We called him Dr. Julius, he was our family physician for life.
He delivered my mother’s six babies, watched us grow, made house calls. He attended every family celebration, baptisms to weddings.
He also authorized ECT treatments, saw Mom through severe depression and psychiatric hospitalization in the 1950’s.
Dad had seen the mental health “industry” at its worst with his own father. But, he trusted Dr. Julius.
So when I ran into trouble just before my 21st birthday, I knew who I had to see. I was student teaching at the time, spending weekends in my family home.
They saw the change in me.
I was stressed, overworked, sleep-deprived, most likely manic. My father was especially alarmed, he saw it in my eyes.
Dr. J. spent about 30 minutes with me that day, listened to my concerns, smiled a lot, talked me down.
Before I left, he reached behind his desk to a series of clear containers. He gave me the small green ones, about 30 of them, telling me to take one or two a day with meals, to relax.
He didn’t call them tranquilizers. I did.
There was no Rx to fill, no warning of side effects, no refills. I realized much later what he was doing.
He gave me a placebo. And a message of positivity.
He believed I could handle whatever was going on in my life with a sugar pill, and a vote of confidence.
Somehow, it worked.
I went back to my teaching assignment with renewed energy and hope. I got through the final weeks; ending that semester at the top of my class.
I never really got the chance to thank Dr. Julius.
Almost two decades later, I would be seeking another form of medication.
(To be continued….)