Cormorants stood black on the harbour posts that rise from the high tide. They looked content after their early morning feed; except one that made a small splash as it dipped under the water and disappeared after a fish. The black ribbon path passed under my feet and blood circulated waking me up refreshing the pores of my skin. I’d promised myself I would make a weekend visit to the coast for an early morning run each week and I had.
It had been a hard week at work and for some reason, despite not necessarily being unhappy, on a few occasions I’d felt myself welling up a little. I’d recognised it but didn’t know why exactly. May be stress, who knows. During the week I had been sat at my desk and a calendar reminder popped up on the Screen, ‘Hospital Appointment, 15 minutes.’
‘Christ.’ I thought, ‘It can’t be today.’ I knew it was going to be in August but had I really missed checking my diary this week? ‘Shit, shit, shit’.
I dived into another room for privacy and looked up the hospital phone number on my mobile. It was a fifteen minute reminder but the chances are when I put that reminder in the calendar I’d also left time for travelling. I rang the main switchboard, unnecessary butterflies in my belly.
“Hello, can I help you?” came the bored voice of the hospital telephone operator.
“Can you put me through to Dr. Neil’s team please.”
“Mental health unit, please.”
The phone rang. “Mental health unit.”
“Hi, I think I have an appointment with Dr. Neil today. Can you tell me what time?”
The phone went straight to a ring once again.
“Hi, Dr Neil’s team.” a familiar voice. It was Carey from Dr Neil’s reception, the one that sits next to the television spurting out the usual crap from the sanctimonious Jeremy Vile.
“Hi, I think I have an appointment today with Dr Neil. Can you tell me what time if it is today?”
“What’s your date of birth, please?”
I think I was more worried about my presentation if the appointment was today, rushing up through traffic straight from work and not having a clear head on what I might need to say during this session, especially if there is a decision on a further referral.
“Not today” she said, “I’ve got you down for an appointment at one thirty next week.”
“Panic over.” I said.
I put my phone away, breathed a sigh of relief and headed to the toilets before I went out for lunch. I was stood at the wash basin when the lock on the heavy door of the cubical, that is almost a tiny room in it’s own right, clicked open. A gent walked out and stood there in his pin stripe suit and gel up slicked hair. He was from one of the other offices upstairs. I had my back to him but could read his mind through the reflection in the mirror.
He looked at the back of me, my pony tail being the only part of my head in view.
“Girl.” he must have thought.
He then looked back at the cubical in confusion and then back at me.
“Girls toilets.” was the expression.
He turned around properly and looked at the urinals and back at me.
“Mens toilets. Girl in mens toilets.”
I finished drying my hands and left. It doesn’t happen very often but if I can confuse people in my daily life then there is hope for me yet.
I got to the other end of the bay, stretched my legs, and ran back the same length again determined to increase my exercise and pace, to make progress, picturing my favourite top and those light denim shorts that I want to wear without effort. I passed another jogger coming the other way. She didn’t look at me but there was still a minute worry for a split moment; a gut feeling. It was the tiniest worry about passing. I wasn’t particularly made up for passing but then neither am I the conventional male. Certainly not with those short Adidas shorts, high pony tail and my shaved legs. In fact if there were such things as open-toe running shoes then I’d be showing true blue nail varnish and then would put to bed any confusion over gender intent. Within those milliseconds of worry came confidence. The confidence gained from counselling sessions, time with psychologist Catherine but even more so José in our exploratory psychotherapy sessions. That confidence comes back like a habit, automated and instinctual. It’s that voice of his saying I need to be who I want to be, not worrying about what other people think and not taking responsibility for what they think; any problem they have with me is their problem, not mine. It was a wonderful feeling helped by o-zone rich oxygen flowing from the surface of the tide.
Despite this enriching moment the week has been plagued by unexplained emotion. I haven’t felt sad or depressed, but for some reason I could feel myself welling up. The slow movement of oozing tears making their way up towards my eyes between my cheeks and the side of my nose and halting at the water gate held shut, like the sluice gates in the bay, by my internal sense of denial, ‘there is no need to cry today, you’re not sad. Gates must remain shut.’ This of course goes against what José has said. One beautiful thing he said in our sessions was that “sometimes you can just feel sad for no reason, and that is ok.” It’s ok to feel that way, he said and that it was ok to just feel that way. It’s good advice. Allowing sad times, or in this case emotional times, to just pass me by. Allow them them the time to go through the motions like a tropical cyclone that just needs to do its business and peter-out.
I remembered this advice eventually. Allowing myself just to recognise it and rather than furiously trying to find a reason why just to say to myself, it just is.
These little techniques, these tools to help deal with the things in life allow me to go on and find a balance in my happiness and not let any bastard grind me down. My next appointment is approaching with speed.
Until next time.