‘So,’ the doctor says, looking down at my patient health questionnaire. They call it a PHQ-9, for a snappy title. ‘Mmm…’ she muses on. ‘Still very high scores on the anxiety and the depression.’
‘Yes,’ I acknowledge. After all, I did fill in the form, and I can add up too.
‘Do you feel anything has changed in the last couple of weeks?’
‘I suppose I haven’t been eating that well.’
‘Why do you think that is?’
‘I wasn’t hungry.’
She purses her lips in what might be an attempt not to smile. ‘Are there any specific reasons for why you haven’t had much of an appetite?’
‘I’ve been oversleeping.’
She says nothing. I stare at her.
‘So I eat breakfast late.’
She continues to look. I look back.
‘And what with Shreddies being such a good source of carbohydrates, I keep hunger locked up till lunch.’ She blinks.
‘As it were’, I add.
She regards me across the corner of the desk. Our chairs face each other diagonally. The aim, I suppose, is to make it less formal. More like a “casual chat” with your manager about “how things have been going” at work. The kind of meeting where you exaggerate recklessly and smile a lot in order to get out quickly.
‘Why do you think you’ve been oversleeping?’ she asks.
Because I hate being alive, I think. ‘I guess I don’t find the day very attractive,’ I say.
‘And being awake is hard.’
‘Mmm,’ she mmms. ‘But you know, cognitive behavioural therapy is about confronting negative thoughts,’ she says.
‘Yeah. But I just get stuck in the same circle if I think about them.’
She pauses. ‘Do you think there might be a little bit of avoidance going on here?’
She makes the suggestion very gently, as if she were asking me whether I considered myself to have good personal hygiene.
‘Well, obviously.’ I say. She says nothing. ‘Yes, I agree that I am avoiding dealing with these thoughts,’ I say loudly, almost rolling my eyes but catching myself in time. After all, this is her time I’m using. ‘But I don’t have the capacity to deal with them.’
‘Do you want to keep having these thoughts?’
‘Do you want to deal with them?’
‘Not really, no.’
‘Do you think you might have to confront them in order to recover?’
‘Obviously I will at some point,’ I snap, glaring at her. ‘Otherwise my life will be like this forever. But not right now.’
‘OK,’ she says, suddenly changing tack and becoming bright and chirpy. ‘We don’t have to deal with this right now.’
I sigh, and rest my elbow on the desk.