The Lester File

Monday, June 08, 2009

In the Throes of a Prolongued Panic Attack

Crushed Under the Weight of my Own Fear and Foolishness

The fear is debilitating, the worry is paralyzing. My mind creates a scenario from which there seems to be no escape and my body reacts with violent waves of heat that dig into my bones for days and days. My back flares and my body goes into a fever and my mind becomes a prison until I find the strength to bring myself back to reality.

All of this occurs before I even begin the difficult task laid out before me. These kinds of reactions, and the almost unbearable pain the comes with them, are usually in place for everyone, but only when the very life within us is being threatened with annihilation. For me, these reactions seem to come at the most inopportune moments when simply my own sense of self worth is being threatened... or when I'm writing. It is a fear that is so real and yet so very unreal, one that grips and squeezes at my heart with crushing persistence. A terror that I cannot run from, nor hide from, but I can choose to fight it.

The fight usually results in another bout of physical pain accompanied by a host of cruel thoughts and self-deprecating ideas, even very occasionally thoughts of doing great harm to myself. To punish myself for letting the fear take hold and for foolishly ignoring the signs of its coming. It is a cycle that for all of my human intelligence, I cannot seem to avoid.

I dread it. I hide from it. I want to face it, but I remember how much it hurts. Time is never on my side or it may have been at one point, but I never fail to squander it in the midst of my foolishness. Hope flies from my ears and bleak resolve festers in my heart and mind like a blurring fog. I crawl into myself and shut down my mind so that the pain will stop, but I cannot make it disappear completely. Food loses its taste and my desire for it wanes considerably. I begin to hate myself and everything I live for and wonder why I put myself through it and why I continue to allow it to happen. I compare my life to others' lives and find myself praying for atrocities that will excuse my inability to act on my own behalf. Its shocking and delusional, defeatist and inexcusable.

I'm writing about this because I haven't been able to write at all lately. I've been caught in a prolonged battle with the feelings I've described above, which are currently fresh and alive in my heart and head. I'm writing because I want this extreme anxiety to be something I can write off, so I can move on with my dreams for the future. Even now it threatens to take hold and suck away all of my hope. My hands are shaking and my face is hot when I think about the task ahead and the uncertainty I face.

It is only when I focus on individual sentences, individual words and phrases from authors I've come to respect and whose words I want to use, that I find some sense of peace. Writing suddenly seems less impossible in the imagining of a single phrase, but trying to envision an entire project is frightening to the point of paralysis.

I'm not afraid of most things. I am not afraid to travel, to leave behind familiar places and things, to re-establish myself in new and interesting places. Yet, I am scared to death of disappointing the people that I love and/or respect, of becoming a shell of a person unworthy of love or compassion. Scared. to. death.

I don't mean to project any of my feelings upon anyone else, I'm trying this as a kind of therapy in the hopes that making my feelings tangible will make it possible for them to be made smaller and less overwhelming.