Autumn- Chapter 7

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My second week at the cabin is similar to the first in terms of my everyday life. I don't think I've had a routine this solid since I was in middle school.

My therapy is going well. I've been opening up to Paul more and more and he's been helping me understand things about myself. I've had no anxiety attacks. Paul wants me to try relaxation therapy, and a specialist in that field will be visiting and teaching me those techniques during week three.

Yes, I'm in it for a third week. In fact, I'm pretty positive I will complete the full month.

Sophie and I eat lunch together every day. We learn more about each other with each meal we share. Sometimes I talk to her about my therapy, because it's always at the top of my brain after my sessions. I feel like I can tell her anything without her judging me.

I'd be lying if I said she wasn't one of the reasons I'm willing to stay. I like her. A lot. I know were just friends, but I definitely feel some things that go beyond friendship when I'm alone and she creeps into my thoughts.

My parents and sister visit after my second week. Everyone remarks about how good I look. I know I look more rested, and my burgeoning beard is a nice change of pace for my appearance.

It's the first time I've seen my sister since I'd had my breakdown. She's cautious around me until we spend some time alone together. I talk to her about what caused my problems, and I tell her I'm doing better. I have similar talks with my parents, though they knew more to begin with.

Before my family leaves, I give them letters that I want them to distribute to those impacted by that night. I'd bought envelopes to put each individual letter in. Writing to my friends helps me to forgive myself.

At the start of week three, Paul and I have a breakthrough of sorts. We are discussing things that stress me, and I share something new.

"There's always so much pressure on me to make the right choices. I never got to be a normal teen who makes mistakes and learns from them. I was in the public eye while I was still a high school student, and everyone kept telling me to make sure I don't do anything to damage my image," I say.

"Do you wish you'd done some reckless things?" Paul asks.

"No. Not really. I wouldn't say I ever really had that desire. But the pressure was there anyway. I'd have nightmares about doing one dumb thing and ruining my entire career and disappointing everyone who was counting on me."

"That is a lot of pressure for someone so young."

"I'm not a teenager anymore, but I still feel the need to always project this immaculate image. That's what people expect of me."

"So what can you do to make this part of your life less stressful?" he asks.

I laugh. "Aren't you the one who is supposed to be telling me that?"

He laughs, too. "I can give you advice, but you need to start figuring some of this out on your own. You are out here in a cabin spending hours alone. You should try putting some thought into this over the next few days."

"So that's my homework?"

"Yes. And remember, tomorrow the relaxation therapist is coming, so I won't see you. She told me to tell you to wear workout clothes."

Twenty four hours later, I'm on a yoga mat learning how to breathe and stretch my anxiety away. I'm a total klutz, so the balance part is tough, but the breathing element is incredible. Elaine, the therapist, has me wear a heart monitor so I can see how much I get my heart rate down. It's crazy how effective meditating and controlled breathing can be.

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