Mark Johansen made his way slowly up the stairs past the bakery on his way to his first outpatient session with Doctor Samantha Louis since his psychotic break several weeks before.
God, it smelled good. Lately he’d had challenges controlling his eating and coming here certainly wasn’t going to help. Maybe it was the medication.
It had been a rough year since Janice left him. He’d been depressed. He’d started drinking. Then it was the cocaine. It seemed to help elevate his mood. When using, he felt like he was almost back to his normal self, the charismatic CEO of Johatchen Software.
But as he now recognized, what he thought were brilliant new presentations were just rants. What he believed to be his renewed enthusiasm for his work was perceived by his team as mania. When he thought he was bringing them closer, he was driving them away. And then Janice appeared.
At first it seemed normal, he’d see a woman on the street and would mistake her for Janice. Then she showed up at work. At least he thought she was there. Every day he’d see her in the break room sipping coffee. But it wasn’t her and what was really scary was that it wasn’t anyone else either. No one saw her. He tried to pass off his questions about the woman at the table as just a joke, but unbeknownst to him at the time, his overly intelligent team saw through him.
He did his best to ignore her appearances, but then she started following him around. She’d show up everywhere. He’d be sitting on the toilet and when he looked up, she’d be there looming over him, shaking her head in disgust.
She showed up in meetings. Just when he thought he’d gained some sense of normalcy, she’d show up and give him a dirty, disapproving look. He’d stop in mid-sentence and would stare, hoping she’d go away. His team recognized the gaps.
But it really got bad when she started talking to him. She wasn't talking to him; she was lecturing him. And it didn't stop. He became paranoid, looking around corners, and behind plants and large objects to make sure she wasn't there, plotting to leap out at inappropriate times. But she did. He'd cover his ears, but nothing he tried could drown out her criticism. He'd stop mid-sentence and run out of a meeting for no apparent reason.