Chapter Fifteen

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Yaya continued on like she hadn't just totally freaked me out, "I wouldn't recommend it. What they do on these reality tv shows is really, really wrong. They hire people like me to pick up the pieces because they know they're trying to break people. Ratings go up when contestants are agitated, stressed and especially when they argue."

"You don't think I can do it?" That's all I was hearing from her.

She pursed her full lips until they became flat. "We're going in circles here, Darius. I've yet to review the medical histories of the contestants but it's not about you. Any normal person operating under duress is bound to crack. You don't need that added stress in your life. No one does. And I remember you saying you find comfort in baking-"

"I do."

"So why would you want to make something that makes you feel comfortable and safe, into something stressful and anxiety inducing?"

I paused. "So, what am I supposed to do, Yaya? Just go back to Toronto?"

"My professional opinion? Yes, I think you should go back to Toronto and reevaluate the way you want to deal with your stressors. The solution is not to confront those things head on without any support and potentially poison something you find solace in. Darius, I thought we made so much more progress than this."

"Mindfulness and yoga doesn't work, okay?" I said sharply, feeling my temper rising. There weren't words for that in Twi so I started speaking in English, "I tried everything you said. I tried yoga, Pilates, journaling, going outside, talking to my friends, exercising more, exercising less, changing my routine, I joined that crochet club. None of it works and I still have panic attacks almost everyday."

"You didn't try everything, and you have to admit you've still improved, Darius. Your panic attacks are not as severe based on the last time I saw you. And there has been progress, even if you can't see it." She frowned, and ran a frustrated hand through her hair. "This is not an appropriate discussion. But, if you're bound and determined to be on the show then I'll be there as a resource to you. Even as a psychiatrist, we can still talk about strategies. But, as a friend...I'm worried. If this show is some effort to prove you can beat the odds—"

"Why does there have to be some big reason?" I said, "I want to be on the show, Yaya. I want to be challenged with my baking. I want to win. I've watched all the seasons, I'm in the best place in my life that I've ever been in, which isn't really saying a lot, but, I want this enough to put myself out there. Even if it's hard. Why shouldn't I be allowed to test my baking abilities just because I've got a brain that's constantly on edge?"

She gave me a long look, but eventually the frown eased on her face. "Okay, Darius. I understand. And if you're committed, then I'll try to be there for you in whatever capacity I can."

The rest of the flight was spent in silence and I was suddenly too on edge to relax. Yaya tried to make conversation but I told her I was tired, drew up the partition, and put on some high quality headphones to drown out the noise of my mind.

You didn't try everything, Yaya had said.

And that was true, I hadn't. The idea of being reliant on mediation for the rest of my life just to be normal or almost normal was anxiety inducing in and of itself. I didn't want to rely on a crutch like that. For other people it was different, it made sense to me because a type one deiabetic not using insulin because they were "stronger" than their disease sounded suicidal and foolish. Mental illness was the same thing. Medication could offer a better quality of life, and who did I think I was, that I wasn't even willing to try that?

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