Transcript of 1st Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Samuel Eldrich, Thursday, May 21, 1998 at 2:00 pm.

Mr. Eldrich: Doctor Balis?
Dr. Balis: Yes. You must be Mr. Eldrich. Hello, please come in.
Mr. Eldrich: Uh, yeah. I'm Mr. Eldrich. What a hoot! Just call me Sam; I'm only a kid.
Dr. Balis: All right, Sam. Please, have a seat.
Mr. Eldrich: I...uh, I don't have to start talking about my relationship with my mom or anything, do I?
Dr. Balis: Not unless that's the problem that brings you here. We're here to talk about the issues that are bothering you.
Mr. Eldrich: Okay. Well, my problem is that I want to kill myself.
Dr. Balis: I see. Why do you want to kill yourself, Sam?
Mr. Eldrich: Well, I'm just not worth keeping alive. That's why. It's nothing fancy; I just don't deserve to live, that's all.
Dr. Balis: What makes you think that you don't deserve to live?
Mr. Eldrich: Well...jeez, do you want me to go through the whole story?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I do. I want to understand what's going on in your life that makes you want to end it. Then, perhaps, I can help.
Mr. Eldrich: Okay. Oh, hell. Then I'm going to have to go back to my grandparents.
Dr. Balis: All right. Take your time; we'll go at your pace.
Mr. Eldrich: Thanks. Can I have those tissues for a minute?
Dr. Balis: Certainly. Here you are.
Mr. Eldrich: Thanks again. So, where was I?
Dr. Balis: You were starting to say something about your grandparents.
Mr. Eldrich: Oh that's right. Man, I'm really spacey lately. Anyway, ever since I last went back to see my grandparents, I feel this sort of downward spiral took over my life. I didn't want to see them again before I graduated. Shoot, I'll graduate in about two weeks. Damn. I can't even keep up a train of thought anymore.
Dr. Balis: It's all right. Use as many tissues as you need.
Mr. Eldrich: Thanks, Doc. Do most of your patients take this long just to get through the first two sentences?
Dr. Balis: Sometimes.
Mr. Eldrich: So I'm not some sort of freak for being such a crybaby?
Dr. Balis: No, and crying is not a bad thing. It can be very biologically productive and is emotionally healthy.
Mr. Eldrich: It's sort of like flushing the emotional poisons out of my eyes?
Dr. Balis: Sort of.
Mr. Eldrich: Okay, thanks. I think I'm ready to go on now.
Dr. Balis: Please do.
Mr. Eldrich: Like I was saying, I didn't want to see my grandparents before I graduated. The last time I saw them was at my grandfather's funeral, back at the end of September, in my junior year of high school. My mom took her father's death pretty hard. He used to always call her Dolly. He called every Sunday morning. Anyway, my mom's mom, Granddad's wife...hey, are you taking notes on me? Is anyone else going to see those? Is the insurance company going to have to see them to check if my treatment is legitimate?
Dr. Balis: No, Sam. Everything that goes on here is confidential except if I feel that there's an imminent danger of you harming yourself or someone else, okay?
Mr. Eldrich: Whew. Okay. I'd always heard it worked that way. I just don't want to feel like, "This call may be monitored to assure optimal customer service," you know?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I understand. But you don't have to worry about that, Sam. Now, you were talking about your grandfather's funeral.
Mr. Eldrich: That's right. Well, we actually had two funerals. Nana--she's my mom's mom--wasn't exactly in the best of mental health by that point. Since we didn't know how she'd react and everything, we held a sort of pre-funeral memorial service for her benefit. This way, she didn't have to deal with being around all those people.
Dr. Balis: Was your grandmother seriously grieved by her husband's death?
Mr. Eldrich: Well, that's the thing. She has Alzheimer's. We didn't know if she'd go off on everyone who was there, or if she'd just go catatonic, or if she'd do something else completely. She was already in a nursing home at that point. In fact, about the time she went into the nursing home, Granddad moved into an apartment complex right next to the nursing home just so he could live next to her.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Eldrich: Yeah. When you think about it, it was about the only thing he could do. I honestly don't think he could have been separated from her even for a moment. It was such a cheesy old-folks romantic sort of thing, but it was still sweet. We were glad that he died first. With her as far gone as she was by then, she was a lot less attached to him than he was to her. At least, that was what we thought. At any rate, if she died first, he would have died from a broken heart. And that would have been the icing on a hard life.
Dr. Balis: I see. What was your grandmother's reaction to the service you held for your grandfather?
Mr. Eldrich: She cried out loud, just like you'd expect a real person to do. Wow. That was a real cold thing for me to say. I didn't mean it to sound like I didn't think of her as human. It's just hard thinking of someone who barely even recognizes you as a full member of the family. That's all right, Doc; I'm already intimately familiar with where you keep the tissues.
Dr. Balis: Is this when your suicidal thoughts started?
Mr. Eldrich: Well, I guess. It was always hard to see my grandparents, and her especially. They were all just so old. But it hit me at the funeral: Granddad was gone, and there wasn't going to be anyone left to take care of her.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Eldrich: Oh, we still had some relatives left in that city--like my mom's brother, James--but he wasn't doing that well physically. We couldn't exactly expect him to take care of Grandma like he was a spry, young man.
Dr. Balis: Where did your grandparents live?
Mr. Eldrich: Oh, they were in Kansas.
Dr. Balis: I see. How did James' inability to take care of your grandmother make you feel?
