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Why So Sad?

Posted on 13 Nov 2017 @ 4:25am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D.

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Counseling Offices
Timeline: BACKPOST - before leaving for the convergence

Jayla had scheduled an appointment with the ship’s psychiatrist almost immediately upon arriving and was relieved to find that Counselor Stuart had returned. At least she wouldn't have to explain the circumstances beyond her personal experiences. That would save time for sure.

She couldn't understand why she was so sad now and why she felt so isolated. She had friends here, but she wasn't comfortable approaching them. Never in her life was she hesitant to talk to people- especially friends- but here she was, feeling awkward and like she just wanted to be alone. And yet, she was so lonely.

She made her way to Stuart's office and pressed her thumb to the chime. Perhaps the counselor could help shed some light on her issues.

"Come in," Avery called out. She wasn't expecting any visitors at the moment, but was happy for a break in setting up her office. It seems like just yesterday, she had set up her office elsewhere.

The doors parted and Jayla stepped through them. "Hey, Doctor Stuart," she said weakly. "Have you got a minute? Or maybe more like twenty?"

The counselor smiled. "For you, I have the whole day. Feel free to call me Avery. After all we've been through together, I think the least I could do is have you call me by my first name."

"Thanks, Avery," Jayla replied, settling herself into one of the comfy chairs. "I guess I don't really know what the problem is. I thought I was doing well back home with my family, but since returning to duty, I'm... I guess the word is terrified. Of having to talk to my friends."

Avery's expression reflected genuine curiosity. She wouldn't have expected such a response from Jayla. The happiest Avery had ever seen her was when she was around her friends, and in the doctor's case, everyone was practically a friend. "Tell me more. What exactly do you tell yourself that you think makes you feel so frightened?"

Jayla thought for a moment. She couldn't really put her finger on it. It was almost as if she didn't want friends. Like she was- "It's like I'm afraid of getting close," she finally said. "Like... like I'm afraid for them to get attached."

"That's an understandable fear given all the people we have lost recently," the counselor replied with a nod. "Not getting close to people won't stop bad things from happening, though. I know you know that intellectually."

"Obviously," Jayla replied almost dismissively. "But, I had no trouble talking to my family. I didn't push them away. So why my friends? It just doesn't make sense."

"You haven't seen any members of your family die recently," Avery offered softly. "Perhaps spending time with your family provides a sense of security that you can't feel right now aboard ship. It may also be that it's easier to open up to people you don't see every day in a professional capacity. You went through a personal crisis of confidence not that long ago. I wonder if that has something to do with it?"

Jayla thought about it. She supposed it was possible. All of it. All of her grandparents were gone, but that was long ago. And none of them had been her fault.

None of them had been her fault? What did that mean, exactly? Her brow wrinkled as she looked over at Avery. "I just had a thought," she said. "I don't know where it came from. And I don't know what it means. I was thinking about the fact that all my grandparents are gone and the thought crossed my mind that none of their deaths were my fault."

"Are there deaths you do blame yourself for?" Avery asked.

"Silak," answered Jayla at once. She didn't even have to think about it. "A love from the Academy. He was trying to get to me. He'd just accepted a transfer to Black Hawk- from what I've gathered, just as we were entering the nebula. He was brought into the hospital on New Bajor and I... I watched him die." She blinked and swallowed the lump that rose in her throat at the memory of him lying there, broken, and her unable to do anything to save him. "I feel really guilty about that. Like if he didn't love me, he'd still be alive."

"Have you considered the possibility that if you asked him, he wouldn't consider that being alive? I'm not saying that in a clichéd way at all," Avery added. "It doesn't sound to me a man determined that much to see his first love again would be easily persuaded to live a life without you even if it offered a life in which he'd still be alive."

Jayla supposed that was true. From what she understood about Vulcans, Silak could never have been content without her. "Trouble is... I'm not entirely sure I'd have been interested in continuing our relationship," she said finally. "I think that's what makes me feel even more guilty. He might have got to me for nothing."

