Those of you with bated breath waiting for my next instalment can finally relax. I've been away for nearly a month, due to various health problems. This has been a very hectic period, I've had three medical consultations a week in various clinics in the region and have been scanned, had tubes inserted in every available orifice, (luckily, you get a general anaesthetic here). It now appears that apart from having a mysterious black tongue and a troublesome cough, I seem to be in reasonable health.
Several friends also pointed out to me that I was acting a bit strange. The last few months have been very stressful and they tactfully suggested that I might be somewhat depressed. I took this on board easily enough, as, like a lot of people who love to laugh, I'm the first to admit that I also have a dark side.
Thus it was that an appointment was made to visit a shrink in Montpellier who was recommended to me. I arrived early and wandered up the street a bit looking at the imposing houses lining the route and wondering whether it would be better to talk to the guy in French or English. I finally decided on French, as I was worried that I might get a bit too flowery in my native tongue. It was a beautiful day and I took a few pictures, which were rubbish.
It was at this point that a little old lady approached. After asking if I was a professional photographer she talked knowledgeably and at length about some of the historic buildings in the city centre. After about ten minutes I managed to get a word in edgeways. 'The buildings in this part of town are quite grand.' 'Oh, yes, they're mainly occupied by psychologists, you know all the half-mad people come to this quarter.'
Well thank you madame I'm starting to feel better already.
This week I went back. On my way there I took a wrong turn. As I came out of a narrow road, I felt a slight jolt. I'd scraped a stationary car. A woman got out and was almost hysterical. Her car had a minute scratch about 1cm long. 'I'm ill, you know,' she almost screamed, although physically she seemed pretty robust. I couldn't resist telling her that it was all too apparent that ill was obviously some kind of euphemism for deranged, at which she denied it too vehemently for it not to have been true. Again this was reassuring, as I clearly wasn't in her league of insanity. I gave her my details and now await the no doubt outrageous bill for the almost invisible damage.
What's really odd is that there is still a taboo about mental health in general. I've thought for many years that everyone should have at least one consultation per year, but I would imagine that such an idea would meet with a lot of resistance from the people who would probably benefit the most.
I've started talking about 'my analyst,' in my best Woodie Allen accent, after all, if you have stomach pains you go to a doctor, so why such strangeness about what are normally fairly minor mental health issues? The really odd thing is that taking this approach gets other people talking. It may be the Americans in the village, who seem to be free of the mental health taboo, but as soon as I've mentioned it it seems that most people I know got there before me.
What's even more interesting is that I do feel pretty good. Let's hope it isn't addictive.