Oh Yes, YOU Get A Shiny New Prescription


bella_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Oh Yes, YOU Get A Shiny New Prescription
Synopsis It's a shrink visit!
Date Sep 7, 2009

Bella Sheridan's Office

Law enforcement has its fair share of trauma victims; there's nothing quite like being in the line of fire, trying to firm up the lines between good and evil, just and unjust, when the world you inhabit is rife with shades of grey. Bella has always been content with grey areas, they permit more wiggle room, and the Company is perfect for that kind of mentality.

And this makes Bella all the more curious when she finds out an officer of the law was referred to her by none other than Senior Agent Len Denton. The psychiatrist reviews her file with great interest, in preparation for meeting with officer Harrison, and the details this uncovers only pique her curiosity. She dresses casually for the session, loose, clean khakis and a short sleeved, pale blue blouse, trusting in the comfort of informality to create an appropriate atmosphere. Her radio is left off in favor of the New Yorker, which she peruses lightly, awaiting Elisabeth's arrival.

In spite of the holiday, Elisabeth is dressed for work when she arrives. It seems sometimes that a cop's work is never done in this town — especially when you're talking an Evo cop dealing with Evo crimes. Dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a emerald-green scoop-necked T-shirt topped with a light tan blazer that clearly is only worn to cover the firearm in a shoulder holster, the blonde cop looks…. stressed. And certainly like she hasn't had much sleep recently, with blue shadows beneath her very blue eyes, which are very very wary as she steps into the office. "Dr. Sheridan? I'm Elisabeth Harrison."

Bella's smile is immediate, so practiced it's second nature. She closes her magazine without a second's thought or pause, though she keeps it grasped in her right hand. She rises to her feet and meets the cop at the entrance, extending her free hand, the left one, to shake. "You can call me Bella, if you'd like. Whatever makes you most comfortable. Thanks for coming in. I'm glad to have you here."

The off-kilter left-handed offer creates a pause, and Elisabeth opts not to touch at all. She merely smiles faintly in acknowledgement of the fact that the doctor may be trying to put her at ease. "I apologize for asking you to meet me on what is assuredly a holiday for you, at least. But… I'm afraid that I'm in a position where… I need to be functional as soon as possible."

"Oh, whoops! Sorry," Bella says, reaching over to the nearby kitchen counter and setting the magazine down. She extends her right hand this time, correcting the misstep, "Miss Manners would be mortified." A small observational tally is set off in Bella's mind, but she gives no outward sign of it. "When I take a day off, it's always a personal day. I'm glad you were willing to come in at all."

Again there is the hesitation to even touch. Liz does finally reach out for the handshake, though it's very brief contact. "Willing? Not really," she admits quietly. "Need to? That can't precisely even be argued. So, uhm…. because we both know who recommended me to this, I need to ask you a couple of questions before you … start prying into my nightmares." Elisabeth moves uncertainly through the office, putting her back to the far wall as she moves where she can see the doctor, the door, and the windows. "How much of what I say here goes into the file? And how much of my file becomes available to anyone else?"

Bella moves to her chair, standing before it and gesturing to the couch, "You can have a seat if you'd like," she says, "Of course, as I said, do whatever makes you feel more comfortable." Elisabeth's words cause Bella's brow to furrow very slightly, "Understand, whatever we do here it will not involved 'prying', not unless you clam up very tightly indeed, and even then, being forceful is never useful for either client or practitioner," ah yes, her employers, "But I can understand, given your referrer, why you might think of me that way. I am kept on retainer because of my specialty," which is to say, Evolved, "But you're coming to me as a private client under the auspices of my private practice. I'm bound by all the usual laws of doctor-patient confidentiality. What's said her, stays here. That level of privacy and safety is necessary for any real therapeutic progress to be made."

When push comes to shove, of course, this couldn't be further from the truth. But Elisabeth doesn't need to know that.

Elisabeth doesn't trust easily these days. She cannot afford to. But perhaps enough to make this kind of therapy actually work for her. She moves toward a chair and takes a seat in one facing the same direction that she was standing — where she can see every possible facet of the room. "And are you specialized enough and trained enough to handle the kinds of stress disorders I've described over the phone?" She gave the woman the basic rundown of symptoms — nightmares, panic attacks, some level of agoraphobia, severe anxiety in general, fear of the dark.

