Another visit with LT Anders. Astraea makes some progress, even if she doesn't see it yet.
Location: RP Room 4
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1497
There's always, /always/ lots of paperwork to be done for a psychiatrist, and especially for one in the middle of a war. They have to have a clear papertrail for who to blame if someone goes nuts and blows up the ship, after all. So Kamran is contending with a stack of these forms. And he looks a little tired. But his door is open.
She'd really rather not be here. In fact, Astraea can think of half a dozen other places she'd rather be. But to keep her flight status, she has to keep up with her appointments. In her prior appointments since the first, she's been reluctant to talk. She's stared at her hands a lot. It's very clear she doesn't trust nor feel comfortable around Kamran.
But he's the only way she gets to fly.
The Scorpian appears at the door, in duty blues. She's at least without the bandaging on her hand now, though the fresh scar across her palm shows clear. The hatch is pulled closed behind her as a way of 'hello.'
Kamran looks up from his papers, and sets them aside. "Hi," he says. "Come on in." He notes the missing bandage on her hand, and indicates it with a gesture using his pen. "How's the hand?"
"It's-" Astraea looks down at her hand, flexing it a few times. She moves to sit, perching on the edge of the chair. "stiff," she finally finishes, resting both palms against her thighs. She looks to Kamran, then down at her lap.
Kamran nods. "Things that get hurt usually are at first," he says. "But in most cases they loosen up with time. So," he says. "I know that talking with me is one of your least favorite activities, but have you thought of anything you wanted to say since last time?"
"It's getting there, yes," Astraea says slowly. She rubs her palms against her legs, capping her knees with her hands. She takes in a slow breath, forcing herself to look up and to the doctor. "I... don't know. I still... think I just need to... forget about what happened somehow. I think it'd be best for me and the wing."
"Forgetting is tricky," Kamran says. "There are a lot of things we can will our bodies and minds to do, but forgetting is a hard thing to do. It's like when someone says, 'don't think about elephants.'" He smiles, as that is evidently intended as gentle humor. "I know you haven't been crazy about my approach so far, so why don't we try something different today? Instead of me asking you to report more details about what happened, let me ask you: What specifically do you think it is that keeps making you remember?"
"We forget so much else. Birthdays. Memories. There's got to be a trick to it." Just one that humanity has not yet found. Astraea lapses into quiet as Kamran continues, looking down at a point on his desk. She finally takes a slow breath. "There's... someone on th' ship who was also in th'..." Another breath. "The simulation. So whenever I see 'em, it's... it can take me back there."
"I think there were multiple people who were missing in action, yet you say that it's this one person who brings up the memories for you," Kamran observes, sitting back. "Do you think there's a reason for that?"
"No, not like that." Astraea closes her eyes, lifting one hand to rub at the bridge of her nose. "Th'... th' simulation. Th' shit they put in my head. Like... living another reality. Someone... was a part of that. But it wasn't him. It was... some version of him th' Cylons made." She leans back in the chair finally, tipping back her head to stare at the ceiling. "An' sometimes it's hard to know which was which."
"Oh, I see," Kamran says. He pulls over a notepad. "So you still feel uncertain about whether the reality you're in now is genuine? Is that why you're feeling confused regarding this person now?"
"I... I don't know." Astraea's shoulders sag slightly as she looks forward again. "They're... someone important to me an' I can't... feel normal around 'em 'cause I see them an' it takes me back to what happened. Th' way they acted in the simulation. Th'... th' Cylon voice comin' out of 'em at the end." She shudders, looking down once more. "It's... like somethin' was taken from me."
"Let's try to get even more specific," Kamran says. "Is it that you are afraid it will turn out that you are being tricked again?"
"No." Astraea is quiet for a moment as she considers. "No. Imagine if, uhm..." Another long moment to pick her words. "If you wanted somethin' with someone. A relationship. Romantic, friendship, whatever. There's, y'know... milestones. Those parts at th' beginnin' that... make th' whole, yeah? The' firsts." She draws in a slow, long breath. "In th' simulation, we were... past that. All of it. It just... felt- feels like they took that from me. Like even if I get it now, it won't be the same."
Kamran nods and makes a note. He nods. "How does that make you feel?" he prompts.
There's a long stare for Kamran and Astraea scoffs, leaning forward to put her head in her hands. "I just told you! Like I had somethin' taken from me. They captured us. Locked us in cages. Hooked us up to whatever frakkin' machine that was... An' they took somethin' important from me. Somethin' I... I was lookin' forward to achieving someday, if I was lucky." By the end, her words are just quiet. Almost despondent.
Kamran writes something down. "I want you to know that it's not that I'm not listening," he says. "But people express themselves different ways. Some people find it easy to pinpoint their emotions among things like 'sad' and 'angry,' but that comes harder to other people. And sometimes it's the situation that makes it difficult. It's okay to express yourself however makes sense, but I invite you to think about not just the cause, but the emotional effects. But to move on, you said that every relationship has these firsts. So, theoretically, do you think it's possible to experience the same milestones as 'firsts' even if you've experienced them with someone else before?"
