Tag Archives: anxiety

That Fateful Night: An Excerpt

Credit: realhdwallpaper.com

I have been writing a lot for the past couple of years. How much is a lot, you ask? Well, I have a few completed manuscripts that I’ve accumulated.

That’s great!! What are you waiting for?? Send them in!!

Ha.

If only it were that easy.

I haven’t wanted to release any of them yet. And the one manuscript that I did shop around turned out to be lacking something. Oh well. We live and learn.

Live.

Yes, it’s all about living. That much I know.

This current project feels like it might be the one that sees the light of day. It may very well be the one that gets published self-published. Why? Because it’s the only one that feels right: the story that is bleeding out of my still-open wounds. It’s not like I’m on a 1,000-word-a-day writing binge, but I’ll get it written at some point.

My goal is to have it finished and bound before my mother passes away. She’s not sick or anything, but she’s the one who keeps urging me to publish it, so I’d at least like to finish it before she does pass away someday. She wants me to get my story out there so others can learn and benefit from it. Plus, she thinks it’ll earn me millions of dollars.

Yeah, right. It helps to dream, though.

Anyway, below is an excerpt from my work in progress (I almost said Enjoy! but decided not to). Mind you, it’s a rough draft, so please overlook mistakes of any kind:

 

**************

 

I never thought I would be so brave as I rushed toward my death. No goodbyes, no crying (and I was quite the crybaby). The four margaritas, each with an extra shot of tequila, had given me the courage, though. They had taken the credit just like everything else in my pathetic life.

Luckily I had enough sense to pick up my prescription at the drive-thru. The Muslim lady with the head scarf gave them to me through the window just like she always did. She has her faith. That’s good, I thought. I had mine: nearly two full bottles of Xanax.

Like in that Clint Eastwood flick where the one-armed deputy had two guns in his belt.  “But you only have one arm,” someone had asked him. “Well, I don’t wanna get killed on account of not being able to fight back,” he had responded. I, too, wanted to be like that.

 

**************

 

Not so smart now, are you?

Why was my mind still working?

Somehow I knew it wasn’t God’s voice; sounded too familiar.

I didn’t see anything.  No blackness.  Just… nothingness.  Even with all the liquor and drugs in my system, I was still somehow tied to reality. What was going on?

 

***************

 

“Scott, Scott, where are you?!” The voice was frantic. I knew it was my wife’s, even in my condition. That smallest hint of recollection. Funny how the mind worked. Her voice sounded tinny, like it was coming from my grandma’s childhood radio that she had shown me pictures of.

I was fumbling with my work bag on the floorboard. “I can’t find my phone!!” I was frantic, too.

But why? 

Oh, I know. 

The redneck standing outside my passenger window. I’m not actually sure if he was a redneck, but that’s what I called those guys in Texas who drove those huge gas-guzzling pickup trucks. I think I had asked him if he were okay. “I’m fine, but your car is totaled,” I remember him saying.

I never started up my car.  I was still in the crowded parking lot of El Ranchito… right?

“Where’s my blasted phone?!” I shrieked again and again. It was no longer in my bag. I was going by my sense of touch, unable to see. I could still hear my poor wife’s frantic question coming through the receiver like a short-circuiting megaphone in the darkness of my mind.

“Scott!!”

 

******************

 

–killed someone!  You could have—

I was on my back, staring up into a bright light. Nothing but radiant fog, like headlights shining through early morning mountain air. It was a woman’s voice. She seemed to be addressing me.

–could have killed—

–someone!

You could have—

Yes, I get it, now shut up, I thought.  All I was conscious of was my vision, or lack thereof; I hadn’t noticed my limbs, if I were even able to move them.  Was I strapped down?  Was I in an ambulance?  Were we in motion?

Who cares?  The radiance was giving way to a shadow; an eclipse entered my line of mental vision and sent icy pellets of fear through my body.

I’m dead.  Oh my God, help me…

Someone had an arm around me and was helping me walk. I felt cold. I sensed that nothing was covering my legs. Where were my clothes? I was doubled over and staggering like an old man, a few baby steps at a time. I’m 6’3” and a lean, solid 220 pounds, so whoever was helping me was pretty strong, that was for sure.

