Transcript of 12th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough, Friday, April 3, 1998 at 10:00 am.

Ms. Lough: Hi, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Sharon. What's going on? That smell--have you been smoking pot? Don't tell me you're under the influence!
Ms. Lough: Okay then, I'll lie. I'm sober as a goat...I mean judge...or something. Jeez, I'm such a bad liar. I have to learn how to maintain.
Dr. Balis: Sharon!
Ms. Lough: It's the only thing that keeps me going.
Dr. Balis: Sharon, I don't...have you been going to work stoned?
Ms. Lough: I better not answer that. I invoke my Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate myself.
Dr. Balis: This is serious, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: You'll get me fired.
Dr. Balis: You'll get yourself fired if you get caught.
Ms. Lough: I can't stand going to work sober. I can't even face the morning commute.
Dr. Balis: Why is that?
Ms. Lough: It's life. Life and work. It's all too overwhelming. I'm not cut out for this life. I'm not even ambitious. I just want to be another lemming--another nondescript nobody. And I can't even accomplish that.
Dr. Balis: There are better ways of coping with life's pressures. The last time you took this route, you ended up in the hospital. You yourself said it was one of the worst experiences of your life.
Ms. Lough: Maybe I can die of an overdose and spare myself the agony.
Dr. Balis: People rarely overdose on marijuana. Are you using any harder drugs?
Ms. Lough: You mean Prozac?
Dr. Balis: Have you been taking it?
Ms. Lough: I tried it for a few days. It made me nervous and sick. I'd much rather get stoned.
Dr. Balis: It takes about a week for Prozac to begin to work. There are some initial reactions to it, but they tend to go away. You have to give it a try, Sharon. If you don't want to get well, there's not much I can do for you.
Ms. Lough: Gee, now I don't feel so good. You're bailing on me, too.
Dr. Balis: I'm doing no such thing. You're bailing on yourself, Sharon. We won't progress in the work we do here if you persist in using illegal drugs.
Ms. Lough: Nag, nag, nag.
Dr. Balis: How often have you been smoking marijuana?
Ms. Lough: A few days a week, except for the days I took Prozac. I usually smoke it before I get ready to go to work.
Dr. Balis: You arrive at the office under the influence?
Ms. Lough: Just in the morning. Towards the afternoon, it wears off, and I start to get a headache.
Dr. Balis: I'm not surprised.
Ms. Lough: I think it's affecting my short-term memory, too.
Dr. Balis: Marijuana will do that.
Ms. Lough: Maybe if I volunteer for one of those cannabis clubs, I'll be able to get high for free.
Dr. Balis: I seriously doubt that.
Ms. Lough: You're not helping me out here.
Dr. Balis: I'm trying.
Ms. Lough: You won't give me anything good.
Dr. Balis: I am not going to "help you out" by supplying you with illegal drugs.
Ms. Lough: Just legal ones.
Dr. Balis: If you're going to abuse drugs on your own time, that's your choice. But don't come to my office stoned again. I mean it, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Okay, okay.
Dr. Balis: How is the situation at home?
Ms. Lough: Rob and I have, uh...reached a new level.
Dr. Balis: You and Rob are sleeping together?
Ms. Lough: Don't sound so disapproving.
Dr. Balis: I'm not passing judgment. I'm surprised, though. You once expressed a great distaste for any form of sexuality.
Ms. Lough: I know. I don't really care about it anymore. I don't have any feelings one way or another.
Dr. Balis: Are you sure of that?
Ms. Lough: Yes. And don't give me that denial psycho-babble horse shit.
Dr. Balis: When did this start?
Ms. Lough: About a week ago. It's really no big deal.
Dr. Balis: You brought it up. Sounds like you have some positive feelings about this.
Ms. Lough: I have neutral feelings about it.
Dr. Balis: I see. How did this happen?
Ms. Lough: Well, I've been really broke. I don't make as much money now, and since the surgery, I've had a lot of doctor bills. The HMO only paid for part of it. And he's been so down in the dumps lately, I thought it was the least I could do.
Dr. Balis: Do you consider sex with Rob as a form of trade or barter?
Ms. Lough: What's wrong with that?
Dr. Balis: It's not the healthiest reason for having sex. And your sexual health before this was fragile at best.
Ms. Lough: It's the oldest form of trade for services. A few months ago, I heard a news report about some rural areas of Africa. They said that water is so scarce there, women are forced to offer sex to get drinking water. It's one of those unpleasant facts of life. I don't see any point in moralizing about it.
