To shout out the upcoming release of my romantic comedy, Driving in Neutral —a love story about claustrophobia—(now available for pre-order!) I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. I’m also, at the bottom of my phobia post, I’m offering a little sneak peek of Maxwell’s doom as well as a special deal for you to snag a copy of my previous rom com-mystery For Your Eyes Only for just $0.99 cents (see below for more details!).
Today’s phobia may make me ramble a little because I’m having something of a hangover, but not the kind brought on by alcohol. I mean the sort of hangover that occurs post headache — be it a cluster headache, like Ainslie Paton gets, or one of those good old-fashioned sit-in-the-dark-and be-as-still-as-possible-uh-oh-I’m-gonna-hurl headaches.
I suspect there are many of you out there who feel this way, who have this very particular headache-related fear. I’m talking about well-known people like Anne Frank and Whoopi Goldberg, Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross, Julius Caesar, Sharon Stone, Friends Lisa Kudrow, and Hugh Jackman. There are even more. Go on and have a look here.
Migraines, kids. All these fine people get ’em or have had them. And, as I said, I suspect some of these fine people may have, at one time or another, suffered not only from the debilitating headache, but from Cephalgiaphobia–the fear of getting another mind-altering-gee-that-drill-looks-mighty-attractive-sweet-Jesus-make-it-stop-or-kill-me-now headaches.
I’ve had migraines so bad I couldn’t drink coffee.
I’ve had migraines so bad I did not want to eat cookies.
Yes. It’s true. I’ve had headaches so bad I did not have coffee or cookies!
I’ve had migraines so bad I’ve wound up in the ER– passing out in the ER. I’ve has migraines so bad I was sure I was dying–I had to be dying, or having a stroke–or some sort of because WTF was all that white hot internal brain pain that involved ALL MY SENSES all about? By all my senses, I mean that each sense is heightened; smells are stronger, even faint ones, light enters my eyeballs as if made of razors, sound, even a whisper is distorted AND magnified, tastes are overpowering, and touch– don’t you dare touch me — don’t even hold my hair while I puke.
All right now. Hands up. Who out there gets headaches? What are they like for you?
IF you do get them, does the possibility of having a headache fill you with dread? Do you worry another will strike and go places armed with medication and an action plan, just in case you might get a headache? I get a little Cephalgiaphobic in the two or three days after I’ve had a Godzilla-sized migraine. And if you’ve ever had a migraine, that phobia is totally understandable, right?
No what about this. Hands up. Who’s Claustrophobic? Is Maxwell’s experience anything like your feeling of impending doom? Does the sneak peek of Driving in Neutral ‘s claustrophobia below match yours?
He dragged his hands down his face with a gasp and opened his eyes to find her sitting close, way too close. “Jesus Christ! Do you have to be here?”
“Do you have to sit right there?” Disregarding the pain of his knee, and breathing a little too rapidly, he got to his feet and began to hobble about in the tiny space, rolling up his sleeves. “Why do you have to be right there? There’s already too little room as it is!”
“You’re claustrophobic, aren’t you?”
“Congratulations on your PhD in observational skills!” Olivia stifled a laugh and shook her head. He was acting just like her sister in the throes of a panic attack, except Maxwell was twice Julia’s size and his anxiety was rapidly escalating. Her old coach, Glenn Holland, dealt with Julia’s angst in a straightforward
manner. She decided to try the same rational approach he’d also taught his driving team. “Don’t tell me I’m breathing in all your oxygen or something. That’s not very logical. Is it?”
Maxwell glared at her.
“Think about it. Do you believe this elevator is hermetically sealed? It was put together in the twenties, wasn’t it? Did they do that sort of thing back then? Did they have that sort of advanced technology for elevators back then?”
“You’re not funny.”
“Just think about it, Maxwell, and look at me. I haven’t stopped breathing, have I? My face isn’t turning blue from lack of oxygen.”
“Your lips are bluish,” he said, out of breath.
“That’s because I’m freezing. Come on, Maxwell. Take a deep breath. I’ll do it with you.”
“Would you just…shut up?” She sneezed again. “God bless you!” he snarled. Her shivering was uncontrollable now, her teeth chattered. “Could you say that like
you mean it?” “Look…just…keep quiet, will you?” The corners of her mouth briefly twitched. Then she sneezed four times in a row. “Oh for fuck’s sake! Here!” Maxwell kicked his jacket over to her.
“All my life I’ve hoped to meet someone as unpleasant and unhappy as you. Please don’t spoil it for me by suddenly being nice.”
“I’m not…unhappy.” Maxwell was beginning to pant, his breath shallow and harsh. He knew it was ridiculous, but everything was being compacted. It wasn’t as if the walls were closing in; it was more like his entire body was being incrementally stuffed into a torpedo tube. Where the hell was his backbone? Had it siphoned out through his pores along with every ounce of moisture in his body? “You…don’t know…me. I’m not…unhappy,” he said, trying to catch his breath.
“I’m sorry. That’s right. You’re not unhappy. You’re just ill-mannered.”
“Well, do you want it or not, you wet little rodent?” he choked.
“Wet little rodent? Is that the best you could come up with?”
“Listen, you soggy chipmunk,” he panted, “I know what you’re trying to do.” “
Oh, I’m just on edge waiting for you to tell me what that is,” Olivia said, looking at him through narrowed eyes as she dragged his jacket over her shoulders. It smelled wonderful, like nutmeg and cardamom and autumn leaves.
“You’re trying to…” he gulped in air, but it only seemed to go halfway into his lungs before he could continue. Maxwell yanked at his tie again and began unbuttoning his shirt. His galloping heart was on the verge of exploding beneath his ribcage, the pulse racing in his temple, in his neck, in his wrists and groin. His hoarse exasperation shot through his clenched teeth. “You’re trying to disarm me!”
“Yes, you waterlogged hamster, you’re trying to get my mind off the fact I’m trapped in a godforsaken elevator with a half-drowned rabbit! It’s not going to work!”
“You were going along pretty well there with the whole rodent thing, but rabbits are not rodents. They belong to a different order, Lagomorpha, not Rodentia, and why would it be so bad if you were distracted from feeling uncomfortable?”
“It’s not going to work, so…so…just…quit it,” he puffed.
“Okay, so then stand there covered in flop sweat and let fear get the better of you.”
“Shut…up…shut…up…shut up!” Maxwell couldn’t breathe. Well, he could, but it felt as if the air was being squashed back out of his chest as soon as it went in.
“You’re going to take me down with you, aren’t you? When you pass out—and you’re going to if you keep hyperventilating—you’re going to fall on top of me.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he wheezed, bending forward at the waist to snatch his breath back as if he’d just sprinted 800 meters. Shit, he was hyperventilating.
No, he was hyper-hyperventilating.
This was ludicrous. He was nearly forty-eight years old and terrified of being in a very small room simply because it had no window and…his mind suddenly zeroed in on that important point.
There was no window.
Headaches and anxiety attacks in elevators, are not fun, but here’s something that is! To support the release of Driving in Neutral, and to get a little cozy with my smart-assed grown-up romance, until the 31 of August 2014, Mills and Boon are offering For Your Eyes Only for $0.99!
Visit the Mills & Boon website and enter the promo code RWA14 at the checkout!