“So, do you want me to arrange an admission?”
I stare blankly out of the window behind the psychiatrist. I am aware of his eyes watching me closely. Rain patters gently against the glass. My gaze traces the route of a particularly large rain drop, slowly slinking it’s way downwards, back home to the ground. Non-descript thoughts swirl around my mind and I huddle inside my over-sized hoody, sleeves drawn over my hands.
This is the second time this hour he has asked me that question. I still don’t know what to say. I don’t know what I want.
Past the meandering rain drops, I watch a steady stream of people arrive, braced against the February wind, heads down, arms folded. I wonder why they are here. Are they trying to make big decisions too? They give nothing away, those faceless people emerging from the morning mist, seeking shelter from the biting cold.
Earlier that morning we had driven from the town where I live, to the historic city nearby. On a clear day the main road that connects the two offers a stunning view, across the countryside, down to the city sprawled out below. Today the cathedral spires were shrouded in grey mist, clouds hung low, drizzle saturated the air. The whole city nothing but a dark blur.
We were quiet on the journey, only breaking the silence as we turned off the main road, and into a narrow side street. The houses here are expensive, old, with cold stone steps leading up to smart black doors. Neatly pruned flowers arranged in pots offer only a flickering suggestion of life beyond the grey-brick walls. The houses are tall, three or four storeys reaching up into the mist, and oddly foreboding, as though the high rooftops look down on you, watching, waiting, but never speaking.
“Have you thought about what you’re going to say to him?” my mum asked, momentarily glancing at me, before returning her concentration to the road.
I shook my head.
That’s not true. I have thought about it. I just don’t know what the answer is. From time to time over the last three weeks, since I last saw the psychiatrist, I have wondered whether I should go into hospital. In the long dark nights, when I lie awake and my chest hurts, my heart thuds and my body shakes, I long for the safety of a hospital, for the security of a nurse expertly observing me.
“I’m just going to see what he suggests,” I finally said, as we pulled into the car park and my mum killed the engine, leaving us with nothing but the sound of rain for company.
I like my psychiatrist. He is a reassuring presence. In a sea of people crashing around me, shouting, demanding, telling me what to do, he is a solitary calm oasis. He is quietly spoken, and although I can barely hear his voice over the sound of rain against the window, he speaks with great authority. Over the past hour he has patiently explained the options, offered his opinions and listened to mine. He has answered my questions and gently encouraged and empowered me. He has sympathised with my struggles, made suggestions, consoled me and rallied me. His quiet reassurance has given me confidence. I can keep fighting. Anorexia will not have a hold over my life forever.
I try to gather my thoughts into some form of coherent sentence and open my mouth. No sound. I try again. Still nothing. I sigh and bring my gaze back into the room and then finally make eye contact.
“No.” I hear myself say. “I want to try at home a little bit longer.”