OnceUponNow in Rochester, New York🗽
I wake to the sound of birds chirping, pecking on the glass of my balcony door. Quite sluggishly, I get out of bed and stretch out until I feel as if I’m reaching for the heavens. Then I proceed to remove the silk curtains from my windows, basking in all of the world’s beauty. The sunlight consumes me, as it lights up my entire room.
The noisy birds scatter as I step out onto the balcony, each chirping aloud as they flock upward, flapping their wings against the gentle breeze. Clear blue skies, warm, yet cool temps. The weather was perfect and the view was mesmerizing, complementing the surroundings of my thriving neighborhood.
It’s always a good sight to see the oak trees, standing as tall as my three-story mansion, sitting at the front gates of my family’s estate. The sound of joyful laughter of children playing tag on the sidewalk instead of wreaking havoc, is always a relief.
Life is great, somewhat. I’m thankful for the things I’ve accomplished and obtained, but... nothing is perfect. My life in particular. I see the world in all its glory, but can’t accept one thing. Inner beauty.
Accepting the way your body changes over time, is very difficult. Almost impossible. Every morning when I wake up and take a passing glance at my bathroom mirror, it always reminds me of why I put my fist through the last one. The massive bruising on my knuckles, caused by my last meltdown, is still visible and just as painful.
I see the best in everything except for myself. Some people may think a physical flaw is nothing and eventually get over it, but I take it to another level by keeping myself locked away in my own home just to hide my grotesque flaws from the entire world. Living the rest of your life in your home doesn’t sound ideal, but isolation keeps me safe. Hell, I’m doing everyone a favor.
Suddenly, there was a light knock at my bedroom door, instantly bringing me back to reality.
“Sir, you have a visitor.” Simon, the butler, said, patiently waiting at the door. “Doctor Evans is here to see you. It’s rather urgent, may we come in?”
I quickly rush off the balcony and leap back into bed onto a mountain of feather pillows, wasting little time as I press my back against the headboard and raise the covers to my face. Chills running down my spine, unsure if it was caused by the breeze rushing in through the open doors or the presence of company.
“You may enter.”
I could hear the door slowly swing open. The rate of my heartbeat increasing with each click of the man’s shoes.
“Hello, sir. I will be your usual doctor this morning. How should I address you today: Prince William or Mr. William?”
I watched him closely As he approached. The closer he got, the higher I raised the blankets and the tighter my grip became
“Jack is fine.”
“As you wish. He took a quick glance and a swift double-take.“It’s okay to show yourself, Jack. It’s only me. I was hoping the constant visits would help you with feeling more comfortable around others, at least with me, but it seems things may be more serious than I had mentioned in our previous encounters.”
“I-I’m sorry, Doc.” I revealed myself but kept the covers near. The doctor’s semi-long beard was the first thing my eyes locked on.
He never wears his scrubs when he comes to visit, but still manages to dress professionally. Black suit pants with a white collared shirt, groomed hair, name badge, and a blue tie that matched his eyes.
“I shall return,” Simon said, as he exited the room, closing the door behind him.
“So, give it to me straight. Don’t leave out any details, I want to know everything. What’s wrong with me?”
“Well, it took us a while to find the name for it, but we believe you have what is known as BDD--Body Dysmorphic Disorder.”
“Body Dysmorphic..? I’ve never heard of it. Is it a serious condition?”
“I’m afraid so, and it’s going to get a lot worse if not treated as soon as possible.” He reached into his carry-on bag and pulled out a folder. “This contains a list of symptoms; some you may have already started to experience and others that may eventually come to haunt you.”
He took a seat on the edge of my bed and handed me a manila folder. I opened it and found a stockpile of information, concerning my mental disorder. Under the title “Symptoms”, it listed: Depression, Anxiety, Shame.
The list just kept going on and on explaining the many other negative ways the disorder affects anyone who is unfortunate enough to have it. I reached over onto my nightstand and grabbed my journal. I began to take notes. My hand unsteady as I write the disturbing information.
I took one final glance before handing the folder back to Doctor Evans.
“You also need to know that the disorder interferes with day-to-day functioning,” he said, “As of right now, you have already become home-bound and sooner or later the anxiety and depression, unless treated, will increase drastically and may eventually cause you to partake in -”
Stopping mid-sentence, he began to look worried and broke eye contact.
“Wait. In what, Doc? What aren’t you telling me?”
His eyes wandered around the room, gazing upon everything except me.
“In the past, there have been some incidents where people suffering from the disorder eventually become too overwhelmed. Just a little stress is dangerous enough, but to have so much stress built up over a period of time without an end... It’s enough to break a person down, eventually leading people to commit acts of...suicide.”
“Suicide?” The word alone triggered me. “Look, I may have issues with myself but I would never think about killing myself.”
“I understand, Jack. It’s a very sensitive issue. I know the symptoms aren’t as brutal for every person but please keep that possibility in mind. I strongly advise you to take your condition seriously.”
“What if I can’t take care of it in time?”
He looks down at his papers and then back at me with a sigh. “Well... If you don’t make any progress or at any time we feel your life is in danger, we will be forced to put you in a monitored home until we feel you are safe.”
I pause and replay his words in my head. My fingers jittery, tapping against my leg. “Monitored home? You don’t mean... ”
“Yes, a mental hospital. It’s for your own protection, I assure you.”
I felt a surge of anxiety building up. There was a gentle knock at my bedroom door just before it opened. Simon entered the room with a breakfast tray: there were eggs, bacon, a stack of pancakes and a glass of OJ to wash it all down.
“I’m sure that won’t be necessary, Doctor Evans,” said, Simon. I’ve already made arrangements for tonight. I’ll see to it that Master Jack gets well soon.”
“Good. I’ll leave him in your hands, Simon. And as for you, Jack, take baby steps to help build your self-esteem back up. Don’t rush but make sure progress is made. It’s time you gave the world, and yourself, a second chance.”
Doctor Evans gathered up his things and stood up beside me. He stuck out his hand towards me. I shook it and then began to take his leave. He suddenly stopped in the doorway and turned back towards me.
“I’ll be returning Sunday afternoon to check how things are going. I will also be conducting your final evaluation. Okay...?”
“You’re only giving me three days?” My voice began to crack, “Why so soon?”
“Unfortunately, this is what’s been decided. I personally believe you need more time to properly recover, but because you have already been suffering from the combined effects of the disorder and the weight of that incident for many years, we feel this is the safer route to take. I hope you understand.”
I was left speechless. Every word that came out of his mouth made me feel like I was some kind of freak, like some kind of sad, helpless freak that needed “special treatment” just to live a normal life.
“I’m sorry, Jack. Good luck. I hope you make a quick recovery.”
Doctor Evans left the room. His visit was supposed to make me feel better, to ensure I got better; feel better, but it only made my stress level rise and my anxiety that much stronger.
“What am I going to do, Simon?” I said, as I banged my head against the headboard. “There’s no way I’m going to get better in less than three days. This all seems pointless.”
Simon didn’t respond. He placed the breakfast tray on my nightstand, then headed to my wardrobe and rummaged through my clothes. He returned, holding one of my recently dry-cleaned suits.
“What’s the occasion?”
“Don’t ask questions. Eat, freshen up, and get dressed. I’ll be waiting at the car, sir.”
I did as he said, growing even more curious each second he kept me in the dark of his mysterious intentions. My nerves are shot and I’m stuck in a bad place. If I leave, I’m risking a lot, but if I don’t I’ll become another addition to the nut house. I’m not crazy! Am I crazy..?