Waking City

Freshly washed pedestrianised zones and warm air flowing with parked delivery trucks refilling the market stalls and retail outlets. Rattly shutters go up and a feeling that I must buy a coffee as if it’s the law. A pungent smell of garlic cooked in droves drifts from the small Italian pizza cafe through the arcade. Pretty much any city you can think of wakes in this way throughout the country on any working day. There is something refreshing and new about this time of the morning. Something in the air, brisk and comforting, renewing. A new day in the city, before the start of the frenzied retail therapeutic onslaught, has some kind of optimism; and that’s something I could really do with right now.

I surround myself with the things I felt I needed to provide me with some protection while I’ve felt vulnerable like music and slowly what was a vernier shell became solidified into a way of enjoying life. But there are times when somethings have to move.

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter. It was a sort of complaint but without violins and heart strings because there was stuff to actually complain about. The phone rang while I was working from home at the dining table with my head stuck in narrow tunnel-vision of concentration. It was the associate clinical director, Alison Lawson. Things had changed more than I thought. My original psychiatrist had moved on and now it appeared Dr Churchill, the man who signed off my referral in a sort of peer reviewed way and who I had complained too was now in another position.

Alison had been passed my letter. She explained how sorry she was to hear everything I had been through and she had answered the comment in my letter, ‘no one has taken responsibility’. She had spoken to the clinic in London and I suspect used some authority and records as evidence that they had sent way back at the beginning of last year. She must have had power of persuasion that I didn’t have with the clinic as they agreed they would see me sooner than the wait until next year, two years in all, they were going to see me, ‘some time between now and October’ she said reassuringly, ‘probably sooner but at least by October.’ The blame was apparently firmly with the clinic in London.

That was fine by me. I didn’t mind waiting more months even if its already way over a year because I’ve never been in a thoughtless rush, I just don’t want to be unfairly set behind. As she promised a covering letter appeared on the door mat a few days later outlining what she had said and she did reassure me that she would be there should I need to follow this up. I still don’t have a copy of my referral letter from the hospital, that was one part of my letter that had been overlooked once again but for now that can keep. The one thing she did say which was helpful when it comes to the tension and stress this had caused was that the clinic in London would write to me within 2 weeks. Anything in writing would reduce my stress as it’s one less thing to think about and I can get back to a slower pace of thinking about my whole situation and other things like my career and where it goes next.

A week or so later I received a short letter from Dr Churchill advising me he was no longer the Clinical Director. “I am writing in response to your undated letter –” he started. He explained that he assumed I was a patient of his previous role and would forward my letter to the new clinical director. Short, concise and delegated.

Since then I had another session with the psychologist to help with my recent stress. A session that went on for well over an hour and where he signed-me-off any further sessions with the proviso I could call any time in the future should I need any help and he will try to fit me in his diary. He was happy with my progress. He shaped the session around positivity and what had happened recently that was good. After nearly eighty minutes I found myself concentrating on all the good things that were happening, all the positive steps I had made and how well I was handling these things. He had made the right choice in how we finished my last session of just two.

I briefly mentioned the lack of referral letter that I had asked the mental health unit for. I wasn’t complaining to him, he had nothing to do with it as far at that letter was concerned and I still have a copy of his findings and outlining my situation back to the psychiatrist. A beautifully written letter that made me and my situation seem, well, quite normal. A letter that made me realise the one person beating me up about it was me. He didn’t have the referral letter but he agreed I should have it and there should be no reason I should have a copy. He would try and get a copy sent out.

So that was this week. A busy week in work as it draws to a close with a psychologist session crow-barred into an extended lunch hour. It was now past the two week promise of a letter from London. The psychologist said how it was good that I was still keeping a level head when I mentioned ‘I’ll probably call them at the end of the week‘. I didn’t need to. The phone rang on Friday. It was one of those calls, you know, when you least expect it because your mind is on something more immediate. It was the clinic in London, offering me an appointment in July. So there we have it. I may have been waiting sixteen months and very little is likely to come out of an appointment but at least it’s there and I can discuss my uncertain future.

And so I’ll be visiting another city. An A-List star of a city that has it’s own fresh mornings and wake ups of delivery vans and coffee. Even London has silent times when the only stones in the pond are the squarks of early birds around the Thames, joggers and staff standing top hat and tails at the entrance to four and five star hotels. By the time I get there the thick diesel cab fumes will have filled the air like shoppers flood Oxford Street.

Until next time.

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