He then handed me a sheet of paper with questions on it and numbered scales. Scales of one to five. “Don’t think about the questions, just answer them as quickly as possible” he told me. He left the office to tend to a matter that the nurse had called him about. I looked at the questionnaire and did exactly what he asked me to do. I had no idea what this questionnaire was about or that it had anything to do with mental illness. But I answered them anyway and quickly just like the doctor said.
To this day I have little memory of the questionnaire.
The doctor came back into the room “How are you doing?” He asked sitting in his chair and turning to his computer. “I have finished” I told him softly and turned the sheet around to show him.
“That’s good” he replied and took the sheet from me whilst finishing typing something on the computer. Not sure if he typed something about me or the patient he had to go and see urgently. He then took a pen out of his front shirt pocket and started to add up the numbers.
“You have anxiety” your score is very high, see” The doctor informed me in a matter of fact sort of way. He then turned the sheet towards me. He looked at me down his glasses again, whilst I was looking at my score. I looked at the number in a bewildered sort of way as I had no idea what it all meant.
“Do you have sick leave?” he asked me. Still looking at me down his glasses.
“Yes I do something like 800 hours” I replied softly still not sure what the number meant.
“Well, that’s a lot of sick leave. If you have never felt like taking it before you should now. You shouldn’t go back to work until this is resolved” He continued turning back to his computer.
He then turned his back to me and began typing at his computer again. I wondered if the notes were about me or the other patient he had to go and see.
“You are not fit to work” he told me.
I kept hearing the words churning through my head like a broken record “Not fit to work” “Not fit to work.” I had worked all my adult life. I never took a sick day because I never got sick. How did I get here? I questioned myself.