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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Luke Hanson's Mind & Punishment: A Teen in Despair - 1. Chapter 1 - The First One

Saturday 1:34pm


Question? Why do our minds work so hard to destroy us?

I read an article once that said that if you were gay, you were thirty-eight per cent more likely to have a mental health condition and twenty per cent more likely to have suffered from anxiety. Is that right? I guess it's right because some expert said it. I don't recall the article, but as I left the gym on a crisp Saturday morning, I experienced one of the most frightening panic attacks in my life. Well, actually, it was the first one I'd ever had, but wait...

I need to roll back a bit here because I'm explaining a memory. I'll continue.

One Sunday about a year back, I had ripped my t-shirt on a fence. I was helping my friend Taz and his Dad take it down from their garden. Taz took me upstairs and fished out one of his, holding it up as if to see if it would fit. About the same time I took off my torn garment, Taz said... "You know Luke; you could really tone up well if you went to my gym."

I'd looked in his mirror at my 'average body,' noticing that although all my muscles were in the right places, I could improve them. Basically, I was neither fat nor skinny. Just average. Just average Luke! Oh yeah, that's my name. Sorry, I left that bit out. Luke Hanson... by the way.

"Yeah, I guess you're right, does it cost a lot?"

"I can get you in for a month on my pass free, and then I think it's around thirty pounds a month."

"Cool", I replied, taking the replacement t-shirt he was lending me and pulling it over my head.

So bringing you back to the here and now, that's how the gym started. I would go every Saturday religiously from six in the morning until seven-thirty. After that, I went to work at Saunders Ironmongery, a shop that sold all sorts of toot for the home. I had my other friend Lee to thank for that job, as it was his parent's business. He'd put in a good word for me a couple of years back, and I've been there ever since.

Anyway, I'm rambling... this panic attack?

So yeah, I'd been going to the gym, as I said, and then one morning, this feeling came over me out of the blue. Terrifying, debilitating and sending me into full panic mode. In my mind...?

I was having a heart attack! 

But no, I did not have a heart attack, the slightly frustrated Paramedic told me as I sat in the back of her ambulance. Instead, I'd had a panic attack.

But why? Why me?

As a precaution, I was taken to the hospital and told to book a routine appointment with my Doctor to discuss the 'episode'. Which I duly did.

~

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~

"A rush came up from my mid back, all through my shoulders and a sense of panic came over me. My chest felt so tight, and I felt like there was no air to breathe. My vision went funny, and I felt so weak like I was going to collapse."

My Doctor tilted his head to the side and pursed his lips.

"Luke, you are in very good health and I have run the ECG as requested. What you had was an affliction of the mind, there is nothing wrong with you."

"Will it happen again?" I asked, not convinced.

"It might, but this time you will know what is happening and can ward it off with the knowledge you will not die. Some people find having that knowledge can stop a panic attack before it comes on too strongly. So I suggest that whatever you have going on in your life right now, you try to adjust it. Turn the dial down lad."

I looked up at the ceiling. Perhaps he was right. My life was packed with 'stuff' that I could offload. On the internet, the oracle of all things true, they talk about past trauma and stuff like that as a cata... cata, oh whatever that word is. Anyway that must be true, it's printed on the net and Google knows more than my Doctor, right?

So my Mum died some years back. It was instant—brain haemorrhage in her sleep... went to bed one night, never woke up. Tragic, I know, but I don't want part of my story to turn into the usual parent-less sob story. I'm happy, but I suffer from mental health issues.

What's helped me with the mental health thing is having my friends around me. After leaving school at eighteen; although we've all gone in different directions, we have all stayed pretty tight and been there for each other.

My gay story? Oh, well, the part where it went from just me knowing to everyone knowing? I'll get to that later. But, first, I gotta go see Taz and take a motorbike to bits with him.

~

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~

"Hey, pretty boy," I called as I unlatched his back gate, walking through to the backyard. "See, you already started?"

"Less of the pretty boy, and yeah, I thought you'd be here earlier."

"Yeah, sorry, I was writing my memoirs."

"Your what?"

"Never mind, Taz, so where are we? Ahh, see, the chain is off. Now the big question? How hard is it to get the new one on?"

"That's where I'm kinda stuck. It's worse than slipping on a condom."

"And greased up to your eyeballs, I see? Hmm, we won't go there. You wanna go wash up, and I'll take a look?"

