Creative Exercise #3

The Irukandji jellyfish, mostly found off the coast of Australia, are the most poisonous box jellyfish, and at one cubic centimeter, also the smallest. Another distinguishing feature is its sting, which produces what scientists call a “feeling of impending doom,' partially caused by venom triggering hormones connected to anxiety. Write a short piece  about a time in your past in which you felt intensely anxious about a situation, and were unfailingly convinced of a negative outcome. What were the circumstances and external factors that led you to this perspective? Did you overcome your fears and emerge from the other side with a new outlook?  Be sure to also comment on a classmate's post for full credit.

31 thoughts on “Creative Exercise #3

  1. Delaney E Reece

    In what felt like all at once my closest friend, a person who I had picked and loved all on my own was tossed down the garbage disposal by another person who I had trusted. It was close to 5:30 in the morning when he finally came to my dorm room and told me that he wasn’t sure if he could ever trust me again, for something that truly wasn’t my fault but that I have been made to take the blame for. He left my room and I felt as though a hole had been punched through my chest.
    I remember staggering backward wanting to crumple up into a ball on the floor, unable to identify how or why I felt so devastatingly sick. I crawled back into bed at some point -I don’t remember when- and lay with the blankets pulled all the way up to my nose shaking uncontrollably. Regardless of my deeper feelings, it was my best friend who had walked out that door, and who I knew needed me as much as I needed them.
    I hummed to myself a mindful meditation to calm the ruminating anxiety which spun dangerously fast through my mind. For the first time, I found this unable to comfort me. and they continued to shiver as though I was cold, still feel as though I had a fever, and think about whether or not I can make it to the bathroom in time to vomit. I had never in my life and have never since felt the same kind of devastating anxiety before.
    I didn’t move from bed until 3 p.m. that day, And when I did it was to attend a therapy appointment -made for that day by some miracle. Sarah knew that something was very wrong, end my day with her was very different from our other meetings. She handed me a water bottle, because at this point I had not had anything to eat or drink in more than 24 hours, and she talked me down from the crazy anxious place my mind had taken me. She spoke sense to my nausea, into the shakiness that I felt in my soul, and she convinced me that when the sun came up tomorrow everything would be better. And that when the sun came up on the next day everything would be better still. And that at some point this best friend of mine would remember that they were my best friend, or that they wouldn’t and if not then they had never been my best friend at all. I spent well over my allotted time with her that day, and I left feeling like a human again. that day and morning which I had lived through in a sleepy, shaky, toxic blur were dissipating.
    Three days later, I spoke to my best friend again and we have spoken everyday sense no matter the distance.

  2. Jess Young

    In paramedic school we were taught the phrase “feeling of impending doom” as a warning sign that someone was experiencing a life-threatening illness. Our bodies have a way of letting us know when the end is near. The most hair-raising words I have ever heard from a patient were “I’m going to die.” …they were right. It is with that experience in my mind that I comb for a time when I thought I was doomed to fail and had no hope for success.

    I don’t think I’ve ever felt truly doomed, as though there was no hope for a positive outcome. I am a planner and I’ve been taught to do as much as I can with limited resources. Subsequently, I have a contingency plan for just about everything you can imagine. If I get fired tomorrow, I have a plan. If my husband dies or leaves me, I can account for my next moves. If something horrible happens to my child, I know how I will proceed. It might be macabre or pessimistic, but I see horrible things happen to really nice people all the time, so I like to be prepared.

    I suppose the darkest place I’ve ever been was after a miscarriage while simultaneously my marriage was circling the drain. I was 21 years old and had felt a devastating loss. My husband at the time had no idea how to help me and had a true inability to understand the depth of feelings I was experiencing. He tried to reassure me by telling me we’d “just make another one” which was a young man’s way of horribly botching the caring and understanding part of marriage. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone than in those winter months. I withdrew, stayed at work as often as possible, and avoided contact with my friends, family, and specifically my husband. Subsequently, after two weeks of marriage counseling five months later, we separated and divorced.

    When I look back on that time in my life I am so thankful that it happened. It was miserable, but I came out of it a year or so later with the knowledge that life gets better. Horrible things can happen and you still hold the power to choose happiness. I emerged on the other side of that situation with empathy, compassion, and appreciation for things I took for granted before. I ended up finding an older man who I married and doesn’t make young-man mistakes (he makes other ones). I ended up having a child despite complications and I appreciate her even more for the miracle that she is. I don’t judge people for leaving their spouses anymore, because I’ve been there and I know what it feels like to make that choice. Most importantly, I know now that I have the power to make myself happy and to control my destiny. So I don’t feel “impending doom” very often and when it sneaks up, I remind myself that the most devastating incidents sometimes have the most beautiful results.

