There is very little myself or anyone knows about the life or even whereabouts of Dr. H today. I can only speak for ten years ago. And very little information, even from back then, explains how Dr. H became so involved in my life, friends, family, academic life, and ultimate demise. I met Dr. H in a class called Voices of Foucault. The class was a graduate seminar in Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture through the PIC department. I was banned from taking any graduate classes in the English department so I looked elsewhere for courses. I found the perfect class in the PIC department, Voices of Foucault. The class was taught by a Dr. Steven David Ross, a distinguished professor of philosophy. The course was a survey of all of Foucault’s books, lectures, and writings. After the restriction was placed on my registration file, I made my decision to go ahead and register for this class. The very first day I arrived early, and inside the classroom already, was one woman, with a Think Binghamton pin on her lapel.
By the time classes began in the Spring semester, and Voices of Foucault had begun, I was already hearing voices and extremely paranoid. When I met Dr. H for the very first time, she introduced herself to me as a student “sitting in” on one of Steven’s classes. I asked her if she meant: “auditing” which was a method of students to review coursework before a dissertation defense or to avoid academic probation in other circumstances. I introduced myself to Dr. H as an un-matriculated graduate student. Those words were enough to spark our conversation and light the trajectory for a series of bizzare circumstances for the rest of the semester and my undergraduate experience in college. The first bizzare circumstance was the conclusion of the first day of class with Dr. Ross. Dr. H and I went outside during break to smoke, and began to launch into the real reasons we discovered ourselves in the class together.
I confessed to Dr. H that I was restricted from taking graduate courses in English so I took a course one a familiar author in another department. I explained all about the staff and key players from the English department I wasn’t on good terms with including Dr. Heywood the Graduate School Director and Dr. Bartine’s the English department chair. During the same conversation, after dropping so many names and allegiances, Dr. H confessed to me she was vaguely familiar with my story because she has mutual friends with some of the faculty members of the English department. I was intrigued by this because due to a restriction on where I was allowed to be on campus, I couldn’t even physically come in as near a contact or distance to the same faculty members Dr. H was friendly with outside the context of the university.
The confession went deeper, Dr. H was not a student. She was a terminated faculty member of the School of Management. Later that night, I talked about my experience with some friends on the phone. It seemed as if my friends were very familiar with this terminated faculty member. They warned me point blank using very not so subtle language. But I wasn’t listening to anyone’s advice by this point in my illness, not my friends, and certainly not the English Department and faculty. Something made Dr. H’ advice much different than from everyone I had known previously and before I walked into the classroom that evening ten years ago. I was under the delusion, or belief, that Dr. H was a liaison from the university. I fully believed, just by the attention Dr. H gave to listening to my situation, that she was somehow in my life to help negotiate a peaceful solution and resolution to either the loitering charge I had gotten from the department or overturning the admission decision from the Spring altogether.
Dr. H witnessed first hand my decompensation. To this day, her choice of interventions used with my situation, the bizzare circumstances I would find myself later on in the semester, is what I was originally inferring at in the beginning of this article. In terms of questioning Dr. H’s rationale and asking for an explanation for her decisions and or advice given to me as the semester unfolded; well, none such questioning existed. I took what she said as fact and didn’t think twice about the validity of her suggestions. Before long, I found myself spending more and more time with Dr. H. Dinners, theatre, events on campus, and local activism projects absorbed most of our time together. Indeed, when relations in my apartment required me to make a quick exit and move out I moved in with Dr. H. Together, we lived in a large Victorian house on the other side of the city from where I had lived for the past three years. I remember observing how much additional police activity there was on this new side of town and she remarked: “how exciting!”. While I wasn’t as initially agitated in the new house as the old one, I only managed to halt or slow down the progression of the psychosis by moving into a more calm environment.
