Chapter 4

Our car skidded to a halt in front of Algernon Hospital. It was a chilly afternoon and even though I had been bundled up quiet heavily, I still shivered and a crushing realisation swept over me – I was afraid of what lied behind those glass doors. Mum held the doctor's statement in her hands and I had not been allowed to read it. I was burning with curiosity and dying to read what had been written about me.

We stepped inside and Kit held my hand. I wanted to snatch my hand away from hers but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Dad went up to the bespectacled receptionist to enquire.

"We have been recommended by Dr Mueller from Saint Claire Hospital for our daughter, Lilith Lane. Is there any psychiatrist we could meet right now? I am afraid it's a very urgent case."

The lady peered into the computer screen in front of her.

"Well," she said, "there's Dr Peterson in Room 15A. You must deposit £300 in advance for the first consultation."

My eyes nearly leapt out of their sockets on hearing that sky-high price, but Dad seemed unfazed. He swiftly brought out his wallet from one of his trouser pockets and handed her three hundred pound notes. She told him to take the first right to reach 15A. An attendant hurried to the room with a slip of paper. As we neared the place, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears; the beat was approaching tachycardia. Kit still held onto my hand and her hold tightened as we stood on the entrance to the room. I knocked on the door.

"Yes?"

I peeked inside.

"Ms…" He paused to look at his desk. "Lilith Lane?"

"That's me."

"Well, come inside." He smiled.

My family followed me as I crossed the precipice.

"Mr and Mrs Lane, you'll have to wait outside. First I want to talk with Lilith alone. I'll talk with you in approximately thirty minutes."

My parents had no choice but to take themselves and Kit out of the room. I motioned to my mother to give me my report. She did so and the door was shut in a matter of seconds.

"Take a seat." He was still smiling, though its intensity had decreased slightly.

I did what I was told and sat on the chair in front of him. I slowly slid Dr Mueller's report towards him.

"Oh, we won't be needing that, not right now, anyway. So, tell me, what brings you here, Lilith?"

I was a little peeved by the immediate first name usage without any formalities, but I bit my tongue and held my thoughts back. I decided to simply tell my story and get over with it. I looked at the wall clock; it was 4:30 pm.

"I attempted suicide at 5 o'clock today in the morning."

And there, I had said it – the truth that I had been refusing to speak for the whole day. The man in front of me didn't show an ounce of sympathy, in fact he almost seemed amused, but that perception could just have arisen from my emotionless mind that sought to look out for each emotion that existed so that it could fake the required emotion at a later time when it was needed.

"And how did you do it?"

"I jumped into the river," I stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world – might as well as have added a low sounding 'duh' after it.

"Why did you decide to…jump in the river?"

"It was pragmatic. It was practical and there was no chance of fu – I – I-I mean, screwing it up. But I ended up living, anyway."

"No, I didn't mean to ask why you chose jumping in the river; I was asking why you wanted to kill yourself."

"Oh, that…" I looked down at my lap and wrung my hands. My next words were uttered very quietly; it seemed appropriate that way. I was a mouse squeaking out its life's story.

"Look, I have always been a strange girl."

"Hmm, and?"

"I don't fit in. I am the piece of the puzzle that gets thrown into the box by mistake."

"You see yourself as an outcast."

Silence prevailed for a few moments. "I guess so."

I had never felt so nervous before. I think everyone feels delirious when they know that they are going to find a lost part of their identity.

"Okay, I see. So, since when have you been feeling depressed?"

"Explain 'depressed'."

"Depressed as in wanting to kill yourself."

"Oh, that. Years, Doctor, years. I think it's normal to think about death and dying. Everyone must do think about it at some point in their life…I guess."

"But it's not normal to act on those impulses. In fact, suicidal tendencies are never normal. They occur because of depression. Do you understand this, Lilith?"

I nodded – what else could I do? Scream, "I am not ill, thank you very much."? I didn't think so. I couldn't scream that because I had jumped into the river and my father had paid freaking three hundred pounds for me to sit in this chair. I was another specimen in this place.

"Why do you think you're strange?" he asked.

"I find it hard to express emotions and react to social cues. People say that I am uptight and I just need to open up and have fun. I wish I could do those things if only I knew what they really mean. Also, I not unfamiliar with the terms 'loner', 'eccentric' and 'crazy'. I know I am supposed to give a reaction when I am called those slurs but I am just plain…indifferent. For all I know, you could insult me right now and I wouldn't give a single thought about it."

"I see."

Silence again. He scribbled something in the sheet.

"Do you still want to die?"

"Very much."

"Have you ever heard voices?"

My spine stiffened. I did hear voices but I wasn't insane. My eyes scanned the entire room, refusing to look at Dr Peterson.

"No."

"No?"

"Yeah."

"Okay… You can call your parents in now."

I got up from my chair and my knees trembled because of how tightly they had been pressed together just a few moments ago. I opened the door with shaky hands and motioned to Mum to come in. I sat back in front of the doctor and she seated herself in the chair next to me. Dad and Kit chose to stand.

"Mr and Mrs Lane, your daughter will have to be admitted for a minimum of five days because of her suicidal tendencies."

"What's wrong with her, Doctor?" my mother piped up.

"My initial impressions are that she has been suffering from Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia for a long time now. It has converted into clinical depression and she is undergoing a phase of double depression. Also, it seems that she might have a personality disorder."

"A personality disorder?" Dad said.

"Yes, but I can't be sure which one. That is why we need to keep her under observation so that we can be certain about what malady ails her."

I had a personality disorder. My entire existence was a lie. My entire being was a lie.

Fuck.