From Ayaskala's Prompt: Topic - mental health in professional life. How does your professional life or work life impact your mental health? Tell us about all the good things, the bad things, everything.
A desk at the corner of the office - spaces away from her co-workers sits Evelyn. She’s small and sitting cross-legged in her swivel chair, hunched over her desk with a pen frantically going across her notebook page. To an onlooker Eve looks panicky and fragile, that’s how anxiety creeps up. Anne is a sneaky mean girl wreaking haven on Eve’s mind when she’s stressed. She’s getting ready to explode and Anne is her first target.
“I’m trying to work! Leave me alone, please!”
“Oh, am I bothering you, Eve?” Anne annoyingly says in Evelyn’s eat just above a whisper.
“Actually, yes, you are! Get away! Now!”
“What are you gonna do? You can’t conquer me,” she laughs. “I’ve followed you to work, hon.”
“I can conquer you, I did before!"
"Really, did you?"
"Yes, I did."
"Hon, you blacked out and woke up to your boyfriend calming you down. That's not defeating me, that's giving in to me." Anne chuckles with satisfaction.
"I-I did. I was doing good before it all went black."
"You were begging me to stop. That's not much of a conqueror to me." Eve can feel Anne smiling as she enjoys making her feel broken.
“You won’t win, Anne, I won’t let you!” Evelyn screams, only after does she check if anyone notices, but she’s alone in the office. She checks the time: half past four.
Everyone has packed up and headed out into the busy streets while Eve was stuck in her anxiety attack. Did they not know she was struggling and fighting off the voice in her head? Her breathing quickens as she realizes she is all alone in the office, just her and her anxiety. Time to square up or give in to defeat once more.
“Oh, hon, aren’t you cute.” Anne chuckles.
Block out the background noise, block out her voice. It is time to defeat her once and for all. I will not be defeated.
“Oh, Anne, I’ve changed since last time. I am thriving here at work, my relationship is great, and I am writing again. Nothing you can do can make me forget all the good I have to live for and be happy about!”
"Really?" Anne teases.
"Yes, really." Eve confidently says.
"Oh, you don't know something do you?"
"Know what?" Eve's mind starts racing.
"Oh nothing." Anne is satisfied with her taunt.
"Seriously, tell me!' Eve demands as her voices echoes through the open space of her office. Once cozy, now the walls feel like they are closing in. Anne has her corned, alone.
"Why do you want to know so bad, hon?" Another evil taunt.
"You are just a mean girl, Anne."
"At least I am honest."
"And I'm not?" Eve questions her.
"Not from what I see. You can't even be honest that you haven't defeat me." Eve can feel Anne shrug her shoulders.
"So? I would like to think I came close." Eve desperately looks for an escape, but comes up with nothing. Not even a loophole in sight. So, like before in her dark room, she pushes through, "I was determined to defeat the ringing you caused!" Anne seems to be getting comfortable lingering at Eve's ear. Slowly swooping back and forth as Eve tries to think of ways to get her to leave, go somewhere else, anywhere else. So, she can go home. With her raging anxiety, walking would be risky.
"Come on, Eve, show me what you've got. I'm waiting." Eve can feel her tapping her foot like an impatient child. Anne is eager to stick it to her, but she isn't giving in so easily.
"I mean, I could just tune you out." Eve shrugs her shoulders. She feels more confident now as she glances out the window, but she doesn't let Anne in on this newfound feeling. Instead she simply keeps on, "Yeah, you are just a mean girl, Anne, trying to tear me down. I mean come on, I gave my anxiety a name, voice, and her own attitude. Don't you think I can just ignore you?" Eve taunts her. She feels Anne swoop past her ear again, as if she is swaying back and forth weighing what she should say next.
"You will never be able to fully tune me out, Eve. But, I guess you aren't entirely wrong." Eve can feel the uncertainty in Anne's realization.
"Exactly! I can manage you, Anne. I can put you out of my mind and ease the stress you play on to get me so worked up." Oh, look Eve is making progress. Anne can only defeat her if she lets her, but Eve isn't going down without a fight. She is calling the shots this time!
Eve rolls back her shoulders, making Anne step back, and gears up to fire her first confident shots. "You are nothing but a mean girl that I have created in my head. You are just voices telling me I am not good enough. I am so much more than what you make me feel!" Eve waits for Anne to react. All she hears is a huff, so she pushes forward. "My boyfriend, Thomas, loves me. My parents are proud of me. My boss and co-workers like me and my writing. I actually talk sometimes. You can't ruin me, I won't allow you to!" Satisfied Eve goes silent as she waits for Anne to fire back. Crossing her legs in her swivel chair again, Eve rocks back and forth.
"Maybe, just maybe, you can. Little Eve being brave, it's almost believable." Anne teases. She's not holding back.
"Consider it the real deal, Anne! I'm not letting you win this time around. I will succeed." She pushes her chair away from the desk, and in one swift motion gets up. Like she is about to defeat the evil cheerleader, she forms a fist and wings it to the empty space in front of her. But it isn't empty to Eve, no. She sees Anne, long blonde hair with elegant features, falling back as Eve's fist makes contact with Anne's face.
Eve hears the silent thump of Anne hitting the office floor. "You won't defeat me." Anne lets out a low chuckle that echoes off the walls and in Eve's ears.
Shielding her ears, Eve starts repeating, "I will defeat you! I will defeat you! I will defeat you!" She slowly gathers her belongs from her desk, ignoring Anne laying paces away on the floor.
Making her way towards the door, Eve feels Anne's cold shadow hovering close by her shoulder. Through the slits in her fingers, Anne softly says, "I am everywhere and nowhere, my darling Evelyn. You can never escape me."
"That may be true, evil one, but my mind can still block you out." Eve confidently says as she pulls open the door and mixes into the busy New York sidewalks. "You are just a voice in my head, a person without a body of their own. I will not be your host anymore." Eve says as she pretends to talk on the phone while she passes people. "I am much more than the evil thoughts you push into my daily cycle."
"You are just another horrible person on this earth, Eve. No one loves you, dear. Only me, apparently the voice that only exists in your head." Anne chuckles again as she glides beside Eve as the sun fades behind the clouds.
"You're wrong!" Without another thought, Eve pulls her phone away from her ear. She pulls up Thomas' contact and hits call.
She hears the light ringing then Thomas' sweet voice on the other end, "Hey, babe. How was work?"
Eve smiles to herself as she crosses over to the apartment buildings, "I had a mini anxiety attack, but I think I actually just defeated it on my own." She looks up at the second floor, "I am actually almost home, want to come over for pizza and movies?"
She can feel him smile as he replies with, "I would love nothing more, Eve. See you in an hour and we will order pizza?"
"Sounds like a plan! I'll scroll through Netflix in the meantime." She smiles as she unlocks her door and steps inside her cozy apartment. She made it home. She's alive. She's loved. Everything is going to be okay.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close