It started on 13 July 2010, and I will never forget the experience. That was the first day I walked out of work, got in my car, and left. The first day I reached in my pocket, and felt the presence of my keys.
I can never explain what I felt that day. Most would call it panic, others would call it anxiety. I don’t really know what the people I worked with at that time called it, although my memories of how they treated certain people I’d worked with suggests they called it deliberate bad behavior.
I’m not certain many of them believed in mental illness then, and I doubt they have changed.
That day was the first uncontrolled panic attack I had as I spiraled into Major Depressive Disorder. I had no ability to think, no ability to question, no ability to pause. I knew of one thing, and one thing only. I had keys in my pocket. Keys to my car. Keys to my escape.
And I desperately needed to escape. I didn’t need to walk on the beach. I didn’t need to hide in the secured lab. I didn’t need to talk to someone.
I needed to escape. To run. To flee. To save my life. My sanity. My soul.
The moment my fingers found the keys in my pocket, I stood, I walked, I left. I unlocked my car, got in, and drove.
I remember I stopped in the parking lot of the closest Walmart store to the base. I don’t know how long I was there. It may have been a couple of minutes. It may have been half an hour. I don’t know. Time didn’t exist.
I listened to my music, the doors shut, the windows rolled up, the volume turned up. I listened until I couldn’t think, couldn’t feel. Until the only thing left in life was the music I loved.
And that’s when I found myself. That’s when I realized I was in the car, in the parking lot at Walmart. That’s when I remembered I’d fled work, the office, the people, the environment.
And in doing so, I’d found a way to breathe.
I called the office I’d fled, and let someone know where I was, and I didn’t know when I’d get back. I called my boss, at the home office, and told him I needed to talk.
You know. I don’t even remember that talk. Not one word of it.
I went home, ate something, and when I could breathe, I went back to work. I knew I wouldn’t get anything done that day. By that point, I’m fairly certain everyone knew I wouldn’t get anything done.
I spoke with her. One of the three voices in that place, in that office, that environment, I could breathe around. One of the three voices I didn’t need to run from, didn’t need to escape, didn’t need to fear.
I can’t explain that. In the months that followed I learned, in the presence of any of those three voices, my hands didn’t shake. In the presence of anyone else in that place, my hands shook.
I spoke with her about the trip I was making to the doctor’s office a few days later, to discuss my depression, and start getting the help I knew I needed, but didn’t know how to get. Then, I went home. It was a lost day at work. The first of many in 2010.
That day when I touched the keys in my pocket, and all I could do was run.
I can’t explain it. I won’t try. I know this simple truth. As an individual, you either understand what I’ve written here, the story of the keys in my pocket, and how I ran. Or you don’t.
For some things, there are no words.
It’s April 15th, and I’m a two days behind on the A to Z Challenge for 2016. Only 15 more letters to write stories for this month.
Please, go explore the A to Z Challenge, and the sites of others who are participating in this adventure.