Mr. Eldrich: It made me feel like...well, damn it. It made me feel like I should be that spry, young man who should go over there and take care of her. I felt like I should be able to just quit school and go take care of her, instead. I felt like I could spare a few years of my life to let her live out her last few years a bit better, like a human being. For a few days, I actually contemplated quitting high school and moving way the heck out to Kansas to be with her. I had it all planned out: where I'd finish up high school out there while she just quietly slipped away. You can imagine how well my parents took that.
Dr. Balis: Did they take it seriously?
Mr. Eldrich: No, they didn't. And why should they? It really was a stupid thing to wish, but I couldn't help it at the time, Doc. I was just so torn up over losing my grandfather and then torn up again at having to see Nana without anyone in the family to look after her and keep her connected to the real world. I felt absolutely powerless. And that feeling of powerlessness spread out to feeling powerless over every aspect of my life. When I started feeling like that, I just got a general feeling of helplessness swelling up inside of me. And so I...shoot! Can I have a minute to pull my train of thought back together?
Dr. Balis: Sure.
Mr. Eldrich: Okay. Deep breaths. "Wax on, wax off. Learn the crane kick, Daniel-san." Oh, man. That's got to be the first time I've smiled all day.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad to see you do it.
Mr. Eldrich: Yeah. Okay. So anyway, after I got this feeling of helplessness going all through me, I descended pretty quickly into a feeling of hopelessness. If someone's floundering around, feeling like he's got no way out of where he is and how sad he is, I'll bet he gets hopeless pretty quickly, too. By the time the summer between my junior and senior years of high school rolled around, I had gotten to feeling pretty damn worthless. What good is a guy who can't even pull himself out of what's supposed to be a completely natural grief process?
Dr. Balis: Grief is an extremely powerful thing to overcome. Adults, with plenty of experience with death, often have problems for years after someone close to them dies.
Mr. Eldrich: All right. I keep thinking that I'm a freak for feeling like this. And that's part of what makes me feel so damn low all the time. I feel like any normal, sane person would be able to easily pick himself off and say, "Okay, Sport. He's dead, and Nana's in a nursing home. There's nothing you can do. So just get off your pity party and get on with your life." But not me. No, I had to keep slipping down farther and farther, letting the guilt eat into me deeper and deeper, until there was basically nothing of myself that I recognized left.
Dr. Balis: Had you suicidal thoughts like this before your grandfather's death?
Mr. Eldrich: Well, it was never as serious as this before. But, yeah, I've had some pretty good trips down into the ultimate pit of self-loathing, as I call it. But I've always felt like there was something that was trying to tug me up before, you know? Like the hand of God or something.
Dr. Balis: Are you religious?
Mr. Eldrich: Oh, there's a laugh. You know, I can probably answer a bunch of trivia questions about which saint did what and how many books of the Bible there are. But as far as being really close to God, I'm even worse than your average, stereotypical, guilt-ridden Catholic. The thing is that I know there have been a lot of times when I could have reached out to a priest or something and said, "Hey, Father, I've got some serious things going through my mind. Can you help me talk about them to God?" Well, I could have done something like that, but I felt like I had to be the big man and keep it all bottled up inside of me. I felt like I should be able to deal with it a lot better than I did. Shoot, I should deal better with it now.
Dr. Balis: That's what we're here for: to help you work through this stuff.
Mr. Eldrich: Lord knows I need the help. I don't think God and I are exactly on speaking terms right now. So I guess I'm going to have to turn to people for help until he decides to show up in my life again.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. I can't help you with the religious part. It sounds like you miss having that in your life. Perhaps you might talk to a priest about that. It might do you some good.
Mr. Eldrich: Maybe. I'll think about it. It's going to be a long time before I'd feel comfortable opening up to anyone like that about this. I don't want to talk to someone who's in a position to judge me, especially before God.
Dr. Balis: That's up to you. I think you should try as many options as are available to you to help you out of "the ultimate pit of self-loathing."
Mr. Eldrich: "Angels and ministers of grace, defend us."
Dr. Balis: That sounds familiar from somewhere.
Mr. Eldrich: Star Trek IV. Doctor McCoy quoted it from Hamlet right before they shot into a time warp around the sun.
Dr. Balis: Interesting. And speaking of time...
Mr. Eldrich: Yeah, I know. I'm sorry if I made you late for another appointment.
Dr. Balis: No, we're just fine. Before you go, how do you feel about taking medication?
Mr. Eldrich: Damn. I hoped that wouldn't come up. Well, I'd hate myself for having to take it. That's why I've waited so long to start therapy in the first place. It took this absolute crisis point to make me realize that I can't just bottle it up inside myself anymore. Yeah, I'd take the medication, if you think it's necessary. Grudgingly, but I'd take it.
Dr. Balis: Good. I'm not prescribing anything for you right now. I just wanted to know what your feelings were on the matter so that I could consider your treatment options.
Mr. Eldrich: Wow, a doc who is actually interested in his patients' opinions on treatment. I'm impressed.
Dr. Balis: How do you feel now, Sam?
Mr. Eldrich: A lot better. It helped just being able to get some of this off my chest.
Dr. Balis: Good. I'm glad to hear that. I'd like to see you every week, if possible. Does this time work for you?
Mr. Eldrich: Yeah, for now. We'll have to see about times and stuff after graduation. I have to get a summer job, so we might have to change my schedule to make it work with that.
Dr. Balis: We can do that. Well, congratulations on finishing high school.
Mr. Eldrich: Thank you. Until next week then. Same psych-time, same psych-channel!
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Sam.
Mr. Eldrich: Bye, Doc.
Arrow, Left, Up & Out Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Samuel Eldrich's Transcripts Transcripts of Samuel Eldrich's Communications
Button to Samuel Eldrich's Patient File Samuel Eldrich's Patient File

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