When I accidentally let it in, it sneaks in through a single breath—one seemingly ordinary breath in a normal rhythm—so I never see it coming.
In through the nose & out through the mouth, in through the nose &—oh God!—
Heaviness like the color black drops straight into my chest. The sudden weight shatters my equilibrium, sending my eyes & thoughts spinning into my head. All around the fizzing, dancing, pinprick lights, I see threatening shadows creep in from all sides, like a dark wave swelling over me.
Am I drowning? Am I falling? Is the top of my head floating away? No, no, it is only in your mind.
My body is frozen with a chill that starts at my ears, crawls down my neck, my back, my arms. I realize then that my mouth tastes like blood, but it is a phantom smell; I triggered a reel of “teeth falling out” dreams to play. The fear of losing control circulates in my brain. My heart jolts & then quickens; my eyes widen; my hands shake; my teeth clamp; my stomach twists itself in a knot like a fetal position; & I can no longer breathe.
How again do I breathe? In through the nose—no, I did that. Out through the mouth?
I let it all go. The panicked parts of me immediately start to balance out again. I know I should keep breathing, seek the balance, but I am scared to take another sip of air.
What if it is there waiting for me? I’m sure it was hovering just above me all along…
I clutch my chest & focus my eyes in front of me.
In through the nose…
A normal taste, a normal rhythm. My heartbeat slows. A minute of even breaths passes. I sit up straighter in my chair.
Just as quickly as the anxiety came, it left, & the day resumes again.
I never see it coming.