Hello Sir, good day.
I walked into the office and was partly exhausted by the group of patients I just had a group session with. All I wanted is to sit down in my office and read newspapers in peace, taking off of my mind previous conversations by thinking about the problems in the country. It's always interesting to look into the photos of our political stars and read the psychological disorders from their faces. Knocking on the door disturbed my peace.
- Good day Sir. Doctor? You are doctor Caslav, if I am in the right office.
- Erm. Good day to you too.
I looked up and saw a young man. He was in his early 20ies, looking at the book shelfs with my small personal library. I noticed instantly tired, not-enough-sleep face with heavy appearance. Persons radiate. You learn that in time. It is very clear when person comes in or meets with you weather they have a problem or not. His radiation was confusing. First impression.
- Come closer, sit down please. You are?
- I am Lazar. Lazar Medan. I came here by recommendation from Mrs. Sovilj. She said you will know that I was coming.
- Oh, yes. I remember.
I completely forgot about that. I know Sovilj asked me to talk to a young man who is very interesting and try to help him. Coming closer to the chair I saw his attitude. Tough, strong stand with wide shoulders, athletic with street walk. Gray Nike sportswear and white sport shoes. He sat down, put a leg above the left one. Feels comfortable. Wow. Really interesting, I thought. Beautiful face, small beard on the bottom of the chin, eyes green with blue border. The view lost, without enough sleep. Behind him, eternity. He was looking straight to my eyes. Leaning forward, he said
- I have a problem.
- How do you know you have a problem? - I said curiously.
He looked at me and tried to say something, then he hesitated, like he is thinking. Then suddenly he exploded impatiently.
- I feel like shit, I have panic attacks, I cant sleep and I have these thoughts which keep repeating non-stop in my head which I cant get rid of and they are like a synonym for some fear that I am feeling. I am observing that in my mind for a while and I feel more and more terrible. I feel like a helpless spineless creature. I have no idea what to do. I talked to my mother about it and she addressed me to look for help through Mrs Sovilj, so I am here. What the fuck is wrong with me?
I was coughing loudly and laughing for about half a minute! I could not believe what I am hearing from this young man! I stopped, then I looked at him again, started laughing again looking at the expression of his face, which observed my behavior. He never in his dreams thought that a fifty year old like me with fifteen years of practice will have such reaction to his explanation of how he feels. He calmed his view, got up saying...
- You are crazier then I am. Thank you. I am glad I entertained you. Good bye.
- Wait, wait, sit down...I will explain! - I barely put my self together to answer.
- I mean...really...
- Sit down, please. I will explain. You know, in all these years no one came to my office and told me what is bothering him so directly, especially not someone who is twenty...
- Yeah. Twenty two. That is why I was laughing. Why are you so serious for God's sake?
- What do you mean? - he came to his chair and sat down again.
- Well, I think that you took your “condition” as you said, very seriously. - I said that with my hands up in line with my head, like I always do when I talk about “problems” in someones mind.
- My condition? What are “conditions” then like? Man, I am falling apart. I don't understand anything, I can't drive a car how much I am messed up. What is happening to me? I can't explain it. And that fear, where the fear comes from?
- Well, that is something you were afraid of.
- No one scared me, I am not afraid of anything actually.
- No, that's not a fear like that.
- What kind of fear is it then?
- No kidding. So I flipped out.
- Yes. And no. That fear is you.
- Oh yes. In our practice we call it – the growing up crisis. Your problem is that you are a little bit more intelligent then the rest of the people so its a little bit more complicated. We will come to that. What do you do?
- I am my fear. Great! So I am afraid of things which are irrational and actually its me. Interesting, I must say. Nothing much, I am a student, second year. But for three weeks now I am only in this shit and I left it all behind. I broke up with my girlfriend, we were together for three and a half years because I can't control my emotions. I tried to share that with her and she rejected me brutally. That destroyed me.
- Oh. Hard. How it all began, tell me..