"Post traumatic stress is a daunting enemy. It reinforces itself, particularly in the cases where the sufferer is, like yourself, an officer of the law who needs to be 'functional' for the job that often is linked to the disorder itself," Bella says, taking her seat as soon as Elisabeth does, "The first thing I'm going to suggest is that you reconfigure your understanding of what you're experiencing. You're not 'non-functional', nothing is changed forever within you. You've just had an overdose of fear. Normally you experience fear or trauma and, through some sort of rationalization or ritual, you contain and disarm that fear. This time your experiences were too much, too intense, and your psyche is still trying very hard to process it all, which is what leads to your rehashing of the terrible experience, as if, after living it enough times, it can contextualize and contain your fear in the usual way. I'm here to give your psyche a little help, direct it in paths that involve less 'reliving' and more actual 'living'."

There's a faint smile at this. "Dr. Sheridan, this isn't my first trip around the PTSD block. I was on the job when the Towers fell," though she can't remember it, "and I was on the job in 2006. I lost my mother in Midtown. I know how it works. The trouble that I'm having with this is …. that it's far more personal, and professionally I'm in a position that is … somewhat precarious with this. Hence why I am not using PD shrinks. I was … off the books when this situation occurred." Somehow, it's easier for her to put all of this into words with someone not involved… and that's what she was hoping for. Her tone is cool, almost professional as she calls on previous training to even talk about this, but her body language is giving away the stress that she's under — she's wound tight, her eyes flitting around the room as if assessing the threat levels within it. "I was working on a situation involving Humanis First in my off time. And I was… taken. Held for several days. And subsequently shot in the head. So far as I can tell I'm missing….. damn near a decade of my life. And I'm … well, until I had a little help from someone to distance the memories, I was not functional. Not in any way. Though I sure did fake it a lot last week," she tells the woman quietly.

Captivity seems to be all the rage these days. Bella listens to Elisabeth, lips tugging down a little bit, an expression of thoughtfulness that admits to the awfulness of what's being described. "Tell me about the experience itself. Don't push yourself. See what you can articulate and what becomes hard to describe."

Oh good… let's just jump into the hard stuff. Elisabeth struggles immediately. "They snuck up on me," she says quietly, her eyes cutting to the window to look outside. She gets up to walk over and stand there instead of sitting, crossing her arms. "I never even heard them." She frowns slightly. "I should have heard them. I was listening… I was even enhanced listening. I should have heard them," she reiterates in a halting voice. "When I woke up… it was dark. And loud. Good thing I didn't love Bobby Darin before that," she tries to joke. Her tone absolutely falls flat.

"Was the noise being used to cause you suffering?" Bella inquires.

"I think…" There's a long pause as Liz struggles with her response. "It was more a sensory deprivation thing," she finally says, her tone slipping into 'educated discussion' tones. "It's a torture technique that the team at Quantico talked about. Blindfolding a captive, making him unaware of the passage of time, using loud music to drown out any sounds of habitation. They're methods of isolating the captive, making him focus only on the captor and his desires. The same song over and over is also a slow method of driving someone crazy — you lose track of how many times the same lyrics have played." Her voice is … low. Somewhat lost in that thought.

"I'm going to keep on asking questions about the experience. I don't want to force flashbacks or anxiety, so if you feel like you're in distress, lift your hand and tell me to stop. Until then, however, I think it'll be useful to talk about it and, particularly, how you /felt/. A debrief describes what happened to you. We're interested in what happened /within/ you," Bella's disclaimer is long, but her next question is brief, "How did it feel being down there yourself, and what did you do to cope?"

Elisabeth's chin jerks sideways a little, a flinch though she's not facing Bella. "I was … scared." Understatement of the century. "I couldn't… I was drugged, and I couldn't… my ability didn't work." Her jaw clenches. "And I was cold. All the time." What did she do to cope? Liz isn't even sure there is an answer to that. "I think at first, I … kept telling myself they'd come for me. That…. my friends would come. That … by keeping quiet, I was saving people's lives." There's a sudden flood of tears, and Elisabeth shakes her head vehemently, suddenly sweating visibly and shaking. "Failed. Miserably."

Bella leans forward just a bit, increasing their proximity but only marginally. He tone becomes lower, softer. "Take your time. When you're ready, if you can, tell me what happened next."

