Do Not Ask Questions

I stood in line at reception. The clock read 10:55. I was on time. I felt a slight ache in my stomach and was reminded that I haven’t yet eaten today. My jacket was dripping but I couldn’t remember if it had been raining or not. It felt like I had just woken up right now, in the middle of this line. “Mr. Tobin?” said the receptionist with something of a smile. I hadn’t noticed the line move. “Yes, sorry. I’m here to see Doctor Brown,” I said.

She nodded and told me to take a seat. I turned to the waiting area, greeted by the gloomy faces of the young and old. I guess insanity doesn’t discriminate. On the table in front of me lay a pile of magazines I had never heard of. I picked one up and sifted through it. All the magazines in the Union Medical Facility were odd. Each magazine was over a decade old, but they were in pristine condition, as if no one had ever touched them. I landed on a page that titled Secure Beneath Mother’s Wings: do not worry, we are looking out for you. The page was entirely red, and the article was written in black. The first line read: You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. “Mr. Tobin, the Doctor will see you now,” the receptionist called over the intercom. I hate when they do that. Ever heard of privacy? They’re a private company but they can’t keep my name to themselves. I got up, holding my wet jacket in my arms and headed for room 9.

In the morning, I had sat in front of the mirror practising what I would tell Doctor Brown; but anything that I intentionally plan never turns out the way I want it to. I always get these grandiose notions before I see her that I will tell her everything, exactly how I have been feeling. But I don’t. As soon as I sit down in front of her and she starts asking me questions, I lose motivation. It’s like her menacing, unpleasant smile diminishes any hope I have of confiding in her. And then I don’t want to tell her anything. I find it almost excruciating to talk openly about how I feel and, even if they say they are no one to judge, they are. Everyone judges you, maybe not intentionally, but instinctively. It is engrained in the psyche of the twenty-first century man, or woman; but in my case, man. If there is one thing I don’t want, it’s to be judged.

They prescribed me a new medication and it’s causing me, among other things, to hallucinate. Whenever I have these strange visions, my thoughts are scrambled, I can’t think clearly or even trust my own thoughts. Every morning when I wake up, I’m caught in the everlasting dilemma of whether or not to force three red pills down my throat, or face the stark, bare ass of the blues. I hold the pills in the palm of my hand and stare at them for a while as I decide. I take a pill to my ear and shake it, listening to the tiny spheres of serotonin powder bouncing off of each other inside. The pills never seem to work either, but I keep trying. I don’t have a great life, but I don’t always want to be like this. I want to get better. But any inconvenience seems like a catastrophe and any argument seems like a war. I live my life in extremities, ricocheting off one mishap to another. I’m not a special person by any means. I even look bland. I don’t have any defining features and my clothes are just as exciting as my face. I have greyish brown hair, brown eyes, not almond or hazel, just brown; and a normal, slightly crooked nose. And, while this is my face, whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t recognise myself. I don’t look like me. I haven’t felt at home in my own skin in a long time, but instead feel like I’ve been fitted with a stranger’s. I’ve never really felt all that at home anyway, but I’ve been feeling increasingly disassociated from myself, like someone else is controlling me. Sure, I can think but I’m not the one in control of it. It feels like I don’t even have a true identity anymore, not my own anyway. I lost that a long time ago. Instead of telling Doctor Brown all of the shit that is going on inside my destructively restless mind, I decide to tell her of my strange and eerie hallucinations, specifically about Seán. “Well, hallucinations are normal at the start, Martin,” Doctor Brown informs me, nodding encouragingly for me to believe her. But, for some reason, I don’t believe her. I have been on many different medications before. I have just never felt quite like this.

Therapy is pointless. In case you didn’t already know that, it is. It never goes anywhere, and you always feel worse leaving than you do when you go in. I have never ‘learnt anything about myself’ from a therapist other than that they think I’m crazy. Keeping in mind, therapists are people who get paid extortionately to sit and listen, or not listen, to someone’s mental defects. I once had a therapist who told me not to read negative intent from other people’s words or actions. This is a fine theory when it remains just that, a theory. But when your best friend kills himself, it’s hard not to read negative intent into something like that. I can’t read anything positive into a suicide. It’s because of this state-run bullshit that I decided to go to Doctor Brown. She works for a privatised medical company. She’s not as bad as some therapists I’ve had before, she doesn’t ask questions about my childhood which is great, but she asks me weird things. Like questions a therapist, or a doctor, or whatever she is shouldn’t ask. Not necessarily inappropriate questions, just utterly weird ones.

