The first time I heard the crinkling, I thought it was coming from the kitchen. It was probably just a bag falling over, but uneasiness washed over me because no one was in there. When I heard it a second time, I realized it was coming from across the dinner table, but it was too late: anxiety was settling in.
I looked across at my Dad and requested he stop it.
"Stop what?" he asked.
"Whatever it is you're doing that's making that sound," I replied.
For the moment, the shuffling had stopped. I sighed heavily. His hearing's not great to begin with, so he probably hadn't heard the sound while it was happening.
The swishing recommenced. "That," I said triumphantly. "Stop rustling your pants' legs."
I recognized the looks I was getting: Dad was baffled, Mom somewhat exasperated.
"You don't understand," I explained, "Every time I hear that sound it's like I'm having a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder flashback to when I had rats in my apartment."
"We don't have rats," Dad assured me.
"I know. I didn't say it was a rational reaction. It's just what my brain does when it hears that sound."
"You didn't have rats," Mom commented.
"Well, I never actually saw them," I conceded, "But there was a Tom & Jerry-sized hole behind my water heater."
"Oh," my Dad said appraisingly.
Mom joked, "It was probably just your neighbors."
"No," I scowled. "Neighbors didn't pull trash out my trash cans and spread it around." I stopped and took a breath. I could've gone on, but I really didn't want to relive the experience just to counter a joke. Clearly, they'd never encountered anyone with Post-Rodent Stress Disorder before. I see that now.
tags: Post-Rodent+Stress+Disorder, anecdote, anxiety+triggers