had issues, too, he DID take his medication.  It was not that Phoenix never landed himself in a jam, but he felt his jams were more legitimate because he was doing everything he could to keep himself out of those situations.  To Phoenix, not taking the medication - not adhering to the treatment plan you agreed on with a medical professional - was asking for it.  The frustration was obviously beginning to overtake Phoenix's thought patterns.  Several hours and many thoughts later, his friend texted him that the medication for sleep had worked and that she was going back to sleep.  Thank God she was okay.  And thank the Good Lord that she was sleeping and taking some of her medication!

The next day, Phoenix did not hear the text message signal beep until almost noon.  He was busy doing other things, though, so he did not check the text message.  He knew who it was and did not want to deal with it right at that moment.  He actually doubted that he could deal with it effectively at the time.  Much later, in the evening, in fact, he heard another text message beep.  He checked it this time.  It was his friend, wanting to know what was going on.  He replied that he was making a card for his doctor, which he was.  Again, Phoenix understood how his doctor must feel sometimes.  There were days, he was sure, that his doctor would rather turn off all forms of communication and paint in his studio than go to the office and deal with other people's issues all day long.  But Phoenix's doctor took time off to do those things, like painting, and hunting, and whatever else he wanted to do.  Phoenix now understood how important it was to have time for himself.  Phoenix did not feel like he was getting that, and he needed it.  Now.  His friend's last text of the evening, thankfully, was regarding them going to the food bank the next day for her holiday food basket.  Phoenix did not have a problem with that.

The next day came.  Phoenix texted his friend about an hour before they had agreed to go to the food bank wanting to know if his friend had coffee on or not.  His friend put some on and invited him over.  While they were sitting, drinking coffee and watching a scuba diving show on PBS, she asked him if he was mad at her.  "No.  Why would I be mad at you?"  She replied that she thought she was a pain in the ass and had pissed him off.  "No.  If I was mad at you, I would tell you.  It makes me even more angry to have a person that I am angry at not know that I am angry at them.  I am not mad at you."  The food bank adventure took 45 minutes.  The line was a block long.  Phoenix managed to find parking within the food bank parking lot after patrolling the area for a parking space semi-close for a short time.  After that, he dropped his friend off at her house with her food and went back home.  He praised God that he had an appointment with his psychiatrist that day.  Even better was the fact that he went to the post office before his appointment and received the Invega that the VA had sent him.  Finally!  The day was saved.  He gave his doctor the Christmas card that he had made for him and had a good visit with his doctor.
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