I am now twenty-three and I’ve been ‘ill’, as the doctors like to put it, since I was twelve. I was a happy child. I was outspoken and enthusiastic, but a lot of shitty stuff happened and basically, I’m fucked. Now, I isolate myself in my dirty apartment in a shabby quarter of the city; and I never leave. I used to be an aggressive drinker, especially when I was in college; and I got blackouts a lot because of my drinking. I have always looked for things to numb myself, something to consume my mind wholly and prevent it from wandering. And, after I was of legal age, alcohol and drugs fit that brief perfectly. I still drink now, just not as severely. Drinking helps with a lot of things. For example, social situations have always made me uncomfortable; I either outstretch myself to impress people I don’t like or feel paranoid that people may find me insincere or phony. Drinking has always helped with this. And the reason for that is I’m not myself when I’m drinking. No one is, if you really think about it.

I lived with my only friend from secondary school, Seán, through college. Seán had been my only ever friend, everyone else at my school never took the time to know me. I was always the weird kid who didn’t really talk to anyone, so no one spoke to me. Seán and I shared a flat on college campus and, after lectures, most days we would get stoned or drunk together, or both. And play video games. One day, I was coming back from late lectures – I didn’t make friends in college and Seán wasn’t very extroverted himself. As I walked across the courtyard, I saw a large crowd of students gathered around something. People were running around frantically, I heard someone screaming and quickly walked over to see the commotion. There, lying on the ground with his head cracked open and bleeding violently, was my only friend, Seán. He had leapt out the window of our flat just moments before. I thought, for a long time, if only I hadn’t stopped to get a box of cigarettes and went straight home instead, I could have stopped Seán from jumping. Now, my dreams are soaked in blood. And Seán’s death is all I think about when I see the colour red. 

I began my discussion with Doctor Brown. “I have been thinking about a lot of weird stuff lately,” I told her. Doctor Brown stared blankly across the table at me. She waited for a moment before asking “What do you mean ‘weird stuff’, Martin?” but she knew what I meant. They always knew even if they acted like they didn’t. They just want to hear you say it. They want you to say you need their help. “Just strange thoughts, it’s like I can’t think clearly” I said. At this, Doctor Brown looks kind of pleased, as if she’s satisfied by that. She just accepts my answer without further questioning. I’ve always felt uncomfortable at the doctor’s office; you’d think after spending nearly a decade in and out of hospitals and out-patient facilities, I would think of this setting as a familiar one, but I don’t. And, while Doctor Brown isn’t like all those other bullshit doctors, I am never as uncomfortable anywhere as I am in her dark, bleak office. When I’m inside, sitting across from her in that worn red leather chair, I feel like a child who cannot speak for themselves and she’s my overbearing mother. Everything she says, I believe.

“Alright, Martin, is there anything in particular you’d like to talk about or tell me?” Doctor Brown is not so much a licensed professional, but a licensed pseudo. Sometimes I think she isn’t even human, she’s the closest thing to a robot I’ve ever seen. Doctor Brown starts typing notes from our conversation loudly. She has a creepy disposition and it seems like she never really means what she says. Like when she asks a question, it seems like she is asking a different question, a weird question hiding within her ‘normal’ question. Our meetings are always surreal encounters. Before I go in to see Doctor Brown, I convince myself things will be different. I will get better, she will help me, something will change. But when I walk out, I’m still the same person. Nothing changes. And I can’t even remember what we talked about.

I watch Doctor Brown as she types more notes aggressively between intervals of asking about my diet, my sleep pattern and my relationship with my family; none of which, I inform her, were any good. I can’t sleep. No matter how long I lay with my eyes closed, or if I stop drinking coffee and eating before 6pm. Nothing can help me sleep. I can lie in my bed for hours and hours and without feeling tired at all. Again, she does nothing to offer a solution, or even pity. She looks glad that I am suffering. Like this is how the medication is supposed to work. Doctor Brown continues talking about what to expect from this medication and tells me how great I’ll feel in a month’s time, and that the first few weeks of any medication is always like this. A feeling of anger grows in my stomach. It seems like she’s just filling me with shit so I’ll keep coming to her and paying her for her menial time.

