She swirled the Cheerios methodically with her spoon, a satisfying clinking sound ringing in her ears as the metal collided here and there with the ceramic bowl. The Saturday morning news anchor was droning on in the background with tales of terror and triumph. The familiarity of the old shoddy couch felt comforting beneath her.
Her mind remained blank. Thinking about nothing always worked best. That was the most effective way to stave off the visions.
She stashed her bowl in the sink, listening to the news transition to updates in the entertainment industry.
“And in a shocking development, singer/songwriter James Davenport was forcibly committed to a mental health facility today by concerned family and friends. He was reportedly acting out in violent ways as mental health workers attempted to detain and admit him.”
Aria jolted to attention. Someone else was living her worst nightmare. Her eyes remained glued to the TV as they broadcast a video of his admittance.
“I’m not crazy!” he screamed. “The visions are real! You’re all f-ed up, why don’t you believe me?” He was thrashing, fighting, desperate. The anchor continued.
“Davenport has been diagnosed with a case of acute anxiety in conjunction with schizophrenia. His family made a statement earlier today to clarify the circumstances of his admittance.”
Mrs. Davenport took center screen, surrounded by a TV crew and a crowd of onlookers outside the mental health facility. “Our dear, sweet James has long suffered from periodic bouts of anxiety resulting in hallucinations that, over time, he has come to believe are real. At times, these hallucinations have occurred at unfortunate times – disrupting his ability to drive, perform, or function under high levels of stress. After repeated refusals to begin a medication regime, we have felt it is necessary to commit him as a matter of his personal safety.”
Aria stared in shock. His story sounded disturbingly familiar. Could he be suffering from the same ailment as she? Could this be her future?
Her mom walked in with a load of laundry and Aria quickly flicked off the TV.
I can’t let her get any ideas, she thought.
“What are your plans today, Queen Aria?” her mother inquired. Aria hated being called that. It was her nickname during the princess phase of her childhood; a phase she had long grown out of and now looked back on with a fair amount of disdain.
She simply shrugged in response. “I don’t know. I’ve got some homework to do so I’ll probably spend some time on the computer.”
Aria’s mom dropped the laundry and the floor and stood defiantly with her hands on her hips.
“I know what you’re doing, Aria. You can’t just stop living; you can’t let your anxiety rule your life. The more you put yourself out there, the more you will learn to cope with it.” She sighed. “Trust me, I know.”
Aria pouted. Her mom had struggled with anxiety most of her life. This was the main reason Aria’s visions had landed her in the therapist’s office so quickly. But her Mom didn’t understand – this wasn’t anxiety. It was far more real.
She looked up and forced a smile. “I promise this isn’t escapism,” she explained, proud of herself for executing the use of a word from her English class, “I just have a lot of work to do today. I still have all day tomorrow to go out and chase my teenage dreams.”
Her mom hesitated, then nodded her and continued with her Saturday morning activities. Aria heaved a sigh of relief. After all, she didn’t actually have any homework – and she didn’t her mother asking any more questions. She had research to do.