Lately my coworker has started having angry outbursts at her desk. Unfortunately she sits maybe 20 feet from me. Usually there is some warning, like a lot of complaining before the outburst so I’m halfway expecting it.
Today, out of nowhere she shouts “COME ON, what are you, a fucking retard?!?!?!” and slams her fists on the desk as hard as she can. Not to mention being offensive, but the loud noise combined with the shouting threw me into an immediate flashback. I immediately felt the tightness in my chest and throat, and fear rising like a flood. I immediately went on red alert, adrenaline surging through my veins and all of my senses heightened.
Before I lost it completely, I quickly stepped out of the office, practically running down the hall to the bathroom. I hid in the bathroom for several minutes, concentrating on my breathing and willing myself to calm down. Tears welled up in my eyes, making me more anxious that someone would know that I had been crying. I willed them to stop, begging myself in my mind to just calm down. I had to repeatedly tell myself that no one was going to hurt me, that I would be ok.
I finally left the bathroom, deciding that I would go back to my desk and put my headphones on and blare my music so I could drown it all out. I came back to my desk, put my headphones on and hoped I would be ok. Of course, she was still all fired up and was storming around the room angrily and speaking loudly. By this point I was in full on panic mode. Then, all 3 people in my department started arguing about something loudly. Anger rolled out through the room like a bright red; thick; boiling fog. I can’t escape it; I’ve turned my music up as loud as possible to drown them out but I can still see their movements, the quick and jagged angry motions and facial expressions.
I am so triggered by loud unexpected noises and other people’s anger. Growing up, anger meant pain. When my parents were angry they would take it out on me, physically and emotionally. Anger meant the beating of a lifetime. I am still bordering on panic attack. Every movement or sound makes me tense up, ready to defend. My muscles ache as I try to make myself blend into my desk so no one notices me. My face is a steely expression, as blank as possible so these people don’t know I’m on the edge of a complete meltdown. I feel like any tiny thing could push me over the edge of the precipice, tumbling headfirst. My head is pounding from the rush of adrenaline. My heart is racing faster than if I had just sprinted. The storm of a century is going on, just under my skin, threatening to leak out at any moment. But yet I sit here, pretending that nothing is wrong, that I am completely okay. All while seconds from a complete collapse. And still the boiling fog of anger threatens to envelope me completely.