“Have you ever considered self harming?”
She hadn’t expected that one.
What was a true answer? In these circumstances, what was a ‘right’ answer?
Her child, home sick from school, sat to one side; her husband the other. The questioner was a nurse, a government assessor, sitting in judgement. What was safe to say; indicating the truth of the thing, without being too explicit?
“I told you that I went to see the GP recently because things were feeling worse… That’s what I was worried about.”
The nurse paused before she resumed typing. What was she writing? Would the official report of this assessment be anything she recognised?
She fidgeted, and rocked a little the chair. Nothing made up about this anxiety. Her hands were cold, clammy. When was this going to be over?
“What stopped you?”
Divorce, miscarriage, bereavement; she’d never felt as vulnerable as government assessors made her feel. The last time, she’d cried nonstop. A gibbering idiot, uncomprehending of the mechanics of ‘systems’. There were no tears this time, just a feeling of being cut open and bleeding across the grey carpet of the anonymous building.
The Christmas lights across the street flashed with council cheer: pink, red, green, yellow, blue.
The keyboard silent, the nurse waited.
She gathered herself, and raised her head.
“The other people in the room”, she said quietly.
Meanwhile her body language screamed, “Move on, ask about something else, stop making me worse.”