I’ve been having tiny little panic attacks, so tiny they shouldn’t even be called “panic,” because that sounds like a lot of wind and storm and arms-a-waving. They’re more like…like bubbles that float up to the top of my head and then burst in a shower of anxiety, pop! pop, pop. I am awash with alarm for no good reason at all–it has happened in the middle of laundry, at the top of an ice cream sundae, on the third sentence of a paragraph of a perfectly ordinary book, mid-shampoo, and I freeze and I am terrified and sick-feeling and filled with the sense that everything is wrong and probably wrong by my hands, that nothing will ever be good again and probably because I have ruined it.
You’re supposed to walk these things off, distract yourself, think about happy things, go call a friend or eat a ham or do something that is anything except wallow inside your head and feed the anxiety, as if you are pushing strips of newspaper into a tiny little fire and then blowing gently. They don’t last long enough for that. It’s like I’m switching the channels quickly in my head: talk show, weather report, movie, movie, commercial, panic!, Spanish soap opera, TV Guide channel, movie, what the hell was that?
I haven’t figured out how to predict it, or where it comes from, and if
I continue forward and shake it off like you’d shake off a bad dream over the course of a busy morning, I forget it happened,
soon enough, and everything seems okay again. I have got a good life,
and good friends, and I am meeting very nice people and work is going
well and that guy I hang around with is pretty spectacular and things
are really good for me right now, you know? I am happy. So where is
this coming from? Because I want to dynamite the place and then brick
up the wall and paint over and maybe hang a picture and then burn the
house down and move out of the country, because I do not like the
feeling. Even though it comes quickly, passes even more quickly,
there’s a lot I would give to not feel like that ever again.
It feels like a glitch, these twitches, like something small but
significant broke or malfunctioned or got knocked out of balance, and
the lights are flickering and maybe the electrician ought to be called
but it is so expensive and it seems so minor and inconsequential, the
issue–you can fix it yourself! If only you do not end up crispy and
deep-fried by your ungrounded enthusiasm for special projects. In this
allegory, crispy and deep-fried means–I’m not sure, exactly. But I
guess I’m afraid of my head jittering right off my shoulders if I don’t
do something. Doing something sounds like overkill. Meds? Therapy? What
if I zombie myself, or discover that I have a deep-seated pathology
that has just been triggered by a probing question about my childhood
dreams? It is dangerous. It sounds tiresome. It sounds not worth it.
But I am always urging E–take care of yourself. You have things to do
and you’re busy and stressed and have so much to accomplish, but for
god’s sake if you don’t take care of yourself you’re not going to
accomplish any of it because you will collapse and then I will kick your ass
so much. That’s the gist of the conversation. You’d think I’d take my own
advice. I don’t want to blow it out of proportion! I whine. The problem
here is that I’ve lost all sense of proportion to begin with, and now’s
the time to turn to someone and ask if my panic attacks make me look
fat. So to speak.