Transcript of 23rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Alex Rozzi, Wednesday, November 12, 1997 at 5:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Alex.
Mr. Rozzi: Hey, Doc. You don't want to ask, but I know you will anyway. It's been one hell of a week!
Dr. Balis: What's going on, Alex? Why are you limping?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, I've been walking a lot again. When I found out about Ralph, I sort of walked, I guess.
Dr. Balis: I don't understand. Did you move out?
Mr. Rozzi: No, no. No, I just went out for a walk...for two days.
Dr. Balis: Huh? I missed something. What happened to Ralph? Are you talking about Ralph having AIDS?
Mr. Rozzi: No. I mean, yes. No! No, I mean, no! Shit! Ralph went into the hospital last Wednesday. That's why I called and canceled at the last minute. He fucking went into the hospital! I was looking at him lying there in his hospital bed, his skin was all parched, and it looked like it was sagging or something. I was sure he was going to die on me. Right then and there, he was going to die. I just knew he was going to...just, ah...go! So, I went out for a walk and didn't go back until late Friday night. And then, they wouldn't let me in to see him, so I walked some more. I was so out of it, that I wasn't paying attention to the time. I walked up to Crissy Field, and then over that Golden-God-Damned Bridge, and right down into Sausalito before I realized even where I was. It was like I was sleep walking or something. It's a fucking miracle I didn't get run over by a car. And my ankles are still killing me.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry about Ralph, Alex. But I'm also worried about you. Were you aware of your surrounding at all during these walks? Do you remember what was going on in your head?
Mr. Rozzi: Ralph was going on in my head! I was thinking about Ralph and what I was going to do and stuff like that. Yeah, I knew what I was doing and where I was, if that's what you mean. I do remember certain things that stood out. Like the woman who was looking for her little kid that she lost somehow. How does someone lose a kid anyway? Lost a kid--huh, come on! And I remember seeing that bus crash into a car on the bridge. But I wasn't paying attention to the time.
Dr. Balis: Did you just kept on walking for two whole days?
Mr. Rozzi: Well, no, not two entire days. I just walked all day Thursday and then slept under the girders on the north side of the bridge Thursday night. Man, it's so fucking cold up there! Then on Friday, I walked back into The City and over into Golden Gate Park and the beach. It was so nice that day. Then there was the woman who lost her dog. I was thinking, "What's this about?" Everyone was losing something, including me. By the time I got back Friday night, visiting hours were over. Since I'm not family--by blood at least--they didn't let me in. But the nurse did tell me that he was doing better and was going home the next day.
Dr. Balis: That's good. I'm still a bit worried, though. Has this kind of thing ever happened to you before? Have you ever spaced out like this before?
Mr. Rozzi: Hell, I wasn't spaced out. Jeez, you're making me sound like a drug addict or something. No, I get like this when I need to think. Walking helps me sort things out. I just lose track of time, that's all.
Dr. Balis: So you were aware of your surroundings the entire time?
Mr. Rozzi: Of course! What's wrong with you? Is there something wrong with walking around to process things in my head?
Dr. Balis: Not in the least. But I think what you experienced was a fugue stage.
Mr. Rozzi: Huh? A what?
Dr. Balis: A fugue stage. It can be described very much like what you explained happened to you on your walk--being sort of out of it or spacey, perhaps losing track of time--like sleep walking, you said. Some people describe it as a loss of consciousness while maintaining body functionality. One patient I had called it "losing time."
Mr. Rozzi: Hmm, I don't know. I guess you can say that I was that. I was fugued-up! Yeah, that's it: fugued-up. I'm a little mother-fugue-er. How's that? That word is too funny. Fugue.
Dr. Balis: Very funny, Alex. But this can be a very serious condition. This sort of dissociative state can be dangerous. Remember you said that you were lucky not to have been hit by a car. So please, try to think back. Has this sort of thing happened to you before?
Mr. Rozzi: Look. Don't overreact here, okay? It has happened before, but it doesn't really trip me out or anything. It's just something I do. My feet and ankles never hurt that way before, because I usually don't walk around in my motorcycle boots. Satisfied?
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Okay, let's talk about what was on your mind while you were out walking.
