“Renee Chen” I heard my name… anticipated it for a while and somehow, I was still nervous as hell to hear it. His eyes met mine and I followed him down the corridor. The white fluorescent lights and the cold, tiled floor made me feel like an alien…. an alien ready to be exposed and interrogated. His name was printed on the door: “DR MICHAEL HART.” He opened the door and gestured to me, telling me to take a seat. I chose the seat slightly further away from his desk. I looked around in his cold, sterile office and I noticed that it didn’t really look like a doctor’s office. He didn’t have images of the human anatomy on his wall. He didn’t even have his medical degree on his wall. There was a shelf, one that was filled with seemingly outdated medical textbooks, well thumbed and probably from his med school days. The floor was timber and the lights were white, but not intense. All his medical equipment, his stethoscope, otoscope, thermometer, etc were scattered across the desk. He closed the door and took his seat. With pieces of scrap paper and a pen, he mounted himself, ready and eager to take notes.
He started talking “Are you allergic to any medication?”
I replied with “none that I know of.”
“Why are you here?”
A large lump of guilt formed inside of my throat. Somehow, a mixture of fear, sadness and guilt slowly foamed as I was stuck there trembling, unsure of what to say. Thoughts of getting up and leaving crossed my mind. I sat there… letting him wait in silence, in wonder of what was wrong with me. My eyes fixated on the floor, my insides trembled with sadness and fear. My mind was screaming nasty, rude thoughts. I wanted to leave. Two awkward minutes passed. He sat there, waiting patiently, his eyes were now fixated onto me. Somehow, I pulled myself together and I muttered I few empty words.
“I think I’m depressed” my words were slow and quiet, somewhere in between a sigh and whisper. By now, I really just wanted to cry. For most of the week I’ve wanted to cry, but I never felt like I had a good enough to reason to cry. I’ve tried, I thought that some sort of emotional release would make all of this go away… the tears never fell from my eyes. It felt like the tears were escalating inside of me, waiting, wanting to be released.
He scribbled a few things down and then he started to ask me questions… his voice was gentle and quiet, matching mine… his eyes were emotionless and tired, not in a physical sense… he seemed to be tired of his job, fixing people’s problems and being around people with broken lives seemed to zap all the vigour and life out of him. His voice is concerned though… and his mind seemed to be actively processing as he scribbled notes down whilst asking questions one after the other.
“Are you having problems with your sleep?”
I think about all the early morning awakenings, the times I’d lay there for hours, counting, reading, sipping warm milk, watching trashy American sitcoms… The nightmares, the night terrors, those times I’ve woken up to find myself alive, not being chased by an axe murderer, those repetitive dreams of being raped and strangled. I mumbled a few meaningless words.
“I get insomnia, some nights I wake up real early… and normally on those nights I can’t go back to bed.”
He took it down and asked me questions, more questions. I felt tired, too tired to tell him the details, so I gave him brief summaries of everything. He wrote out a script. Medicine. Pills. Drugs. He told me that antidepressants exist, and they work and that I should take them. I questioned him, asking him how he could be so sure that I have depression – what if his diagnosis is based on my bias and subjective answers. He told me that human beings experience things subjectively, and nobody wakes up every morning, wanting to feel sad. He asked me if I could come back in a week to see how I was doing.