lemon squares

“HOSPITAL SWITCHBOARD,” barks the lady on the other end of the telephone. After a moment of confusion, I tell her that the last person I spoke to said they were transferring me to outpatient mental health scheduling. Without another word exchanged, I’m listening to the hospital’s hold music. I think it might be mocking me.

“I’m walking on sunshine, whoa-oh-oh, ha-ha, and you’re not!”

I explain what just happened to the woman who picks up.

“How did that happen?” she asks, as if I somehow willed my call to be transferred to the wrong person. I stutter. “Hold please,” she says, before I can collect any words. The hold music is still playing the same song. I idly hum along for a minute until someone picks up the phone.

“HOSPITAL SWITCHBOARD,” yells a familiar voice.

I sigh.

I Facebook chat you at work because I am lonely.

“I want lemon squares,” I say.

In the interest of full disclosure, I add, “I took Vicodins.”

You ask me why. I assume you mean the Vicodin, not the lemon squares.

“My head hurt.” It’s not a lie, but also not the whole truth.

“I’ll be home from work soon.” I look at the clock. You will.

I Google “psychiatrists Columbus, Ohio,” and start calling down the list, leaving increasingly desperate voicemails.

“Hi, Harding Hospital isn’t accepting new patients but they said you might be. Please give me a call back when you can.”

“I am depressed and I would like to see a doctor. Please call me back if you are accepting new patients.”

One office sounds exceptionally promising. The doctor has the day off on Wednesdays, but checks the new patient voicemail and will absolutely call back within 24 hours. His is the last office I call before giving up for the day.

“Hi, I suffer from major depression and haven’t seen a psychiatrist in four years. I can’t get an appointment anywhere. I need to speak with a doctor. Please call me back. Thank you so, so much.”

He does not call me back.

I turn to look at you as you drive my car home from the grocery store. They did not have any lemon squares, so I bought brownies. The Vicodin makes me feel as though we are driving too fast, although in reality I don’t know if the car is moving at all.

“I am sad,” I tell you. I shut my eyes and then open them. The expression on your face does not change. You take one hand off of the steering wheel and place it awkwardly on my bare knee. I think it is supposed to be comforting, but it just feels heavy. I stare at it.

“Why are you sad?” you ask me. I want to tell you that’s a dumb question, but then I remember that you never feel this way. I can’t think of an explanation that isn’t a cliché; that isn’t a sad bouncing storm cloud from an antidepressant’s television commercial.

“Because I am sad.” You squeeze my knee. I think you think it’s comforting.

We don’t speak for the rest of the evening.

I wake up the next morning and head to Starbucks because I know I can get lemon cake there. I buy a slice. I eat it. It’s not quite what I wanted, but it’s better than nothing.

I am not sad today. I wouldn’t say I am happy either.

It’s better than nothing.