What happens when you pour sand in a sack? It weighs down and grounds immediately. That’s how I describe my anxiety — sand in my stomach — an empty weight. If my life were a cartoon, you would see my stomach plummet to the ground between my legs, the way Tom’s jaw falls open to Jerry’s sass.
Ever seen a hundred birds in one tiny cage, beating their wings against the bars, their beaks all over the place, maybe even sinking into flesh, as their heads swivel in frantic panic? Perhaps this isn’t possible, logistically speaking. But it is in an anxiety attack, because, here, logistics, and logic, fly out the window — the feeling of a hundred birds creating a racket, smashing their wings against my ribs, their beaks puncturing anything and anywhere possible, those are the spasms and that chest pain, which has nothing to do with the health of my heart.
I don’t know whose hands they are — of a mummy emerging from the sand or some kind of a bird monster. All I know is what they do, from the inside… inch up, from the depths, swiftly transforming into an anaconda, enveloping the lungs and squeezing the breath out — a tightness, my throat slams the door on me, and the gasps start thick and fast, the struggle to suck in as much air from the surroundings as possible. Maybe this is how it actually is when you are into thin air. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t gone that high up, and yet I do.
If you are being strangled, your head goes up, doesn’t loll down. That’s the next reaction — head thrown back, mouth open, to let the gasps out, and migraine walks onstage in this twisted play of no words — some nerve somewhere at the base of my head is feeling the pressure, and relaying it to the others at the top, and in no time, there is electricity crackling through my head, just not powering a light in my dark.
And this is just the tip (we’ve reached the top) — the reactions in me to the unannounced and unwelcome guest. I haven’t even yet started on what happens inside the top. I wanted to talk about the physical first. Because if I got 10 bucks every time someone said ‘It’s all in your head’, I would be a rich person, with anxiety.
What happens in the mind isn’t different from the very many descriptions I have read of fellow sufferers — the thoughts, the mind having a mind of its own, starting the self-destruction, reaching a point where you would give all of that money you earned, making you rich, to have it stopped — the noise; where you are now in a battle with yourself, and you have no idea whose side you are on, who are you up against and who are you fighting for, where victory and defeat look the same, because you don’t know who to trust, you or you.
And that’s Day X, all in an attack’s work — it feels like the show can’t go on, it’s not business as usual, the fat lady has sung… and you dry your face and carry on. Sayonara, until the next time.