    1. Meghan Geary

      Thank you for sharing this. It takes a lot of courage to share something so intimate and personal with a group of people you’ve never met, so I applaud you. You sound like an incredibly strong woman, and I’m glad to hear that you can look back at the instances in life that have tested you and see them as something positive now- they led you to where you are today.

  3. Lilia Lundquist

    This is an incredibly devastating story that I feel makes you very brave for sharing. I haven’t experienced losing a child, but I know how disheartening it can be to have a significant other who is unable to connect with you on an emotional level. Stress that occurs from relationship problems seems to be the most difficult to avoid. I am glad you came out of this having gained something. Everything seems to happen for a reason even the tragic and painful events.

  4. Lilia Lundquist

    I have been fortunate enough to not have too many memories concerning feelings of impending doom or crippling anxiety. However, one in particular occurred when I was living in Texas my sophomore year of college. I went to a big university where social events were prioritized above all else. This meant that any time you went out you expected to find the rest of your peers all at the same happening. On the weekend of Halloween there were more options than normal for weekend parties. I’m not sure how the incorporation of costumes makes people want to drink and socialize more than normal but I didn’t really question it. As per usual on Friday night I found myself surrounded by people who I didn’t really care about but considered a good time. Before it was even 9pm most of the scantly dressed ladies and men dressed in half ass costumes were comfortably drunk. I was regrettably involved in a sorority during my time in Texas and found myself drowning in a pool of skinny bleach blondes all shrieking about who knows what. We all piled into a bus driven by, I can only hope a sober individual, and began our route for the evening. For about 3 hours we migrated from one party to the next, arguably all the same. Finally, we ended up at a frat house about 6 miles out of my quaint college town. It was agreed that’s where my group would be spending the remainder of the night. For two hours nothing too memorable happened, people drank to their hearts content and made questionable decisions based on their lowered self-awareness. When 3 am rolled around the owners of the house began calling a quits to the madness. People slowly moseyed away from the property and in the direction of their rides home. At this point I realized how many people were there. The lot couldn’t have been larger than an acre yet there were about 500 people. The lot itself was situated off a busy backroad that lacked any street lights. I wanted to escape the crowds and ventured down the dark road. I found myself separated from my group but completely ok with this outcome. I knew where we had parked and planned to just walk back on my own. While walking along the side of the road there was a man dressed in all white less than 10 feet away from me. I still haven’t a clue as to what his costume was supposed to be. Less than 5 minutes after noticing him I heard a loud screech of tires coming from behind me. In a matter of seconds, I felt a gust of air as a bright red Camaro zoomed past nearly brushing against my arm. I was looking at the man the whole time as the car swerved off the road and slammed into his body. I watched at his limbs went lifeless and his body was thrown over the hood of the vehicle only to be thrown arms width from me. He immediately stood up and stared at me with skin that matched his costume only to collapse seconds later. I heard people screaming and my mind went blank. I stood in a standstill as his shirt began to soak with blood that ironically matched his maker. A group of people began to crowd, and I felt someone pick me up and badger me with questions. I was perfectly fine but if I had been even five feet closer to him we would have had matching costumes that evening. The experience didn’t bring up anxiety but I have never felt so debilitated in my life.

    1. Benjamin Hayward

      That’s a freaky story. good to know you were o.k. Since Anne recommends writing fro the truth, sounds like a camp fire story could be made of it.

    2. Draven

      That is a scary experience, to be that close to a dead body would certainly freak me out. I would never be able to forget if that happened to me.

  5. Benjamin Hayward

    Life’s uncertainties call upon the harbinger of doom. It was just after I returned from deployment, my enlistment is almost complete, I have 6 months left on my contract with the Marines. So I apply for re-enlistment, to do another 4 years. I’m nearly halfway to retirement, might as well finish up, retire for the first time at the ripe young age of 37. Until i got an answer back re-enlistment denied. Oh Boy! now what am I going to do?

    I’m in a foreign land, with a wife and kids. How will I make ends meet? Where will we live? How will we survive? So, I did what any self-respecting man would do with others depending on them would do. I loaded up my resume shotgun and blasted my resume all over the internet , applying to anything and everything I could think of. I finally got an answer from Raytheon. I didn’t even know I applied to them. They had to point me to where I applied with my application. So I did the interview, and they said they would contact me later. It took them 2 weeks to answer the interview. I now have 2 months left in the Marines. I walked around telling everyone I was hired. I got the job, why secretly freaking out that maybe I didn’t. What happens If I don’t get the job? I already had 40 rejections.

    They came back with an answer of hired. A month after I left the Marines, I walked in to the life of private contractor for the government. Let me tell you. You see reports that highest paid jobs are dentist, doctors, lawyers, HR, ect. list come out every year. No. They are not. If you have no degree, not even a AA in something, if you have no certificates, but you have experience, you can make a six figure salary, easy peasy.

