6.15pm. She’s had a busy day. Didn’t really have too much much time to think. She hasn’t thought about me once. That’ll make my visit all the more a surprise, I’ll show up around the usual hour.
10.30pm. She’s in bed a little earlier tonight. She must be tired. Shame I’ll have to wake her up soon. It’ll be the usual, a pounding heart beat, exactly one hour after she dozes off. It’ll thump so hard in her chest she will hear it in her ears. And then she’ll start to swallow frantically as she feels like a lump in her throat is blocking her airway, her throat will start to close in on her.
11.33pm. Right on schedule. She’s already up in the bathroom staring at her pupils. I know what she’s looking for, signs of something neurological, she’ll even lift her arms and repeat her name as she checks for signs of stroke. All she’ll find are tired blood shot eyes as she stares into the lights watching her pupils constrict and dilate.
11.34pm. She’s in the kitchen now, pacing. Holding her finger on the dial pad, her other hand checking her pulse. Will she phone the ambulance tonight? Will she lose this battle. She’s going through names in her head on who to call, who could possibly be awake at this hour, who could help her through this one?
11.35pm. She’s certain her times up. She’s back in her room begging her husband to phone an ambulance. I’ve managed to get a tighter hold on her chest, she’s describing me to him like someone stepping on her chest with both feet. Her head is spinning violently and by this stage I’ve managed to make both her hands completely numb.
11.40pm. Her husbands taken her phone from her. He’s refused to call for help. She feels helpless but knows deep down he has done the right thing. I’m about to leave her now, slowly she’s regaining some sense of normality. A wave of exhaustion hits her, she buries her face and tears into her pillow as he holds her close. She knows she lost that round.
I often imagine my panic in the 3rd person. Giving it a name, a shape, a colour, an image. I imagine a real entity because that’s exactly what those feelings and sensations are to me when they happen, they are real. Not all “in my head” or “made up”, but real physical and bodily changes that I experience on the regular. More than millions of people world wide have experienced the same or similar; that glitch in the system, their fight or flight response kicking in when it’s not required. If anyone reading has ever felt or experienced panic attacks please know you’re not alone – I find some relief in imaging them as an ugly beast that I can kick, punch and throw stuff at, when it does coming lurking in the night.