BY JULIE A. DICKSON
Why am I feeling this way? Mara Willard wondered as she smoothed the crumpled skirt she wore to school. She pulled a small mirror from her purse, sneaking a quick glance at herself before Mr. Hughes caught her. She felt like screaming, but Mara took a deep breath, hoping that the anxiety she was feeling would go away.
“She’s insane”, Mara heard the whisper from the girl behind her and to the left, heard a small snicker from Susan, who sat right behind her. Mara sunk down into her chair and tears burned her eyes.
Mr. Hughes rambled on as he wrote on the whiteboard in the front of the classroom. At least he hadn’t noticed them making fun of her. She hated when he drew attention to her in class.
Mara reached into her pocket and felt the pill that she longed to take right now. She glanced up at the wall clock; 11:25 am, only five more minutes. Her hand squeezed against the pill, willing the time to move forward on the clock. 11:26. Mara could visualize herself walking quickly from the room, the reason why her preferred seat was in the closest row to the door. When the bell rang, her plan was to make a dash for the door; the water bubbler was only a few feet down the hallway. The pill would be on her tongue by the time she breeched the doorway; the cool water inviting Mara in her mind. 11:27.
The anti-anxiety pill was the necessary crutch that Mara leaned on at school to get her through the day. Her shrink, ok therapist [right, mom…] appointment was later in the afternoon; but Mara was sick of Dr. Bloom trying to convince her that her problems were going away! 11:30 and there was the bell!
Dr. Bloom closed her eyes while Mara reclined in the huge, moss green chair in the corner of her office. Mara was one of her more challenging patients. No matter what methods Dr. Bloomed tried with Mara; hypnosis, medication therapy, meditation, positive reinforcement, the sixteen-year-old showed no improvement. She looked over at Mara, who fidgeted in the chair, her hands moving across her clothing, her ankle bouncing over the edge of the footrest. “Mara, take a deep breath and relax.”
The doctor knew Mara’s mother; she saw her weekly, in the attempt to decipher their family dynamics. An only child, this girl was under plenty of pressure to succeed. She had only met Mara’s father Dan once, but Kimberly Bloom was pretty well convinced that the mother, Rose Willard was much more influential with her daughter. Mara looked no more relaxed after her 3 moments of silence. Dr. Bloom insisted that they start each session with this quiet period of breathing and quiet; she hoped it would help Mara to focus.
“Ok, Mara. I want you to close your eyes and think about something nice from when you were young.” She paused a moment. “Now, tell me what you are thinking about.”
Mara opened her lips to speak, “I’m at Gram’s house. We’re baking banana bread; I loved her banana bread.” Mara smiled; her eyes still closed.
Dr. Bloom had planted the something nice suggestion in hypnosis, and now when she spoke the phase to Mara, she immediately launched into little anecdotes, which were predominantly about her grandmother. “What else do you see? Is your mother there with you?”
Mara squirmed and looked uncomfortable in the chair, “We finished baking and mom picked me up. I don’t want to go, Gram!” Dr. Bloom made some notes.
“Would you like a glass of water, Mara?” Dr. Bloom asked, breaking Mara’s concentration, the phrase to bring Mara back. The girl nodded. The doctor nodded imperceptivity as she walked to the side of the room to pour Mara’s water; it’s not the grandmother. Mara was happy with her grandmother. It was obvious that they were close; it was clearly the mention of Mara’s mother that caused her strong reaction!
Mara accepted the glass and managed a weak smile. Kimberly realized that she needed to do a lot more investigation with Rose Willard.