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Arrested by Necessity

When Paralyzed by Thoughts

By Mack D. AmesPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Peace for the Anxious

Do you have a favorite place to visit when you're overwhelmed by your thoughts? Do you get overwhelmed by your thoughts?

I suppose not everyone experiences the paralyzation that occurs when too many decisions creep in. I get knots in my (ample) stomach that twist and turn into cramps. Within minutes, my pulse increases and I force myself to remain calm, but anxiety starts poking at my chest like a toddler attempting to wake his papa for a snack. The cause of my tension is lost by this time, and my focus turns to slowing my breathing, "staying present in the moment," and remembering where I am and why.

"Where am I?" I ask myself. "At work. Why?" I shake my head at the stupidity of the question. "Because it's a workday, dingbat." The nerves ease slightly, but the trembling in my chest is never far away. It wears me out, and I want to take a nap.

"Why am I feeling overwhelmed at work?" I ask myself, and the process begins again. The jitters, inner tremors, knots and cramps, increased pulse, and sense of panic are on me before I can stop them. What the hell?? I sit down and press my face against the cold steel of my desk. Surprisingly, the discomfort passes again, but my brain tells me, "It's all here, Mack. Don't get cocky. It hasn't gone very far."

Mercifully, a student arrives to do his work, and I have to think about his needs for the next hour. He's helped by caffeine, so I get up and make a pot of coffee. It takes my mind off my balancing act long enough to finish work. Still, when the morning is over and all the students are gone, the text messages remind me that I have more bills than income, more work than motivation, and more details than concentration, and I'm right back where I started.

I move to a different building on campus to assist another member of our faculty, and when I settle in, the anxiety returns. What does it look like? It looks like this:

Inability to focus due to anxiety

I sit and stare at nothing in particular, attempting to gather thoughts that require sorting and organizing, but in doing so they create greater stress than I want to admit.

1. I have paperwork to complete for FMLA because my wife has been diagnosed with cancer and I might be forced to take more time off than I have available through standard leave time. Due to her diagnosis and upcoming treatment, I have to add her part-time job to my full-time work.

2. I need a new lawnmower (a used one will suffice) because ours doesn't work and our lawn is becoming a jungle.

3. I need to shovel out our dirt-floor cellar, which is covered in wood pellets that have soaked up the product of a backed-up septic system a few weeks ago.

4. We need to get our son to the BMV to get his permanent driver's permit before the end of the month. We need certain documents that I must remember to dig out to do that.

5. The church is celebrating its 70th anniversary this weekend, and I have to prepare the final lesson for my Sunday school class before then.

6. I need to prepare the new WorkReady curriculum for work. I must complete WR with the last student from the winter group, request his and the other man's credentials from Augusta, and send the credentials to the two men who moved to Downeast before their paperwork arrived.

7. I must mail my son's authorization paperwork asap. (You don't need to know what that's about, but I still have to do it.)

8. I need to arrange transportation for the week of my wife's treatment.

9. My book needs publishing, and I'm terrible with details, deadlines, and all the rest.

10. There's paperwork I need to file with the court that should have been done already, and the longer it goes, the harder it is to finish.

So, yeah, I get thinking about all this, and it gets me tangled, anxious, paralyzed, frozen. I escape until I can run no more. When I am arrested by necessity, I face my accusers and get my shit done.

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About the Creator

Mack D. Ames

Educator & writer in Maine, USA. Real name Bill MacD, partly. Mid50s. Dry humor. Emotional. Cynical. Sinful. Forgiven. Thankful. One wife, two teen sons, one male dog. Baritone. BoSox fan. LOVE baseball, Agatha Christie, history, & Family.

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Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (4)

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli 3 days ago


  • Anna 30 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • Seemab Gul about a month ago

    Superb ,simple and interesting.

  • Tasha McIntoshabout a month ago

    Thank you for sharing this. It can be difficult to admit to ourselves, let alone others struggles surrounding anxiety. I truly hope you gain respite soon!

Mack D. AmesWritten by Mack D. Ames

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