#ThursThreads Week 412 : I Should Not Have Come Here

My curiosity sometimes got the better of me. That was one of those times. I’d wondered how people behaved at a popular music concert, so when I learned one of my favorite bands was having a show at the local amphitheater, I decided to attend, and find out.

I found the idea of sitting on a hillside covered with grass, watching several bands play their songs, fascinating. Before the first band went onstage, I focused on watching people find places to sit. I was stunned to see how many of them purchased drinks, mostly beer, from the amphitheater’s vendors. I knew those drinks were absurdly overpriced. But that didn’t seem to matter to those attending the event, as they kept obtaining more drinks every time they ran out.

Unfortunately, when that first band started I realized I was alone. Surrounded by an ocean of strangers, thousands of people I did not know. My mind stopped working correctly, and began asking, endlessly, “Why am I here?” and “What am I doing?”

I began to feel like an ant crossing a table surrounded by humans intent on smashing it. I lost track of the music, and kept reminding myself to breathe, as I desperately tried to control the panic attack I knew was engulfing me.

All the while, my mind kept endlessly repeating, “I should not have come here.”

I don’t remember the music at all. All I remember is I survived.

240 Words
@mysoulstears


It’s Week 412 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. And more words in whatever it is that’s writing itself have turned up. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.

#EVERyTuesdayWordplay Week 16 : Burn

My hand wouldn’t type. I tried several times, but my hand wouldn’t type, except maybe random shit that didn’t do anything. “Hold still, fingers, and do what I’m telling you to do!”

I was happy I didn’t say that out loud, everyone would have thought I was nuts, talking to my fingers. I tried several more times, before I realized my hand was warning me I was bordering on a panic attack, if not already in the midst of one.

“Step back, dude. Step back.” I stepped back from the computer on the workbench. Just one step, but it put it out of my reach, and left my hand hanging in air. “Breathe.” I took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “Again.” I repeated the deep breath.

My hand was hanging in the air, still, its fingers visibly shaking, clearly not stable, and not calm. “I’ve got work to do, I can’t be dealing with this right now!”

Another deep breath, and I forced calmness from my shoulder, down the length of my arm to my wrist, and then my hand, and watched the shaking slowly stop. “Better.”

It was time to step back up to the workbench, and pick up where my fingers had stopped working.

That’s when the phone rang. Of course, that’s when it would ring. Me on the verge of coming apart at the seams was the perfect time for some helpless without their computer human to call and ask if it was ready yet, and plead for us to finish it so they could get their work done that night.

“Computer Repair Center, can I help you,” I answered the damn phone. It was frightening how calm my voice was, with a hint of glad to hear from you optimism in it.

Sure enough, it was one of the customers, begging us to fix their computer first, “I have a presentation at work tonight, at eight. It’s on that computer. I’m desperate.”

“I’ll do the best I can.” Nice, calm answer, that defused the anger on the other end of the line, and left me wondering how I to complete seven hours of work on a computer in under three hours.

That’s when the manager walked in, stopped in front of a particular computer, and gave this order, “The client just called me, wanting to know why their computer isn’t fixed. Told them I’d make sure it was the first one we got off the bench.” So, he looked right at me, “They approved a restore, and updates. That takes three hours. Get on it.”

My hand started shaking again, while I looked for the operating system installation media. Of course, I couldn’t find any. “If I find out who’s been walking off with the installation media, I’m gonna kill them!”

And that’s when everyone got as far away from me as they could. “He wants to burn the whole building down again, y’all. Such a short temper, that one.”

497 Words
@mysoulstears


For week 16 of Ever Addams weekly #EVERyTuesdayWordplay Flash Fiction prompt. Sometimes, sensory overload triggers panic attacks. Life’s a headache sometimes, isnt’ it. Go read the other stories for prompt #16.

#AtoZ2016 : K Is For Keys

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.

I’d escaped.

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.

 

Mark.


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.

When Will Your First Book Be Ready?

A good friend asked, yesterday, when my first book was coming out. Of course, I answered with a, “When it’s ready” answer.. Isn’t that what everyone that’s never published a novel answers? “When it’s ready.”

But here’s where things get different. With me, “When it’s ready,” may translate to “Never.” It’s an anxiety and depression thing. It’s a war with myself thing. A conflict I’m all too familiar with, and have struggled with all my life. These days, when I think of writing the 2nd and 3rd drafts of “White Witch”, then getting beta readers, and finding an editor to help me clean it up, an artist to help me with the cover design, and learning what I’ll need to learn to publish my book, I panic.