One night we went to a fine arts movie in the fine arts theatre downtown. I had only a few dollars left to my name and no plan was in place to gain more funds to continue the lifestyle I was accustomed to for so long. There was a tip jar in the theatre and a sign to tip generously because it would go to a raffle where one person would gain special housing or some sort of benefit connected to the theatre. I put all my money in the jar and wrote my name, email, and what was required to enter want turned out to be a night that exhausted all of my remaining funds. I only tipped such a large amount because I thought the theatre was creating a special fund for my problem with matriculating into a graduate program. I was deeply wrong and flamboyant with manic energy when I stepped inside to watch the movie. I was bowing up and down and waving to the audience to thank them for helping me with my problems on campus.
Another night Dr. H took me for a walk around the block after I screamed “She should be in jail!” in my house’s lobby when talking about Dr. Heywood and my ongoing issues with the department. Dr. H took me to a store that was closed. She knew the owner and we went inside to commensurate. The odd thing was, Dr. H spent most the conversation tearful, and crying. I was too disoriented to get a good read on the conversation. Instead, I was so distracted and unable to focus I already, without putting too much thought into it, resigned that the crying was her feeling sad about my situation, and no clear resolution in the near future. To this day, I don’t know why she was crying. All I knew is that it was one bizarre situation after another until I found myself at a restaurant Dr. H had a free voucher for a meal because the restaurant hadn’t had its grand opening yet and was training its staff that evening. But given I didn’t have any money, I thought the restaurant was owned by the federal government, CIA, or FBI whom were supplying me with money and a means to pay for food because I couldn’t get anymore students loans given my status with the university.
Indeed, it was one bizarre event after another. Towards the end of the semester when I had to find a job to survive without loans Dr. H connected me with a medical doctor who had some physical issues. The doctor needed yard work done outside her home and cleaning done inside. The doctor didn’t believe me when I said I took the bus to her because I didn’t have gas money. By the time I was working for the doctor, I was already taking the bus, no money for gas, and under the supervision now of a medical doctor, a doctor of strategy, my own clinical staff, and my primary care physicians. When my friends tried to tell me there was an issue with my mental health, I laughed, because I was being supervised by so many professionals whom couldn’t detect a thing wrong with me. The only thing wrong, was everything else in my life, my environment, the people around me, and the unfortunate not too mention bizarre circumstances I kept getting myself into. Making matters worse, I was also starting to feel uncomfortable and more suspicious of my home and environment, I remember distinctly saying to Dr. H:
“I think this is a halfway house…” she then replied: “which way?”.
In the end, the paper Dr. H coached me to write, Contesting Admission, was the biggest legacy of her bad advice given throughout that one spring. Dr. H watched me stay up, day, and night, and write a paper ad Infinitum for a purpose that was irrational and for a reason that wasn’t important in the grand scheme of things and could never measure up against the wasted energy and time invested in a project that could have been more effective for my purposes which was to put the spot light on the English department. Indeed, the spot light was already on me, and the paper did little to organize my thoughts or come up with a more rational and valid plan for perusing graduate school in the future. The paper’s legacy, while not wholly responsible for my loitering and arrest on campus, did play a self-soothing role in allowing me to process the charge through research, distraction, and artistic expression. This was her strategy. Dr. H was a professor of strategic management in the end.
Ultimately, she managed my friendships, my relationships with my family, and all other aspects of my personal life when I was in the hospital. My mail, while I was still living somewhat independently, was written “care of- or- C/O” Dr. H. As my relationships, ability to care for myself, and behavior all unraveled Dr. H was at the forefront of my psychotic episode. After almost knifing her tires with her own cutlery a few moments before I was taken to the hospital by the police I hid her laptop in a moving van. In the end, I was frightened, too, of my strategist. There came a time when I believed she was a spy from Belgium working with the CIA and FBI to make sure I am registered for the Witness Protection Program to escape from the abusive department. To this day, I still haven’t put all the pieces together on how Dr. H became such a major player in my life from a total stranger to becoming a total stranger again. I hear though, she is residing in a new city these days. I wonder though, how much has really changed, if I knew anything at all about her, and what she is really like without cognitive distortions to make things even more confusing.