Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Nina Alvidrez, Thursday, August 13, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Good morning, Nina. How are you today?
Ms. Alvidrez: I'm okay. How are you doing?
Dr. Balis: I'm well, thank you. How have the past two weeks been for you?
Ms. Alvidrez: It's the same old thing, Doctor Balis. There's nothing incredible to speak of.
Dr. Balis: How is work?
Ms. Alvidrez: Not good, actually. Oh God, I can't believe I'm crying. It's just that...It seems to get worse every day. Mr. Utterman is evil.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Alvidrez: He makes me so miserable. He never has a kind word, never says "thank you," or tells anyone that they've done a good job. It's horrid working for him. I work directly for him, and I can go for almost two weeks without saying a word to him. He's too busy and too important for the likes of me. We communicate almost completely by e-mail. How hard is it to get up from your desk and walk over to me? He's so snappish and curt. I just don't think I can take much more of this.
Dr. Balis: Have you tried to tell him how unhappy you are?
Ms. Alvidrez: What good would it do? He's such a perfectionist. He probably thinks I'm too stupid to understand anything he says. He's always snapping at me. He has his pet people, and I'm obviously not one of them.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to be?
Ms. Alvidrez: I'd like to be recognized for my hard work. I'm only a secretary, but I do work hard. If I weren't there, most of the sales people would be in a bind. Support staff is important, but not at SII. My mother doesn't see it because she works so closely with Mr. Major, but most of the secretaries are treated like dirt. I wish I could work at home like some of the programmers do. It would make life so much easier.
Dr. Balis: Have you been having problems with Mr. Utterman all along or is this a new turn of events?
Ms. Alvidrez: Doctor Balis, when I first started at SII, I didn't even get a computer for two weeks! For the first two weeks, I sat at my desk and took messages. That's it. I think I spoke to Mr. Utterman a total of ten minutes during all of those two weeks. It was so demoralizing. He didn't even introduce me to the rest of the group during our staff meeting. I felt so alone.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Alvidrez: I just don't need to be treated like this.
Dr. Balis: Have you given any thought as to how you can remedy the situation?
Ms. Alvidrez: Yes--I thought of just jumping off the building.
Dr. Balis: That seems a bit drastic.
Ms. Alvidrez: It would take care of quite a few problems, though.
Dr. Balis: When did you first think of solving your problems that way?
Ms. Alvidrez: My first week. It's just a pipe dream, I'm sure.
Dr. Balis: I see. Do you think about ending your life often?
Ms. Alvidrez: Hmm...everyday, I suppose. It's there, in the back of my mind, every morning when we get out of the car and go into that building. I look up and just stare at the roof for a few moments. Sometimes, Mama has to call my name to get my attention...
Dr. Balis: Do you think you might ever resort to taking your own life?
Ms. Alvidrez: I'm too much of a chicken.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Alvidrez: My sister, Maria, is always saying that one day I'm just going to snap and start killing people.
Dr. Balis: Do you think she seriously believes that?
Ms. Alvidrez: It seems like she does. It really hurts to know that my own sister thinks I could hurt other people. I'm not a violent person, Doctor Balis. Ever since that one day, she's never been the same to me.
Dr. Balis: Which day is that, Nina?
Ms. Alvidrez: I suppose I should tell you. I don't like to talk about it. My whole family pretends that it never happened.
Dr. Balis: Please, go on.
Ms. Alvidrez: In February of my senior high school year, I was pretty sad. I cried all the time and for no reason--if someone looked cross-eyed at me, I cried. Maria was working as an accountant for a legal firm at the time. She had her own place and would let me stay there with her for days at a time when I needed to. I had a hard time in school with friends and teachers. I really felt ostracized. Maria came home and found me...
Dr. Balis: Here are some tissues, Nina. Take your time.
Ms. Alvidrez: I was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. I had taken some scissors and hacked off my hair, cut off my fingernails--I tore at my fingers with my teeth until my nail-beds were bleeding. And then I cut my arms and legs. Maria flipped. She called 911 and got me to the hospital. I didn't feel any pain until the next day. No one ever asked me about it. The hospital wanted to admit me to the psychiatric ward, but my parents refused. Ever since then, Maria hasn't been the same towards me.
Dr. Balis: It must have been a shock for her to see how you had hurt yourself. Have you tried to talk to her about it?
Ms. Alvidrez: No. No one in the family has spoken of the incident since it happened. For a while, it was like I had an assigned babysitter--someone was with me 24 hours a day. They even had Alba move into my room so she could sleep near me. They've loosened up since then, but I know they all expect me to go postal at any time.
Dr. Balis: Have you felt an urge to hurt yourself that way again?
Ms. Alvidrez: Sometimes, I can feel the darkness starting to overwhelm me.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Alvidrez: It starts when nothing makes me smile. I feel more and more like I'm on the outside looking in. And then I get sad. It's the sadness that is the worst.
Dr. Balis: Do you try to bring yourself out of this darkness?
Ms. Alvidrez: Sometimes. Other times, I just ride with it.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Alvidrez: My mom knows when I start to feel it. I start taking long, super-hot showers several times a day. When she notices the showers starting, the whole family goes back into babysitter mode.
Dr. Balis: Your family is very concerned about you.
Ms. Alvidrez: Yes, they do love me. But I just don't fit in with them. Sometimes, I feel like an alien--part of them, but not part of them. Doctor Balis, this discussion has really made me tired. Is it time to stop yet?
Dr. Balis: Well...
Ms. Alvidrez: Please, Doctor. I'm very tired.
Dr. Balis: Do you feel like taking long hot showers now?
Ms. Alvidrez: No, no. I don't feel like I'm even close to being at that stage. Really, Doctor. I will tell you if I do feel the darkness coming on, all right? Can I please go now?
Dr. Balis: All right. We can stop. I know it's been a hard session for you, and I appreciate the effort, Nina.
Ms. Alvidrez: I'll see you in two weeks then.
Dr. Balis: Please call me anytime if you need to talk. If you feel the darkness again, call me immediately and I'll help you work through it. Okay?
Ms. Alvidrez: I will, Doctor. I promise. Thank you.
Dr. Balis: Okay, Nina. Please take care of yourself, and I'll see you soon.
Ms. Alvidrez: Goodbye, Doctor.
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