My mouth is dry and my heart jumps fast. I sit in the waiting room staring at the floor. My Mum holds my hand, offering a reassuring touch. My mind is else where though and I hardly notice. It wanders, lost in thoughts filled with panic and terror.
My name is called and I swallow a chunk of fear.
Time to get this over with then.
Tapping at the door I wish for a miracle. Anything. Just anything, so I won’t have to endure the next five minutes.
‘Come in’ he calls.
Crap. No miracles today then.
I take my seat and pick at my thumbs.
The doctor looks up.
‘How are you and what seems to be the problem’ he drones like a well rehearsed play.
Stuttering I say ‘I… I need a new sick note. An up to date one please. The DWP have stopped my benefits and they are asking for a new one whilst I appeal against their decision’.
‘You can’t have one’ the doctor simply says.
The unexpected kind that leaves your jaw hanging open and your mind baffled by such an incomprehensible answer.
The doctor must have noticed the look on my face as he answered my silent ‘why?’
‘I can not give you a new sick note because you have not been in to see me since February.’
‘But I had no reason to come in, there was no point in me wasting your time.’
‘Makes no difference I’m afraid, your meant to come in every two months.’
At this point the foggy mass of shock starts to lift, anger takes it’s place, wading in across my tide of thoughts, washing me with sharp questions and accusations. I bite my lip to hold it back, but it picks up speed turning the tide into a muddy storm of waves.
‘Since when!?’ I burst out, my voice taking on such a sharpness that I had never used outside of my own head.
Unaffected and unconcerned he answers, ‘due to your condition and the fact you are claiming benefits you should be coming in every two months for a renewal and a new sick note’.
Heat rises in my blood, crashing with the already uncontrolled waves.
‘I didn’t know this! You’ve never told me this! No one has ever told me this!’
The storm starts to ebb. Overwhelming possibilities. No sick note, no money, no way to pay the bills, no way to pay the rent. Loss. All possibilities equalling loss.
No more a storm but an unsettled sad tide washing upon the shore.
Tears begin to fill my eyes. Crushing possibilities.
‘On my repeat prescription it even says every six months. Every six months I am due for a renewal, a check up. I always come in every six months. Never every two months. There has never been a problem before. I don’t understand.’
The lapping tide wins and the tears begin to flow.
‘I’m sorry but that’s the way it is. I can not give you a sick note if you have not been to see me for 6 months. Anyway, what are you actually doing to get back into work?’
My mind is a whirlpool of thoughts.
Shock. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Shock. Anger. Fear. Sadness.
‘W… W… Wh… What?’ Is all I can manage.
The doctor stares at me blankly, waiting for my answer. My anger bubbles and boils. With no strength left to contain it all, I let go.
‘What am I doing to get back into work!? How dare you!’ I splutter. ‘Everything! Everything I possibly can! But being an agoraphobic with an anxiety disorder really does destroy any chance of a normal living! I try and I try my hardest yet the DWP, the Job Centre and people like you seem most intent on knocking me back down at any given possible chance! I’m trying my darn best to get over my anxieties and my agoraphobia but I can’t just click my heals like Dorothy bleeding Gale! Am I not the one who asked for CBT? Am I not the one who is taking medication? Are you seriously accusing me of doing nothing to get better and get back into work!?’
I didn’t care if the man was a doctor, how dare he sit there and judge me. After the three years of hell I’ve been going through and the lack of support I’ve received from the healthcare services, could anyone really blame me for snapping?
The speechless shock that I had encountered earlier was now mirrored on the doctors face.
He scrambled for a response, the cool unaffected facade faltering, ‘well… well… erm…’
There was more. Like vomit. The words, my anger, convulsing from my mouth, unwillingly. Just spewing.
‘I kept asking for help but every time I was told there was no services! Nothing near by and even if there was there wasn’t enough funding for them to help me! I tried and I’m still trying, and to be honest even that shocks me because I wake up on a daily basis and ask myself why, why am I bothering anymore, why am I even alive anymore. But to people like you I suppose that doesn’t mean a thing, all you want is results! Less people on benefits and more people in work, without even thinking about the implications it has!’
Running out of energy, collapsing in on itself, the stormy rein finally ended, my body started to shake and my drying tears welled again. I relaxed and gave in to the exhaustion, I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to go home.
With his facade back in place, he ended the appointment and said ‘OK Charlotte, it’s obvious you are not a well person, so I’m going to give you this sick note but from now on you have to come in every two months.’