- Well...first time I had a bad feeling and later I realized it was a panic attack was last summer. I was going to Budva, Montenegro. Full bus of people. I never felt so bad in my life. I was sleeping and suddenly woke up. My heart was beating so fast, I thought I was gonna die. All I wanted to get out of the bus and start screaming. I was so scared, this fear and my neck was so tight...I was telling to myself calm down, calm down, kept repeating. And somehow it stopped. I thought I was loosing my mind. Then again about a month ago. Second time, after I watched Matrix movie. I went to wash my face and then the same feeling came back again. It was stronger and longer. I could not calm down. I went out for a walk and literally was saying good bye to my mind. Since then these words and thought are constantly in my mind. Repeating over and over again. They are always there, no matter what I think and I can't focus anymore. And so...worse and worse. I barely sleep.
- Yes. I understand. What do you want from it?
- To stop. I want to sleep and I want my life back. I want my job back because I love what I do, to finish my bachelors degree because I love that too and to make up with my girl. With the last one I am not so sure.
- You love her? - he was silent for about 10 sec.
- I don't know. I know nothing in this condition. Yes and no.
- It's not a condition, its a stage.
- What stage? Why it didn't happen before?
- Well, before you were not 22. What is your girl doing?
- She is a ballet dancer. Studding electrical engineering.
- Wow. Whatta combination.
- Yeah, she is very special. The whole story is very special. We met under crazy circumstances at the Herceg Novi bus stop. Spontaneously. Soon after we concluded that we live in the same building in Belgrade. For two months I tried to find her where she lives. At the end, with many coincidences, I found her through a friend of a friend. Later I realized she was looking for me too. We fell in love in a very beautiful way. There were ups and downs but we really had something special. I wish I can get that back...
- Non of the things you want back will be back in a way you expect. First, you have to put yourself together. You have a privilege to be a little smarter then the rest, so your brain kicks off the alarm when it has to change. You need to change. These words seem very strange to you now, I know. Maybe disappointing too. You think it is completely unnecessary to go through the suffering and pain you are going through, but its actually very true. Bottom line, you are a very healthy person, healthier then most I would say. You just have to become aware of that. If you decide to fight for yourself, you may become the rare group of aware people. If you decide to fall down, you will and no one will be sorry about it. It is your decision.
- I don't want to fall down. If you can fall more then this in life...
- Why are you so sad?
- Well, I have absolutely no idea! I have no reason to be. Everything went well. Even more then that. And then this shit..
- Fantastic example – I mumbled...
- Excuse me? - he asked in a street manner, curious, raising his right eyebrow..what are you talking about?
- You know well.
- You manipulated everyone nicely. Everything was set up your way. But now you can't manipulate yourself. No one can. Just like a knife cant cut itself or an eye cant see itself, you cant manipulate yourself and put things in a way its easier for you. This is why you are going through what you are going through.
- Oh really?
- And..who did I manipulate, as you say?
- Everyone, probably.
- Hmm. Well, even if I did I consider that my strength, not weakness. Man has to be strong in this world.
- True, I agree. But, aren't you a little young to think in such way? I think you are running and pissing at the same time. You are a lot more serious for your age then you should be. Therapies like this one are done with people in their fourties.
- Is that a compliment?
- Suit your self. Listen, I will give you something so you can sleep. You obviously need to sleep a lot. You have to rest. Doing any sports?
- Yeah..riding a bike. All the time.
- Good. Keep riding.
- But, it's November now. Its cold.
- Put a cap on your head.
He smiled for the first time. There is something thuggish in his smile. I knew it. The street. Kid from the street went to university. Did good. He thought its all behind him. But now it catches him and now he has to make symbiosis between these two parts because both parts are himself. But, he is a kid now and he would have no idea what I am talking about. Very early, I must admit. It just shows what potential is hidden beneath, left behind unrecognized by the system he lives in.
- I will. When should I come again?
- When you think about what I just told you and tell me about it.
- If I can even think straight...
- Listen, you are not crazy. Its a stupid people's way to say that someone is different. You are definitely different. Don't hang around much with people in this moment. Stick to the old friends who love you and family. Get some sleep. Professionally said, you are going through a stage of growing up followed by anxious depression and compulsive thoughts which are always a part of it. It will all go away, it's just a pain in the ass. It's not dangerous. Do not worry, I am here and you will not get lost.
- Thank you, doctor. It means a lot to me.
- I know. Do not worry and come when I told you to come.
- All right. See you and have a good evening.
