There is something symbolic about hair. Think of Samson and Delilah, where the hair had all the power. So I am trying to figure out what it means that mine is falling out. Every day, there are a few more whisps – I brush my hand through my hair to find it full of stray ones. Dark coils clog the shower. I have always had a very thick, glossy head of hair, so this isn’t noticeable, yet, to the outside observer. Only I can feel that my head is lighter, and see the naked white scalp visible which never was before.
I look it up, and see that this is one of the common symptoms of Concerta (1 in 10), along with a very long list of others. When I mention it to the psychiatrist (I can’t bring myself to say “my”), he is dismissive. Looks at me warily and then says something like “looks ok.” Maybe it does look ok, but I am telling you that it is not ok you fucker. In general, he is dismissive. There I am, an intelligent grown woman, and my questions are answered with grunts and mumbles. He won’t even look at me, instead he looks instead at his computer intently as if searching for the secrets of the world.
Then onto the scale for the monthly weigh-in, like a turkey, and then a band is put on my arm and he pumps pumps pumps it full of air until it squeezes, to ascertain my blood pressure. Then suddenly it deflates, pooped, the air squeezed out. My blood pressure is high (very) compared to the last time he checked. I ask, what causes this? What can I do to counter-act it? Grunt, grunt, grunt.
Piggy doctor, I am here. A breathing, living, inquisitive, cautious woman trying to make the best decisions for myself and my body. Get the fuck off your high horse and give me some information.
Being philosophical by nature, I wonder about the significance of taking Concerta which helps with finishing this PhD in exchange for my hair (how many strands do I pay per day?) Let’s leave my heart out of it for now, and just concentrate on the hair. What a deal with the devil, if there ever were one. What a pact. The thing is, I have decided it is worth it. I will give all my hairs up until there is notable unflattering baldness for a leg up in writing my PhD..
I leave the psychiatrist’s office completely demoralized (now, I realize, feeling very trampled upon). Some weeks later when I visit my psychologist, I tell him about it. Psychologist N. is a long, kind-looking man. Young (maybe my age) with short gelled hair. Today, he is wearing a brightly patterned hoodie. He confesses he had no time to prepare for our session, and fixes me with an observant eye. I have come to like him, very much. And to trust him even, this unlikely candidate for my secrets, this person I thought initially a light weight, who is actually strong enough for me. Immediately when I tell him about the psychiatrist I start crying, blurring mascara on a tissue and sniffling. N keeps quiet, as doubtless he is trained to do. And then he is amazing. He said it’s not on for a psychiatrist to not answer my questions, is affronted for me, and sorry. He sets up an appointment with another psychiatrist that I can talk to, and suddenly I feel like I’m not crazy.