Patient Survey

Let me say this first, I’ve not been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety or any mental health issues, but the automated text messages sent by my doctor’s surgery made me believe otherwise.

The first message was fine and arrived Monday morning, waking me up from a well-earned sleep in. I was in college, after all.

Please take the time to answer the following questions. This allows us to personalize the service we give you.

Subliminally, that damned text forced me to get up and start the day healthy.

In the kitchen I had retrieved some eggs from the fridge. That cholesterol thing they say isn’t true, right? Good bit of protein to start the day?

What’s for breakfast? A) Cereal B) Fruit and yoghurt C) Fatty bacon & eggs D) None of the above

Shit, I was going to have the eggs. I thought about replying with B anyway, who’d know? Reluctantly I put the eggs away and took out some Frosties – they are cereal, technically I wasn’t lying, they didn’t need to know about the sugar.


My friend Alice phoned soon after I was finished. She wanted to meet up and go watch an early showing of a movie, then to McDonalds, before we headed off to Jack’s party.

What exercise have you planned today? A) Run/gym B) Play sports C) Laze about D) None of the above

They did know how to guilt someone. I felt my stomach, it was a little podgy, not that I’d say I was fat-fat. I called Alice back, asked her if she wanted to play tennis, it had been a long time. The groan she gave out made me think, I don’t have to do what the doctors suggest. I told her to forget it, the movie it was.

C – Fuck ‘em (I didn’t send the Fuck ‘em)

How happy are you now? A) Very happy B) Happy C) Not so happy

B – The day was young, and with the drinking later, that could go either way.

I met Alice around lunchtime, and we sat through the movie. I don’t want to name it, it’s a little embarrassing. But you do what you must for your girl, you know what I mean?

We were driving to McDonald’s, it was under a mile away, and another text arrived.

What are you going to have for lunch? A) Salad B) Sandwich C) McDonalds D) None of the above

C – I replied without thinking, I didn’t care what they thought. I’d always had my checkups, my bloods were fine, so were my vitals. It was oddly specific, why didn’t it just say Fast food?

Almost as a protest to the doctor’s messages I went for a large Big Mac meal with a Coke AND six chicken nuggets.

How does eating McDonalds make you feel? A) Happy B) Depressed C) Want to kill D) None of the above

Did I read that right? I certainly did, it was there, staring back at me from my phone.

Alice asked if I was okay. Just some indigestion, I replied. I was feeling slightly depressed, but I didn’t know if it was the food, or the message.

My reply was going to be A, but I decided on C, it was only a survey after all – like they do anything with it.

We arrived at the party so early, it was still light out. Jack didn’t mind though, he was happy for the company, and the extra help. He asked if I could get some drink from the liquor store. I was fine with that, but a little upset he didn’t offer me some money.

Did you know fresh air is good for unpleasant thoughts? A) Yes B) No

I was bored of this by now, and I was getting into the party mood, so I didn’t reply.

No response – Option A recorded

The liquor store was quite packed, I was surprised how busy, being early afternoon. Two kids, obviously underage were trying to get served, their ID was ignored when the teller told them he didn’t need to see it, it was obvious they were still in school. They shot me a glare, I assumed they wanted me to help. I averted my gaze and pretended to be selecting a bottle of wine. My phone buzzed again.

Do you like children? A) Yes B) No C) I don’t trust them D) None of the above

C – I was never comfortable around them. In that moment, it was as if I was in a session with a therapist – it felt soothing and comforting, like when I saw a psychiatrist when I was a child. I know what you may be thinking, what was that about? It’s unimportant, and I promise you I was declared sane and it has had no lasting effect.

Another message pinged in instantly.

Do you ever feel lonely? A) Never B) Sometimes C) All the time

I did feel lonely, especially now. Alice was at the house with Jack. I knew they’d been an item, and I was okay with that; she was with me now. Though, standing alone in the liquor store made me think.


Do you feel lonely now? A) Yes B) No


It was like they were reading my damn thoughts. I needed to get out. I went up to the counter and pointed at a bottle of Jack Daniels, paid for it and left. The kids were still outside, asking passersby to go in and get them a four pack. Hey Mister, they said. Mister? No one had ever called me that before; I chuckled to myself.

When I opened the door at Jack’s, he and Alice sat drinking and laughing around the kitchen table.


