But as Carr pointed out, what he was in the midst of Monday afternoon in the minutes following the marathon bombings was unlike anything he had ever seen.
"There was no way to disguise anything or any body language to distort how that felt for anybody and how that went through our bodies. Not for anybody," Carr said. "Even guys who see this every day serving our country or medics that see it every day, they were all white as a ghost, and I'm sure I was too."
This was in the streets of their city, and while the damage was similar, it was all the more horrific because they were not overseas fighting to protect the freedom that acts like this attempt to take away.
Talking to Luke was the first time I stopped shaking in 9 days. He said many things that helped me feel okay about what I was going through and he also gave me some advice. He told me to watch something funny. He told me about how he and a few others in his platoon would watch the Three Stooges after they were involved in something horrific while stationed overseas. He said laughter helped. It was a good piece of advice. Of course, I then went and watched one of my favorite comedies and cried, but eventually, I laughed again. My friends are good at this. They make me laugh when I need it.
Things have been difficult again. Since the six month mark, having some memories and intrusive thoughts come, and that weekend I had many intense anxiety attacks, I have been on another roller coaster. I pushed the marathon thoughts away as the election came closer because I was trying to stay as focused on that and my photography work as I could. Then, I had a high with the results of election night. Those moments may have been the happiest I've had since before April 15. I wrote about it in my last post. And then, the last week came. I have a lot of work to do with my photography, but not having that second job gave me more time to think and less distraction. I kept myself out all day, every day after the election.
I have not been able to shake the tightness and flutter in my chest for over 3 weeks now. It's the same feeling I had for a couple of months after the marathon, though it decreased over time. It decreased over a week or so, but came back full force this weekend. I had a busy weekend of work, so I pushed through. I had a great wedding to photograph for a friend and enjoyed myself. It was fun, I danced and sang, and just enjoyed being with everyone. But, it still didn't make the anxiety go away. I ended up having small anxiety attacks through the night after I got home and barely slept. I had work on Sunday and then I had an event to photograph that had me both excited and nervous. I photographed a fundraiser at Forum on Boylston. I was asked to do the event weeks ago and to donate my time and I said yes without hesitation. As it came closer, I asked a friend to join me and be there in case I needed her. She is always there for me and said yes right away.
I decided it was a good idea to make a trip to Boylston St before Sunday since I hadn't been back in months. I met a friend from my support group for coffee right next to Forum on Friday. As I drove looking for a spot, I drove down Boylston and as I turned onto Fairfield St, I found a spot right away. My first thought was, "We found a spot this fast and easy on marathon Monday." I pushed that thought away and made my way down the street. As I got closer, I could feel my breathe get more shallow and the tears behind my eyes. I stood right at the spot where the bomb had gone off, looking down to where I had been standing and it seemed so close, I felt numb, while still having some difficulty with my breathe and emotion. My friend came and I wanted to go inside right away. I felt a little better when I left.
Sunday, we parked on Newbury and walked over to Forum. I felt my chest get worse as we got close, but still felt okay. I had a lot of things happen while at the event and I won't get into them all, because i'm not quite ready to share it all. I was anxious the whole time. I felt a little like I was not welcomed and it caused me to feel awkward and uncomfortable. I thought maybe it was me but my friend felt the same way. I ended up going into a full anxiety attack and uncontrollable crying and had to go to the bathroom to get it to stop. As always, after, I felt more numb. Then, a video played. I had been told not to watch it and I didn't. But, I could hear it. It sounded like raw footage from that day and I had to go to the other end of the restaurant to get away from the sounds as my breathing got worse. I calmed myself down and for the rest of the evening, I felt completely drained and out of place. We were able to leave early and I was happy just to get as far away as possible.
I didn't sleep well. I had photo shoots, so I got myself up and out and did what I had to do. I then called a friend from my group to talk about the night before which helped a bit. And then, I had to drive to the public gardens for my next session. I've been there many times over the last few months for photo shoots. I love it. It's one of my favorite locations to do pictures downtown. This time was different. As I pulled off of Storrow Drive and looked up to see the Pru and Hancock, I felt tears and tightness. As I pulled around the Public Gardens looking for a spot, I had a few flashes in my head of us running down the Boylston, along the outside of the fence to Charles St. I shook it away and parked. As I sat in a corner of the park waiting for my client who is also a close friend, I could feel something coming. She was late, so I called my friend who had come with me the night before just as all of the emotion came. She talked me through it and I got through my session with a smile and having fun with my little 3 year old buddy. I then met the same friend who met me on Boylston for coffee on Friday and chatted for a while before heading home.
I was so exhausted, I went to bed at 9 and slept on and off until 8am. Today, I woke up with worse feelings in my chest. As the day went on, I worked constantly, trying to catch up on work. I visited a friend, texted and had good conversation with others, but still, as the day went on, my chest got worse. I haven't been able to regulate my breathing all afternoon and evening. It's frustrating and exhausting. It is moments like this when I'm fed up and exhausted that this is still happening. I am now off to try a meditation for the third time today to ease this anxiety and try to sleep. I wish I had some inspiring words to end with, but I'm not feeling it right now. However, I do know I will feel inspired again soon because I know this is just a temporary glitch.