Transcript of 18th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christine Herald, Thursday, September 18, 1997 at 5:00 pm.

Ms. Herald: Hey, hey, hey.
Dr. Balis: Hi, Chris. Come on in; I'll be with you in a moment.
Ms. Herald: Okay.
Dr. Balis: What's that look for?
Ms. Herald: That monkey on your lamp shade. It's kind of unnerving. I think it's staring at me.
Dr. Balis: Have a seat, Chris.
Ms. Herald: It doesn't like me, I'm sure of it.
Dr. Balis: So, it looks like you've been shopping.
Ms. Herald: Yeah. I decided I needed to blow a bit of my paycheck on some new stuff. I also had a gift certificate that Bessa gave me to celebrate my newly single status, so I had to use it up. A gift certificate to Victoria's Secret.
Dr. Balis: How thoughtful.
Ms. Herald: God knows when I'll again have the occasion to use any of this stuff, but it can be fun to shop for. Oh, Victoria's Secret. Or Vicky's Knickers, as Bessa calls it. It was an interesting experience. I thought Anders was perverse; I'd never been underwear shopping with Bessa. You look like shit, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Thank you ever so much.
Ms. Herald: You're also in a snit.
Dr. Balis: Hmm? I'm fine.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, right. What gives?
Dr. Balis: There's nothing wrong, Chris.
Ms. Herald: Okay. Hmm. Well, I'm tired, too. Between the two of us, we're really not going to get a lot accomplished this evening--no breaking down any new barriers of the subconscious tonight. The only barriers that might get broken are those of good taste, knowing my mouth.
Dr. Balis: Then this might be a good opportunity to review some of what you've accomplished since you started coming to my office. Let's see where you are with your panic disorder and...
Ms. Herald: That might be okay. I think I could handle that. I probably wouldn't have to think too much about it. Free flow of ideas. Dig it, man.
Dr. Balis: You're being silly. I'm serious.
Ms. Herald: I thought you liked it when I was silly.
Dr. Balis: Have you had any panic attacks recently?
Ms. Herald: Define recently. Within the last five minutes or within the last month?
Dr. Balis: Let's say within the last week or two.
Ms. Herald: Well, when I broke up with Malcolm, I had a panic attack then. That was last Tuesday. I ran into a discipline situation at school yesterday. That kind of set me on edge, and I had a mild freak out. Lucky thing, that it was just before my planning period. I couldn't have faced a classroom of tenth graders right after that.
Dr. Balis: What happened?
Ms. Herald: Oh, a couple of boys got into something of a scuffle in front of my classroom door. I had to call for the security officer, but he was busy writing tickets to underclassmen trying to park in the seniors' lot and was slow in getting to the scene. I didn't know what to do. Both those kids were good size; I think one was on the wrestling team. And here was me--five foot three in my socks, and weighing about half as much as the smaller of the two young lads. I couldn't very well go wading in there and expect anything but to get laughed at best or broken in half at worst. So I chewed on my thumbnail and waited till Officer Bradley decided to hoist his caboose up the stairs to see what all the fuss was about. I felt useless, and I was worried about my students. Several of them knew the boys involved. I made damned sure that everyone stayed in the classroom until it was over, though. I had to fill out some paperwork and stuff because I was the one who called it in, and the principal said that he couldn't have done any better. But...still.
Dr. Balis: Is your school considered dangerous?
Ms. Herald: No. Compared to some of the others I've seen, it's a paradise--an island of serenity. At the school where I did my student teaching, the two kids fighting would have been doing it with switchblades or handguns or other equally charming things designed to open up big bleeding holes in the average person.
Dr. Balis: Tough job.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, but I love it. Believe it or not, I honestly enjoy doing what I'm doing. I've been hooked ever since I presented my science project to the class in sixth grade. I felt like I was important because I got to stand up in front of the class and talk about something that I had just learned a lot about. And this fits in well with my artistic impulses. I can show the students how to communicate their ideas and emotions. And I can devote my entire summers to writing if I want to. For a few years, the writing will be competing with my graduate classes for attention. But the opportunity is there if I care to take it. It's a nice safety valve.
Dr. Balis: Aren't you taking evening classes this term?
Ms. Herald: I was going to take several, but I scaled down to one. Not Carmichael's. He was crushed. So I'm only doing graduate school one night a week. I intend to have my M.A. within about three years, though. Four, tops.
Dr. Balis: The Four Tops?
Ms. Herald: Leave Motown out of this. You know what I mean, you silly slaphappy Doctor, you.
