Not my alarm – I woke up ahead of that one, this morning. We had a fire alarm go off in the office yesterday and evacuated the building. Turned out to be a mistake by a construction worker, I heard. These things happen. What came next was hard; it had triggered me.

My anxiety and symptoms of my PTSD flared up. The noise of the alarm itself worked my nerves over as I calmly and efficiently left the building with haste. What got me, though, was “civilian behavior”. My anxiety continued to increase the longer I was exposed to the chaos and disorder of folks ambling down the stairs in distracted confusion, chatting about the day, and milling around outside very close to a building they had no reason to believe was still safe. I began scanning the crowd for an unseen enemy – we were all so exposed, to vulnerable, they seemed so unaware. The hyper-vigilance lasted the remainder of the day. My startle reflex was turned way up. My chest felt tight. My mood had become detached and mildly aggressive, “battle-ready”. By the time the all clear was given, I was no longer “safe for work” in some difficult to describe way, but had meetings left in the day, and workload to attend to.

I did my best. I went home as soon as I could. The commute was just more verbs and more practice. My startle reflex is dangerous in commuter traffic; cars or people approaching from my periphery reach my consciousness as an imminent threat. My hyper-vigilance combined with my agitation, anxiety, and aggression, result in a seething mess herding powerful machinery capable of killing, down crowded streets, too slow to feel satisfying, frustratingly slow, and being wholly made of human, I really just wanted to go home and cry quietly until the feelings passed.

My face still hurts this morning from gritting my teeth the whole way home.

I’m okay. I did get safely home. No one got hurt. No fender bender. No angry tirade – either on the road, or in the office. I managed to keep my shit together, and that’s something to pause for, to be aware of, to value – and this morning I sip my coffee focusing on the recollection of what worked, and how well, and less on the alarm itself, or the “civilian behavior” – people are people. My coworkers are not machines. They are not soldiers. This is not (no, seriously, it’s not) a war zone. My coworkers were the ones being rational; there was no cause for (the) alarm. šŸ™‚ Admittedly, I still think they would do well to move with purpose in an emergency, to gather in an organized fashion and take a count of folks on their teams to be sure every is safely away from danger… but… they’ll probably need to actually experience danger to understand how important that actually is. So. There’s that.

This morning is so much more ordinary. I take a moment to be mildly irked with myself that my mental health situation last night threw off my timing getting ready for the weekend. I’m behind on my “to do” list. lol I’ll get over it. Yesterday was hard. I’ll get over that, too.

The sun is not yet up… I think I’ll get an early start on a new beginning. šŸ™‚