The Other Me

The Other Me

‘The Good Doctor’

I got to the hospital, checked in, and took a seat. It was just me and a nurse in the waiting-room. The amount of people always varied in this waiting room. Being crazy must’ve been a seasonal thing. Then the nurse left, and I was alone.

I sat back.

Ran my finger down the contour of the plastic chair to the right of me.

Wondered how long I’d have to wait.

And then felt like I was shoved, only I was still sitting in the same spot. What had been shunted from me – shunted as it’d been pounded out of me by a speeding train – was all my composure, all my self-assurance, all my calm. Dread flooded me. Panic overflowed. Seethed. Tingling all over my skin, inside me, pulsing, prickling, flaring, like I might fly apart.

I had to get out of there. That was the only option. I needed to run, to flee. Everything inside me screamed, Run! and it didn’t matter where. It was terrifying to remain. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t just go. Whatever had happened, this was the reason I was here.

I needed help. But the waiting room remained empty. The damn nurse! If only she hadn’t left. I could bust into Dr Victor’s consulting room, although that would be a horrible intrusion on him and whichever patient he was seeing, but right then it seemed a perfectly reasonable option..

No, I had to hold on. I told myself to relax, told myself over and over, and sat back, thinking I just had to bide my time. Dr Victor was usually prompt, so surely it was only minutes before he came out to see me. It’d be okay. There was a settling, like I could assert some self-control. I just had to hold on, hold on, hold—

There was another blow, worse than the first. The alarm screamed inside me. The fear was unconquerable, and yet wasn’t attached to anything – wasn’t attached to a rational cause I could address, or even to an insecurity I could assure myself would be okay. It just was. It was an abyss I’d fallen into and there was nothing else – just me and this panic.

I looked around, left, right, left right, leftright, praying somebody would show up to help me. But nobody. I could go out onto the hospital promenade. There’d be somebody there. The other times I’d had these attacks – when I’d had the delusions of Arabs and wallpapering, and the episode that had mushroomed into this long-running debacle – I’d been asleep. That had cushioned the blow.

Again! and again! Like violent hooks, pummelling me, the way a boxer might batter his wearied opponent to the canvas. Pixels of light danced before my eyes as my sight dimmed – like I’d gotten up so quickly I’d made myself dizzy. But I hadn’t gotten up. I was falling – falling right through the chair, the pixels of light like quicksand closing over my head to drown me.

I shook my head. It was like waking up. The terror was still there, but I could see, and if I could see, I could hold on, although every second felt like it would be my last, like it was bringing me one step closer to the end and once a crossed that threshold, that was it, there was no coming back.

Then the door to the consulting room opened. Dr Victor escorted out a patient. They made pointless small-talk. I wanted to yell at them to hurry. They’d had their time to talk. Now, it was my time!

Finally, Dr Victor bid his patient goodbye, greeted me, and waved me in.

And like a plane out of control, I came in to crash.