I am nervous. I haven’t washed my hair today because I didn’t feel like it, and my room mate even said it looked good before I mentioned not washing it.
When I reach the offices, I am disoriented for a moment. Weren’t they at the top of the stairs here? I turn around and head to another part of the building for a separate errand, and use the chance in the checkout line to look up the office’s location.
I return up the stairs and around a corner. I was close: not right at the top of the stairs, but still up the stairs.
Before heading through the closed door, where I know a secretary sits at a computer, I check the time to make sure they haven’t taken a break for lunch. I have 10 minutes until their scheduled closure.
“I’d like to make an appointment?” I say to the secretary. She looks nice. The office has crashing waves ambient noise over a set of speakers, and I lean forward on the edge of the raised desk to hear what the secretary says.
The form I fill out is printed on extra-thick, yellow cardstock. Each side has lists: one with a series of statements I need to rate as 0 to 4 on their applicability to me; the other with a series of statements with checkboxes for me to choose from. The last segment, a small number of blank lines, asks me to state any other reasons I wanted to make an appointment. The last time I filled this out, I left it blank. This time around, I know I need to be more open. I mention my family history, as well as my own, and mention my concern/hope that I’m taking preventative measures to avoid something more intense.
In the middle of my filling out these lists, another person finishes and makes an appointment. I am momentarily disoriented again, acutely hearing the ambient noise above me. I realise my layers make me too warm: chest binder, t-shirt, sweatshirt, overcoat. I remove my overcoat and finish.
I am given the option of having an appointment the day-of, but the available times are before or during my only class. I know I will be overwhelmed after my appointment, and will not want to go to a class afterward.
When I choose the next-day option and the last time slot available, I find myself putting on face: the casual banter; the smiling; the illusion that I have myself put together. Shouldn’t I be more vulnerable? Isn’t the purpose of this space to allow myself to be more vulnerable? I talk as if with a salesperson or a customer, rather than a woman sitting in an office for mental health services.
As I walk down the stairs to return home, the cold winter suddenly milder, I feel like a basket-case: anxiety, hallucinations, worthlessness, preoccupation on food. I don’t know where I’ll start talking tomorrow. I normally start with a personal history and family history.
When I reach my house, but before I climb the steps to the front door, I feel I’m going to cry. But I don’t. I have class later. My room mates are home. I’m putting on face again, and I don’t know if it benefits me.