Hira sat down in the frontmost seat with a stomachful of anxiety weighing him down. Working through a simple breathing exercise, he stared silently at the back of the driver’s head as the bus got going. In, out… in, out. Everything’s going to be okay.
He did not believe it.
In his professional life, Hira was a clinical therapist. He worked mainly with individuals suffering from depression and anxiety disorders, which were steadily on the rise. In his personal life, he was a single father working hard to make ends meet for his daughter. Things were not going too well on that front. They never seemed to. And now, for the first real meaningful time, Hira was going to therapy as the patient.
Doctors of medicine study for years and practice for longer, and even they end up in urgent cares, emergency rooms, and hospital ICUs, dying just like the countless people they’d spent their lifetimes trying to save. Hira saw therapists as being the same way. He had spent years studying in psychology, sociology, and related fields. He knew what was wrong with him the same way a neuroscientist could understand exactly what was happening in their brain as they suffered a stroke. Surgeons can die in surgery, and therapists can commit suicide. One of life’s great ironies, maybe – or just a testament to human arrogance. Hira closed his eyes and tried to stop thinking about it.
Even inside the bus, the afternoon sun beat down strongly through the windows, and it seemed like everyone was feeling the heat. Hira emptied his water bottle within the first ten minutes of the ride. He scooted onto the edge of the aisle seat and covered his bare legs with his cardigan. It did not improve his mood. But his stop was coming up, he told himself, and soon he’d be able to get inside a building, properly shaded and away from it all…
Hira was prone to running away from his problems. He was not an English major, but he knew the sun in this case was a symbol, perhaps even a metaphor, with him at the center. There were too many things he needed to do, too many places he needed to go, and nowadays he constantly felt like crying.
Well, he thought, life is wonderful. And now I’m going to therapy.