The doctor’s eyes flick to the clock, behind and slightly above Lia’s head.
Lia’s confidence wavers. She’s only been in the clinic for ten minutes and, yesterday when she’d phoned the receptionist, she’d specifically asked for a long consult. There is a lot more to discuss.
‘How long have you been feeling this way?’ Dr Norton asks.
‘Um, I dunno really.’ Lia stares at her hands, resting in her lap.
The doctor sighs, just loud enough for Lia to notice, then changes tack. ‘What led you to book this appointment?’
‘I lost my job about six months ago, and I’ve been feeling pretty low. All I’ve done is watch TV and order takeaway.’ Lia looks at the floor. ‘My mum kinda told me I had to see someone.’
‘Mmm, well she’s right. Mothers often are.’ She smiles kindly.
‘You don’t know anything about my mum.’ Her tone is insolent, defensive.
‘That’s true. But I’m glad you listened to her.’ Dr Norton glances at the clock again.
Lia bristles. ‘Am I keeping you? You know, I have booked a long session with you.’
‘My apologies,’ Dr Norton says. ‘I am distracted and I shouldn’t be.’ She clears her throat. Waits a beat. ‘Do you think that losing your job has contributed to your lack of social drive and perhaps your inactivity and poor food choices have caused weight gain?’
‘And the snowball effect is, of course, a trough in your overall mental health.’
Lia nods again.
‘OK, I’m going to suggest that over the next four weeks you get yourself to a local park for a daily walk. Daily. For at least thirty minutes. Also, get back into healthy eating patterns. Can you do that?’
‘Yes, I think so.’
‘Come and see me again in four weeks. If you’re still no better we can discuss a mental health plan where you will have ten appointments with a psychologist, subsided by the government, and if necessary, I may prescribe anti-depressants.’
‘OK, thank you.’ Lia stands, walks to the door.
Dr Norton is right behind Lia, resting her hand on the doorknob. ‘Good luck Lia. Sometimes the hardest part is admitting the problem, which you’ve done by coming here. You’re already on the path to recovery. Well done.’
She opens the door, and Lia walks back down the hallway to the receptionist.