It seeps into your body, into your brain, at 3:18 in the morning on the day after what was supposed to be a great day that turned into an (un)professional nightmare. For me, it’s most likely to happen when I feel untethered. Drifting aimlessly. Scared about the uncertainty that is my future in that moment, afraid to do, afraid to be, and also afraid not to be. That’s where I am right now. This is number 4 – the 4th time that this terrible feeling has overwhelmed me to this magnitude. Is it weird that I can number these occasions? That I know them so well? Your muscles all clench, and you become attuned to every feeling in your body, waiting for the bottom to drop out, and believing that this body you live in is going to turn on you just as your mind did moments ago. Reason leaves you, but under the surface, in the deepest parts of your soul, you know you have to fight through the riptide of all your thoughts turned against you, to keep going, keep swimming. To write so you can stave off the panic. To pray that you can fall asleep soon and wake again to a better tomorrow where the sun is shining and you don’t feel so alone with just your skewed thoughts.
This is the first time I’ve written my way through a panic attack, but now more than ever I feel it needs to be shared, to be felt. I can’t let it control me. I’ve had so many intentions to writing about what anxiety feels like for me – to share this darkest thing that so many people deal with, so that maybe it can give someone else hope and courage, but when it’s not happening you just want to lock those things away, so as not to experience it again, yet here I am… 3:53 AM. I’m drifting. I’m panicking about my life and my future. I’m questioning my capability. I’m fighting the urge to make inappropriate jokes at inopportune moments (Goodbye, cruel world..) because deflecting with humor is how I cope with discomfort. I repeat mantras to myself… You’re okay. You’re going to get through this. You’re going to be happy again. You are more than what they think of you. You’re going to see the sunrise, see Christmas next week, see something amazing in the next year that puts this terrible moment in its place, like into the eighth circle of hell with all the other fraudulent entities – yes, I googled Dante’s circles of hell so I could place this feeling specifically and correctly. Then, there it is, a flicker of hope that the panic is staving, and over something so inane as googling Dante and trying to be witty when you’re feeling completely batshit and unhinged.
4:15 AM. Maybe I can sleep now. I’m going to leave this here. This is me – raw and authentic and exhausted. I’m not alone. I’m not finished, and neither are you.