    1. Kait

      I know that feeling, too, even though we weren’t in the same situation. I was in college tuition debt for a year and I had the same feeling of never finding a job to pay for it. That feeling really makes you sweat, eh? Makes you wish you were a kid again, taking a nap, only worrying about coloring your book or playing outside. But I think all of that anxiety and stress were worth it for your family, how happy you must be with a new job, and for my new chance at an education.

  6. Natalee Fleming

    The most anxious I have felt was on my drive to my first day of college. It was the summer of 2016, and while that whole summer I had only felt small bits of fear and nervousness, but my fear didn’t hit me until I was driving to my first college class that Monday morning on August 28, 2016. What scared me the most about college was not knowing; not know if classes were going be easy or hard, not know if I’d had some old high school friends in classes with me, not knowing if I’d be able to find my way around, or if I’d be late to class. During my high school career, my teachers told me that college would be hard this is being the idea generated that college would be hard and I would fail my classes. When arrived outside of my speech class that morning I could see just how nervous all the other students were. During the next couple of days, my fears and nervousness slowly faded away as I got into the swing of how my life would go. Without any friends my first semester was a little lonely, so going into my second semester was still a little scared but less scary than the first because this time I knew what to expect. As I go into my third year at UAF the fear of college has disappeared, I don’t even think about it anymore. When I go back in the Fall; I will be welcomed by friends, I know the balance of school, work, and friends, I am “rookie” when it comes to how my degree works. To me, now, college no longer brings anxiety.

    1. Courtney Kisner

      I totally know what you mean about that anxiety before college starts. It’s not a fun feeling going into a classroom where there is no one you know. It’s as if you have to reestablish relationships from scratch. Now you can look back on it as something that you made it through!

    2. Courtney Williamson

      Sometimes I feel like that when I go into the first day of work. I’m actually kind of glad that I’m taking online classes. The fear of meeting new people or just so much stress into going into something completely new makes us anxious. I don’t know what I would do if I had to share a room with a complete stranger.

  7. Courtney Kisner

    Unfortunately, I have a very lacking memory when it comes to personal experiences. It’s almost as if I have amnesia. I always remember the feeling and a broad outline of events. But when it comes to actually putting the details onto paper, it comes out flat. But ask me a memory about a person, details about them, or stories they tell me, and I can pull them up as if they were my own personal memories. I am very external in that way I guess. Emotionally there have been many heart breaks, many tough good byes, and many times where I have felt hopeless. But right now I will focus on a physical feeling of impending doom, as the others are a bit messy and difficult to untangle.
    When it comes to a physical sensation that was close to what I imagine, “impending doom” feels like, I believe I have felt it on a few occasions. My family and I were on a trip in Maui, Hawaii when I was eight, maybe ten years old. I was laying down on the couch in front of the TV, probably watching the Disney channel, waiting for my dad to finish getting ready so we could go to the beach. I was popping those candy-coated chocolate Cadbury eggs into my mouth when one of them got lodged in my trachea. I had experienced the sensation of choking a few times prior to this, but I can’t remember a time it was this bad. I panicked. I ran into the bedroom where my mom was sleeping and grabbed a water bottle figuring I would be able to dislodge it with fluids. Bad idea. I made it worse and the water shot out of my mouth like I was a fish being pulled out of the water. I couldn’t talk to wake my mom, not that she would be able to do the Heimlich manuever. So I banged on the bathroom door frantically, and luckily my dad was not in the shower yet. He knew instantly what was going on, and like always before, saved me. It wasn’t that dramatic, but for an 8 year old it felt like death was near.

    1. Tometria Jackson

      What a frightening event for a child! I’ll bet your father was even more afraid than you were. The fact is, you were close to death, and thank God your dad knew what to do! When my son was about 1, he almost choked to death too. It was probably the most frightening experience I’ve ever faced. After the teething biscuit flew out of his mouth, it set in how close I was to losing him. Whew!

  8. Tometria Jackson

    Worry, anxiety, panic and fear are all branches of the same tree; in each instance, there is the anticipation of some kind of harm that we have no control over. In my younger days, fear was a looming shadow that lurked in my peripheral conscious. I knew it was there, but I didn’t always feel its presence.

    I clearly remember one experience I had when I was a child that induced an ‘extreme panic’ (which is the closest I can come to the example). It was during the summertime, and the days were long and hot. I had been invited by a friend’s parent to accompany them to the local swimming pool. I was excited because I wasn’t usually allowed to go anywhere (except to church!), and getting away from home and chores was a treat. I didn’t know how to swim, but I knew that I would be safe in the shallow area of the pool. I remember it being really crowded and chaotic as children splashed, kicked, jumped, and played games of chase all around me.

    After a while, my friend became bored playing in the shallow end with me, and she swam away into deeper water. I watched her go, a little disappointed that I couldn’t follow, and as I stood there, I realized that I could travel along the perimeter of the pool if I hung on to the edge. I judged it to be a safe option, and I cautiously made my way along the wall.

