On Doctor's Orders

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

25th January 2017
There are three things Kay knows for certain: she was a poet, she's a woman and she's sick. Everything else has a fluidity of truth which keeps her guessing. Is the medication working? Would she really have gone though with it? Will she ever write anything worth reading again? Does she like coffee? Does she have any friends in here, or are they all as sick as she is?

The answer to the first one has to be NO (or she would not be here, in the Yellow Room) in a voice so loud it resounds through the walls and reverberates inside her head until it's a mantra. The medsarenotworking the medsarenotworking - it's almost musical if she listens hard. She tries skipping to the tune, then wonders if skipping is appropriate. It's another of her big questions - what's appropriate and what isn't? In here every kind of behaviour is accepted. Want to lick the walls? No problem! Want to pretend you're a snake and slide under chairs? Want to talk to yourself? Scream at people who aren't there? Refuse eye contact with anyone? Burn cigarette holes in your cheeks? Go ahead, nobody will judge you. As such, Kay has forgotten what is correct and what isn't. She watches herself, to see if she fits in, but nobody does, because in here, there are no rules, except the ones that say, You cannot leave, in various ways.

The Yellow Room belongs exclusively to Dr McKenzie, who is dedicated, kind and speaks in a voice like music. He does hypnotism and group therapy, mostly, but he's well known for what's nicknamed 'Last Chance Saloon' - individually tailored therapies which are relentless until they get to the bottom of the problem. They are intense, lengthy and only reserved for certain people. They take place in the Yellow Room, and they don't always work. Sometimes, people come out worse. But sometimes, Last Chance Saloon gives people that: one final go at life, at getting it right, at playing the game. Kay's not sure if she wants to go and play the game anymore. There are things she misses, of that there's no doubt, but in here... it's easy. She exists in a medicated hum of peace.

But she's here, in the Yellow Room, having agreed to have a go at Last Chance Saloon. She has to trust Dr McKenzie, who she calls Dr Mac, she's seen him so often. next to Dr Mac is Debbie, one of ehr favourite nurses.

'Kay,' Dr Mac says. 'I'm so glad you decided to try this. Deep Tune Therapy isn't for everyone, as you know. But I think for you, it's a good chance at getting well. And the beauty of it is, we can try this over and over. It's not damaging; it's gentle and for amny people, it's the start of the healing process.'

Kay thinks of Georgie, a placid, round man she'd befriended who came to Last Chance Saloon once and then hung himself with a meticulously ripped up pillowcase. She decides not to mention him. Perhaps it wasn't Dr Mac's fault. Anyone can make a mistake.

'So. Are you ready?'

Kay sits, attempts a smile, nods. She doesn't really care either way. But she likes Dr Mac.

'I'll begin by getting you into a very relaxed state. How we progress after that is in a sense, up to you. We're trying to get to the bottom of things, as it were, the basis for your depression and your anxiety and your memory issues. We can talk, or you can write, or you can just sit in silence. On the table is a pad and a pen; behind you is a bed. Ready?'

Kay nods.

'I'll start by counting backwards, just listen to my voice, and we'll take this journey together. Remember your safety words, if at any time you become unhappy. Ten, nine, eight...'

Colours swirl and she shuts her eyes. Small black dots wiggle and twist in her mind's eye. Dr Mac's voice fades, but is still there, in the background. She hears her own voice ask for the pad and pen and then she's lost, falling deep down into memories, into her childhood, her past, her teenage years, and a time she can't even describe.

Dr Mac is saying, '...and while you're here, you're going to watch yourself, from inside yourself, and you're going to tell yourself what you need. You are going to prescribe your own cures to heal the wounds of the past. You can either tell me or...'

Kay feels her hands come to life. She opens her eyes and there in front of her is the beautiful white page with faint lines of blue.

The pen takes on a life of its own as she falls ever deeper, into her own beginnings.

She writes:

To the baby who was left screaming, I prescribe a cuddle and the freedom and safety to fall asleep in warm arms. You can have this until you don't need it anymore.

To the toddler who was hit and smacked and thrown, I prescribe a parenting course to be given to the parents until they learn that this is wrong. You can teach them everything they need to know to stop the fear in its tracks; the fear that begins now and will never end.

To the child in hospital, I prescribe the courage to tall the truth about what happened. Just in case, in the 1970s, anyone was listening, just in case there was any child protecton training. Tell the radiographer, who's operating that terrifying huge machine, not to listen to the lies.