Dr. Balis: It's not nice to abuse your psychiatrist.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, you're so abused. Poor creature. Anyhow, to get back on track, I had a pretty nice turnaround as far as my problem with the panic is concerned. They occur a lot less often and never without some sort of a reason. And I know now what the trigger is--I don't like feeling out of control. I don't know if I would go so far as to say that I'm a control freak, but I do like to know exactly what's going on at any given time and keep tabs on all that happens around me. And I don't like being forced. Usually, the harder you try to get me to do something, the more likely I am to say no--just out of sheer bullheadedness. Caffeine only makes the situation worse, so I try to stay away. Every once in awhile, I have to have coffee, but usually now I drink chai.
Dr. Balis: Chai?
Ms. Herald: You should try it. It's really something. I think it tastes like gingerbread, kind of. It's a tea served with milk, either iced or hot. Either way, it's really good.
Dr. Balis: I'll have to remember that. So you think that feeling out of control is what brings on your attacks?
Ms. Herald: Nothing else seems to set me off like that. Did I ever tell you about the dream I used to have when I was a kid?
Dr. Balis: I don't think so.
Ms. Herald: From the time I was about five until now, I have had this recurring dream. I dream that I'm in a car on a fairly busy road at night. The car is sedately navigating traffic, all seems well enough. I'm sitting in the backseat, and I realize that there's no one driving the goddamned car. So I spend the rest of the dream trying to fight my way up to the driver's seat to gain control of the vehicle. But the farthest that I can ever make it is to the front passenger side. Then I wake up.
Dr. Balis: It certainly sounds as though you've always had some issues with control. You're a very independent-minded person, and I think you're very conscious about someone trying to infringe upon your freedom. The fact that you began having this dream at five is interesting. Was yours a very controlling household?
Ms. Herald: With my father? Need you ask, Doc?
Dr. Balis: Hmm. I see your point.
Ms. Herald: Oh, it wasn't as though he blew a whistle and I was supposed to snap to attention. But dinner was at a certain hour. My bedtime was strictly observed. And my time for homework was set aside as well. As I got older, things were a bit more relaxed, but not much. So I started to get a little crazy, I guess. But I've told you a bit about my adolescence before, I think.
Dr. Balis: A bit, yes. Do you think therapy has worked for you? Have you noticed any significant changes in your life?
Ms. Herald: I no longer feel that I have to take on the whole world and all its troubles singlehandedly, if that's what you mean. I still try to mother-hen those in my circle of friends and family, of course. But I'm not the only one in the world that can solve any one given problem. That was egotism. Self-destructive, too. I'm considerably more relaxed and able to keep myself from jumping at every challenge that presents itself to me. And I'll probably still have some stomach lining left by the time I'm fifty.
Dr. Balis: Sounds good, Chris.
Ms. Herald: Hey, this is pretty amazing. Even tired, we manage to make progress in one form or another.
Dr. Balis: I'd call it a pretty successful hour.
Ms. Herald: Quite a team, eh? Oh, hey, by the way...
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Ms. Herald: Jonny's boyfriend Greg has a cat named Clementine that had kittens last Friday. You said that you'd thought about getting one, so I thought I'd let you know. There are three of them--two are black and white, and one is an odd sort of peachy color that may or may not turn out to be orange.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Thanks for the news.
Ms. Herald: Anyway, it will be about seven weeks before they're ready to go anywhere.
Dr. Balis: You haven't had any new Lancelot stories for me lately.
Ms. Herald: Well, he's still huge. And he just keeps getting bigger. I think he must be part Maine Coon or, failing that, part bobcat. Right now, he's still disgruntled with me for not being home to entertain him during the day anymore.
Dr. Balis: I see. He'll get over it.
Ms. Herald: I don't suppose you do cat psychotherapy, too.
Dr. Balis: Unfortunately not.
Ms. Herald: Just thought I'd ask. Good night, Doc. And oh, by the way...
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Ms. Herald: Catch.
Dr. Balis: Oh, no. It isn't.
Ms. Herald: It is. See you next week.
Dr. Balis: Thanks for the sheep, Chris.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

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

Button to Christina Herald's Transcripts Transcripts of Christina Herald's Communications
Button to Christina Herald's Patient File Christina Herald's Patient File

TCT Bottom Bar Links to Top of Page Pipsqueak Productions © 1997. All Rights Reserved.