    As I said earlier, the pool was very crowded, and I was surrounded by enthusiastic play. Somehow, I was bumped away from the wall, and I immediately began to sink. The survival instinct kicked in, and I flailed my arms desperately trying to make my way back to the safety of the edge. It felt like an interminable amount of time before I grasped the solidity of the wall. I clung there, like a half-drowned cat, coughing and sputtering and blowing the water from my nose. My eyes burned with the sting of chlorine, and my throat felt half closed.

    I was alone in my victory over death, because in all of that noisy activity, not a single individual was aware of what almost happened to me. I looked around to see how far I needed to go before I reached the safety of the shallow end, and I saw that directly above me sat the lifeguard in his chair. I was struck with irony as I realized that I could have died within arm’s length of the lifeguard station!

    Years later, my son shared a similar story of his near drowning, but that time it was a sunny day at the lake. He remembered that as he went under flailing his arms, he looked desperately to the shore for help. He said that he saw me, and I smiled and waved back at him before turning back to my conversation with my friend. I was completely unaware of the trouble he was in, and I was incredulous as he told me what happened later that day. Talk about irony!

    1. Kelsey

      Getting water on my face is one of the worst feelings to me, so I can only imagine that feeling the fear of drowning and going underwater is like! having kids play in the water is so scary to me because kids get all crazy and their play can look like drowning! Not to mention all the screaming at public pools. I’m glad you and your son are both ok!

  9. Courtney Williamson

    One day at the lake, I was around six or seven years old. I remember my brother showing my a crawdad, a mini lobster that southerners eat. I was very scared, so he started chasing me with it. From then on I have been scared of all crawdads. One day when I was around seventeen years old, I went to our local lake, and decided to jump in. When I was swimming, a blue gill perch decided to nip me at my leg. I didn’t know what was going to happen because I heard all of the fish had worms because the water was gross or something from my friends. I panicked, and thought that I would get an infection or worse, so from then on, every time I get touched by a fish it gives me PTSD. I think now that I over think about the fish, I really scared of jumping in any fish filled water. The only thing I can do right now is swim in a pool knowing there are no dangers, and the water is clear. I think this is why I like to go to aquariums, knowing I am not in the water, but really there is nothing to be afraid of if I just watch them from afar. I am still scared of fish till this day, cause I know they’re cannibals!

    1. Natalee Fleming

      I totally have that same fear. I live over by Chena Lake, so sometimes my brother and will go out boating in our kayak. Occasionally I’ll dip my hands into the hand to help cool them down, but once I can’t see the bottom or I see fish jumping out of the water my hands instantly go back into the boat. I just have this weird worry that the fish might try and eat my fingers.

      1. Courtney Williamson

        I’m glad I’m not the only one. I know for sure fish are cannibals, I was working at Wal-Mart for a while, and I seen a dead fish in one of the tanks. The dead fish looked like its been in there for a couple hours, then I noticed that the other fish were eating it. It’s just a nightmare for me.

  10. Kait

    The year I graduated, was the year I was accepted to go to UAA as a full-time student. I was so excited for all of the new opportunities and a thousand different people to meet. Four people I grew up with were also going. My roommate lived in a village that was 6 miles away from me, so we knew each other well, so we’d both make sure we were both making it to classes in Anchorage. Some of my peers from the Bering Strait School District region were attending as well, so it was nice to see some familiar faces. Everything was going as planned for a semester, I was attending classes regularly, planning study groups with my peers and did recreation activities. Ever since I was a senior and learned about the UAA Glee Club, I was practicing singing until I knew I’d be confident enough to audition.

    By the second semester, we became best friends and started playing on the same basketball team and cheer for the UAA sports team. Then, we started getting invited to parties, which seemed harmless at first, but after a week we started to spend more time out of our dorms than attending classes. I remember feeling so much anxiety after that week about catching up on my work in my classes. Then we learned that the dorms were making a new policy that if you can’t pay the room and board in full then you must move out immediately. At that point, I felt like I was in a deep ocean and my foot was chained to a heavy stone.

    It felt so hard to stay afloat, so I called my sisters and told them what I was going through. After I told my family, the stone got lighter and lighter. My cousin was living in Anchorage at the time and she needed a roommate to help pay for her rent, I jumped at this opportunity and moved in. I got a job as a mall spokesperson, and paycheck by paycheck, the rent and my tuition was paid. A year later I moved back home, worked two small jobs as a cashier on the weekdays and a laundromat attendant on the weekends. Now I live in my home village in my own little apartment, working a job I love in the fall, taking classes and doing the subsistence activities I love in the summer. It now feels like I am out of the water and in my own sailboat, going wherever my sail steers me.