“I don’t feel comfortable on this medication, Doctor,” I begin telling her. “I think I should come off it,” Doctor Brown snaps her head up to look at me and her expression is frightening. “No, Martin, you mustn’t come off the medication, it’s helping you, I can see the result already, and you’re talking more,” I begin to feel my head lulling as I start to believe her, but it doesn’t feel right. I’m agreeing with her, but it feels wrong. I try to think more clearly. “No, Doctor, I seriously don’t like it. I’d feel a lot more comfortable going back to my old medication. I didn’t really want to try go on this one anyway, I think,” as I speak, I start remembering that I never actually wanted to be on this medication in the first place. “Yeah, Doctor, why was I put on this medication?” she dials a number on the telephone beside her but doesn’t pick the phone up to call anyone. “Martin, I’ve told you before it’s better not to ask questions,” she gets up and paces towards me. I start to feel incredibly uncomfortable. I’ve always thought Doctor Brown to be harmlessly creepy, like it is just her demeanor that’s creepy, but she is now terrifying me.

“I have to leave now, Doctor,” I try to think of an excuse to leave, but she is now standing over me. “No, you don’t, Martin. I know that you have nowhere to be, so let’s continue our session,” she smiles threateningly. I no longer feel safe and I stand up to leave. “I’m leaving,” I told her. But she starts laughing. I start to feel sick. I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with her today, but she is seriously creeping me out. “What did you think this was, Martin? You’re my patient, I say when you can leave. And you’re not leaving yet, Martin,” she says. I try to walk away from her, but I can’t. I can’t even move. “What the fuck is this?” I shout at her, but she remains calm, as if she was expecting this. “Martin, what have you done? You’ve ruined the whole trial, again. And now you have to go back to the basement,” what is she talking about? Why can’t I move? I can’t believe what’s happening. “Are you overwhelmed, Martin? Are you scared? You do this a lot; you ruin the trials. Maybe you’ll learn eventually, no matter how many times I tell you not to, you still ask questions. Do not ask questions, Martin,” Doctor Brown dissolves before my eyes and all I can see is white above me. “He’s siezing, grab him!” I can hear voices shouting in the distance, but I feel frozen, like I’m in a lucid dream I cannot awake from. I try screaming, but I can’t. My mouth stays shut. I close my eyes and try to wriggle my hands, or move in any way, but I can’t. “He’s awake, he’s awake,” I open my eyes to blaring white lights. “Gosh, Martin, we thought we lost you there,” Doctor Brown looks down at me with her hand to her chest. “Do you know where you are, Martin? You’re in the hospital, you’ve had another episode,” I spit in her face and she recoils, “Give him another dose of the medication!”

I stood in line at reception. The clock read 10:55. I was on time. I felt a slight ache in my stomach and was reminded that I haven’t yet eaten today. My jacket was dripping but I couldn’t remember if it had been raining or not. It felt like I had just woken up right now, in the middle of this line. “Mr. Tobin?” said the receptionist with something of a smile. I hadn’t noticed the line move. “Yes, sorry. I’m here to see Doctor Brown,” I said.

She nodded and told me to take a seat. I turned to the waiting area, greeted by the gloomy faces of the young and old. I guess insanity doesn’t discriminate. On the table in front of me lay a pile of magazines I had never heard of. I picked one up and sifted through it. All the magazines in the Union Medical Facility were odd. Each magazine was over a decade old, but they were in pristine condition, as if no one had ever touched them. I landed on a page that titled Secure Beneath Mother’s Wings: do not worry, we are looking out for you. The page was entirely red, and the article was written in black. The first line read: You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. “Mr. Tobin, the Doctor will see you now,” the receptionist called over the intercom. I hate when they do that. Ever heard of privacy? They’re a private company but they can’t keep my name to themselves. I got up, holding my wet jacket in my arms and headed for room 9.

In the morning, I had sat in front of the mirror practising what I would tell Doctor Brown; but anything that I intentionally plan never turns out the way I want it to. I always get these grandiose notions before I see her that I will tell her everything, exactly how I have been feeling. But I don’t. As soon as I sit down in front of her and she starts asking me questions, I lose motivation. It’s like her menacing, unpleasant smile diminishes any hope I have of confiding in her. And then I don’t want to tell her anything. I find it almost excruciating to talk openly about how I feel and, even if they say they are no one to judge, they are. Everyone judges you, maybe not intentionally, but instinctively. It is engrained in the psyche of the twenty-first century man, or woman; but in my case, man. If there is one thing I don’t want, it’s to be judged.

