Autumn- Chapter 1

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Pop star Shawn Mendes Hospitalized because of Exhaustion
Squeaky clean Canadian singer Shawn Mendes was taken to a hospital in Dallas, Texas on October 3 after reportedly collapsing backstage before the acoustic portion of his show. Speculation was running wild about why the 21 year old musician would collapse until his publicist released a brief statement citing that the problem was exhaustion. This is often code for a drug or alcohol problem, though no sources have come forward with information to substantiate that. Mendes's management has canceled the remaining 13 dates on his tour. We wish Shawn well as he recovers.

I read the article and throw my phone across my hospital room. The screen shatters as it hits the mirror on the wall over the sink, sending glass shards from the mirror everywhere. A few minutes later my mom and dad walk in. They see the phone and the broken glass and my mom starts crying.

An hour later, we're sitting in the doctor's office, along with my manager, Andrew. By doctor, I mean psychiatrist.

"Why did you throw the phone, Shawn?" Dr. Elkins asks in her calm quiet voice.

I just shrug. My dad nudges my arm and gives me a pleading look.

"I read some bullshit gossip article about what happened to me," I say.

Andrew speaks up, "We're going to start shutting down all the rumors."

I shake my head. "What if the rumors are true? Are you going to lie and cover them up?" I ask.

"If we have to," he answers.

"The only thing that matters right now is that you get better," my dad says, resting his hand on my shoulder. "The public can go to hell."

Dr. Elkins nods. "Shawn, your wellness is the most important thing here. I agree with your father. I've been doing some research, and after talking to you these last two days, I have a recommendation. It will only work if you are on board."

My mom gives me a pleading look and I know that whatever the doctor is about to suggest is not going to be something I want to do.

"What?" I ask.

"I feel that you need to isolate yourself for a bit while you get therapy. You had an acute mental breakdown. I find no evidence of an underlying problem like bi-polar disorder or chronic depression, though you do seem to have some ongoing anxiety issues. External elements in your life got to you, and it all came to a head. You have to learn coping mechanisms so that this does not develop into a chronic problem."

"In other words, I went temporarily crazy and no one wants that to turn into a permanent condition," I say sarcastically.

My mom sniffles and wipes her eyes with a tissue, and I immediately regret what I've said.

"I'm sorry, mum," I say to her.

Dr. Elkins gives me a kind look. "You aren't crazy, and that's not a word I ever like to use. You had an isolated incident. You want to prevent this from recurring, right?"

"Yeah."

"There is a program in Canada, about five hours north of Toronto. It's very private and discreet and has had success with several celebrities in your situation."

"Who?" I ask.

"I obviously can't tell you that," she says. "You'd enter a four week program. During that time you'd live in a cabin by yourself in an outpatient situation. This adds to the discretion factor since no one would know that you weren't there on a vacation. The family that owns the cabin will be providing you with meals, if that's what you want. You can always cook for yourself if you prefer that. The food is supposed to be outstanding and the location is beautiful. Three to four days a week you'd have individual therapy with a behavioral therapist who would come to you.

"It sounds perfect," my mom says.

"Four weeks is a long time," I say.

"It is, but it's necessary. You need time. You need to disconnect from the outside world for a while and focus on yourself."

"Will we be able to visit?" my dad asks.

"It's discouraged until after the second week. At that point, Shawn can see whomever he wants."

My mom looks at me and grabs my hand. "Please do this, honey."

"Can I leave if I hate it?" I ask the doctor.

"It's not prison, Shawn. This is all voluntary. There is one thing you should know, though. You will not be able to bring any electronic device with you. It's part of the disconnection process. There's no WiFi or cellular service where this cabin is."

I roll my eyes. This is ridiculous. I can spend four weeks in a cabin in the woods, but shutting myself off from the entire world? Come on.

"What are my alternatives?" I ask.

"You can go home to Toronto and either enter a psychiatric facility or start therapy while living at home. Either of those things could help. Based on your outburst with your phone earlier, my opinion is that disconnecting is the best treatment plan. You have not put yourself first for some time. You need to do that. You also desperately need time to relax without any distractions."

Andrew has been pretty quiet while the doctor has laid out her plan, but he speaks up now. "I've been there watching you slowly crumble, Shawn. I wish I'd known how serious it was-"

"It's okay, man. It's not your fault," I say, interrupting him.

"Let me finish, please. I was part of the problem. Everyone around you is to an extent. We ask a lot of you. You need time away from that. My big fear is that if you try to do outpatient treatment at home, you're going to slowly add stressors back into your life. You need this break."

So Andrew and my mom want me to do it. I turn to the other person who I trust the most, "Dad?"

My dad takes a deep breath. "I think you need a break."

"So if I am miserable, there's a phone I can use to make arrangements to get out of there?"

"There is a landline at the main house. You should try to give it a full week, though."

"I'll commit to a week. If it's not bad, I'll keep going."

I really doubt I will make it past that week, but I owe it to those who love me to try.


Author's note:

I wrote this in February/March. Not that it matters, but I want my readers to know that I wrote it before SM shared his anxiety issues with the public. Obviously this is completely fictional. In no way was I trying to capitalize on his real problems. Here's a pic showing when I wrote it, though of course I took it after it auto-saved chapter 1. You can see chapter 2 was written March 1 and obviously chapter 1 was written first.

The treatment plan is totally fictional and I know the premise of it is pretty ridiculous, but it's kind of what drives the plot so I went with it

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The treatment plan is totally fictional and I know the premise of it is pretty ridiculous, but it's kind of what drives the plot so I went with it. This is fiction, after all.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the last "season" of this collection. As always, feedback is welcome and embraced.

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