Come on…  you can do it…

An old man’s voice. Maybe it was God.

 

*******************

 

~topaz


An Antisocial Outcast in God’s Temple

Today is Sunday, so that means 8:30am Mass! Ask any Christian, and they will say that Sunday is their favorite day of the week: Mass/service, fellowship, hanging out, lunch together…

Unfortunately, I can’t relate.

Don’t get me wrong; I go to weekly Mass and my soul actively participates in worshiping God. It is an exhilarating, mystical experience. By the end of Mass, I sometimes have tears of joy and gratitude streaming down my face.

And then…

I go home.

Believe me, I want to hang around afterwards and chit-chat with people; laughing and smiling is good for the soul. I just have trouble making my body… um, do that.

During the Mass, there is a moment when we greet and shake hands with parishioners around us (No, it’s not some awkward trend that happens only in Evangelical churches). I know exactly when it is coming: shortly after the Our Father and before the consecration of the Eucharist. Since I know when it’s going to take place (think of Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day), I dread the moment and wonder each time how I will manage to get through it. Will someone ignore me? Will a husband smooch his wife and then turn to someone else, leaving me out (not that I want to be smooched)? Or will an old woman scowl at me while offering a limp hand?

“I knew this was gonna happen.”

Last week, I have to confess that I did something different for the first time and unbecoming of a Catholic and Knight: During the meet-and-greet part, I clasped my hands in prayer, bowed my head, and shut my eyes tightly. I could hear the greetings die down, so I knew when to open my eyes again and rejoin the Mass.

I know. That was bad. I won’t do that again. Luckily I wasn’t wearing my white K of C name badge. Just like people who put the Christian fish symbol on their car: They are expected to be polite drivers. If not, then it’s full-on scandal mode featured on the nightly news or something.

Right after Mass (*not during), I retreated to the safety of my car and tweeted about how lonely I always feel sitting by myself each week. I even try to avoid smiling at kids in front rows who turn around to look at me, afraid that I would be seen as a pedophile (you know, big tall nerdy guy sitting all alone in church, smiling at kids). (I am not a pedophile by the way.) (Man, I just realized I use a lot of parentheses.)

I mentioned in my tweet that I wished our parish had a section of pews where solo churchgoers could sit; we would feel more secure perhaps. Well, Topaz, um… Why don’t you go sit by someone who is alone?! Duh! Because it’s hard, and I am afraid that they would consider that a weird request: “Hi. I don’t want to look like an idiot, so can I sit by you?”

Anyway, this wonderful Twitter follower of mine responded with: “Jesus was alone in the garden while He struggled with his emotions. Lean on Him.” Wow. That is awesome.

I immediately went back into the chapel (the church was emptied out by this point) and knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I spent some good time there before the tabernacle in the semi-dark chamber lit by gorgeous white candles along the walls with the single red one that symbolizes the presence of Christ.

God always speaks to me in some way — usually in a barely-audible whisper that comes from the far reaches of my soul. He told me basically to take my beatings as I go. He reminded me that, in just a few hours, I would be going over to the grand knight’s house to prepare the food for our pool party to honor the altar servers in the parish. Then God reminded me again — I’m such a blockhead — that I needed to get going because, being the council youth director, I was the one leading this whole event and I had work to do.

(By the way, I didn’t become the K of C council youth director and an officer because I’m so awesome. It’s because nobody else wanted the job.)

So, in essence, God’s reply to my loneliness and anxiety was to get over it and focus on others. Later in the day, when the pool party was in full swing without any major disasters going on, I thanked God for helping me through yet another episode of my depression and anxiety.

So, this Sunday turned out to be the best day of my week. Not because I’m such an important Super Christian ™ and born to mingle, but because I remained faithful through all the pain and torment of my illness.

Hopefully all of you reading this had a good day. If not, there’s always tomorrow.