"It doesn't... make me feel one simple thing. It's..." Astraea makes a frustrated sound into her hands. Her shoulders round a measure, but she doesn't sit up. Not yet. "I didn't experience 'em. That's th' issue. But it was like... they had happened." She goes quiet and in that quiet, it's obvious she's crying. "Frak," she says finally, voice low. "This is why I don't wanna talk. You won't get it. No one else wants to listen."
Kamran nods. "You don't have to say one thing," he says. "Or anything, necessarily." He takes a box of tissues from under his table and puts it in Astraea's reach. "I might not get it," Kamran says, "But I'm definitely here to listen. Sometimes I don't have to understand something perfectly for someone else to be able to understand their situation a little better, themselves. I'm a human being like you, right? I don't have perfect answers or perfect understanding. But you've got my ear and my attention for as long as you need."
It takes a moment or two before Astraea can grab for a tissue. At least she wasn't well into the ugly crying. Just a mix of grief and tears of frustration. She sniffles some. "I don't want to talk about it. To you. To... anyone. Th' one person I thought mebbe I could said they couldn't handle hearin' it. Kinda... says a lot, y'know?" She presses an edge of a tissue to one eye, trying to stem the renewal of tears. "I just don't want this life anymore, doc. I don't... want it to be like this. I want it back to how it was."
"All of our experiences shape us," Kamran says. "For better or for worse and usually, even when they are very bad experiences, in a combination of ways. But what I was about to suggest to you is that the simulation...was just a simulation. The person you were at this special point of comfort in a relationship with /wasn't/ the person who is on this ship. It was just someone who looked like him. I would suggest that, if you were in a very serious romantic relationship with someone, and then you suddenly broke up due to tragic circumstances, and then you started a relationship with that man's twin brother, then the first relationship wouldn't have undone all the first times you had to look forward to with the second man. You might look at him sometimes and remember your unhappy first relationship, but that relationship wouldn't have to replace the second one. Do you see what I'm saying?"
There's a long period of quiet after Kamran speaks and Astraea drops her hands to her lap, still clutching the tissue. "I guess," she says finally. "It just... doesn't feel that easy. It's not just... havin' lost someone an' startin' a new relationship or somethin'. Sometimes I see him an'... it's like I'm back there. In those caves. In that simulation. An' it starts.... starts th' cycle all over again. It's not just that loss, it's... they used him as a focal point for what they did in my head. An'- it's not fair to him, either."
Kamran nods gently. "You've been through a difficult experience," he says. "I know that you would rather it not be the case, but you have been wounded." He nods to her hand. "Like your hand, the wound is going to need acute care for a while and you might notice that you can't do some things the way you did them before you were wounded. But like your hand, the wound is also going to heal. It might take time, and it might take some conscious exercises on your part, just like you might do physical therapy after a physical injury. But I do think that it's unlikely that you'll remain at this level of distress forever." He folds his hands. "For a while, it will probably be very necessary for you to remind yourself consciously that he is not the person that you encountered in this simulation, and that the Cylons have not changed him. What you experienced was very deceptive and invasive, and of course the pain you feel from it is very, very real. But the content of the simulation wasn't any more real than the content of a vivid dream."
Gathering the tissue into one hand, Astraea drives her fist against her thigh a few times. It's a gesture made of frustration. She's quiet for a while; unable to find the words to respond. She finally shakes her head a bit, slumping back into the chair. "I... I guess. But with a... with a normal injury, I can see progress. I know where I'm supposed to be, y'know? I have no idea with this." Her shoulders slump downward again as she exhales slowly. "What if I don't get better?"
"That's a challenge," Kamran agrees. "And I'm afraid you will have to learn how to live with a certain degree of uncertainty, but I'm also here as an outside resource to give you a second opinion when you need it." At the last question, he leans his elbows on the table. "That's a hard question for any doctor to answer, whether it's someone asking about if their legs are going to heal or if their mental state is. Sometimes progress can slow or stall in psychological recovery, and in those cases, patients adapt to whatever their new normal is, just like people adapt if they lose some hearing or if they lose a finger. However, the good news is that if I thought you wouldn't recover, I wouldn't have cleared you for flight in the first place. I believe that you want to get better and I think that over time you will. I don't think that your responses are even unreasonable or excessive, given what you've been through."
"You don't think I've become some... sorta sympathizer?" Astraea looks up at Kamran, uncertainty in her mien. "Someone told me that... y'might think they'd turned me. Or... or even that I'm too frakked up to fly." Though he's proven the latter isn't true. Still, there's concern to her words. "I'm not, y'know. I... frak, if it were possible, I hate them more now. That's... that's not why I wanna forget. I just wanna feel normal again. Not... broken."