Do you trust Alice? A) Yes B) Most of the time C) She’s a cheating bitch D) None of the above

B – I did, I really wanted to. Seeing her having so much fun with Jack, it brought back those doubts. The doubts my therapist said were completely natural. I needed to listen to them and recognize them for what they were. By this point, I was so engrossed in watching Alice, I completely forgot where the text message had come from.

I got the booze, I said, slamming it down on the table, as if to break the trance they had with each other, with each other’s company. Sorry, I apologized, I didn’t mean it.

Through the next hour or so, I tried to keep Alice’s attention, keeping Jack away, politely, though I’m not sure how obvious I was. When the first party guest arrived, I was relieved. I had no idea who it was though, one of Jack’s college friends I assumed. One by one, more began to filter in.

How happy are you now? A) Very happy B) Happy C) Want to kill D) None of the above

I replied C without thinking. Jack had wormed his way back in and was talking to Alice again. I’d decided to grab the Jack Daniel’s I bought earlier and was drinking shot after shot.

Who do you want to kill? A) The man in red with the blue baseball hat B) Jack C) Alice

I had trouble focusing on the text that shone back at me from my phone, the alcohol had taken effect. I scanned the room and saw a man talking to Alice and Jack, he wore a red sweater, and had a blue baseball cap, turned backwards – in that dated way. As I took in his attire, I came back down to Earth. What the fuck was this? I checked the sender, to make sure it really was my doctors. I scrolled up, past the messages from earlier in the day to see my appointment reminders.


Please give a valid response

D – none of the above

Please give a valid response

I stopped replying. Alice laughed again and a surge of jealousy made me ball my fists in anger. I wanted to know if it was baseball hat or Jack that made her so happy.

No response – Option A recorded

No! I didn’t respond, I said out loud. Even though the music played loudly, Alice turned to look at me. The wide grin fell from her face. I went over to her and apologized. Said I had an unexpected text and changed the subject quickly. Up close baseball hat, whose name was apparently Jeff, put his hand on Alice’s leg as he finished a joke I didn’t understand. I stared daggers at Alice who, also drunk, was oblivious.

The front door slammed open and in came a large man wearing a leather jacket and blue jeans. He made a beeline to Jeff. He hooked his arm around Jeff’s neck and led him out. Don’t worry, he said, as Jeff struggled, his dad phoned and said he needs to be home now. Jack seemed to recognize the other guy. When the commotion was over, I asked. He’s his older brother, he replied.


How happy are you now? A) Very happy B) Happy C) Not so happy

A – I responded. When I looked up, I realized I was smiling. Alice asked who it was. I said nobody.

I woke this morning with a hangover. I’d slept on Jack’s floor. Peanuts and other snacks covered the carpet. I sat up and my head pounded. I drove home with Alice mid-morning. We didn’t talk in the car. At the time, I didn’t know if it was our mutual hangovers or something more.

I ate bacon and eggs for lunch, expecting one of those text messages to appear; though it didn’t. Around 2:30pm one did.

Do you blame yourself for your father’s death A) Yes B) Yes C) Yes

What the fuck? How did they know about that? My name had changed since then.


Please give a valid response


Please give a valid response

Moments later.

No response – Option A recorded

How happy are you now? A) Very happy B) Happy C) Want to kill D) None of the above

C – that’s what you want right?

Who do you want to kill? A) Alice B) Alice C) Alice D) Alice


No! What did I do? It’s okay, I told myself. Someone screwing with me. Someone has hacked me. This can’t be real. Alice is fine. And with that, she called.

I asked if she was okay. She said no, her voice exasperated. A cold chill ran down my spine. Was she injured? She said she’d been talking to Jack. Adrenaline shot through my system at the mention of his name, I stayed calm, however. She told me Jeff was is a car crash on the way back from the party. Alice, I said panicked, your life may be in danger. I want to break up, she said. I asked why. She said it was my jealousy, and all those text messages I was getting yesterday. They were from her, weren’t they? I said, no, I promise, that’s over. It was my doctor. She said, you expect me to believe that? The phone went dead.


How happy are you now? A) Want to kill B) Want to kill C) Want to kill D) Want to kill

I was panicked. I was worried about Alice. I didn’t care what she thought, I just wanted to make sure she was okay.

No response – Option A recorded

Based on your answers an URGENT home appointment has been made with your physician .

I didn’t kill Jeff. I have an alibi for that. Alice. Shit. Alice. And I didn’t kill my father.

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