The second worst panic attack of my life begins while running errands on a Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m Kaitlyn Mauro.I’m 26 years old.I live on Winona Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama.I’m in the car with Edward.He’s my husband.He’s holding my hand.I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.My parents are Sandy and Neil.My grandparents are Marilyn, Guy, Patricia, Ernie and Kathy.My siblings are Kim, Kevin, Colleen and Casey,” I repeat to myself silently, trying not to let go of myself. It seems like it might help but it doesn’t.
I’m no longer myself. I’m no longer any particular self. I’m the people speeding by us in the cars. I feel the old ache of that dent in the bumper of the truck ahead of us in my left side. I’m the man in the faded jean shorts walking down the side of the road and I feel a sharp pain in my right lung. I’m the woman carrying a baby while dragging a toddler along through the parking lot of the Walgreens. I’m the house with the ugly pink paint and my feet are falling asleep from standing for so long. I am everything and it is so overwhelming that I become nothing.
“Do they call it depersonalization because the boundaries around your identity go foggy?” My voice asks Edward but there isn’t any me to process whatever he replies. I try to say something else but my voice only works of its own volition now. I don’t remember leaving the house or walking to the car or getting inside of it. It must have happened before I had a body. The face in the mirror resembles my body’s face but it isn’t my body’s face. Its flaws are enhanced – the too small eyes somehow even smaller, the lips more chapped and the acne more pronounced. Edward closes the mirror I’ve fallen into and I snap back. I am back in my body & every part of it has fallen asleep.
I’m worried I won’t be able to walk into the house when we get home but it isn’t an issue because now my body can float like a ghost. I’m laying on the couch feeling the sensation of my hand shrinking and growing when I am struck by the urge to go lay in the front yard on my left side, sort of fetus style. It’s raining lightly. Maybe the earth would allow me to sink in a little, to be held by her. Maybe she would whisper a secret of some kind in my ear.
These are new sensations for me. Every panic attack seems to bring its own spin on the old classic, to shape shift just enough that I can’t get used to them. Now I only feel temperature. My body freezes fires freezes fires freezes. I can’t move so I just lay there blanket-less. My throat feels inflamed and raw, my lungs need to be reminded to breath. I wonder if I stopped breathing intentionally, would my body just go to sleep for a while and let all this pass? Maybe I’m asleep already? Hell, maybe I am dead. Hell, maybe I am dead and in hell.
(photograph by me, originally written in November 2018)