College Health Center Visit

Friday, April 20, 2018

It’s 7:30 a.m., on a chilly Friday morning and Nicole wakes up to the vibrations of her phone alarm next her face. She looks at the time.

“I have thirty more minutes till I need to get ready for class. At 8, I will get up and shower and get dressed, but for now I can sleep.”

It’s 7:55 a.m., and she looks at time. She has been half asleep in a daze for the past 20 minutes wishing she hadn’t woken up at all and to not be alive. Somehow, after a few minutes, she managed to find the willpower to get out of bed and ready for the day.

“If I just get up and go to class then I’m one step closer to getting a prescription which is another step closerto not feeling so badly all the time.”

It’s 8:45 a.m., and she looks at the time again.

“Okay, I just need to get my bag and get to class by 8:50 then I won’t have to awkwardly walk into class and have everyone stare at me. I’ll be one of the first ones there like normal and everything will be okay.”

It’s 8:52 a.m., and she walks into class. The professor is not in the room yet, so she doesn’t have to awkwardly greet her. She makes her way to her chair, looking at the floor, avoiding eye contact with the few people who are there. After she sits down, she pulls out her phone to check her messages. Then she looks through her notifications and opens each one. She can’t stand having notifications on her phone otherwise it makes her anxious just seeing the notification signs on the apps. She messages her friend who was going to give her a ride to the store later to see if he still can. He says he can and asks what time. She responds that she doesn’t know yet and will text him when she finds out.

It’s 9:02 a.m., and the professor starts the class. This class is Foundations of Human Nutrition in which she is failing. She has failed the last two exams and it has made her more depressed and hates herself more because she can’t do well in this class. After 50 minutes of lecture, the class is over, and she gets to leave. She checks her notifications again and sees that her friend, Marie, who was going to go with her to the health center, has not responded to her message from earlier that day.

It’s 9:55 a.m., and she is on her way to the health center. What she believes is going to happen is that she is going to check in with the nurse then talk with the nurse practitioner about medication for her anxiety and depression. She gets to the center and is immediately taken back to talk to the nurse, Lydia. Her hands are shaking, she feels like she can’t breathe, and is thinking she would rather be dead than doing this. As Lydia is talking to Nicole about her previous use of medication, she asked how long she was on it to clarify. Nicole told her that she was taking it for about a month, but then the nurse proceeded to tell her that she was wrong and that it seemed she was only taking it for a week.

“I’m sorry, that’s just what I remember because we had to change dosages a few times, so we had to have a week for each dosage changes. I’m sorry.”

She can feel herself cowering in her mind, not wanting to argue, but still needing to make sure the information is correct. After a few minutes of the nurse reading through the notes from the last time she was here, she figured out that she was wrong, and Nicole was right in her remembering. She is relieved that she didn’t have to disagree with the nurse because that would just cause more anxiety. Lydia asks about her experience with the medication and why she stopped it. Nicole tells her that she stopped it because she was feeling even more depressed and suicidal on it. What she didn’t tell her was that when she felt this way, she had this terrifying thought that she might try to overdose on it.

After talking about the effects of the medication, the nurse gives her two sheets of paper with screenings on them for depression and anxiety. As Nicole fills the forms out, she answers completely truthfully, and sees how bad her mental health really is. The screening shows that she has severe for both. They talk for a little longer about her suicidal thoughts before Nicole goes back out into the waiting room to wait for the nurse practitioner, Pam. As she goes out into the waiting room, she sees her friend, Rachael, and goes to sit with her. Marie had come for support, as Nicole was very nervous about coming here. They sit together and wait for about forty minutes, until she can be seen. As they sit there, Nicole still has this hope that she is going to be able to get the prescription for medication that she needs to feel better in the future.

