As if I needed this right now, Helen thought to herself as she took the phone from her secretary. First the disaster during the Sheffield case, where a key witness was shown by the plaintiff's lawyers to have a record of perjury that she hadn't known about, then Ms. Line-Davies practically assaulting the arbitrator after he gave his decision on the dispute with HardinCo. Now, just as she's finally getting a moment for some coffee and a chance to go over the Vianetti depositions, she gets yet another call from the Lawndale High about Daria.
"What is it this time, Ms. Li? Can we please get on with this, I am very busy right now you know and I can't waste time on petty things like last time." It was too bad, she thought, that it wasn't that odious English teacher this time; the tone she'd taken would have made him shrivel up and blow away, certainly. Li, however, was a tougher nut to crack.
"I assure you, Mrs. Morgendorffer, that I would not call you if this weren't a matter of serious concern. This latest action on her part, while perhaps seeming harmless, is of a very disturbing nature, and I thought that..."
"Yes, yes, I know just how concerned you try to be about your students," Helen snapped, pleased at the sarcasm she added to the words, "but please just tell me what happened."
"Very well. It seems that Daria has been making several remarks indicating that she is contemplating, uhm, harming herself. Recently she made a remark so morbid that Mr. O'Neill passed out in front of his whole class."
"I find it hard to believe that this would be the first time that he did that. Daria's sense of humor has frightened him enough times in the past, and I can't see that..."
"This is no mere joke on you daughter's part, I'm afraid. She has made remarks about death in Ms. Barch's class as well that were wholly inappropriate for a Biology class. I won't even mention what she said in History class, but let's just say that DiMartino feels jokes about the Holocaust are utterly unacceptable."
"Really? That doesn't sound like Daria. Even she would never stoop that low. Are you sure it wasn't that Jane character she's so close to?"
"Mrs. Morgendorffer, you have to open your eyes to what is going on here. Your daughter clearly has a serious psychological problem, and if you don't see to it that she receives professional help, I will be forced to take desperate measures!"
"I don't like the tone this conversation is taking. You have repeatedly belittled my ability to raise my children, while from what I've heard your school continues to impose the most pointless and dehumanizing regimen to be found outside of boot camp. All I can say is that if your teachers can't handle a little sarcasm from an intelligent girl like Daria, then they shouldn't be teaching in the first place. Good day!" She ended, shutting the phone off. "Finally. Can you bring up my e-mail for me, Marianne? I've been expecting word from Eric on that wrongful death suit, whatever that woman's name was again, he was supposed to get it to me by one..."
Despite her dismissive attitude toward Angela Li, Helen was bothered by the news for the rest of the day. True, Daria's sense of humor had always been rather dark, but this sounded like something else entirely. She hadn't noticed her getting any grimmer recently, but she was home so little lately...Had she been overlooking something?
Perhaps Daria did need some professional guidance. Even if this one problem wasn't serious, her attitude was continually disrupting familiy matters, not to mention the constant calls from school. Jake had made wonderful progress with the family therapy, but Daria never stayed for stayed for it. Perhaps some private therapy?
"Marianne, could you please call my HMO and place an appointment for my daughter to meet with one of their psychologists? Some time in the next week will do, and clear my calendar for whatever time they're meeting as well. And can you call Jake for me, I need to discuss this with him, too."
[Here's a section to be connected to the rest later...much later.]
Looking through his notes again, Dr. Long proceeded, "So, then... do you have any particular feelings towards Jewish people? Any hostility, perhaps?"
"No more than toward the rest of the human race. Where did that question come from?"
"Well, you see, according to an Anthony DiMartino - that's your history teacher, if I'm not mistaken - you made an offensive remark about the Holocaust in class at one point. I wanted to know if you may have had any reasons to feel anger towards the people who were the victims of that terrible tragedy."
"First off, it was Jane who made the remark, not me. Second, all she said was that she wondered why the Gypsy fortune tellers didn't see the SS coming to get them."