He got up slowly, went to the door deeply focused on his thoughts about what we were talking about. He looked down, opened the door and looked at me again. Then, in the Bond's style stormed out silently, like a cat. I gained his trust and felt extremely happy about it. Immediately I phoned Mrs Sovilj and said that I will work with him and also thanked for recommendation. She said she knew I will like him. I opened his file, made bullet points about our conversation, diagnosis and which prescription I gave him for a sleeping pills. From that moment on, feeling complete and content, I sat down and took newspapers into my hands.
The day was dark, rainy and drowsy some two weeks after the first time we met and talked. I wasn't really in the mood to work that evening in late December. The dark came around 4.30PM and I had to stay in the office and complete my reports. Friday, St. Nikola celebration over the weekend, most of the staff is already home. In Serbia, half people go to celebrate St. Nikolas with their families and friends and half is hosting the mentioned one. The whole country is celebrating and feasting. I was close to the end when he showed up. When he came into the office, I've seen a completely different persona. Nice shirt, business pants and shiny shoes. Pail, with funny and strange look in his eyes.
- My respect, dear doctor!
- Hi Lazar, its good to see you again!
He sat down and he was silent for a few minutes. I was writing my final report for that day. When I finished typing he started to talk. Quietly.
- I was at the lecture of one ambassador so I am dressed up.
- I can see. You have style, you know. You seem very certain and confident when you look like that. Do you feel the same way?
- Yes. On the surface. I have a feeling that I am affecting people more seriously and they consider me more seriously.
- I was thinking about what you told me.
- Well, I told you to do so.
- Doctor, I don't know where I am. I slept enough. More then I should, I think. What you gave me really slows me down. However, I feel like I am in hell. Every hair on my head hurts me. I am afraid to stay alone because when I do I start to think about very bad things. It's like there is a dark cloud above me and as soon as I am alone, it starts to rain.
- What are you thinking about then?
- Everything. Life, people around me. I feel so empty that after a long time I started to cry again. I cry every day. I can't hold it sometimes. Everything is fucked up. Am I crazy? I don't go out, I am afraid for people to see me like that.
- ...and then you go to ambassadors lecture.
- That's different. Only in that activity I see myself and feel good.
- How come?
- I dunno. When I am active in university and what I am interested in, I feel good. Beside that, everything is sadness, misery, hell and dark. I wonder where and how I got infected by it. I still don't understand that. Fuck, I became a granddad at 22!
- No, you didn't.
- Come on? Everything hurts me. I am able to cry because of stupid soup opera. Everything hits me in the heart. Every pain of this society, every slut and whore, every kid junkie, all fucked up junkies around us, gray streets, lies, deceptions...all of this is hitting me like it's about me personally. I can't stand it anymore....
- Lazar, please talk to me about you.
- I am.
- No you are not. You are talking about what is happening to you. Tell me how you really are.
He was silenced and closed his eyes.
- Yes I am. I am a great manipulator. I am just a selfish bunch of shit who put everyone and everything together to be good for me. Everyone I know is aware of that. They are hanging out with me only because of my acuteness and their own selfish interest. Or that is how it was...I feel so bad because I was hurting people around me with my behavior. My parents, friends and her.
- Yes. I could do it all in a different way. I see that know. I should keep my mouth shut. Should not get involved into so many things. And I wanted to be a rowdy. Biggest of them all. Now I realize I snapped and I feel like a deflated balloon. There is no passion in me for anything except university and with that also I am not clear what I am doing. All I know is that I feel good when I read and study.
- What is your major?
- I didn't tell you? Geo-economy.
- Wow! What is that?
- Glad you like it. Its economic diplomacy in another words.
- Hm. Let me tell you what is a part of your problem. How in the right mind you imagined that a kid from the street becomes a diplomat? Did you really thought that you can lie to yourself just like you lied everyone around you and kept hiding your real emotions?
I hit him in the heart, directly. He looked at me with a look sharp as a sward. He frowned and his anger rushed out of him.
- Fuck you, you know! Did I had a choice!? Me from the streets? The street found me, I didn't found her! Did anyone asked me when poverty comes, when there is not enough? When I had to work since I was 13, dragging bags of beer across Ada nudist beach to sell and earn a few marks? Did anyone asked me about the international sanctions, wars, bombs and all possible dicks and shit which could have befallen on someone on this fucking planet! No! How the fuck do you think to survive and find your way in this non normal city in my age!?
