Brethren

“Good week?”

“Nope.”

“Me neither.”

“Oh.”

Silence in the waiting room. Six people sit on plastic chairs looking up from time to time at where a clock used to be on the wall. One person is gouching, another is wishing she was. Sometimes so do I. There are many scars on the arms of the people in the room. We try to avoid looking at them, and into each other’s eyes. Most of us are looking at mobile phones into lives that are so completely outside this hospital as to make this all seem like being taken on board a UFO.

We are the chosen few. Taken. But here we are, for good or ill.

“Done your homework?”

“Fuck that fucking homework.”

Silence. Someone nods in either approval or understanding, or maybe just so she feels more connected to the rest of us in the room. She really doesn’t have to, but perhaps she hasn’t worked out yet that we are more connected than she realises.

The windows have locks on them preventing a quick escape. To get into the building I had to press a buzzer, get viewed on a CCTV camera, then a thick re-enforced wooden door is remotely unlocked with another buzzing noise, “Come in, Ben.”

Are we that damaged? Maybe. No, not maybe: yes…yes, we are? I know that to even get on the programme we’ve been assessed as being at the apex of need and diagnosis. Psychiatrically diagnosed, Psychologically diagnosed, Personality Disorder tested… We all scored very highly. We’ve tried to die; can’t fit in; don’t function as we should; don’t think normally; see/hear things; get out of our heads from time to time. I suppose we are members of a very select club.

Someone laughs at something on their phone. She isn’t sharing it with us. She doesn’t have to, and we don’t need her to explain why. We barely know each other, but we’re bonded by horrific common experiences and mental symptoms that would make the average person do exactly what we all did to try and get rid of it all. In that respect we’re as normal as anyone out there in the sunshine. A Therapist opens the waiting room door. “All ready?”

We move into the Therapy room and sit in a circle. For two hours, in this Psychology department, in this Hospital, at this point in our lives, we have Brethren.

 

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