“I’m 27 years old, never had a girlfriend. I feel suicidal.”
“Love will find you when you’re not looking for it,” she replies.
“I spend my time indoors… wanking – I’m hardly looking for it.”
“What I mean is, you need to be pro-active: go out there are find love.”
“You’ve just contradicted yourself.”
“Well, you need to love yourself before you can love others,” she continues, apparently impervious to both my utterances and formal logic.
“Ermm…I spend my time indoors…wanking…”
“You’ve repeated yourself,” she observes, before resuming, “Maybe you ought to just be yourself. Describe yourself to me.”
“I would say I’m pedantic. Socially anxious. Bald.”
Her face is emotionless, as if seasoned to such facile but veracious self-loathing.
“Well then, be another person – a confident, dynamic person. Fake it until you make it.”
“You’ve just contradicted yourself,” I say.
“You’ve just repeated yourself,” she replies.
“So have you.”
“Right, I am afraid to say our time is up for today’s session. That’ll be 80 pounds please.”
I hand over the money and depart. “See you next week.”
But I don’t return the next week.
Instead, years transpire and my condition slowly ameliorates: I’m still alone, but the suicidal ideation has waned. I attribute this recovery to three things in particular: time, antidepressants and evidence-based psychological therapy. Indeed, I am positively euthymic when I chance upon her atop the bridge that breezy day.
“Hello!” I beckon.
“What’s wrong?” I enquire, sensing the blue tonality in her two words.
“I’ve lost all my clients, I’m horribly in debt.”
She pauses, but I utter nothing, for I am familiar with the need for another simply to listen.
“I’ve completely lost my business. It turns out you can’t treat mental illness with trite aphorism, empty platitudes and inspirational quotes.”
“I just don’t see the point, I might as well jump.”
Perhaps now it’s time to interject.
“Listen. Do you know what Confucius said?
“No?” she whimpered, wiping back a tear.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising each time we fall.”
Then I pushed her.