He thinks I’m about to give him a blowjob but I’m just bending down to tie my shoe. “Can we go for a walk in the cemetery?” But he won’t go anywhere with me unless I promise we can stop at a bakery or pizza place first. On the internet I read ‘when you consume a carbohydrate that has been cooked it has the same effect on your body as white sugar’ and my heart rate increases a little and I start sweating. I’m waiting for him to finish a computer game so we can go out. He doesn’t need to play the computer game right now. My symptoms of depersonalization disorder are very strong right now. “My symptoms of depersonalization disorder are really strong right now,” I say to him. He says, “Oh.” I want him to respond more than ‘oh’ and because he isn’t responding anything more than ‘oh,’ my symptoms increase. On a self-help forum I found for depersonalization disorder, they use the abbreviation ‘dp’ instead of typing out the name in full. I start using this abbreviation when I am mentioning it in conversation. “I feel really anxious because of the dp,” I say. But he says, “Dp? Double penetration? Sorry I can’t think of anything else but double penetration when you say ‘dp.’” We finally leave the house. I watch him eat a pastry and three quarters of a pizza. We wait so long for the pizza that it’s too late to walk in the cemetery.



The therapist has a band-aid on top of his bald head. When I walk in and sit down he says, “Oh, usually the practitioner sits in the seat closest to the door in case the patient goes crazy and the practitioner has to make a quick getaway, but you don’t seem too crazy ha ha.” He says, “Tell me about your lifestyle, your work, what you do for fun. What do you do for fun?” “I don’t know,” I say. “What do you do on a Friday night?” he says. “I don’t do anything,” I say. I say I don’t have a job but I can’t think of a job I want to do anyway. “But if you did know, what would you want to do?” He says he is a former comedian, he worked as a clown in an old people’s home for years and then decided to become a psychologist.  He looks at the notes from my GP. “Oh that’s interesting, I haven’t seen that disorder for a while ha ha,” he says. “And you do writing. You’re an interesting character, I can’t quite work you out, it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.” He asks about my writing. I say I haven’t been writing, I feel too depressed to write. “Oh yeh, I get writers block too,” he says. “Hang on, I’ve got the perfect quote about this.” He goes over to his computer and starts clicking on things. “Sorry, taking a while to find it, but it will be worth it!” He finally finds the inspirational quote and reads it out and it isn’t worth it, it’s about how you are a vessel for this divine creative gift and it isn’t your place to judge the quality of the work that passes through you, it’s just your job to keep the channel open and if you can do that then it makes you better than everyone else. “What do you think about that?” he says. “I can give you a printed copy if you want, I’ve got a copy above my desk at home.” He says if I can just channel my pain into art then I’ll be ok. “Pain and suffering are very good for creativity,” he says. “Look at Kurt Cobain, he wrote all these angsty journal entries when he was a teen and then they became the basis for Nirvana songs which made him millions.”

Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle is from Auckland, New Zealand and currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of Autobiography of a Marguerite (Hue & Cry Press, 2014).

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