So I haven’t had a panic attack in about six months (thank jesus!), but I had a bit of a writing splurge, so I wanted to write this.
Sitting in a lecture, taking notes and drumming my hand on my thigh. Voices floating everywhere, my eyes doing 360s, trying to identify them all, but they just blur past, too fast to see – like cars on the motorway, or flies that buzz behind your ears.
I excuse myself, tripping over legs and bags as I shuffle out of the auditorium, trying to be quiet and duck, as to not disrupt anyone – too late for that. After closing the door, and the silence fills me, I take off, trying to find a place where I wouldn’t be asked the devil’s question – ‘Are you okay?’.
I slump down in an empty hall, shaking like a leaf. My spine runs cold, but my chest burns, breathing short, and tears solid. It grabs me buy the ankle and drags me under. I try and fight, try to swim to the surface, but it is too strong. Soon I’m being held on the bottom of the pool – I remember a time her I was a kid. I was in swimming class, the teacher told me to sit on the bottom, and come up when she waved at me. ‘Okay Miss’, I did as I was told, wading on the bottom, waiting, my breath pushing against my cheeks. Wait, not yet, hold on. She hasn’t waved yet, hold on… Then I’m being pulled from the water. I passed out? What? How?
But, I wasn’t pulled out, not yet. I was still drowning in the silent hall way. I hadn’t passed out, no, that would be a relief from this internal battle. My heart tries to burst through my ribs, starting a war with my flesh and bone – they seem to be the only ones on my team. Wait, no, my hands start shaking ten-fold. My stomach twisting with nausea, bile rising in my throat. Oh god, I’m going to – I stand and run three fields to reach the rubbish bin, my body rejecting the movement, and slumping over, as I loose control of my legs.
My head spins, and I can’t control my own body. What is this hell? I would rather be ripped from this world by hell-hounds then be here, in this hall way, loosing both my stomach and my sanity. I sit there, slumped over the black tub – the smell makes me retch again. There’s nothing left of me. I’ve been lost to this fit of shaking and crying.
After sitting there for another eternity, I gather my things and go to the bathroom. Dear god, what is that beast in the mirror? With makeup everywhere, black tear-stains on my cheeks. My hair all frizzy and wet with sweat. My hand reaches for the tap, but I can’t control it enough to be able to turn the nob. With two hands, still shaking, cold water rushes out. Finally. I wash my face, the cool liquid relaxing me. The sobs settle and I am suddenly aware of my lungs. I can fill them, I can breath again. I sigh in relief. I’ve been pulled out, I’m not going to drown. My hand slowly stop vibrating. I stand there, hands in hanging in the rushing water. What was the point in that? What did that fuss achieve? Stupid brain. Stupid body. Stupid me.
‘Are you okay?’, fuck, there it is. I try to suck my strength in through my lips, ‘Yes’, my voice warbles like a baby. ‘Are you sure?’, no. No I’m not sure. No I’m not okay. But I wasn’t going to tell this stranger that. They didn’t need to deal with my useless self. God, I barely even tell my closest friends when I’m not okay.
There was this one time – I was at work – my friend (and superviser) asked if I was okay. I tried to say yes. I tried to hold it in. But I couldn’t. I burst into tears, shaking my head. I’m not okay. And what happened? She wasn’t repulsed, she didn’t laugh, or make me feel weak – I merely did that to myself. I am weak by my own mind – not anyone elses. She comforted me, making me feel normal again. The rest of the day she made an idiot of herself for my enjoyment. To make me lighten up, to make me laugh.
In this bathroom, with this stranger, I finally admitted my darkest fear – It’s okay, to not always be okay. So I said ‘No’, but I cleaned myself, put my head up and fumbled with my bag. The everyday life of someone with anxiety – push it away, and stand up tall.
You’ll be alright darlin’, you’ll be okay. Just stand up straight and push it away. You’re not weak, you’re not useless. You are loved, and you are beautiful.
I’ll talk to you later,
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