I am not a trained psychologist or therapist, but if you feel all alone and need someone to talk to who understands, please leave me a message or contact me at: thepsychword@gmail.com. Seriously.

~topaz

*I sometimes think people are blatantly texting or surfing the ‘net on their smartphones, but they could be following the order of the Mass and the readings instead. So it’s probably not the best idea to assume they are the bane of your existence.


Dark Day of the Soul

I don’t want to be here at work right now.  Actually, I don’t want to be alive right now.  I was fine when I left my family this morning; my two little boys were standing in the yard, waving to me as I drove away.  But when I get like this, nothing seems to cheer me up; not even my little sons.

I can’t believe — well, yes I can — that I have a class in 30 minutes.  Today is the first day of the second summer term, so this is a brand new English class that I’m teaching at my college.  I haven’t prepared anything yet — just the syllabus.  I can always let them go early, though.

Usually I try to add some wit and humor to my posts on this blog.  You know, “make it interesting and amusing so that readers will keep coming back for more.”  Sometimes, however, I say screw it.  No offense, WordPress Advice People.

I haven’t been taking my medication regularly because I’m sick of living in a fog, and I don’t have the luxury of taking naps whenever I want during the day. I am, after all, a teacher, so there are always things to be done and courses to teach.

Last year, I went to the campus nurse and told her that I was feeling extremely tired.  I didn’t dare tell her about my mental health; if word got back to the dean, I would be forced out of my job probably.  She told me to take it easy and go back to my office.  Well, I went out to my car (because I couldn’t keep my eyes open) and passed out for about an hour.

Somehow, the dean of Liberal Arts is into micromanaging some of us, so of course she wondered where I had been since it was too early for a lunch break.  I told her I wasn’t feeling well and that the nurse told me to lie down (I know.  I lied.  And this blog is supposed to be my Catholic ministry to help people. *sigh*).  She made me fill out a leave of absence form, so basically I had to take an hour of sick leave.  I suppose that was only fair, though.  I’m still upset that she was on my case that day.

When I get depressed, it’s not just a “woe is me” emotional moment.  It’s as if a dark cloud is enveloping me, sucking out my soul and leaving me empty and in agony.  For all you Harry Potter fans, it’s the equivalent of a Dementor’s attack.

dementor

Dementor

I can finally feel my Xanax (my emergency drug) kick in.  But the problem is, after a few hours, the drug leaves me with such little energy, and I end up falling asleep on my desk.  It’s nothing but a vicious cycle: I need the Xanax to rescue me from doing anything stupid while I am down in the dumps, but the effects are difficult to deal with later on.  I suppose it’s better to be drowsy in the afternoon instead of jumping in front of a train at the nearby rail station.

I guess I’ll just fake it until my class is finished and then see about going home for the day.  It’s summer semester, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Speaking of teaching, so many people ask me why I got into such a “social” field; wouldn’t standing in front of  and educating 25 to 40 students at a time be the worst kind of job for someone like me who is often afraid to show up at parties when there are more than three people present?

I have shortened my response to just one word:

performance

Jim Carrey is a goofball on film, but he’s extremely shy and moody when he’s not in front of the camera.  Kurt Cobain was a very talented, interesting frontman on stage, but as soon as his set was over, he retreated into his own private world.

Now that I think about it, tonight is our monthly council meeting at the Knights of Columbus hall.  I have to speak to the brothers about the summer youth event that I’m coordinating and my idea for a men’s accountability group since neither our parish nor our Knights council has one.  Plus this will be the first meeting since I was installed as an officer last month.

The words of former therapists and psych ward aides suddenly zoom through my head:

Fake it ’til you make it.

God is great.

Don’t give up. 

Then I remember a fellow patient, a large African American woman, that I befriended in one of the psych wards getting in my face one day after a group session.  “You’re Catholic, so that means if you kill yourself, you’ll go to hell.”

“Yes,” I had answered.  “But I don’t care.”

“Well, then I’d have to come to hell and save your ***.”  She glared at me before continuing.  “And I don’t like heat.”

I had to peel my eyes away from hers.  “I got it.”

~topaz