To the frightened child with the spoon-shaped bruises, take the spoon and bury it. That awful spoon with the hole in the middle that leaves nasty donuts on your skin, and will forever give you nightmares.

To the child who believes none of her friends like her, I prescribe an adult who will ask you to explain this, and will take the time to explain that it's not right, that you are liked, that being yourself is all right, that you don't have to pretend, to watch everyone to see what they do that makes them so popular, that you are a lovable child, not the furious and aggressive demon that you are made out to be, the demon that you will feel inside you for the rest of your life until keeping it hidden eats up all of your energy.

To the child who can only experience her true self when she's alone, I prescribe the courage to let this true self shine more often.

To the thirteen-and-two months-year-old who doesn't know how to stop a fifteen-year-old boy shoving his penis in her in an upstairs room at a party, I give you the power to tell him to stop and go away and leave you alone. I give you the confidence to say NO in your truest voice that will shame him and give you confidence that will last you the rest of your teenage years, instead of no voice, no power, only the feeling that you have to lie there until it is over. And when you go home, in pain, to tell your father what the real meaning is behind the taunting words on the phone later that night so that when he goes up there, to that party, and demands to know what happened, he'll already know. Better still, tell your parents not to let you go out to a party where people are drinking, and there are boys who are older, and protect you. I prescribe you the courage to tell your mother why your vagina is bleeding and swollen, and not to be ashamed. Some one did this to you, and it wasn't your fault.

To the teenager in the following years: tell all the other boys the same word, NO, instead of letting them becasue it's a way of being loved, and the pain afterwards is worth the feeling of naked warmth and love. Even if none of the boys will say , I love you, back to you.

To the girl who is often crying, I prescribe hugs and love and genuine warmth and the ability to keep her heart safe, instead of giving it away.

To the girl who wants to save everyone else, out your own oxygen mask on first. rescue those sad, lonely men, yes, but take care of your, first, or they'll bleed you dry and leave you with nothing.

To the girl who can only fall in love with older, unsuitable, messed up men who'll often end up in prison, know that you cannot save them. It's not in your power.

To the girl who was told that the divorce was her fault, for arguing, for having to be protected, for being the reason on paper, I prescribe you the power and voice of authority to say, don't be so bloody stupid, in a way that will be believed.

To the girl who had to face a stranger, an unsuitable stranger in her home, have the courage to tell someone, anyone, what he's really like.

To the girl who didn't call her friend for that last drink before she fled town and escaped, I prescribe you a phone call. Call him. He's going to die in an accident and you'll regret it forever. Likewise your other friend, the one who sat with you during the lonely nights when your father was frightening and the divorce was happening, he's going to die in an accident too. Two kind men, gone within ten days of each other, and you'll never be able to speak to them again or tell them how they helped you and were kind. Call them and tell them.

To the young woman who falls inot drugs and alcohol at too early an age, getting wildly drunk and stoned form the age of thirteen, I prescribe you the confidence to be different and say no. To find your own personality outside of a bottle. I give you the power to be your own person, and to understand that your body is sacred, and it's the only thing in the world that is truly yours. And that if you don;t look after it, that whole 'it'll never happen to me' will, indeed, happen to you.

Kay wakes back in her own bed, her hand sore and her first finger blistered. She's had a dream - the most incredible dream. She lies still and tries to remember it. It was everything, in ehr early years, she's got the sense of having travelled a long distance. She sudden;y remembers snatches of life she's never remembered before: laughing until she pees herself with her best friend; her dad hoisting her up on his shoulders; eating in her gran's front room. Good memories, good things that have somehow slid away from her.

There's a knock at the door. Dr Mac enters. He looks cautious, wary, as if not sure of what he'll find. He holds a pad in front of him. Kay sees her own handwriting.

'There's quite some stuff here,' he says and Kay resist the urge to correct his bad English, as she's caught a memory, floating past. In it, she's saying NO to a lot of things.

'You travelled a long way in,' he continues. 'I feel we've made a start, scraped the surface. Under these events will be metres of deep dark hurts, andw e need to look at every single one. If you feel this has helped.'

Kay considers. 'I think it has,' she whispers, 'because I can feel something. I feel... sad for that girl. For me. the way you tried to get me to feel a while ago in Group.'

Dr Mac nods. 'This is just the beginning. If you want to continue, I will be here. The path winds a good way further...'

'I'll walk it,' says Kay. And smiles.