He was screaming! After these words he calmed down. I saw tears in his eyes. He took a deep breath. Then he said quietly.
- You have no idea what I've been through. No idea. What I've seen and heard in this madness. As a young man I saw war, I saw it all. I've seen evil. Rapped up with a nice mass.
- I know a lot more then you think. - I said with a calm and slow voice.
- You know my ass. - he said quietly very certain in what he is saying. He stood up and walked towards the window. All of you lived just fine. Very cozy. You didn't give a fuck about anything. Now we have to return your credits.
He hurt me. He managed to hurt me and I felt my mustache moved by anger. I took a deep breath and calming myself down I realized why I took this so hard. This kid is right. No matter how hard it was, I had to admit it all to myself. Standing beside the window, Lazar was looking at the lights of the city. I walked towards him standing shoulder to shoulder looking down.
- There you go doc. That's me. Wounded street fucking animal who wants to become a diplomat. You are right.
He started to cry with the silent cry of a young man, strong man which is struggling with his emotions. He would scream so loud but his scream is muffled, wiping his nose and tears off his face.
- Doc, if I can't handle this I am good for nothing. Absolutely nothing. I cant rowdy like this. I desperately want to run away from piled up madness inside my head and become “normal”. But I can't. I just fucking can't...
- Do you honestly believe that the rules of “us normals” are different? - I tried to comfort him with the sentence which was the only true sentence I could say in this moment. No my dear, they are not. They are the same. We just ware gloves. We just learned how to act it, fake it, pretending that we know what we are doing, now, when we are allegedly, grown up. We are all just spoiled brats constantly looking for our toys back. I need to tell you something. I really want to build a friendly relationship with you based on trust. I want to help you because...
I stopped. I was not sure should I made this step nor is he ready for it. I never did it before in my practice. I never had a chance. This personality is very rare, you meet them once or never in your career. I felt excited.
- Because I believe you can make it. However, I know the road will not be easy at all. If you want to recover, you need to work on yourself as much as its needed.
- Doc, is this gonna stop?
- Only you know that. I can only help you to go through that stage and get the best out of it. What you will do depends only and exclusively on you.
- I could have never imagined that this stage can look like this. That your brain is doing something you don't want it to do.
- Well, its very usual and everyone has it in its own, personal and unique way. We will talk about your thoughts later, what they symbolize exactly, so we can develop a part of you which didn't get the chance to develop yet. This fear you feel, how is it manifested?
- In a weird way. I never felt it before. I am all spastic and feel enormously scared. The more I fight it with my rational side the worse it gets. Then I am afraid of loosing my mind. That thought is terrifying. But, then, in the next moment, I see that I am OK, that I see things in a normal way around me, that I don't see or hear imaginary things. I become aware that I am just so afraid and scared and above all, miserable. Then I feel like a caged animal. Caged, tight, depressed without any idea or sense. I call that the hell feeling.
- It actually represents state of hell.
- Yes. I felt it few times before. It's called anxious depression.
I smiled. It's like he was talking about a person and not a state of mind.
- Oh my dear boy..have you ever been to a psychologist or psychiatrist before?
- Yes, actually. My mother took me, I remember. I don't know why, though. I remember I had fears at night and nightmares. I kept coming to her bed at night. I remember clearly what the doctor from Military Hospital Academy said – she said I will be a genius or a criminal. That there is no middle for me.
- What was the name of that doctor?
- I have no idea. She was old at the time. Probably retired now.
- Oh, I know. She was my professor.
- There you go.
- Do you agree if I ask around and look at the files about you and ask if she remembers what were her impressions?
- If that's gonna help, of course!
- So, you say a genius or a criminal?
- Yes. My mum told it many times to people and to me. That is why I remember.
- You see, you are looking for your middle now. There is a lot of truth in that diagnose back then. However, somehow you found a way to have enough of having enough and all by yourself you started to search for your middle. It's completely normal that you can't do it alone. You are young and without much experience in this area and you have abundance of life experience running around these streets. You will all share that with me, OK? It will enrich me with a knowledge of the puzzle regarding the new generations like yours and to you – it will give you a perspective of what you can get out of all this and win.
- No problem. Get away doc, you tripping me big time now.
