Mary was in the teal coloured kitchen of her almost detached house making a jam sponge pudding when the doorbell rang.She wiped her hands on her new purple trousers because she didn’t want to dirty a clean towel.
She found her colleague Dr Rosa Benchez standing nervously outside shivering
Come in , Mary cried.
Would you like a cup of tea? You need to sit by the fire and get warmer
I’d love that, Rosa said politely but distantly
A few minutes later they were sitting looking out of the bay window watching a blackbird sitting on the fence;they hoped it would start to sing
May I talk to you,Mary? I have got rather more agitated than ever before
.I am wondering if I need counselling or maybe shooting, she joked morosely
OK,said Mary cautiously.Has anything unusual happened ?
Yes, my sister has had her driving license taken away because of big panic attacks she had crossing the Humber Bridge …. you know how huge it is.She got out of the car and screamed,Help! Help!
That was dangerous with so much traffic about
She is furious and says we live in a Nazi state and is writing to the Times
Well, it can happen that you lose your licence,Mary said,but when she has learned to deal with the attacks she can re-apply and get her license back.Simple things like not eating and being tired can bring that on so I have heard.And fear of fear, too.
As well as that,Rosa said,my son has got a recurrence of cancer and is going onto some new drug-type chemo.My ex husband is very distressed and so am I as it was unexpected.
And even worse my new fiance Prof. Charlie Blogge has broken off our engagement with no reason.I can’t think of any at all.Shall I ever trust a man again?
He said I can keep the ring which is a blue sapphire ,supposedly, but when I had it valued they said I was mistaken and you can buy them on amazon for £57 and less.
So she took off the ring and hurled it into Mary’s coal fire where it looked very nice as it got hotter and hotter glowing like a lighthouse off Portland Bill in a sea storm or a banger about to explode
Good grief, said Mary.No wonder you are agitated.We may have to phone Dave the bisexual lovable paramedic available on the NHS 24 hours a day.Or we could have our hair permed and dyed red instead, she murmured to herself
Which of these events bothers you most,Rosa? She continued gently while hoping she would cope.
It is my own feelings that worry me most.I wake up feeling very sad and nervous;I wonder if I am having a breakdown.Then I feel worse as I turn it over in my mind trying to decide what to do.Then I get up and get food into me and think it all over and over again while drinking my tea.
Well, you know it is normal to feel sad, anxious or distraught when bad things happen,Mary told her.
But most people look happy when I see them in the town , Rosa shouted angrily
That is because being outside they put on a mask.They could be feeling worse than you.Anyway, why bother about that? We are all different.Some people think I am very calm but they don’t see me when I’m not.I go stiff like a piece of wood.Then I pass out
So what do you do? Rosa asked her nervously,twirling a golden ringlet around her finger as she watched her engagement ring melt in the fire.
I don’t do anything,Mary said.This is one of the fundamental errors in our society that action is needed for so many things and especially for negative feelings.But it’s usually part of life.Things pass.
I pretend I have a big round box inside me and I let the anxiety live in there nice and cosy until my mind has absorbed and dealt with the pain.Once my box was quite small but it has grown bigger now and so it has room for mad or bad feelings.I do little tasks and listen to music.
Then if I feel really bad I listen to Leonard Cohen and tell myself, he had it worse.But he made money out of it! Not that you can make money out of yours. though it’s worth musing about
Well,Rosa replied.Thank you,Mary.I am glad I am not the only one who feels so anxious sometimes.I shall try to get a box like yours.
You are welcome,said Mary jovially.Come round on Sunday for tea.Emile is out hunting but he loves to see you and so do I
The women hugged cautiously and Rosa went out looking less cold and nervous as she bravely carried her box away .It was invisible to the people walking nearby