I had to suck down some anxiety before stepping out the door to ensure that I at least appeared normal to the rest of the world, all the time wishing that I could just take all of this in my stride. I'd met many others on my illness journey who were so together about the whole thing. They had their heads fully screwed on, just making me feel even worse about the mess that I'd made of everything. As their faces flickered through my mind, and I wondered how many of them were now gone, I wondered what they would think to see me throwing away my second chance at life. I tried to imagine what they'd say to me, but that only resulted in me feeling even worse about myself.

As I ambled slowly down towards the bus stop, I tried to ignore my racing heart and my negative thought pattern. I tried to keep it all shut down and under control, but in all honesty I was a trembling mess. Even as I sat on the bus seat, and I tried to concentrate only on the movement of the vehicle, I felt myself falling apart. I even tried doing the calming, breathing techniques that someone had taught me somewhere along the line, but it got me nowhere.

In...out...in...out...

People were probably looking at me strangely—I may have even become the bus weirdo but I didn't care. I was too freaked out to continue considering how I appeared to the rest of the world.

Just get through this. I thought to myself. Keep breathing and everything will be okay. But the words were hollow, even in my brain. They didn't even feel connected to me, to what I was going through.

By the time I actually walked through the double doors that led me into the hospital wing I needed, I was a state. So much so, that the nurse who took my blood pressure and weighed me before I went in to see the consultant, actually felt the need to comment on it.

"Are you okay, Miss Rogers?" She asked me, a concerned look plastered across her face. "Only, you seem a little...tense." That was her polite way of telling me to reel it in, that I looked like a freak show. For someone who saw sick people over and over again every single day, this was something of a wakeup call—only it was far too late for me to really be able to do anything to help myself.

"I'm just a little nervous." I tried to play down my emotions, not wanting to cause any concern. The last thing I needed was extra attention, I just needed this done. "I just...don't like hospitals." I finished with the understatement of the year.

"You've seen Dr. Shaw before, right?" She smiled in what I assumed she thought was a reassuring gesture. "He's lovely, he'll look after you."

She didn't get it. Of course she didn't. I nodded quickly smiled blandly at her, hoping that she wouldn't ask me anymore. Somehow it seemed like someone was looking down on me, granting my wishes because I was called into the doctor's room quicker than I'd ever been before, taking me far away from her and what felt like her endless stream of questions...

***

As soon as I left the hospital wing, I didn't head for the bus like I knew I should. Instead, I ambled out in a daze and found myself walking towards the first bar I could find, without even really planning to. It was almost like an automatic reaction, one that I couldn't control. The pub I wandered into was one of those places filled mainly with elderly alcoholic men—particularly at just before 3pm on a weekday afternoon—but that didn't bother me. I didn't care where it was, or who would be inside, all I knew for sure was that I was craving booze after that ordeal.

It hadn't been a bad appointment exactly, there was certainly nothing physically wrong with me anymore, it was just all the personal questions that I found too much to handle. They seemed to take it upon themselves to suggest counselling for me every single damn time I went there. Somewhere along the line, someone must have made the note that I was depressed, and now that label had stuck, and there was nothing I could do to shake it off.

I tried to cover up the truth about me, and act like everything was alright, but it seemed that acting certainly wasn't something I was good at.

How could the doctor's not see that talking about my problems wasn't the answer for me? That speaking them aloud would only make things worse. I'd be much better off if they just left me damn well alone to get on with things. I'd been doing fine so far.

Well, okay maybe not fine exactly, but I was working through things. I'd been surviving, existing, and I was doing my best to make it more than that. I needed to look forwards, not backwards, which was the reason I refused their offer every single time.

It still pissed me off that I had to defend myself, when I knew what was best for me.

"Wine, please." I murmured at the stressed looking woman behind the bar. As soon as she shoved the glass in front of me, and I'd pressed a bank note into her hands, I slunk away to find a secluded seat, wanting to be by myself.

I sat at the small table by the window and drank. As the calming liquid slid down my throat, I decided that as soon as I finished this glass, I would get on the next bus home. One drink would be enough to wash this horrible day away, then I would need to prepare myself for my next shift at the diner.

Just one drink, then back to reality...


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