- Good. Get out of here now. Come when you feel you have to. And...yes. Get one book. I will write it down. - I turned around and went to my desk. I wrote, Awareness, Anthony de Mello. Take this book. It will help you on your journey.
- I have a lot to study..
- Lets relax that study now a bit, OK? University will not run away from you. Why don't you devote some time to develop yourself, ha?
- To devote time for myself? I am with my crazy head all the time!
- No, I don't mean that. What I mean is to start using that what's happening in your head to do something concrete and constructive.
- How is that possible? - he looked at me in a very curious way.
- Start playing with your fear. Become crazy for a while. Let people think you flipped out. Then watch their reactions. You will see, they will be very interesting.
- Are you fucking with me?
- Ha-ha, no. Not at all. I want you to face your fear of rejection by the people you care about because of “madness”. You have a perfect timing for that. You don't have to act and pretend. If you want to become a diplomat, you have to, being so fucked up as you are now, with all your demons dancing around to manipulate the situation.
- I thought I should solve my situation and not look at others reactions.
- Are we connected, hello? What did you thought? That I am going to attach you to a computer scanner with cables and wave with a magic stick, give you a drug and you will be fine? It's not how it goes, my dear. You have to work on yourself. WORK. And you do that with and among people. People heal people.
- My fathers words.
- Oh, is that right? - I said that with a smile.
- What is your old man doing?
- He is a pilot. Retired.
- No, army jet pilot.
- I knew it!
- I will explain later. How do you get along?
- We do and we don't. He has his versions of the story.
- Yes, its inherent about them. Why do you want to impress him so much?
He looked at me very strangely. I expected that.
- To impress him?
- Hmmm..I never thought of that in such way. No, I don't think I want to impress him. I want him to be happy. I think he suffered a lot in this period. We had a lot and then when crises came he had to go out on the street, to hustle, sell chocolate and cigarettes, to trade currencies. That saved us. Now he is happier because he sells music Cd's across the country. Man is a driver, it's in his blood.
- See, it takes a courage and lucidity to do that. Army pilot goes on the streets. Every congrats!
- Yes, it does. But, he is a hard man.
- How do you expect him not to be when he is ready to make such a turnaround?
- I don't know about that. All I am sure about is that I don't want to impress him. I want him to be content with what I am doing.
- And he is never content?
- Naturally, no.
- You have to stop to impress him.
- I've got a headache now. - he said silently, rubbing his eyes..
- OK. We had enough for today, more then enough. Go, get outta here. Come after the New Year holidays. Have some fun, flip out freely and stop impressing your father.
- What impressing, I still have no idea what you are talking about..
- You will understand later.
He turned around and went to the door. Stopped before coming out saying thank you. He looked me straight in the eyes.
- You are welcome, thank you too.
He was lost in a second.
I was left standing in the middle of the office surprised and stunned after our conversation. I sat down on my desk and added all relevant and important facts. I named them “Lazar's memoirs”. I went back to the window looking towards the city lights. Belgrade in cold December evening, foggy with wet streets who have a bit of reflecting light from the street lamps. Everyone is going their way, more sneaking then walking, impatient to jump into their home or café.
As Lazar was going down the street on his bike with very inappropriate speed for my taste, I had a feeling that something is happening between us and that is something I was waiting for a long time. Every psychiatrist is waiting for that, his, patient. Some of us have a few, some not a single one in entire career. Lazar appeared to me as a bingo, but there was a long way to go and I have to do my part of the job the best I can. The big question remains what is he telling me about me and why I developed so fast such dialog with him with predisposition to become a long term maturation for both of us. Inside of me I felt the feeling of heaviness and hard work ahead. When it's like that, I knew it's good from my experience. Things which are hard are always instructive.
Lazar Medan. Medan family comes from Herzegovina.
They are pie and difficult people, killing combination of emotions and ratio. Very capable. Most successful Serbs come from this area. They are not politicians, very rare in that field. Focused on po w er and business. I spent enough time in the US to realize that among the people from this part of the world they are among the richest and most successful. Lazar's combination of such genetic potential, Belgrade streets and desire for diplomacy in today's historical circumstances is a very challenging task. Bordering impossible. As I was watching him leaving and dissapear on the street horizon of a dark street I started to develop a great empathy for that young man. He is facing enormous hard work. It will be a pleasure and a great challenge observing him and his growing up.