A Little Bit of Advice by Emily Polvado
“Bea. You should talk to someone…I meant someone who can help you…I’m just saying I think you need to tell someone who doesn’t have boy band posters in their locker.”
-Elizabeth Winters, Volume Eleven
Beatrice sat in a chair, looking around the small waiting room of the psychiatrist’s office. The room itself was in a hallway, all a part of the same building, and all the doors looked like on the outside, so it took her and her mother a while to find the right door to see the doctor in question. Dr. Ostreicher was the man Beatrice was to see to help her with her dreams, or her “manifestations of anxiety” as her mother called them. She and her mother sat across from each other. Her mother was reading an outdated issue of Home & Garden with the address conspicuously cut out. Romantic era Compositions played through the small area, giving background music to Beatrice’s musing. She could hear the small growls of the black standard poodle kept behind the secretary’s desk, which she couldn’t help but think strange because one doesn’t usually associate animals with waiting rooms. Either way, Beatrice’s eyes kept lingering towards the door behind the secretary, the door which lead to the doctor, and which also lead to quite possibly the future of her dreamtime adventures.
Her mother was recommended to this particular man from a friend of a friend, whose child saw him and had actually turned out quite well. Beatrice had to agree, as she also knew these people, and the boy in question had actually become less of a socially awkward loser than before – he still was one, however. The doctor was quite effective in turning people around, both with therapy and drugs – which Mrs. Whaley believed her daughter needed.
Finally, after what felt like hours, Dr. Ostreicher opened his door, and walked through the hall towards Beatrice. The man looked older than the hills, with white hair and past skin, with a slight hunchback.
“Hello, Beatrice,” he said in a quiet voice. He offered his hand to Beatrice which she took. She followed him to his room, and sat on a velvet chair opposite him. The room was white, and next to the door was a large, brown armoire, full of what Bea had no idea. Next to her chair was a velvet sofa, and across from her and next to the doctor’s chair was a carved writing desk with a painting above it. An open window blew air into her face, and gave a warm sunlight to the room. They sat in silence for a moment when the doctor started to ask Beatrice questions.
“How are you?” He asked.
It was a simple question. Not too bad, Beatrice thought. At least he’s not going to ask me about my dreams just yet.
“I’m fine,” she replied, nodding her head and smiling to emphasize her words.
Dr. Ostreicher wrote on his pad, having a blank look on his face.
“How is school?”
“It’s going as well as it can,” Bea replied. “I’m starring in Romeo and Juliet, and my schoolwork isn’t too taxing.”
“How about your relationships with your family and friends, how are they going?”
“Well, my friends and I get along very well together, and we’re pretty close knit.” Beatrice paused, thinking about what to say about her family. “I used to be quite close with my parents, but…we’ve sort of drifted away, you know? I mean, I’m still a little close with my dad, but my mom and I are complete opposites at times.”
As she spoke, the doctor kept scribbling notes, looking down at his notepad. He looked up, locking eyes with Beatrice.
“So, your mother tells me you’ve been having strange dreams. Is this true?”
His hands folded on his lap, he kept his vision on Beatrice’s face, patiently waiting for an answer.
“…Yes, you’ve heard right – I have been having strange dreams. It started a while ago, in September, all of a sudden. One night I sleep soundly, and the next I dream I’m kissing an 18th century redcoat.” Beatrice gave out a long sigh, letting out all her tension that she had been feeling for so long. She felt at ease now that she could finally tell another, objective person her story.
“What’s strange is that my dreams are like episodes – each one picks up right where the last one left off. I…seem to have a life back there, too – everything is so alive, people know me, I know them…it doesn’t feel like a dream.”
As Beatrice spoke about her experiences, Dr. Ostreicher was writing furiously that Beatrice could hear his pencil hitting against the paper. “Does your family have a history of mental or neurological illness?”
“Uh, I don’t think so, no, not that I’m aware of,” Beatrice answered.
The two sat in silence, with the doctor writing and muttering to himself, and Beatrice worrying over what was to become of her. What would happen if the man declared her insane? What if she was indeed insane? The doctor looked at her intently, switching his vision between his patient and his notes, and said, “I don’t think you’re crazy. In fact, you sound very calm and collected. However, I must say that what you are experiencing is nothing at all what I’ve ever seen before, or have ever heard of. Frankly, I simply don’t have the type of expertise to treat you. Besides, nothing even remotely sounding like your case has ever been reported, not counting schizophrenics – but their dreams are nothing like yours.”
“So….now that I’m officially not crazy, what happens now?”
“Well, I could give you some antipsychotics to help with your dreams. Risperdal is quite effective in stopping dreams such as yours, and of course I’ll have to refer you to a neurologist so you can get mRIs, CAT scans, and a whole bunch of other stuff to see what’s up with your brain-“
“I actually want my dreams,” Beatrice interrupted. “I mean, I don’t want them to stop.”
“You don’t? I would think that these dreams have been causing you so much anxiety you would want them to stop.” Dr. Ostreicher looked at her in bewilderment.
“Well, it’s hard to explain. I know they make my life a whole lot more complicated, but at the same time I enjoy them. I know it’s weird to think about, but it’s true. Besides, wouldn’t you want me to continue to have them in order to better understand what’s going on in my head? I mean, it would be quite the discovery.” Beatrice hoped that this suggestion would allow her to not be medicated and still have her nightly adventures.
“I do agree you need to see a neurologist – that is imperative. I suppose that putting you on medication would have a negative effect on the study of your dreams, so I will be putting that off for a later date after your scans come in.” The doctor paused, thinking of what else to add. “Would you like some advice?”
“Sure, I don’t see why not.”
Dr. Ostreicher leaned toward Beatrice. “Be sure to keep everything compartmentalized – don’t mix the two together. Be sure to know that your dreams are simply dreams, and don’t give them the façade of reality. It will make your life a lot easier that way.”
“I know that. It’s just…it feels real.”
“And I don’t doubt it. But just because something feels real doesn’t make it so. Meth addicts feel bugs crawling through their skin, even though there clearly aren’t any. Keep that in mind.”
“Thanks for the advice. I’ll be sure to follow it,” Beatrice said, trying to keep her annoyance hidden in her voice. She already knew all of this. Still, she had to admire the doctor’s care for her mental wellbeing.
When Beatrice arrived home, she considered the doctor’s words. Was it possible that what she dreamed were simply dreams? They felt real, that was for certain. But how could she be certain they weren’t more than that? The whole experience was completely different than anything he had encountered anway, so what was he to say that they weren't just dreams? Even with all of these questions rolling around her mind, Beatrice certainly wasn't closer to the answers.