Shoving a shaking hand through her hair, Elisabeth turns to look toward the other woman. "'Next'?" she asks softly. "I don't know where 'next' is in this."

"You're here, in this room, with me," Bella says, looking back with a steady expression, "You got out. How did it happen? What led up to it? This is a story with an ending. I want to hear it all."

Well, that part she can grind out. "I'm told that I was there for almost three days. What happened at the end?" Elisabeth swallows hard and bites out, "They fucking blew my brains out and left me in the river." Her arms cross over herself again. "I'm told… that my friends had a tip. Found my body and took me home to bury me… only to realize I was still breathing. An Evo healer and some days later… here I stand." She glosses over it because she doesn't know what else to do with it.

"And in that time, while you were held hostage, what did they ask you? And what did you say to them?" Bella asks, aiming at the darkness between the beginning and the end.

That brings up the memories vivid. The cold. The wet. His breath in her face. And Liz flinches visibly, choking out, "They wanted… to know… where to find… Evos. Any of them." She sucks in several choppy breaths between words as the panic attack roars into being. "I wouldn't tell. I couldn't tell!" she says as she tries to catch her breath. "But he… he.. he said…" And then she can't tell Bella anything else right then. Struggling to say it out loud, no matter how much she thinks she wants to so as to deal with it, is beyond her. Even with Hokuto's intervention.

Bella can recognize the symptoms of a panic attack. She doesn't press any harder. These things can't be done too quickly. The breaking point has been found, something 'he' said. The redheaded woman's tone slips into the soothing. "It's fine. Breath deep. It's over. No more questions. We're here, right here, in this room. You are safe."

Elisabeth waves off the doctor's words, pulling herself upright and walking the length of the window without seeing a thing. "Cut. Off. My. Foot," she forces out one word at a time, fighting the panic and the tears. And then she's quiet, just the sound of her footsteps on the carpet. "It was always dark," she says between breaths, shifting gears. "I can… walk outside, but I keep expecting to just be walking along sometime and not make it where I'm going. Won't even hear the gunshot, I'm sure." It's an academic thought — one she doesn't have emotional ties to, not really. She can't be afraid of the idea of never seeing death come for her.

She pressed on of her own free will. This is not a woman who runs, Bella can tell that clearly. This is a woman who strategically withdraws, but never runs. She eases back. "Who have you told about this experience?"

Shaking her head slightly, Elisabeth says softly, "No one." Her tone is bleak. "I … a friend… lived parts of it with me. In my head. He's Evo." That's as much as she'll tell. "A couple of others … understand what it meant. They've… been through similar." She bites her lip. "I have… a lover. Who says he'll… listen. When I want to talk. But…." She hesitates. "I'm afraid. They've all been…. amazing. Even about the fact that I…. I did tell them. What they wanted. And I… got people … innocent people… killed." Her eyes flit away from the doctor, as if she doesn't want to see the woman's expression. "But I'm afraid… of what they see when they look at me. *I* wouldn't trust me… why do they?" She's honestly puzzled. And even though she understands and was even trained to identify the reactions, it's different when you live it.

"Because friendship, real friendship, always involves a leap of faith," Bella replies, folding her hands in her lap, "It creates a standard that we make ourselves live up to; that's how people make each other better." This is not going into how people often make each other worse. "Elisabeth, I don't want to press this any further today. You've made enormous strides, shown great courage. I want to see you again, so we can go further. For now, I'm going to prescribe you Xanax. Whenever you feel a panic attack coming on, or any other acute, crippling anxiety, take one pill. It should keep you in yourself enough, help make you 'functional'. But you must come back. Medication is a crutch, not a cast. It helps you get around, it doesn't heal you."

Elisabeth reaches up a trembling hand to wipe tears that she didn't even realize that she was shedding, studying wetness on her hand with a faint, bemused frown. She moves to take a tissue from one of the ubiquitous boxes scattered about the office. Frankly, she managed to talk far more than she expected to today. She impressed even herself. The meds were practically a given, and she knew it coming in. There's a brief nod. "Let me know when. I'm .. in the middle of two serial killer cases and the kidnapping of two officers. But I'll make the time." Her tone is subdued.

"Well, I'll postpone any personal days," Bella says, with a small, sympathetic smile, "And make myself at your disposal. Thank you, Elisabeth. I shall see you again soon."

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