"Ah, Gypsies, yes, I see." he pauses again, and after suffling his papers a bit, continues, "You mention this 'Jane' person an awful lot, but I don't see any mention of her in anything I have here. Just how close are you and this Jane girl, Daria?"
"I just trying to understand you better. Does this 'Jane' often get mistaken for you?"
"Only by people who think they've got double vision. And are color blind. And terminally stupid."
"I see. You're almost inseperable, though, aren't you? You talk about her almost as if she were a part of you. Do you think I might be able to meet this 'Jane' some time?"
"I just was wondering what sort of person could make such a strong impression on you. You seem the sort that isn't affected by others much, and I was hoping to see the type of person who does influence your opinions."
"Uh, OK. I'll see what she says."
Dr. Long seemed for a moment to be waiting expectantly, but when Jane failed to suddenly materialize, he continued, "well, I suppose that that will have to wait for the next session. If you could ask your parents in, please?"
"Sure," Daria replied, stepping back out into the waiting room.
"Ahh, Mrs. Morgendorffer, good to see you. And Mr. Morgendorffer, too." He took off his glasses and absentmindedly began cleaning them on his sweater. "I have a few things to ask you before I tell you what I think. To start with, do you know a girl named Jane who is a friend of Daria's?"
"Yes," Helen replied, "the two are quite close. She and that brother of her's are the only friends Daria's made since we moved here."
"And you have met her in person, then, I take it?"
"Of course. She's always coming over, it seems."
"Ah. Well, then," Long answered, scrathing out a line of notes he had taken earlier, "if that is the case, I would still like to met her. It may give me some insight into Daria's behavior."
"Wait a minute, just what do you mean by that?"
"Well, Mrs. Morgendorffer, it is not uncommon for some people... otherwise normal seeming people, mind you...to try to blame their actions on a fictitious person, especially in therapy where such claims cannot be verified. Daria put the blame for several of her reported actions on this Jane person, and I was wondering if perhaps she was trying to trick me in some way."
"I'm not sure I like what your implying, here..."
"Now, now, Helen - may I call you Helen? - I am only trying to see if your daughter has been honest with me. She clearly sees these meetings as a chore, and I thought perhaps she was looking to, shall we say, pull a fast one over on me."
"All right, then. What did you find out?"
"Well, Daria is clearly a very intelligent young woman, but I am afraid that she does seem to have some emotional instability. I'll need a few more sessions to be sure, but my initial diagnosis is of low-grade clinical depression." He paused to write a slip of paper out, then proceeded, "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, Helen, but I would like to prescribe - on a trial basis - a course of antidepressants for her, and see if they have any effect."
"I'm not sure about this. Those sorts of drugs can have harmful side effects, can't they?"
"Yeah!", added Jake, finally speaking up, "Just say no!"
"Not now, dear," said Helen, "Seriously doctor, this does seem a bit extreme. While I can't say I like my daughter's attitude, turning her into some kind of chemically-controlled zombie seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater."
"Yes, of course, I know the sort of stories you may have heard. I will admit that in the past, psychopharmacuticals of this sort have often been quite overpowering in the way describe. But this is 1999, Helen, and the newer antidepressants are considerably milder and safer than those of the '70s. The only thing you should notice is a more positive outlook, I assure you."
"Very well, but only for a few weeks..."
"I would prefer a two month trial period, if you please. There is often a lag time before the effects are noticable."
"All right, then, two months. But I want to know everything there is to know about this drug, and if I see the slightest sign of it having a negative impact on her, its all over. Understood?"
"Perfectly." he handed her the slip of paper. "This is the prescription, you should be able to fill it out at the dispensary on the second floor. I'm sure that you've made the right decision."
Helen sighed. "I certainly hope so."
Outside, Daria slipped the stethoscope she'd boosted back into jacket hanging by the elevator. So, they want dope me up, huh? We'll see about that.