  11. Kelsey

    When I was 19 years old, i went through an incident of sexual assault. I was in a new relationship and kind of surprisingly, he stayed with me through it all, including seeing the case through to sentencing. Understandably, I became very dependent on him, emotionally. I clung to him for all feelings of comfort, consistency, belonging. All of it. Well, not surprisingly, the relationship didn’t last. After two years, he felt that the relationship had become unhealthy. I hadn’t ever sought out professional help for the assault, assuming that because I had a support system and because I had gotten “justice” that I was fine. He was also fighting his own demons after a recent deployment where he had lost a couple friends. We both self-medicated with alcohol and then fought. We loved hard and we fought hard. It was borderline toxic. He ended things, saying that I needed to seek help and that he couldn’t be the one to help me anymore. The feeling of “impending doom” set in. I became frantic and desperate. I self-medicated more and grasped at any little thing to keep him around. I need you. We can be friends. How can you do this to me? When it didn’t work, I succumbed to the “doom” and felt the loss. I let myself feel everything that I had been pushing down, down, down for the last two and a half years. In my almost 30 years of life, I consider this time period to be my rock bottom. I spent the majority of my time crying and drinking alone in my barracks room. I was certain that I wasn’t going to make it out this, too many things had happened, I was too far gone. Too much sadness had been felt, too many hateful thoughts had been thought. Shame. I felt so much shame. Then, after an undetermined amount of time, I did the thing that I should have done for myself all along. I got help. I consistently saw a therapist for close to a year and finally dealt with the emotional trauma from the assault and the domino effect it had on everything else. Slowly but surely the doom subsided. I could say that then I lived happily ever after and if this was a rom-com then after completing a few therapy sessions, the boyfriend would see how “fixed” I am and we could go back to the happy couple we once were. But, as you’re aware, this is real life, and the damage was done, as was that relationship. Looking back now, I can still feel the pain and impending doom I felt in that time and my heart breaks for those who feel that sense of abandonment and pain and who the doom never subsides for. If you’re reading this, and feel any inkling of doom, please know that it can subside. The sun always rises, and so do you.

    1. Shana Waring

      Kelsey, what a horrific ordeal! Not only to have dealt with assault but to find comfort only to have it turn to abandonment. It’s amazing how we find ourselves as humans living in such a fairytale story sometimes. Realistically, we are hiding behind a mask of insecurity and doubt, but if we pretend for the onlookers we can play out this fairytale story. I think the most powerful piece of what you shared was how after you began to feel better and were working through your feelings, there was still that glimpse of hope to a happy ever after. It must be the idea closure hasn’t completely occurred or the fairytale could still happen now that things were different. I’m glad to hear you were able to work through enough of your emotions to realize the bad gets better. Getting help is one of the most difficult decisions to make, but something really important to share. For that, your story is perfect exactly the way it is.

    2. Angela Rodriguez


      In the past, I had also struggled with finding help when I most need it. It’s like I sat in denial thinking everything was fine when it was really the worst it had ever been. The sexual assault had already been a scar for you and the relationship and you found a way to be happy after you hit your rock bottom. I bet going through this experience helped you grow as a person in the end! That is amazing.

  12. Shana Waring

    I must have been somewhere between 8-10 when I spent the day at the water park with a summer camp group. I have never been a very “adventurous” type of person when it comes to the need for adrenaline with rides or trying crazy things. Water has always been something I’ve enjoyed, but I have not necessarily been an athletic type swimmer. I waded out into the wave pool and found the waves hitting my feet and ankles to be soothing. The waves lasted a couple of minutes and then there would be a pause of calm water. I went through three cycles of the waves, remembering becoming a bit more brave with each turn. On the fourth round, I found myself hanging out in deeper calm water with a couple of other children I was with. The waves became to come from the wall where the water was dispersed and the situation quickly became overwhelming. I had no experience swimming with or against waves. As I tried to make my way to shallower water, I continued to get pulled further into the deep end. Realizing I wasn’t going to be able to swim to the front, I tried to make my way to the side walls. The issue was the walls were solid concrete standing probably about 20 feet high with no ledge to grab onto.

    At this point, I do not remember if I ever went under water but I do remember being separated from the other children I was with before the waves started. I felt pure panic and was pretty sure I was either going to drown or the waves would turn off magically, really feeling more of the first option. I was trying to turn to find someone to help me, but I just remember seeing a crowd of unreachable people. With my back turned, I finally felt an arm wrap around me and begin to pull me to the shallow end. A camp counselor had seen me and come to my rescue. I did not go back into the wave pool for the remainder of the day and it was at least 5 years before I went back to WaterWorld, but I did get back in the wave pool with a far more enjoyable experience.

    1. Brenden Couch

      I can imagine that was quite terrifying thanks for sharing. Glad you eventually returned fear should never control your life. I had a similar but much less extreme case of being forcibly removed from a horse and I was forced to get back in the saddle again and I think that is a big lesson in our lives. Again thanks for sharing!

