“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.”


15 thoughts on “fragment

  1. There does not seem to be any appropriate feedback. Glad you are still here, and still writing. Love and rage crossing the miles, first to you, second to those complete idiots who set this sort of stuff in motion. Hugs, and hope that nurse has sense.

  2. It’s an awful truth that those who are most raw and vulnerable are often put in such positions of being judged. I have friends who need some help and have given up because the bureaucracy and system won. I’m proud of you for enduring. Hugs to you, dear Fiona. ox

  3. If only hugs could heal, I’d send a thousand!

    Goodness what a job. Sitting across a table playing ‘god’ with other peoples lives. I wonder if they ever understand the damage they can do?

    Hope you are tucked up and warm today, The wind here is howling and the trees are dancing like whirling dervishes, outside.

  4. it’s impossible to hold onto sometimes, but remember that you are loved and you are worth a million of people who do that. Maybe they don’t like their work, maybe that’s too kind a remark; the system wouldn’t work if there weren’t people working it. It’s too much to bear but it has to be borne. A million hugs xx

  5. It must be really nerve-racking. Every question must sound like a trick question, designed to trip you up and disqualify you from something. Best of luck with the outcome.

    1. That’s it, Nick. It doesn’t help that you’re not allowed to see what they write, unless you request it as part of a subsequent appeal. Spurs Fan was taking notes.

  6. There’s no way saying sorry can really help, but I am sorry for what you are put through, both by fate and a heartless government machine. I’ve seen the American version of this and it’s never pretty, and rarely leaves any room for dignity or quality of life. For what little it helps, know that there are people who care and wish things were different.

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