I went back to the doctor today regarding the persistent and downright irritating cough that I developed a bit over a week ago. I have been crying ever since. We talked very little of the cough –since I cough quite often he had plenty of time to hear it – and for a while of all manner of other things. I started crying as soon as he asked about work which, I suppose, is not the reaction of a happy person. And working, as I do, in an industry not unknown to doctors he must have been just as aware as I am of the talk of my most esteemed employers. I nearly choked – with laughter – when he asked if I got a lot of – and here I can’t remember the word – aggression, hostility..? something like but not quite. And I answered yes, all the time. Because all the time I am abused and insulted and blamed for things that either have nothing to do with me or are totally beyond my control. Beyond my control yet always, always, I am given the blame and never, never is anything I do good enough. Of course, I’m not happy. Of course, I’m unwell. I know it. And he knew I knew it. I think what surprised me most is being treated like I might be an okay person, that a stranger might think me intelligent before they think me stupid. He even told me that I was a good person who deserved better. This is the opposite of what I hear dozens of times a day, it s the opposite of how I am treated by clients and by my managers.
He talked to me, this doctor of fifty years and unusual perspicacity, of his own life – doctoring was his second career – and that of his daughter who followed his footsteps in a roundabout away. He asked me my qualifications, not if I had any but what they were, and within moments had a career planned for me as the next Simon Winchester. He understood the absolute bind of having no money. It’s hard to change things when you are barely holding on to what you have and when there’s rent to pay – especially these days when rent is disproportionately large. You can know what you need to do, you can even know, to a certain extent how to do it, but there are so many things that are inescapable and they can complicate matters so that you lose sight of what could be. If only. And instead of things going your way, ever, they always seem to work against you. Nothing gets easier. And your brain starts to work against you. And then one day you’re at the doctors with a cough and you’re crying about your cough and your life and all you get is a pathology request form a handful of cortisol, and the reality of the obviousness of your misery. And the refrain echoing in your head that life is too short, too short by far, as declared by an eighty-something year old man. And you cough and cry all the way home.