  13. Draven

    I overthink everything, as such I have the feeling of dread rather often. It’s not that I fear everything, I really don’t fear anything, but what I dread is the actions of others. The possible future is what fills me with dread. Once when I was young I thought to ask a girl to the sixth grade dance, but, of course, I over thought the possible outcomes of my actions, and didn’t ask her. She left for Seattle not to long after she left, and now I regret not asking her, and still dread asking anyone else. Even when I asked a girl to dance at my junior prom, I dreaded the night so much, I nearly ditched it. Of course I didn’t, but I still dreaded the whole night through. As such I felt the “feeling of impending doom”.

  14. Brenden Couch

    When I was twelve years old, my life had been heading in a negative direction. I began smoking with a friend, I began drinking, and leaving the house late at night. In addition, my control over impulses was non-existent. It was to the point that my parents had no clue what to do. With my past, having been severely abused in my youth, my parents had serious concerns. It also didn’t help that they were dealing with their own demons, mainly alcohol which partially contributed to my own youthful indiscretions.

    My poor behaviors mounted until at last they were no longer hidden. After nearly burning down a state park and potentially endangering hundreds of lives, the time was nigh, it was in fact eminent, for my parents to seek help in correcting my troubling behaviors. I will admit that my parents up until then were full of bluster but never venom. It became obvious after the situation with the state park that the bluster had run its course. Within the next month, psychiatric appointments were abound, behaviors were monitored and chartered, and plans for my uncertain future were made.

    During this time the end of the summer following sixth grade came to a close and the induction into the halls of middle school drew near. Among other turmoil, my behaviors continued to show a stunning level of disobedience and danger to myself and others. I started middle school, I had a shadow for the couple months I attended Soldotna Middle School. A shadow is exactly as it sounds, it is someone who followed me around and kept me under control. My behaviors still showed no improvement. Finally my parents were forced to do something drastic, something that they had been building to for months. They made arrangements with the power that be for me to sent out of state to an outpatient treatment facility. I was finally terrified, never before had my parents asked for help or done anything like this. I felt for sure that my world would end and that nothing good could come of this. However, being who I am I was outwardly stoic while inwardly flinching with each appointment, with each preparation for my exodus to Koosharem, UT.

    I was being sent to a working ranch, with horses, and hard labor. It was called Hightop Ranch School. It was located 35 miles from the nearest urban center, Richfield, UT. I partially didn’t believe it was going to happen until it we were all boarded on the plane, I had been pulled from middle school the week before, I had been packed, and here we went. It was a 3,000 mile journey to a state I had never been to, to spend a year at minimum away from my family. I suppose it was alright until we arrived and then they drove away, The feeling was soul crushing, I would have changed everything in an instant to not feel that feeling of betrayal and abandonment again. The feeling went deep, it reminded me of being tossed from foster to foster home as if nobody wanted me, as if I was some kind of foul rag covered in plague that no person dare touch unless I infect them.

    It took a long time for me to come out of myself and to finally focus on the reason I was there so that way I could someday go home. My only hope was a 5 day visit 4 months in and one other 4 months after that. In fact I never knew if they were coming and therefore I never knew if I was going to go with them for the time, that was a privilege and behaviors merits dictated what was earned or awarded. If we had been disobedient or had acted inappropriately we were given work hours, which is exactly as it sounds. One time, I had been annoyed by a vacuum cleaner, it never worked and me and my roommates whose room was above the office, were stuck with it. I decided wisely to put it on top of my dresser and round house it across the room, needless to say it didn’t bother us anymore but for every dollar of value I was an hour I had to work. The adults were quite kind in only giving me 60 hours, on my final hour I had to sit quietly listening to people playing MadLibs behind me, that was the night before my parents came, which I knew about that time, the second time I didn’t even recognize there faces or expect them.

    I spent 11 months farming, digging ditches, caring for horses, riding horses, hauling hay, and all manner of tasks. Finally August came and I had expected to spend another month or so their but I had kind of forgotten about going home it had become such a familiar way of life. being informed that I was going home went kind of like this. I was actually going to the office for a regular therapy session and to complain about this new wannabe gangster child we’d gotten. He was wanting to pick a fight with me, which nobody had ever tried, I kept out of those kinds of things and had the respect of many of the kids who did get into altercations so nobody knew exactly what would happen if I fought anyone else. Honestly that is the way to approach being in a pecking order if circumstances allow. I got to the office we went over my goals and my progress in those goals and then suddenly Tad Draper asked me, How do you feel about going home? I was so shocked. It must have shown on my face. I inquired as to why he was asking and the truth came to the light. My mother and father were withdrawing me a little early so I didn’t start school late at Effie Kokrine Charter School in Fairbanks, where they had moved, so I could be closer to my biological brothers who lived their with my moms sister Debbie Stith having been adopted into the same big family but not being in the same home. The full weight didn’t hit me until I was packing, “I was gonna miss this place” was the thought that went through my head.

