i had a light bulb moment exactly six weeks ago. the night before, i had put in a request to an acquaintance for details of a psychologist he had spoken highly of. he had no problem helping out but the details weren’t at hand. he didn’t get back to me that night and he didn’t answer the call i put in the next morning. i do not normally act with such urgency but, on this occasion, i was a woman with a plan and had decided that, this time, i would not let any outside influences halt my progress.
conveniently, i was working from home that day. i rang the doctor. no free appointments. no surprises (said radiohead). but they do provide a drop-in service. i threw off my pyjamas and chucked on jeans and a tee. tied in-desperate-need-of-a-wash hair back and poorly disguised oil slick with headband.
and i ran. from the front door to the doc’s, i ran – no, i sprinted – only to arrive huffing and puffing at a closed surgery. phone lines open at 8.30am but the surgery doesn’t open until nine apparently. it was 8.40.
i could have just gone home. once upon a time i probably would have. promising to go back in the afternoon or next week. maybe getting around to it a few weeks later. but probably not. instead, i waited.
after a mere 20 minutes outside and another 25 in the waiting room, i was blubbering in front of my new doctor asking for a referral. she was lovely. she listened. she validated. she offered tissues and smiled knowingly. then she said i would need to return for a longer appointment so she could gage the best course of action. she didn’t have an open ‘long’ slot for two weeks. a set back, but i liked her so i booked it rather than opting for someone else (and used camelshoes as therapy in the meantime, as you may have noticed).
now, i still like my doc because she’s empathetic and pretty but i honestly have no idea why we couldn’t have covered everything in the first appointment. we seemed to go over the same ground the second time around.
then comes the referral. three numbers handwritten on a piece of scrap paper. professional.
"okay, so do i just need to mention your name when i call?"
"oh, no. you don’t need a referral. just call and tell them what you need".
well, firstly, i need a brain that doesn’t fear judgement and rejection. secondly, i need a chest that doesn’t seize up with panic for no apparent reason. thirdly, i need to know why you’ve just wasted two weeks of my life. pretty bitch.
i get home. i call phone number one. no answer. leave a message. call phone number two. no answer. leave a message. and phone number three. no answer. no message bank.
ahhh, hello? i try my hardest not to get frustrated because part of my ‘improved me’ approach is to not get so easily riled. i do a reasonable job. decide, given it’s a friday, i will give them until monday before i start stalking.
on monday afternoon, i call phone number one. no answer. leave a second message. call phone number two. no answer. leave second message. phone number three. no answer. no message bank.
wtf? these numbers are for psychotherapy services. PSYCHOTHERAPY. what if i was suicidal? i am not – not at all – but there’s every chance someone else calling is. beyond that, it would be a big step for a lot of people to make such a call in the first place. such a response would be all they needed to stop trying.
on tuesday i get through to phone number one. i bite my tongue and swallow the rant you’ve just read and explain my call. sweet as pie. probably not a four and 20 though. anyway, the psychotherapy manager isn’t in. she won’t be in until thursday. she’ll call me then.
to her credit, she did. all new clients must first book an appointment with her, i'm told. she only sees new clients on thursdays. there are no appointments available today. i have to wait a week. deep breaths, deeeep breaths.
a week later and my appointment seemed to be going fine. until…
"i am a fully qualified psychologist and manage this service. our therapists are volunteers. they are all in training and most are in post graduate studies so they certainly know what they’re doing but that is why we’re able to offer a low-cost service".
oh. my. fucking. god. i don’t know if my doctor thought i looked like a cheap skate (hair unwashed and all) but i never asked for a low-cost service. sure, i’d rather pay less than more but not at the expense of a successful outcome. in fact, i mentioned to her that i wasn’t interested in going through the low-cost public health system because of the wait so surely that was an indication of my priorities.
i was gutted. five weeks after my epiphany and i had gotten nowhere. my new psychologist is looking a little less like frasier and a little more like...
"it says here you have abandonment issues"...ahh, der
another deep breath. there’s been a whole lot of those lately. but, since it took so long just to get to this point, i decided not to be so judgemental. at least give it a chance.
my first appointment was scheduled for tomorrow. today the therapist rang. he has the mumps. the mumps? who the fuck gets the mumps? FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK. he would be lying low for two weeks. can we reschedule for june 12?
"no, i’m sorry, that’s too far away. i have waited so long already".
"i’m sorry but i cannot do anything…"
"yes, that’s fine. i understand you’re sick and appreciate that can’t be helped but i am not waiting two more weeks. i just want to get started. it’s been too long".
i call phone number two. no answer. leave a third message. phone number three. no answer. no message bank. sigh. call phone number one. speak to the manager. the qualified one.
i have an appointment for next thursday. unless sophie gets scabies.