Mr. Rozzi: Well, Ralph didn't have the flu after all. He has some kind of intestinal infection or something. It could've come from anywhere. My guess is that it's the sushi he has a propensity for. So they did some stuff to him and gave him some medications that are supposed to get rid of it. He has been feeling a lot better these past few days. But when I was walking, I thought about everything, not just Ralph. I though about Benny--the asshole. And I thought about Luke and how I don't want to lose him, too, but I might anyway. I thought about mom and this new baby thing she's doing. I guess I'm okay with it now. I mean, whatever blows her skirt up, you know? I thought about Tony; he's coming home in another week. Oh yeah, and I thought about the tenant in Ralph's little in-law unit--crazy son-of-a-bitch. I just thought about everything. I keep trying to get myself to a place where my mind feels at ease, at peace, and just okay with things and with me. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I walked past the gallery and noticed that my illustrations were taken down. They were closed then, so I went back on my second walk on Saturday and saw Jake. You know what he did? He took my work down since no one offered to buy them and put something else up instead. But before I felt myself get upset, I thought I was okay with it. Because if those sold, how would I ever top that at this point. You know?
Dr. Balis: You have a lot to think about. I hope the walk helped. But you still look tired and very tense. It even shows in your posture, have you noticed? Are you having insomnia?
Mr. Rozzi: You know, you really can stir it up, can't you? Yeah, I noticed the tension, how could I not? And yes, I'm still not sleeping. I know you're going to ask, so no--I didn't take any of those damn pills either.
Dr. Balis: Well, then I guess you also know that I think you need to get some rest. Those "damn pills" just might help you do that. How can you expect to be of any help to Ralph while you are like this?
Mr. Rozzi: I know, but...
Dr. Balis: But what?
Mr. Rozzi: It's the drug-thing again. I don't want to feel drugged.
Dr. Balis: The quazepam I prescribed is in a very small dose and shouldn't make you feel drugged. You really must get some rest. I'm not fooling around, Alex. I'm very concerned about you.
Mr. Rozzi: So don't be. You're probably going to go away, too, you know? Everyone does, eventually.
Dr. Balis: That's true. Someday I will die. But I hope that day is far far in the future. So while I can't guarantee that I'll be here for you forever, I promise that I plan to be around for a long time. There's no profit in sitting around and worrying about what horrible things the future might bring. Get out of the future, Alex, and join the present.
Mr. Rozzi: Just like that?
Dr. Balis: Yes, just like that.
Mr. Rozzi: It's just not that easy, because sometimes, it's hard to turn it off, you know? It's hard to stop my mind from running around with thoughts and ideas and stuff. When I wake up with a song stuck in my head, it's not so easy to turn it off.
Dr. Balis: Alex, from what you have been describing to me today and for the past few sessions, I believe that you might be suffering a mild form of depression.
Mr. Rozzi: I'm not depressed. That's when you're in a bad mood--crying and shit all the time. That's not me.
Dr. Balis: But the insomnia is you. The psychomotor agitation is you, and so are the running thoughts. You described these symptoms to me yourself. And these are some of the symptoms that go along with depression. In your case, the depression is affected by what's going on in your life.
Mr. Rozzi: But I'm telling you right now, Doctor, I'm not depressed. I'm just preoccupied or something.
Dr. Balis: Or something? I have a pamphlet here on depression which you might find an interesting start, but a lot of this doesn't apply to you. Why don't you look up the symptoms of mild depression in the psychology section of your local library? You might find it a very interesting read.
Mr. Rozzi: Yeah, I guess I can walk over there right now. It isn't a problem, if I walk there from here, is it?
Dr. Balis: No, Alex, it isn't a problem. I also believe that a good night's sleep might help to decrease the severity of some of your physical symptoms--edginess, tension, tiredness, the need to keep moving. If you are so very strongly against quazepam, then perhaps you should try melatonin. Melatonin is an ingredient in warm milk that helps one fall asleep. You might have heard a recommendation to drink warm milk before bed? Well, now melatonin is available in any drug store, just over the counter. You might want to pick some up downstairs.
Mr. Rozzi: Oh, all right. Ralph has been on my case about it, too. And even Katherine asked me if I was okay--she noticed I looked tired.
Dr. Balis: You talked to her?
Mr. Rozzi: Yeah. She actually apologized for breezing past me that day, and I had completely forgotten about that. I told her no problem--she hooked me up with Jake, and even though he took my work down, he's got them in his office right now. Plus, I've since met Esther, and now I'm working with Selvin. So Katherine helped to get me on the right path, and I told her how grateful I was to her. Maybe I'll do a painting for her, you know?
Dr. Balis: That would be very nice, Alex. We're out of time. Try to get some rest, and I'll see you next week.
Mr. Rozzi: Okay, I'll try. Thanks, man. I appreciate your concern for me, I really do.
Dr. Balis: I am concerned, Alex. Please take care of yourself. Until next week then? Goodbye, Alex.
Mr. Rozzi: Later, dude.
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