Taz seemed to exhale as if in slight despair at his bike in bits. "I thought you'd never ask. See what you can do; I'll be back in five!"

Taz got up off his knees and brushed down his jeans which were already covered in grease and grit from the floor. I'm sure his hands didn't improve using them as wiping up material.

"Go, I got this!" I said as he pathetically stood there looking at his handy work for a few seconds. Then, he was gone, gone through the back door, leaving a lovely grease print on the white handle of his parent's back door. Nice!

Taz is sweet, not my type, though, plus we're friends, yuk, weird. Think Kit Connor, which I swear is his doppelganger - that's who he kind of looks like. He's been really loyal to me, which is where sweet comes from, I guess. We've been through a lot together; he helped massively when my Mum passed, and he was my winger in all sorts of issues I faced at school as you do. As you HAVE to. As you REALISE, it's MANDATORY to be picked on if you slightly fall outside the norms of what is expected in an institution like a school. Kids can be such evil fuckers when you get them in a pack.

So you've met Taz, and I've just realised you have no idea what I look like. So for those interested, I get excited about this because I know where I come from. Or at least where my ancestors come from. So get this right? I'm Nordic. That's amazing, right? I mean, who really knows where they come from unless you dig deep? Anyway, my Dad is into all this ancestry stuff and found out for us. So yeah, Nordic. Is that a look? I dunno, but I'm pretty tall, maybe five eleven with my hair flat. Oh yeah, hair - dark, sort of brown-black. I know, right, nordic and dark hair. Not really two things that should match up, but there we go. Uh, no overbite nor underbite... not a redneck, ha! Eyes? Boring brown, but I hear people like brown. Dunno why; it's not a colour that shouts exciting or dazzling. Build? I dunno what to say about this. Some people might use the term athletic... toned. So, the nitty-gritty... hair? Well, everywhere if I don't keep it in check. Hairy stomach but smooth pecs. Will that do you? I'm sure you've built up an image of me by now. Perhaps you're spot on or way off, haha. But oh, I forget... there is one thing that people seem to be interested in, but I'm not that public with my stats. Just call me average Luke. Just regular, average Luke. Nothing special, nothing bad.

Why the fuck I got bullied, I'll never know. Oh, yeah, the gay thing.

~

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~

"So, where are we then?" Taz asked, drifting up to me, looking a little tidier.

"Chain is back on, just need to tighten the sprocket and then rebuild the chassis."

"Oh my God, you are a genius!"

I looked at Taz and grinned. "My secret weapon, in this case, my friend, was patience, and lots of it."

"Yeah, well, thanks for coming over; I needed to step away, I know."

"You look better for it too. But, hey, do you have a coke or water I could have? I'm dry out here in this heat."

"Shit, sorry Luke, I'm such a shit host; yeah, one sec. Actually, Dad just got a new crate in, and they have been in the fridge a while; I'll grab a couple."

"Cool, I'll start doing up some nuts and bolts."

~

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~

"Dad, I'm home!" I called as I let myself in my front door. "Dad?" I called again after no answer. I headed towards the kitchen. "DAAAD!!"

"In the garden, and no need to tell the whole street, Luke!"

"Sorry, I thought you were dead or something."

"I'm trying to get this bloody blade off the lawnmower... and don't joke about me being dead. You know, things like that are not funny."

"Yeah, sorry, you want a beer?"

"Had two already, better not. Death by lawnmower is not how I want to go, Son."

"Hypocrite," I mumbled, heading back in and up to my room.

Okay, so my room is a mess, as you'd expect. It's mainly clothes and unopened amazon boxes. I have this disease, I think. I buy shit off Amazon and then forget to open most of it. But my hobby is in most of those boxes, and I like to build Lego when I get time. It's childish, I know, but it comes highly recommended by your Doctor; you ask them. You'll see.

I sat on my bed and checked my phone, which by the way, had been sitting here in my room because I nearly always forget to take it out with me. Yeah, I know, I'm odd. Most people's phones are their life, and leaving the house without it is like leaving the gas on. Me? I'm not so retarded. I refuse to let a hard drive with a screen control my life.