Yes, I panic.

And until now, this morning, sitting here, writing these words, I’ve never admitted I panic at the thought of completing my first novel. But I do. Every symptom, every signal, shows. My fingers vibrate like the tines of a tuning fork. My left wrist does its “I can’t support any weight” number. My chest constricts, all the muscles in my neck, shoulders, and chest behave like I’m lifting a five-drawer file cabinet over my head. My pulse rate pushes up to near 3 digit levels, and I have to force myself to take full, deep breaths, to breathe normally.

See. I know. I just don’t talk about it. I hide it, and pray it goes away. I pray everything goes away. As I have all my life.

Because I want to fail.

Yes. You read that correctly. I want to fail.

It’s a hard thing to explain to people. A thing that makes no sense to anyone, except me. It’s not a refusal of responsibility. It’s something deeper, much more complex that not wanting to grown up and be responsible. Because I am a grown up, responsible adult.

It’s a fight even I have trouble finding the words to explain. The only words I’ve ever found are, “I want to fail,” which doesn’t really explain what I feel. So, let me explain a bit more.

In October, 2010, my last career came to a spectacular end, with me out on medical leave for 13 weeks. If you’re not familiar with the story, perhaps I’ll explain it someday. My doctor will tell you I wanted out of that job, and my subconscious did what I had to, to get me out of that job.

Here I am, in 2014, back at full-time work status, in another job. One I wasn’t even working to get. It just kind of happened. Like the last job I had. Like things always have. I’ve explained countless times, “I don’t have to look for work. Work always finds me.”

I know why this happens. It happens because I’m good at what I do. I’m not top ranked, far from it. It’s one of those things my Doctor and I have talked about many times (after 4 years of therapy, I’ve lost count of how many times). I’m damn good at what I do. Whatever I decide to do, I do it well. This past week, my doctor explained it to me this way, “Mark, if the best people at this are in the 99th percentile, you’re in the 97th, or 98th. Your not the best, but you’re damn good. Exceptionally good.”

Yeah. That’s the problem. Everyone knows that. Everyone who knows me knows that. And I can’t escape that. I can’t escape people knowing I’m good at the things I choose to do. And it’s not just in the land of computers, and computer software. Things would be far simpler if I had such limits.

I write, too. As more and more people are finding out. I write. And I’m not bad at it. To the point where I’ve been told, and have lost count of how many people have told me, I’m not bad at it, and should write a book.

I take pictures, too. With a $400 (US) Canon point and shoot camera with a 840 mm optical zoom lens. Not even a real camera. A point and shoot camera. A camera a lot of people look at, and laugh at, because it’s not a “real” camera.

Yet, even with that “toy” camera, I take pictures people like. I’ve heard many times, “You’re a photographer, right?”

Wrong. I’m not. I just take pictures. Snap-shots. I’m not a photographer.

I’m not a writer.

I’m not a computer genius.

And I struggle, every day, with the idea, the thought, that I am, and that people think I am.

Could I start a computer services business? Yes. Easily. Would I be successful at it? Almost certainly. Then why don’t I? Because I want to fail. Because the thought of meeting those expectations leaves me gasping for breath, and needing to take a long walk to make it through yet another panic attack.

Could I write, and publish, my first book? Yes. For me, it would be surprisingly easy. Would it sell? Who cares? That wouldn’t be the point. Do I want to? Yes. Then why don’t I? Because I want to fail. Because the thought of completing my first book, and publishing it, and putting it out in the world, triggers another panic attack. And leaves me terrified of the knowledge I would publish more stories. The first book wouldn’t be the only book. And again, I end up taking long walks to de-stress myself, and beat back the panic.

There you have it, people. What I’m really saying when I answer the question, “When will your book be ready?”

Me. Screaming at life, trying to run and hide, because I know where that next step leads, and I’m terrified to take that step as a result.

It’s not “when will the book be ready?” It’s actually, “When will I be ready?”

And I don’t have an answer to that question. Other than to look at my hands, and scream at them, “Stop doing that!” and then go walk until my heels bleed.

That’s what terror is.

That’s what anxiety is.

That’s what I live with. Every breath and every heartbeat of every day.