The Day I Dared to Wear Lipstick
The Day I Dared to Wear Lipstick.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. It was about to start. The moment I had been dreading ever since I received the give-away brown - buff envelope.
“So you are here (at which point the man in front of me produced my form as though it was somehow incriminating) because you say you are depressed. Is this correct?” I looked up, studying his youngish - old face, his ice - shard, flitting blue eyes, his weak chin, his fluorescent green tie, and then around me at what seemed to be some kind of court - room. I was still dazzled by his tie and wondering if my medication was a bit too strong.
But clearly not strong enough, as at the sound of his voice, harsh and cold, I started to visibly tremble. Surely he will see I‘m an anxiety - ridden wreck. “Yes that absolutely correct, I do” I replied tremulously, though still trying not to sound as though I had lost my wits completely.
This caused him some consternation. “What, you claim to still be depressed, is that right?” I nodded, or rather wobbled my head somehow, less sure of my ground. “You have to actually speak so we have it on record. I repeat, do you still claim to be depressed?”
“Um yes I do - um think I am” I replied.
“Well if I am correct, and I believe I am, depressed women do not wear lipstick.” He nodded, looking delighted at himself. He was really getting into his stride now.“Lipstick you see” He emphasised happily. I wondered idly what his rule was if a man wore lipstick. I attempted an answer.
“Well, um I thought I should make some sort of effort to be…”
“Precisely my point” he interjected very sharply. God he was loving this. He should have been born in Germany in the 1930’s. The SS would have snapped him up before you could say ‘Heil Hitler’.
“If you were actually depressed you would not have wanted to look nice. Depressed people don’t you see.“ he explained patronisingly. The accused, lipsticked mouth fell open, but remained silent as I tried to think what psychiatric textbook he had somehow misread whilst eating his scrambled eggs this morning. No he couldn’t have even done that.
I was terrified and confused. What would the well me, the unbroken me have said to this smug, supercilious git to seal his mouth shut for eternity up? To stop him from being let loose onto society? Did he actually remember the words of the hippocratic oath? Did his wife buy that tie? Thoughts careered around my head like a beach - ball in a hurricane.
Then the old problem reared it’s head. I am going to…. oh no please God not THAT - it would be too humiliating. I clenched my knees together firmly and tried to deep breathe like my therapist had taught me.
He spoke again, even more sharply. My bladder pulsed alarmingly. “And what is this you have given me? Let me have a look. So you are attending a ‘therapeutic community.’ What on earth is that when it is at home.”
“Um well it’s a lot of therapy and then you get one to one counselling with your…”
“Yes, yes I don’t need to hear the minute to minute details of your day. Why do you have to attend every day? Surely part-time would be sufficient and then you could fit in a job, which would probably be better for you than all the therapy in the world.” He preened, stroking his already inflated ego, and smiling like a shark. Well more sneering actually. If sharks sneer.
The feeling of being in front of a firing squad intensified. Can’t someone just shoot me, or at least blind - fold me? “And what is this, yet another letter I suppose? Oh it’s from a psychiatrist, Let’s see what he has to say.”
“It’s a her?” I said weakly, Perhaps resignation was beginning to set in. I knew what that letter contained because Dr Schuster had read it out to me - asking me if it would do the trick. At the time I thought it sounded pretty neat.
“Hypochondrial delusions? Well ,Well what will they think of next.” Sycophantic smans sounded around the ever-shrinking room. I am in some kind of Kafkaesque nightmare and I will wake up soon, I thought. No such luck. He had his audience in the palm of his slimy hand. “Please explain what this is supposed to mean.”
“Well I get these - um ideas that I um I have something really seriously wrong with me. Physically I mean”
“But that’s plainly ridiculous. You clearly must know you haven’t otherwise you would be here able to walk. I have never heard so much nonsense.. Psychiatrists. They all need therapy if you ask me” . Louder laughing. At least it sounded louder Yep the bastard was really on a roll now.
There was more to come. “Do you know you are not seriously ill?”
“On one level I do but….”. Wrong. “Well there you are then. I believe you are definitely not depressed and certainly not delusional. You will get my decision by post. Goodbye” And it was over.
With trembling fingers, outside I lit a cigarette, knowing it wouldn’t help
The rampaging lung cancer I was convinced I had (despite an X-ray which my long suffering GP assured me was clear). I looked at the lipstick stained butt,and crushed it as though it was that monstrous official’s face. I swiped the lipstick angrily off, surprised to find my face wet. Well next time I know I won’t wear any lipstick.
Or next time I will wear black lipstick. No, there will be no next time. Never again.
I shuffled home like an old beggar, licking wounds that were destined never to heal.