The first panic attack I ever remembered having I think I was around twelve. The details of the triggers or the event itself are hazy. But, oh, how I remember my current ones. I lose time as if I’m outside myself. My brain a misfiring of billions of neurons, I recognize them for the way my skin feels. It’s like it’s not…mine. Foreign and cumbersome, almost like a cheap suit that’s too tight and the legs too short. Millions of bugs crawling beneath my skin. I pick, scratch, attempt to hurt myself for it to go away. It’s only when I skip my count, my prayer beads don’t spin as smoothly as I roll them between trembling thumb and forefinger that the rage starts.
Hallucinations form with the building crescendo of every labored breath—each more ragged and painful than the one before it. Time ceases and I’m frozen, skinning the flesh from my arm, setting myself on fire, removing fingers, and driving 100 miles per hour into oncoming traffic and it doesn’t stop. Seconds, minutes, maybe an hour goes by and I’m back, yet always a piece missing. I know I should feel terrified, no, horrified at what my mind devises for me. Yet I’m not.