    It really gets me in reflective mood to consider that time in my life. I could not imagine that this whole terrifying ordeal would be the linchpin of my life, that I would miss it once it had passed. I came home, my parents drinking was beyond my worst nightmares but my resolve to do well never diminished. The only trouble I had was when I was 17 I contemplated ending it, which I am glad I did not and my mind has never reached toward those thoughts again. Eventually not only did my parents recover from drinking, they quit smoking, and after initial objections to my wife’s pregnancy they enjoy being an active positive part of my life and love my son more than I could ever imagine, I believe he provides some measure of strength to them in keeping them on the right path.

    What were the circumstances and external factors that led you to this perspective? Did you overcome your fears and emerge from the other side with a new outlook?

    Fear of the unknown is a truly terrifying things that can stop you from experiencing the richest parts of human growth.

    I did, I learned alot and would not live life over again without that opportunity to grow as a human being.

  15. Angela Rodriguez

    Earlier this week, I went on my first flight alone. I had to travel from Fairbanks to Oklahoma City to bring my little sister up to Fairbanks for the summer. I was scheduled for two full days of flying with short layovers. The only time I had flown in the past, was a very short trip and in small airports. I had always feared navigating large airports and I was given a limited amount of time between landing and boarding on this last trip. This caused an immense feeling of fear and anxiety during my flights. I became so anxious that I didn’t eat or sleep during my two days of flying. While searching the airports for my next gate, I was on the phone with my paranoid mother who would convince me that I was going to miss my next flight. This would only stress me out more as I ran in circles through the airport. The signs in the larger airports seemed to contradict each other and I could never figure out where to go. This became worse when a train or trolley had to take me to my gate, I would sit there knowing that my plane was going to leave me behind. At one point, I was in the Seattle airport and I had landed at the same time my plane was boarding. I somehow left my glasses in Fairbanks and was squinting at the signs above me to get to my gate. I ended up going towards the wrong gate and had to retrace my steps to the train that would take me to my destination. When I made it to my gate, I was the last one getting on the plane. I was surprised that I wasn’t left behind during my trip. With assistance from airport staff, I somehow was able to make it all the way to Oklahoma City alone.
    By the time I met up with my sister, it was already time to board onto our flights to get to Fairbanks. I was more comfortable since she has been flying her whole life. With her by my side, we were able to make it to our gates with spare time. She helped me to be less stressed about flying and was optimistic about being one step closer to home. We even ran into obstacles, like our seats being moved to separate us, and we were able to combat that stress free. With my little sister’s tips and tricks to navigating airports, I was able to fly worry free. For my future flights, I will plan them with enough time to find my next gate and I will keep my sisters optimistic worry-free attitude in mind

    1. Brandon Blum

      I remember the first time I flew alone myself. It was terrifying because it felt like everything that could go wrong did. It sounds like you have an amazing sister who was able to show you what to do in the future as to make the experience more comfortable. It will get easier with practice, as most things do, but I am impressed with how you handled something as serious as your glasses being left behind. If anything like that degree happened to myself, I think I might shut down all together.

  16. Brandon Blum

    One thing that I have had to struggle with my entire life has been ongoing medical conditions. It first started with my father when I was about 8 years old. He became sick and was found to have an unidentifiable neurological condition. This is where my nights of growing up in hospitals, days of testing, and nights of observation began; not only was there fear of developing something akin to his disease, but I had been found to develop epilepsy myself. Seizures brought on by a lack of sleep, food, or water would cause me to black out and convulse in a grand mal seizure, which while I considered a mild inconvenience, others were terrified of. My attitude changed one day after a visit to the neurologist that I was seeing at the time where he sat me down and broke a simple truth to me. If I continued to neglect the self-care my body desired, I would essentially be killing myself and could wind up dead the next time I had a seizure. He gave me a percentage chance of surviving the first one, one that was relatively high, but that it would drastically decrease with each successive episode. I took this to heart and began to recognize the value in taking care of my physical needs, but this definitely put a strain on my life in ways that I had not anticipated. It was hard to receive this news months before going to college, realizing the life of partying and all night studying must be met with much preparation and care as to avoid putting my life at risk. To know how simply eating meals or drinking enough water throughout the day is all that can stand between me and my passing is something that ways on a lot of my decisions and values that I am faced with in my life now. I am left with an appreciation for family and friends who are understanding of these limitations, especially those who actively remind me when I can be a little reckless.

