Politics 30 August 2013 Spaceships and a simple plan Alice O'Keeffe's "Squeezed Middle" column. Print HTML ‘‘Are there any drugs you can give me?” I am begging my GP, Dr Ibrahim. I’ve had enough of feeling like crap. I can’t wait another five weeks for my appointment with the mental health nurse – I need chemical intervention, and I need it now. “Do people still take Prozac? Or was that a Nineties thing?” “Not while you are still breastfeeding. There is another drug I could prescribe. But darling, are you sure you can’t wait to see the specialist?” Dr Ibrahim always calls me darling. It’s an acquired taste in a doctor, but I like it. Her consulting room has a heavy, perfumed smell, with a faint undertone of cigarette smoke. I can tell she is a mother herself by the way she deftly moves her cup of tea just before Moe succeeds in tipping it all over the blood pressure machine. “I feel terrible. I can’t stop crying. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for months. We haven’t got any money. And my boyfriend hates me.” As if to illustrate my point, I burst into tears, again. “Daaarling. But this is all very natural. You’ve just had a baby.” I notice a packet of red Gauloises peeping from the pocket of her blouse. God, I would kill for a cigarette right now. Would she give me one? No, I daren’t ask. I’m sure that would be against the rules. “What you really need is rest.” This is indisputable. I can feel the pressure of sleeplessness on my brain, reducing everything to a dull grey pulp. Outside, summer may be in full swing, birds may be tweeting from the blossomy trees, children may be frolicking in the park . . . but inside my head everything is dark as a December morning. It feels like my brain has stopped absorbing any of the nice stuff, while it sucks up doom like a sponge. Dr Ibrahim won’t give me any drugs. She tells me to leave the children with Curly for a night, get some rest, and come back next week if I’m still feeling low. As I push the buggy back through the sun-baked park I force myself to look up at the trees, and the birds in them. Then I force myself to stop at the café for an ice lolly. It’s tough, but I think I can hack it. Can I force myself to feel better? Perhaps I can. I sit down on a bench and come up with a three-point plan: One: I will get some sleep. Two: I will stop reading or listening to the news. Responsibility for two very small humans is as much as I can handle. The rest of the world will have to wait. Three: I will stop working. I will stop caring about houses or bills or breaking even. The only things in the world I’m allowed to worry about are Larry and Moe. It’s a simple plan, but I feel encouraged by it. I put the lolly stick carefully in my bag so Larry and I can make spaceships later, and start for home with the tiniest trace of a spring in my step. › 27 June 1969: It’s impossible to fault Seamus Heaney's clean language and sensuous delight Alice O'Keeffe's "Squeezed Middle" column appears weekly in the New Statesman magazine. Alice O'Keeffe is an award-winning journalist and former arts editor of the New Statesman. She now works as a freelance writer and looks after two young children. You can find her on Twitter as @AliceOKeeffe. Subscribe This article first appeared in the 26 August 2013 issue of the New Statesman, How the dream died More Related articles Nap pods: unproductive gimmick, or a lifeline for increasingly sleep-deprived workers? The knockout blow – the risk of brain injury in mixed martial arts Can you die of a broken heart?