They prescribed me a new medication and it’s causing me, among other things, to hallucinate. Whenever I have these strange visions, my thoughts are scrambled, I can’t think clearly or even trust my own thoughts. Every morning when I wake up, I’m caught in the everlasting dilemma of whether or not to force three red pills down my throat, or face the stark, bare ass of the blues. I hold the pills in the palm of my hand and stare at them for a while as I decide. I take a pill to my ear and shake it, listening to the tiny spheres of serotonin powder bouncing off of each other inside. The pills never seem to work either, but I keep trying. I don’t have a great life, but I don’t always want to be like this. I want to get better. But any inconvenience seems like a catastrophe and any argument seems like a war. I live my life in extremities, ricocheting off one mishap to another. I’m not a special person by any means. I even look bland. I don’t have any defining features and my clothes are just as exciting as my face. I have greyish brown hair, brown eyes, not almond or hazel, just brown; and a normal, slightly crooked nose. And, while this is my face, whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t recognise myself. I don’t look like me. I haven’t felt at home in my own skin in a long time, but instead feel like I’ve been fitted with a stranger’s. I’ve never really felt all that at home anyway, but I’ve been feeling increasingly disassociated from myself, like someone else is controlling me. Sure, I can think but I’m not the one in control of it. It feels like I don’t even have a true identity anymore, not my own anyway. I lost that a long time ago. Instead of telling Doctor Brown all of the shit that is going on inside my destructively restless mind, I decide to tell her of my strange and eerie hallucinations, specifically about Seán. “Well, hallucinations are normal at the start, Martin,” Doctor Brown informs me, nodding encouragingly for me to believe her. But, for some reason, I don’t believe her. I have been on many different medications before. I have just never felt quite like this.

Therapy is pointless. In case you didn’t already know that, it is. It never goes anywhere, and you always feel worse leaving than you do when you go in. I have never ‘learnt anything about myself’ from a therapist other than that they think I’m crazy. Keeping in mind, therapists are people who get paid extortionately to sit and listen, or not listen, to someone’s mental defects. I once had a therapist who told me not to read negative intent from other people’s words or actions. This is a fine theory when it remains just that, a theory. But when your best friend kills himself, it’s hard not to read negative intent into something like that. I can’t read anything positive into a suicide. It’s because of this state-run bullshit that I decided to go to Doctor Brown. She works for a privatised medical company. She’s not as bad as some therapists I’ve had before, she doesn’t ask questions about my childhood which is great, but she asks me weird things. Like questions a therapist, or a doctor, or whatever she is shouldn’t ask. Not necessarily inappropriate questions, just utterly weird ones.

I am now twenty-three and I’ve been ‘ill’, as the doctors like to put it, since I was twelve. I was a happy child. I was outspoken and enthusiastic, but a lot of shitty stuff happened and basically, I’m fucked. Now, I isolate myself in my dirty apartment in a shabby quarter of the city; and I never leave. I used to be an aggressive drinker, especially when I was in college; and I got blackouts a lot because of my drinking. I have always looked for things to numb myself, something to consume my mind wholly and prevent it from wandering. And, after I was of legal age, alcohol and drugs fit that brief perfectly. I still drink now, just not as severely. Drinking helps with a lot of things. For example, social situations have always made me uncomfortable; I either outstretch myself to impress people I don’t like or feel paranoid that people may find me insincere or phony. Drinking has always helped with this. And the reason for that is I’m not myself when I’m drinking. No one is, if you really think about it.

I lived with my only friend from secondary school, Seán, through college. Seán had been my only ever friend, everyone else at my school never took the time to know me. I was always the weird kid who didn’t really talk to anyone, so no one spoke to me. Seán and I shared a flat on college campus and, after lectures, most days we would get stoned or drunk together, or both. And play video games. One day, I was coming back from late lectures – I didn’t make friends in college and Seán wasn’t very extroverted himself. As I walked across the courtyard, I saw a large crowd of students gathered around something. People were running around frantically, I heard someone screaming and quickly walked over to see the commotion. There, lying on the ground with his head cracked open and bleeding violently, was my only friend, Seán. He had leapt out the window of our flat just moments before. I thought, for a long time, if only I hadn’t stopped to get a box of cigarettes and went straight home instead, I could have stopped Seán from jumping. Now, my dreams are soaked in blood. And Seán’s death is all I think about when I see the colour red. 

I began my discussion with Doctor Brown. “I have been thinking about a lot of weird stuff lately,” I told her. Doctor Brown stared blankly across the table at me. She waited for a moment before asking “What do you mean ‘weird stuff’, Martin?” but she knew what I meant. They always knew even if they acted like they didn’t. They just want to hear you say it. They want you to say you need their help. “Just strange thoughts, it’s like I can’t think clearly” I said. At this, Doctor Brown looks kind of pleased, as if she’s satisfied by that. She just accepts my answer without further questioning. I’ve always felt uncomfortable at the doctor’s office; you’d think after spending nearly a decade in and out of hospitals and out-patient facilities, I would think of this setting as a familiar one, but I don’t. And, while Doctor Brown isn’t like all those other bullshit doctors, I am never as uncomfortable anywhere as I am in her dark, bleak office. When I’m inside, sitting across from her in that worn red leather chair, I feel like a child who cannot speak for themselves and she’s my overbearing mother. Everything she says, I believe.