  17. Meghan Geary

    I have always struggled with anxiety, which I can see now when I look back. At the time, I just thought I was shy, but that never seemed to make sense since I had no problem making friends. In high school I went through a period of time where I wanted to rebel, and I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my parents hold on my life, and feeling like I couldn’t make any choices for myself. My anxiety peaked and became a noticeable, tangible thing in my life when I graduated from high school and was getting ready to head off to Purdue University in Indiana- a school that was not my dream school but gave me more money in scholarships than my dream school did, in the Midwest which was the last place I ever wanted to live. Yet, I was off to Purdue and feeling smug and bitter about it, even though there are plenty of kids across the country who tried to get in because it was their dream school, and I took their place and didn’t even want it.

    The week leading up to my road trip down was one of the worst weeks of my life. My relationship was in shambles- I was trying to salvage any part of it that I could even though I was with a human who was manipulative and self-centered. I was walking on eggshells around my parents because I had been rebelling in little ways the entire summer. I was bitter about my future and felt so uncertain after spending eighteen years set on one goal, and then suddenly having it slip out of my hands on May first, college commitment day. My parents had told me time and time again that they didn’t like my boyfriend or his sister and they didn’t want me going to Valdez to visit her, something I had been asking about all summer long. Well, that week, I did it anyway. My judgement was completely clouded by someone I thought I loved, but he felt nothing near the same regard for me. We went to Valdez three days before I was leaving to drive 3,000 miles with my parents to Indiana. My dad called me when I was there, crying, and told me I could expect my things to be out of the house if I didn’t come back that day, but I called his bluff and stayed another night. When I got home, saying you could cut the tension in the air with a knife was an understatement. I’ll be honest, I regretted my choice the moment I got out of Palmer on my way to Valdez, but I felt like it was too late to turn back. We left for Indiana, my parents in the motorhome and me in my car, although my mom did spend some time in the car with me to keep me company. It was mostly silent. When she wasn’t in the car, I spent my time in continued silence, the only sound coming from my muffled sobs. I cried the first three days of the drive. There I was, having disappointed my parents and burned a bridge that would take a long time to rebuild, leaving the only home I had ever known, away from the state I loved so much, to a place I didn’t want to be. I had my first panic attack on that drive, sobbing, my chest tight, my cheeks and lips numb. To an eighteen year old, it felt like my world had fallen apart.
    On the fifth day, we reached Minnesota. My dad had been acting strange for the last couple of days, but my mom and I equated it to the fact that he hurt his back right before we left for the trip and was taking pain medication at night before bed, then driving during the day. We frequently had to stop for him to take naps, and he was more forgetful than usual. We rolled into a Walmart parking lot (our choice of campground when on the road) just over the Wisconsin border from Minnesota in time for dinner. My dad got out of the motor home and set a camp chair up, then another to set his feet on. He elevated his swollen ankles, laid his head back and closed his eyes. I went up to talk to him and he didn’t respond. I shook him slightly and he lazily opened his eyes, didn’t say anything, then rolled his eyes back and closed them again. I shook him harder and he looked at me. “I think I’m going to take you to a doctor dad, I’m worried about you”, I said. He looked at me with slight concern and then simply said, “okay”. I don’t know about other dads, but when my dad doesn’t fight me on something or say “no I’m fine, really”, it’s a huge red flag. Luckily there was a hospital less than half a mile down the street from us. To make a long story short, my father has sleep apnea, which causes you to stop breathing and your heart rate to decrease dramatically when asleep, and taking the pain pills before bed was further suppressing his need to breath, and over the course of a few days the level of oxygen he was receiving to his brain was dangerously low. By the grace of God we were only a 45 minute drive to Minneapolis where some of the best hospitals in the country are, so the doctors transferred him there and my mom and I followed. He stayed in the hospital for almost seven days, five of those in the ICU. During that time, I tried really hard to push everything I was feeling aside and be strong for my mom. At one point, late at night when my dad was connected to all kinds of machines and tubes, she was crying and looked at me and said, “I’m still mad at you, but I’m just glad that you’re safe and healthy and here. And I don’t want you to lose your dad in college the way I did”. When she went to bed, I cried again, and I will still never forget that moment.

    I only stayed in Minneapolis for the first four days while he was in the ICU. When they moved him, my brother flew from Chicago to Minneapolis to get our camper and me, and take me to school. I got moved in to my dorm and my parents joined two weeks later, my dad with his new machine he sleeps with, seeming like a new man. Then, they left, and suddenly I was alone. It was the most horrible week of my life, full of regret and stress and anxiety and worry, and it didn’t end there. It seemed like my anxiety was unleashed that week. Over the course of the next year, I slipped into a pretty deep depression- I made wonderful friends at Purdue and it was a valuable time for me to learn about myself, but I pined for Alaska and never felt content in the moment. I decided to come home and go to school in Fairbanks after that first year because I needed to be home. My panic attacks continued and became more frequent, but I have since learned to deal with my anxiety- medication and talk therapy have been a big help there. I grew immensely that year, and I’m thankful for that time, but I’m glad it is a part of my past.

Comments are closed.