It’s 10:49 a.m., and Pam finally comes out to get Nicole. Marie has a class at eleven, so she is unable to stay for support. Nicole is taken back and waits for a minute for Pam to come back. She can feel herself getting more anxious as she has this feeling she’s not going to get the prescription. She is right in this feeling as she is told that since there is only about a week and a half left of classes, they can’t monitor her, so they can’t prescribe any medications. Nicole is relieved to hear this but is also disappointed. She is relieved because she has been feeling as if she might lose control of herself and thoughts resulting in her killing herself by overdosing. If she were to get the medication, it would be an easy way to go out. Since she was afraid that she might try to overdose, the night before, she met with her friend, Bethany, to talk about her fear of losing control with the medication, and she offered to hold on to the medication for her and give her doses when she needs them. Nicole trusts her more than most others and feels like she can tell her anything.

After hearing that she can’t get a prescription, Nicole is asked more questions about her suicidal thoughts and how serious they were getting. She was also asked multiple times what she needs and what her plan is. At this point, Nicole is so anxious about having to talk about these things that she can barely speak or breathe. She says multiple times that she doesn’t know what she needs. What she is thinking is that she is so confused about everything, and the only answer in her mind is to die and give up on life because its getting too hard to continue fighting, but she can’t articulate this to the nurse. Pam tells her that only she, Nicole, herself, knows what she needs, so she continues to ask about things and whether she will be able to make it to the end of the semester and if she’s able to get help as soon as she gets home. Again, Nicole answers with she doesn’t really know, but she might be able to.

Nicole then confesses that over the past few days she has been feeling that she might lose control and end up killing herself. Pam asks her immediately if she needs to go to the hospital to be evaluated. At this point, Nicole is so scared because she has thought about being hospitalized over the past couple of days as she doesn’t know how much longer she can control herself. She is scared because part of her feels like she needs to be hospitalized, but she knows her parents won’t be able to pay the bills if she were to go. As she is worrying about all of this, she tells Pam that she doesn’t know. Pam tells her that she should be evaluated at the Counseling Center.

At this point, Nicole is panicking, because she is so scared of what is going to happen. She knows that her counselor is not there today, so she is going to have to talk to someone else, and this is making her very nervous. Pam calls the counseling center to tell them that they have an emergency and a student who needs to be seen. Hearing this makes Nicole even more nervous. She feels so weak and helpless and doesn’t know what to do. Once Pam is done with the phone call, she turns to Nicole and asks if she can hug her. Nicole says it’s okay, and Pam tells her that she’s not alone and that things will be okay.

After this, Lydia walks Nicole over to the counseling center, to check in with Martha at the front desk. Then they go back to the counselor that Nicole will be talking with. They meet Tiffany. As they are talking, a dog comes up and stands right next to Nicole. Seeing this beautiful being is comforting and helps her to calm down a bit. She wants to pet and hug this gorgeous creature but is too nervous to because she is here to talk to someone not play with the dog. This saddens her a bit as she wishes she could just sit with this dog and pet him until she is in a more stable state of mind. Unfortunately, Nicole has to go back and talk with this stranger about things she doesn’t tell those she knows, much less a complete stranger.

 As they are being introduced to one another, Nicole feels like she is dissociating and feels unreal. She makes eye contact with the counselor and hesitantly shifts herself backwards away from her because she is scared and feels the need to flee. After Lydia and Tiffany finish their introductions, Nicole goes into the office that she and her counselor normally meet in. This is a comfort to her as she knows this room well, but it feels weird being in this office with someone who is not her counselor. As she sits there in the chair she always sits in, she listens to this tiny woman ramble about things. She can’t quite pay attention because everything feels so off and different. She is still dissociated and can’t feel anything but fear, but she sits there talking and listening to this woman who is trying to help. Once they are done talking, Nicole just feels worse about everything and feels more suicidal. She doesn’t think this emergency evaluation session did any good; if anything, it made things worse.

It’s 11:54am, and she leaves the office to go meet up with a few of her friends as she is shaking and trying to return to reality. She can barely cope with everything that happened that morning and is trying not to lose control of her thoughts of suicide, even though she feels them getting stronger. She is trying to hang on until Thursday when she can talk to her counselor about everything that has happened this morning and her thoughts over the past two weeks.

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