I scrolled through some notifications... Oh, here we go. I have to tell you about this. So this dude on Facebook, I swear, is stalking me. His name is Ben Flowers, God, imagine that for a last name. Anyway, he sends me messages every few days. So this is weird because we were not friends in school, and the only time we ever interacted was on C floor toilets, where I jerked him off for some lunch money. I'm not kidding; we have nothing else in common. So about a year after that, so around four weeks ago, he finds me on FaceBook and started messaging me from a different account. He wants to meet up. Eh, why? I don't even know him. I've shared his messages with Taz, who thinks I should have a restraining order put out on him. That made me laugh, but I think he's harmless. It's just annoying when you think that all your alerts are from your real friends wanting to do something only to find out it's your number one stalker fan. Urrrgh!

~

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~

Back downstairs, Dad had finally managed to get that blade off the mower, and he seemed pretty zipped with himself. I had to smile at the fact something so minor could satisfy a grown man. God, my Dad, was lame, but I loved him very much, and yeah, we've been fishing and golfing as you do when Dads are trying to be inclusive. I hated both!

"Dad, I'm gonna cook something. You want chicken and chips; I'll halve it."

"Sounds good, but watch that knife; I just sharpened it."

"Been a right little maintenance man today, haven't you?" I joked. Dad looked up at me and rolled his eyes.

"Less of the cheek, or I'll put you in the garden with a tent. Speaking of living arrangements, rent money, Mr. You're almost an adult now."

"Ahh, Dad, I'm a bit short this week. Can I owe you? Look, I am cooking for you. That should get me at least a hundred per cent discount."

"I'll get that tent then, shall I?"

"Okay, okay, give me till Wednesday. I'll ask for an advance."

Dad laughed. "Luke, I'm kidding. Just get it to me when you can."

I hacked into the middle of a medium whole chicken and mumbled expletives under my breath. So I guess if I gave it out, I have to take it, right?

~

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~

At the dinner table, Dad shovelled food into his mouth at an alarming rate while I ate with one hand while texting a couple of outer friends with the other. Oh, so outer friends are like friends I talk to and occasionally see, but not like Taz and Lee. They are my Inner friends. Anyway, this term was all made up by Lee, so blame him. I know, we need to grow up. 

"So, what have you been up to today?" Dad asked, taking a break from food and moving on to a large glass of red wine.

"Putting Taz's bike back together, he's had to rebuild the chain and sprocket. Mechanics wanted some insane price, so we did it together."

"Hope you were careful."

"Yeah, we followed a Youtube video Dad," I said innocently, knowing full well that was a lie. But not a big lie, not a lie that will hurt anyone.

"What else?"

"Popped in to see Lee."

"How is old man Derek doing?"

"Lee's Dad, oh, yeah, he's okay, you know, the same."

"I erm, I wanted to talk to you actually."

"Shit, Dad, you're scaring me; you're not ill, are you?" I asked dramatically, wiping my brow before grinning.

Dad waved his hand at me and snarled. "No, of course not. It's just. Well, I think I've met someone."

"Erm, okay."

"I tried out one of those internet things, you know, like singles places."

"A website, Dad!"

"Yeah, one of those. So uh, I wanted to see how that made you feel?"

Okay, let's pause here cos I can. My Dad is like super old, like in his sixties, my parents had me pretty late, so I am punished each day when Dad needs to do something digital. My Mum? Well, she was a whizz on the internet... even did Mobile banking. But my Dad, he never bothered to learn because my Mum did everything. 

"Uh, sorry, I zoned out there for a minute. But, erm, how does it make me feel? Well, Dad, I want to see you happy, so yeah, it's kinda cool."

"Phew, thanks. I was dreading telling you. I just... I just need to feel a connection to something again. I mean, I know I have you, it's not like I'm lonely, but I do miss the company of a nice lady."

"Dad, I said I'm cool with it. Just make sure she pays half. It's not the 1940s anymore."

Dad picked up a napkin, screwed it up and threw it at me.

~

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~

After placing the dirty dishes in the washer, I headed upstairs to my room. Laying on my bed, I was busy liking Ticktock videos and occasionally answering my friends on Messenger. Then, there it was. The pit in my stomach. The worry. A dull ache sat without pain in the middle of my chest. More like pressure. Right in the middle. Then as you focus on it, that pressure increases. What do I do? Do I cough, do I get up? I know if I just lay here, my heart will give out for some reason. I put my phone down and go through my usual rituals to check. I must check. Fingers on the neck, check for a strong pulse. Good, it's still beating. And then comes the scary bit. The flutter. The beat skip. That's not normal, is it? But I always have that. Yeah, but this time it's terminal.

