We made our way down the corridor, placing entry fobs to each door as we moved farther and farther away from natural light. On entering the room I was offered a seat by the table. She sat opposite and began to rummage in her voluminous handbag. Carefully she withdrew a laptop before disappearing back into the darker recesses of the bag to find the power cable. I waited as she plugged it in and connected to the network. Finally she introduced herself.
“I’ve been looking over your file and I just need to clarify a few things.”
I sat motionless waiting for the questions, the clarifications, the small details being checked again. Sure enough they came thick and fast. It was quickly apparent that actually my file hadn’t been read. At least not thoroughly. Her statements seemed a product of suggestion and skim reading. Events were conflated and confused. I was beginning to wonder where it would end. I regretted commenting about the system in earlier meetings, should I have described it as a faceless bureaucracy? Probably not.
Finally through a mixture of effrontery and cajoling I draw her out from behind the screen. She starts to write in a notebook and this is better. Long ago I developed the ability to read upside down so I begin to get a sense of what is important to her and what she records from my answers.
Then I start to push back….
“When will I next be called to a meeting?”
“Will it be of a longer duration”
“Do I need a representative”
My enquiries obviously fluster her. It’s apparent she isn’t expecting me to question her. The balance starts to shift. We start to become more equal.
“These questions you are asking me, I’ve been asked them before, many times. The answers should be in my case file.”
Guardedly she says that she needs to understand my file for herself. It’s the opening I’ve been waiting for.
“Will it be you I see next time?”
Her eyes can’t meet mine. We both know the game is up. I ask her why I need to repeat these answers to her. I count carefully on my hands to work out how many people I’ve been passed between. I work out she is the thirteenth in three years.
I’ve had enough. It doesn’t matter to me what they put on my file. I guess they will say that maybe the medication isn’t making me calmer, perhaps that I am “resistant”. I know I’m far gone when it merely amuses me that she disagrees with me having been given therapy. The very thing I’ve stated was a real help, which kept me off medication. The very thing I can’t get any more of – perhaps because my complaint to the trust is closed and I’m not a potentially embarrassing problem for them any more.
I get up to leave. The doctor says that someone will see me in three months.
It’s not even worth asking about the apparent discrepancies in my notes. Perhaps that’s how they do it. Try to get people confused about what they said at earlier meetings, misrepresent what was said. Or maybe it’s just another doctor who hasn’t got time to read the file, who hasn’t prepared properly.
I can’t tell any more.