“Alright, Martin, is there anything in particular you’d like to talk about or tell me?” Doctor Brown is not so much a licensed professional, but a licensed pseudo. Sometimes I think she isn’t even human, she’s the closest thing to a robot I’ve ever seen. Doctor Brown starts typing notes from our conversation loudly. She has a creepy disposition and it seems like she never really means what she says. Like when she asks a question, it seems like she is asking a different question, a weird question hiding within her ‘normal’ question. Our meetings are always surreal encounters. Before I go in to see Doctor Brown, I convince myself things will be different. I will get better, she will help me, something will change. But when I walk out, I’m still the same person. Nothing changes. And I can’t even remember what we talked about.

I watch Doctor Brown as she types more notes aggressively between intervals of asking about my diet, my sleep pattern and my relationship with my family; none of which, I inform her, were any good. I can’t sleep. No matter how long I lay with my eyes closed, or if I stop drinking coffee and eating before 6pm. Nothing can help me sleep. I can lie in my bed for hours and hours and without feeling tired at all. Again, she does nothing to offer a solution, or even pity. She looks glad that I am suffering. Like this is how the medication is supposed to work. Doctor Brown continues talking about what to expect from this medication and tells me how great I’ll feel in a month’s time, and that the first few weeks of any medication is always like this. A feeling of anger grows in my stomach. It seems like she’s just filling me with shit so I’ll keep coming to her and paying her for her menial time.

“I don’t feel comfortable on this medication, Doctor,” I begin telling her. “I think I should come off it,” Doctor Brown snaps her head up to look at me and her expression is frightening. “No, Martin, you mustn’t come off the medication, it’s helping you, I can see the result already, and you’re talking more,” I begin to feel my head lulling as I start to believe her, but it doesn’t feel right. I’m agreeing with her, but it feels wrong. I try to think more clearly. “No, Doctor, I seriously don’t like it. I’d feel a lot more comfortable going back to my old medication. I didn’t really want to try go on this one anyway, I think,” as I speak, I start remembering that I never actually wanted to be on this medication in the first place. “Yeah, Doctor, why was I put on this medication?” she dials a number on the telephone beside her but doesn’t pick the phone up to call anyone. “Martin, I’ve told you before it’s better not to ask questions,” she gets up and paces towards me. I start to feel incredibly uncomfortable. I’ve always thought Doctor Brown to be harmlessly creepy, like it is just her demeanor that’s creepy, but she is now terrifying me.

“I have to leave now, Doctor,” I try to think of an excuse to leave, but she is now standing over me. “No, you don’t, Martin. I know that you have nowhere to be, so let’s continue our session,” she smiles threateningly. I no longer feel safe and I stand up to leave. “I’m leaving,” I told her. But she starts laughing. I start to feel sick. I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with her today, but she is seriously creeping me out. “What did you think this was, Martin? You’re my patient, I say when you can leave. And you’re not leaving yet, Martin,” she says. I try to walk away from her, but I can’t. I can’t even move. “What the fuck is this?” I shout at her, but she remains calm, as if she was expecting this. “Martin, what have you done? You’ve ruined the whole trial, again. And now you have to go back to the basement,” what is she talking about? Why can’t I move? I can’t believe what’s happening. “Are you overwhelmed, Martin? Are you scared? You do this a lot; you ruin the trials. Maybe you’ll learn eventually, no matter how many times I tell you not to, you still ask questions. Do not ask questions, Martin,” Doctor Brown dissolves before my eyes and all I can see is white above me. “He’s siezing, grab him!” I can hear voices shouting in the distance, but I feel frozen, like I’m in a lucid dream I cannot awake from. I try screaming, but I can’t. My mouth stays shut. I close my eyes and try to wriggle my hands, or move in any way, but I can’t. “He’s awake, he’s awake,” I open my eyes to blaring white lights. “Gosh, Martin, we thought we lost you there,” Doctor Brown looks down at me with her hand to her chest. “Do you know where you are, Martin? You’re in the hospital, you’ve had another episode,” I spit in her face and she recoils, “Give him another dose of the medication!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.