"I don't think that's the case," Kamran says, smiling. "Should I?" He shakes his head a little. "I can understand who you might feel. But I would suggest a different metaphor. I don't think you're broken. But war comes with wounds. I think you're wounded, and I think you'll get better. What do you think?"
At his first question, Astraea gives a mute shake of her head. She lets out a long sigh after a moment. "I hope so," she says finally, fingers curling into the fabric of her slacks. "I... really do, but I'm scared I ain't just wounded. I'm scared that I'm... stuck with this."
Kamran nods softly. "It's normal to be scared," he says. "What happened to you isn't going to disappear, but it doesn't have to control your life."
There's a sudden laugh. It's more of a scoff, than anything, but laughter comes into it. Not the laughter born of mirth, but born of a touch of despair. Astraea shakes her head, "How could it not control my life? It's in my head. In my dreams. An' everyone I know sees it in me. I feel like I'm... outside of everythin'. Of course it controls my life."
Kamran makes another note. "Not forever," he says. "You'll realize that people get wrapped up in short-term things and they'll stop thinking about it as often, you'll realize that you will gain some control over your thought processes, and time will do some healing, too. I know it might seem impossibly distant, but a lot of people feel that way when they first come to see me about a lot of things."
"But how much time?" Astraea sniffs a bit again, uncomfortable. "I... I mean, I know ya can't tell me, but- how much time? How long am I stuck like this? Weeks? Months? Years?" She shudders a bit, looking down to her hands once more. "I can't imagine spendin' th' whole war feelin' this way. Or... or th' rest of my life if I die in the line of duty."
Kamran smiles apologetically. "Don't think of it as stuck," he suggests. "If you're on a ship at sea--or in space, for that matter--you might see nothing different around you from minute to minute or day to day, but that doesn't mean you're not traveling."
The pilot snorts, leaning forward to finally lean and drop her tissue into the small trashbin nearby. "I don't think this, that I'm dealin' with, is th' same as a ship sailin' along, doc." Astraea slumps back into the chair. "Unless mebbe I've got a broken rudder or somethin' an' am stuck goin' in circles. 'Cause it feels like that's all I'm doin'. I don't feel like I'm goin' forward at all."
Kamran tilts his head a little. "You've only been back a short time," he says. "I think you might have to expect a recovery time of more than a couple of weeks."
"My hand was better after a couple of weeks," Astraea points out, unhelpfully. Well- she looks down at it. "Mostly better." The woman swallows, shrugging helplessly. "I just wish I knew... how long it'd be. What milestones there were. What I could do other than just... wait."
"Well, what you'll be doing is continuing to see me here," Kamran says. "And we'll talk. And we'll see how you're doing. And I'll try to remind you of conscious thoughts that you can use, maybe some exercises. And those conscious thoughts will eventually help your unconscious processes, too."
"I... guess." As any other time, Astraea is reluctant for her 'treatment program' and uncertain about the success of it. "But for how long? I don't... feel like this is doin' anythin' so far. Do you?"
"Personally? I do," Kamran says. "I feel like you're at least a /little/ less resistant to talking about it all and at least thinking about some of my suggestions."
The pilot makes a thoughtful sound, lapsing back into silence. She remains that way for a time before giving a small shrug. "I don't have anyone else," Astraea finally admits. "No offense, doc, but yer not my first choice. Mebbe not my last, but... I just... don't have anyone else to talk to."
"I don't take it personally," Kamran says. "But I definitely want to see you get better and feel better as soon as possible."
"I wanna be better, too," Astraea admits quietly, pushing hands into her thighs. She's on the verge of standing. "Is that... can I go? I... I think I need some time to- I dunno, process. Or just hit th' gym an' workout for a while." Maybe a little of column a, little of column b.
"Yes," Kamran says. "Until next time, I'd like you to practice telling yourself that, even though you are entitled to feel pain, you are also entitled to take control of your life. Try telling the Cylons in your head that they're not allowed to take anything away from you. All they gave you was a very real dream. It might seem fake or hokey at first, but keep trying it whenever you feel like your past experience is preventing you from engaging fully in new experiences."
Getting to her feet, Astraea stares at Kamran for a time in the wake of his words. She manages to bite back her initial response -- hokey indeed -- to take a breath as she considers a more... level one. "I'll... try." It's not much, but it seems the extent of what she can handle. Not a lot of people can handle the 'tell yourself something until it's true' concept. She seems to definitely be a skeptic.
Kamran nods. "That's all any of us can do," he says. "And don't forget the little things you enjoy. Good food or drinks or vids or whatever. That is...if you can find any of those on this ship." He smiles.
"I think I'm waitin' for leave for any of that," Astraea admits, managing only a faint smile. It's forced, but it's there. The woman gives a final sort of nod. "I'll... see ya in a few days, I guess." And she turns for the door.
"Hope we get some soon," Kamran says as she heads out. "You're not the only one who could use it!"