I get up and run downstairs into the lounge where my Dad is sitting reading the paper, the telly blaring. "Dad, I think you need to take me to the hospital."

Dad casually looked up at me and sighed. "Nope, Luke. You need to go do your breathing thing and get some air. You're fine."

"Dad, I could be having a heart attack."

"No, Luke, because if you were, we would not be interacting. You would be on the floor clutching for your life. You know how this plays out, now go into the garden, walk the perimeter and breathe.

He's right, I know he's right, but my brain wants to take away my rationality. My brain wants to take away my fucking life. Why do our minds work so hard to be nasty to us?!

Huh!? WHY?!!

Copyright © 2022 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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Trying a different style and a couple of new things in this book and my only benchmark on how that is going is you, my loyal readers. So I have a small favour. Please do click a like if you're enjoying the story and please do recommend the book. If you have a thought or comment I'd be made up to hear what you think. All feedback is relished and of course I do love hearing your ideas, opinions and banter. Many thanks, folks! Now, let go forth on to the next chapter :) 

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

Great start to the story... it's going to make interesting reading re panic attacks

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On 6/21/2022 at 8:33 AM, Gary L said:

As someone who has had a number of major attacks I can relate to this. Waiting for a tube train, crossing a road. Yes it’s in the mind but try convincing yourself you don’t like your favourite food and see the mind games that can start.  
great-looking story mr M.  🤗🤗🤗

Thank you so much Gary :) 

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On 6/16/2022 at 9:07 AM, mansexlover said:

Great start to the story... it's going to make interesting reading re panic attacks

Thank you Man :) 

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On 6/19/2022 at 2:45 AM, pvtguy said:

I was treated by a doctor for a few years for depression and other issues - like skipping heartbeats - among others.  He even told me that I might have two or so years left to live.   Finally changed doctors who, after tests the first doctor never did, found out all my issues stemmed from an underactive thyroid which was causing all the symptoms I had been experiencing. It took 9 months to get the numbers back to the normal range, but I felt wonderful.  That was 30 years ago and I'm so glad I changed doctors.  I have been with my current primary for nearly 20 years now and could not ask for a better person or physician. 

I do hope Luke can find a doctor who can truly help him!

Misdiagnosis is so stressful, and sometimes you don't feel like you're being listened to. I'm so glad you got to the bottom of the issue Pvtguy :) 

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On 6/15/2022 at 12:41 AM, Anton_Cloche said:

Doctors, m'eh. Used to be you would find a good one, preferably in early 30's (some experience) with a good 'bedside manner', who would live at least a long as you. These days it's like a 'puppy mill' (NOT that Puppy!), where you go in to almost a factory or an airport. They've booked 5 patients for 10:15 so you know you are trapped.

Either that, or the private Drs are now part of a 'clinic' so you never know who you will see. And the diagnosis is at best a guess? 

Had three Anxiety Attacks in a year. No consistent 'trigger', bunch of expensive tests, and the Covid hit. So no in-person visits, Tele-Health or Zoom. (Yeah stick out you tongue? Or other bit), and prescription faxed to pharmacy / chemist for pick up.

Anyway, if I had to find common trigger for young Luke is (a) being gay but not OUT at school where first attack occured; (b) not OUT to Dad, and (c) will Dad's "nice lady" online hook-up like children, and be gay friendly or will she be a step-monster from Hell. Hence the bedtime attack.

Fingers crossed for Luke to sort this out. :heart: A panic attack is unlikely to cause a heart attack, but it's possible. 

Goblin King Laughing GIF by LEGO

You hot the nail on the head Anton, it is exactly like that. 

I think A,B and C could have played a part. Not being out for some guys is a big chain around their neck.

Thanks for the comments and thoughts :) 

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On 6/14/2022 at 8:36 PM, chris191070 said:

Interesting start. Look forward to learning more about Luke.

Thanks Chris :) 

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On 6/14/2022 at 6:28 PM, Mancunian said:

An interesting first chapter, I'm guessing we find out what makes Luke Hanson tick. Getting to understand a teenager can be very complex.

Thanks Mancunian :) 

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Luke is a very complex person, even for a teenager.  I had a lover that did suffer from panic attacks and know how horrendous something like this can be for someone.  I know all doctors are not the same, and hope that Luke will find the right doctor to help him deal with this problem.  Your writing has created a character that is engaging and his need compelling.  I look forward to learning more about him. 

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