"You could be right," Avery admitted, "but that doesn't mean he didn't make a choice of his own free will or that he wouldn't make the same decision again. He wanted answers for himself, and you could no more control his desires than you can control the winds of Vulcan." She paused, then added, "Take it another step further. If he had come to you for ' nothing' as you suggest, "what are you afraid that says about you?"

Jayla thought it over for a moment. It wasn't hard to figure out. "Maybe I'm not as loyal to my friends as I like to think I am," she answered in a small voice.

"And what would it mean if that were true?" Avery asked.

Blinking back tears, Jayla shook her head. "I don't know," she replied. "Maybe... maybe that I don't deserve friends?"

Now they were getting somewhere. As heartbreaking and unfair as the doctor's thought was, her honesty helped reveal the distressing thoughts fueling her depression. "I know you have identified evidence that you think reinforces that thought, but I'm wondering, can you think of any evidence that would support the idea that you deserve friends?"

Jayla didn't answer right away. She was too focused on the thought that she wasn't a good friend because she lacked the loyalty that she found so important in any relationship. She struggled to think of something- anything- to redeem herself. "I... I just want them to be happy," she replied in a small voice. "That's all I ever want for the people I love."

Stuart nodded in encouragement. "What sorts of things have you done to make your friends happy? To be as good a friend to others as others have been to you?"

Again, Jayla had to think about that one. It was trickier than she would have imagined. "I try to remember things they like," she finally replied. "And I sometimes do the things they like to do even if I don't like those same things. And I listen to them. And I don't lie to them, even if I think it will hurt them."

Avery nodded. "I would agree all of those things are true based on my own interactions with you. In the face of such evidence, might you be able to agree there is at least some evidence to suggest you deserve friends? Even if you don't believe that's 100% true, what percentage do you think is fair?"

That took far more consideration. These were, of course, all the things Jayla found important in her own friends. If she did them, too, then wouldn't that make her a good friend? But, if she wasn't as loyal as she thought, that would take it down a bit for sure. "I'm not sure," she said finally. "Eighty? Maybe eighty-five?"

Avery nodded, keeping her features impassive. "So given that percentage of 80 to 85%, keeping in mind that no one is perfect, is it fair to say you don't deserve friends?"

"Well, when you put it that way..." Jayla replied with a wry grin. "I guess it's kinda silly, isn't it?"

Avery smiled. "I wouldn't call you or your thoughts silly. Just not realistic or fair to my good friend Jayla."

That brought a smile to Jayla's face. "I'll attempt to corral my thoughts," she replied. "Any exercises to help me do that?"

Avery considered the question for a moment. "Admittedly, this takes practice, but when thoughts come into your head that make you feel negatively about yourself, the best way to challenge them, is to ask yourself what evidence do you have that what you're thinking is absolutely 100% true. It's not really about what feels true in the moment, but what actually is true based on facts. In addition, ask yourself what evidence you have that suggests the opposite of what you're thinking is 100% true. If you can come up with just as much evidence to counter what you're telling yourself, then, just like we did, the question becomes why you would choose to focus on a thought that is hurtful and just as likely untrue in this moment. I know it's hard to think outside of yourself, but sometimes it helps to think about what a best friend would say to you if you were sharing your thoughts. You can also think about what you would say to someone if they were telling you about their own negative thoughts. It's easier to be more objective when we're talking about other people than it is to talk about ourselves, and more often than not, it's helpful to take a step back and try to consider the situation outside of your own emotion."

"Sort of like we just did," replied Jayla with a nod. "I think I can do that." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm feeling better already. Thank you!"

"You're most welcome," Avery replied, smiling herself and finding Jayla's smile especially infectious. Shall we meet again in a week to discuss your progress?"

Nodding, Jayla stood. "That sounds good," she said. "Thank you so much! I can't even describe to you how much better I feel now. I'm sure I'll make much quicker progress now." And with a much lighter heart, Jayla headed out of the counselor's office.

 

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