“It’s not your pills,” Dr. Elvis said, handing my malaria pills back to me. His office was filled with flies, like everything else in India. But it was also the first place I’d been with air conditioning.

“But what else could it be?” I asked, disappointed. I was hoping so much that it was the pills, and not a psychotic break (early to mid twenties!) “I just don’t feel like myself,” I told him. “All I do is cry all the time, and feel scared, and wake up every hour panicking and whispering over my roommate’s bed that I need help.” (A staff member had finally forced me out of bed and insisted on taking me to see Elvis).

“What do you do at home?” Elvis asked.

“I’m a therapist.”

He slowly shook his head, for a very long time.

“I know,” I sighed. “I get it. I’m a therapist and I need a therapist.”

“Therapist is the worst job!” he said. “Therapist is hardest job! No wonder you go crazy!”

“But I haven’t even been thinking about therapy!”

“It doesn’t matter. I can see that it is in you. You took in all those other peoples’ problems and they have stayed in you. You have not let them come out. You have not been taking care of yourself to let them come out, and now they are coming out here in India, in depression and anxiety.”

I felt a bit defensive. I was pretty sure I HAD been taking care of myself, with Pizza Pros and dance parties and human pyramids and writing. But then again, the last two years are such a blur of crying clients and no-harm contracts and 12-hour work days that sometimes it’s hard to tell what was what.

“How much can a sponge hold?” Elvis asked.

“Uh,” I said. “Not that much?”

“That’s right,” he said. “It must come out.”

I nodded.

“You have to take better care of yourself!” he said. “You have to take time to go away and do what YOU want to do!”

“I know,” I said. “That’s why I came to India!”

“No!” he said. “You can’t do that in a foreign country! You have to be at home with the people you can talk to! You have to go sit at the mountains, or by the lake, and let it all out. Not in a foreign country with a different culture where you don’t know anybody!”


He started writing out a prescription for anti-anxiety medicaion and a letter saying its his professional opinion that I return home immediatley, in case I decide to change my flight.

“I also think I have a parasite living in my foot,” I told him. “I feel it squirming around in there at night.”

But he just shoved the letter and prescription at me. “Quit being so sensitive,” he said.