Dr. Balis: I see. Did you enjoy sex with Rob?
Ms. Lough: It wasn't as repulsive and disgusting as I thought it would be. It was okay. I didn't feel degraded or anything.
Dr. Balis: How did you feel afterward?
Ms. Lough: Like getting stoned.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. How does it compare with your other experiences?
Ms. Lough: You're starting to sound like a real perv, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Sharon...
Ms. Lough: It's okay, I'm just kidding. Actually, I'm kind of glad that it happened. Now, I'll have something interesting to talk about during our sessions. I must be one of your dullest clients. So, back to sex. It was kind of strange, because I hadn't done it in so long. It didn't take that long. And we didn't engage in any pyrotechnics or acrobatics.
Dr. Balis: Do you have any romantic feelings for Rob?
Ms. Lough: I like him well enough. But I'm not getting all mushy over him, if that's what you mean. I'm not attracted to him. Maybe if I felt some physical attraction, an emotional attachment would follow.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Does that make me shallow?
Dr. Balis: Does Charlotte know about this?
Ms. Lough: No. I don't think she'd approve. I feel kind of bad about that--not so much about what I did, but about the possibility of getting caught.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: I'm a stoner and a slut. A total sleaze-ball. Do you think less of me, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: No, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Sex is a strange thing, isn't it? it seems like it should be an unnatural act. I mean, even the normal stuff seems strange.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Two people in these awkward positions grunting and sweating. It's so bizarre. Compared to sexual intercourse, a game of twister seems almost natural.
Dr. Balis: What goes through your mind when you have sex with Rob?
Ms. Lough: Mostly I try to gauge where he's at and how soon he'll be finished.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like it was unpleasant for you.
Ms. Lough: Not unpleasant. It's just one of those things that you have to do. It's like cleaning the toilet.
Dr. Balis: Interesting analogy. Do you feel you have to have sex with Rob? That it's part of your financial obligation to him?
Ms. Lough: I guess I don't have to, but it seems appropriate. It did make him feel better. He seemed in better spirits the next day. It seems to be more important for men to get laid than for women, even for men who aren't very sexual.
Dr. Balis: Like Rob?
Ms. Lough: Yes. Charlotte made it sound like he was practically a eunuch.
Dr. Balis: I take it he's not.
Ms. Lough: Maybe I've opened the floodgates. He's not like a caveman, clubbing me over the head and dragging me to his lair by my hair; though he does leave animal carcasses in front of my cave door. He cooks and takes me out to dinner a lot.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Would you say that Rob does have a significant libido?
Ms. Lough: I guess. Too bad he's not a premature ejaculator--it would be over faster.
Dr. Balis: Are you using birth control?
Ms. Lough: Uh, no.
Dr. Balis: Sharon!
Ms. Lough: Well, with all the problems I've been having, I'm hardly fertile. And Rob had a vasectomy years ago.
Dr. Balis: I would strongly recommend that you practice safe sex.
Ms. Lough: We tried at first. Rob had a lot of trouble with condoms. He kept fumbling and losing his erection. They were uncomfortable for me, too; they would roll off halfway and end up lost inside me. So after a while, we gave up. Older men seem to have trouble using condoms for some reason, or so I've found.
Dr. Balis: Switch brands. You shouldn't be having those kinds of problems. How old is Rob?
Ms. Lough: He's fifty-two. He's old enough to be my father. In fact, he has a daughter about my age. She's from his first marriage.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Have many of your partners been older men?
Ms. Lough: A few. But I don't feel like I'm searching for a father figure or anything. At least not anymore.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Lough: Is our time up yet? I really should be going.
Dr. Balis: All right, it is getting late. Sharon, I really need you to try Prozac and continue taking it as directed for at least a month. Then, if you feel like you're still having problems with it, we can try something else. And you need to try and stay off the pot. I never want to see you here stoned again.
Ms. Lough: I didn't think you'd get so upset.
Dr. Balis: I'd like you to be relatively clear-minded when you come here.
Ms. Lough: All right. I'll be good.
Dr. Balis: And Prozac?
Ms. Lough: I'll try.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Did you drive here? Do I need to call you a cab?
Ms. Lough: No, I took the bus. I'll be okay.
Dr. Balis: All right. Have a good weekend, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Okay. Thanks, Doctor Balis.
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