Back here again. Arms folded, gaze downward, legs crossed, left foot waggling, a metronome of tension and irritation.
Quite why I can’t just go on repeat prescription is anyone’s guess, especially given the fact that I’m always made to feel like I’m wasting her precious time every time I come here.
Tick tock, swish, swish…it’s stiflingly hot in here, even by my standards and I’m always cold. The perfect breeding ground for all the little bugs and germs that are bungeeing merrily from their snotty little hosts onto me as we speak.
As if on cue, some old boy in a tartan scarf takes in a big sniff then gives one of those hideous snorting/sucking noises that is a clear indication that he has decided against taking advantage of the box of tissues on the table. He gulps and swallows.
Better in than out. URGGHH.
I very nearly heave and rush to the loo, not because I want to go, but so I can change seats without looking like a total bitch. As I re-enter the room and scan it for a likely spot, the tannoy crackles into action:
‘Sista Sertraline, Room 5, Doctor B’
Relieved, I scurry across the reception, down the corridor and knock on Room 5.
Taking a deep breath, I enter.
And there she is, young, smiley, brimming with health, chock full of good qualifications and even better intentions. The textbook product of a happy, monied, loving middle class upbringing. I return the smile as best I can, and sit down.
‘So,’ she swivels around from the computer monitor to face me ‘how are you doing?’
I know better than to engage with her on this.
She’s not having any of it.
‘So…it’s been a while since we’ve seen you, how are things on the job front? Are you working? Had any interviews?’
She knows I haven’t
‘Um, I’ve applied for a couple of jobs….’
‘That’s great! How many?’
‘Well, um, two…..’
‘…. but one I didn’t get short listed and the second, the company lost budget and had to pull the post.’
The 100 megawatt smile dims ever so slightly.
‘Uhuh, and,’ she scans her records, ‘are you receiving benefits?’
Ha, got her on that one.
She raises her head, eyes full of concern.
‘Only two applications in six months? That’s such a shame. I know that it must have been a shock to leave your last post, not matter how horrible it was there for you….’
She knows it wasn’t, it was a blessed relief.
‘….but I think it’s a shame that you are sat at home, doing nothing, and wasting your talents. You’re obviously bright and have a lot to give. Are you registered with an agency?’
Say as little as possible Sista.
‘Yes, but nothing has been appropriate so far.’
The last job they spoke to me about was in Tunbridge Wells, for a biscuit company…
‘That sounds great!’
Oh God, it’s clear I’m going to be here for the long haul.
‘The commute isn’t doable. I’d spend most of the day on the road, plus it’s a similar role to the one I’ve just left.’
‘Yes, but it’s biscuits, a totally new area?’
I’m getting irritated now.
‘I’m sorry but just the very thought of trying to hard sell one brand of custard cream over another to a bunch of hard bitten, budget driven supermarket buyers, and promise a huge percentage of growth to the head biscuit honcho in this economic climate makes me want to take your paper spike and slam it deep into my eye socket.’
Shit. She’s got me now. Love 30.
‘That’s one of your biggest problems, you know; you can only see the negative side of things.’
I cast my eyes downwards, so she can’t see the irritation and contempt no doubt brimming out of them.
‘You’re still on quite a bit of medication. Did you try halving your dose, as I suggested? Maybe then you’ll have more energy.’
I’ve got her on this one.
‘The Fear came back.’
She purses her lips
‘Have you ever thought about taking your own life?’
I smile. ‘If I had, do you think I would tell you?’
Back to the keyboard. Tippity tap.
‘So you want to stick with the 100mg?’ I don’t mention that sometimes I take more.
Tap, tap. Shift. Return.
‘Need any more beta blockers?’
‘Nope, I’m good there.’
‘Two months OK?’
‘Can we make it six?’
She pauses. My heart sinks.
Just print the prescription, bitch.
She turns and locks eyes with me. I tear mine away.
‘Look I can just keep writing out prescriptions till the cows come home and keep you medicated to the eyeballs, it’s no skin of my nose but it seems to me like you’ve just given up. And we can only help you so much, do so much for you….’
‘I have no unrealistic expectations of you whatsoever’ I reply icily, ‘I don’t ask for anything other than….’
‘I know you don’t but I don’t like to see you fester away and you’re not the only patient not to take my advice; I have stroke patients, cancer patients, I tell them what to do to improve their quality of life, but they don’t listen either, and…..’
Oh dear. I seem to be getting rather angry.
‘Maybe they don’t want to live, have you ever thought of that? Not everyone has the ideal life, support at home, a lovely normal background…..’
She starts, sensing that she’s gone too far.
‘…has it not occurred to you that I do actually want to be happy?’
‘But if you just….’
‘I’ve felt like this as long as I remember! Do you think I can just decide to change and everything will fall into place? Do you think I wouldn’t have done if for C after all of these years of seeing her?’
‘Ah yes, counselling.’
‘I seem to remember that you started CBT with us last year but stopped going after, erm, 3 sessions?’
‘And why was that?’
‘Because it wasn’t working for me. I was going through the motions.’
‘Was it the course or the therapist that you took objection to?’
If I close my eyes, I can see him now, prim, earnest and sooo young, pointing with his ruler at the whiteboard full of insultingly simplistic text book diagrams that looked like something from a CIM marketing exam, albeit significantly more patronising. He would talk me through the principles in calm, modulated don’t-upset-the-looney tones with such reverence that I’d pinball alarmingly between amusement, fury and total despair and if I hadn’t been so out of it, I would have been sorely tempted to lock horns with him and tear him to shreds. Aunty C isn’t perfect but she’s always had the good sense not to tout that patronising bullshit at me.
‘The course’ I’m not a total bitch.
‘That’s the problem, you don’t have anyone at home to intercept your feelings and then you turn them inwards, and then they……’
Blah, blah, blah…I channel Homer Simpson and tune out. There is absolutely no way I’m going back to that. No way.
After about ten minutes she stops. But she hasn’t given up.
‘I know you probably hate me for banging on about this, but you have nothing to lose from trying it again?’
She holds out a leaflet resolutely. After a moment’s hesitation, I take it.
Just. Print. The. Prescription.
She smiles. I return it. The smile, not the leaflet, alas.
‘I know that you can probably run rings around these people if you want to Sista (I cringe inwardly, but show nothing), but just try it once more. Please?’
I feel for her. I do. But she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Being book smart doesn’t even begin to cut it. But that’s not her fault.
I concur, pocket the damn thing along with my prescription and escape into the cold afternoon air.
I pass a bunch of kids in school uniform, pelting each other violently with snow, and envy them their frenzied, cruel exuberance.
I can feel the leaflet burning a hole in my pocket like some kind of contract with the devil.
Aunty C is going to laugh her ass off at this.