I have learned to hold it at a distance because I’m convinced that that’s where it lives: in my hold. I think my arms are growing longer out of sheer terror. It does not work like a magnet but I’m afraid it will– that if it gets just a little closer then it will be pulled hard against my heart. And when it gets here-

when it gets there.

The way they say “anxiety” makes it sound like something tempermental, female, Jewish. It is the thing we must take more seriously or it will kill us. But by that they mean: drink less coffee and stop trying to overachieve and put down your cell phone. By that they mean: be a healthier upper middle class person. Deal with your shit and prioritize. That is the end of anxiety.

The way they say “panic attack” makes it sound like it is violent but then it passes. It seizes you or wounds you. It is acute but only as long as a seizure or a wound.

The way they say stress management makes it sound like if you just took care of your panic attacks and then your anxiety would go away….like you’re being irresponsible.

Or lazy. Like You. Like Them.

Si Habla.

What they feel like is this:

A microphone that swings too close and then you hear that noise. It’s the high-pitched feedback squeal.

The air in the back of my throat is warm. It stops moving in and out. My heart flutters– because this is the last time it will be able to beat and my heart never tries to pace itself, its more of the hoarding kind. I feel my tongue widen in the back and the walls of my throat are nearly touching. I try to breath in through my nose but as soon as I try, I am unable to. Look around: what is the likelihood that someone in this room, this restaurant, this airplane, this apartment is carrying an Epi-pen. Even when I haven’t eaten anything for hours. I try to locate the irritant and at once every bump is a bite, every itch is a rash. I call you to say I love you. And goodbye. Except that I can’t talk because my throat is too swollen and hosting even one word would be the end of me.

What they feel like is this:

Feedback is when the speaker and microphone are too close and so there can be no intercession of voice. There is only the sound of the speaker into the microphone into the speaker. Feedback is a noise so loud that it is no longer a noise and you can’t hear anything human below it.

My throat hurts. The walls of my neck have grown, somehow, weak. I don’t know if it’s the tendons or the muscles or what. All of a sudden I am a genius of neck-anatomy. Maybe this is going to be when my vertebrae finally collapse. Breathing, speaking, moving will make it happen faster. The whole system is weakening. All the parts start breaking loose, they no longer support each other but dance wildly and erratically. The bones are melting and there’ll be nothing left to keep me open. I look around. I wonder who in this room, restaurant, airplane, apartment is a secret trauma doctor, ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy, ready to prop my throat open with tooth pick tent poles until I can get to the OR. I can’t call to say I love you. And goodbye. I’ve learned better by now.

What they feel like is this:

Audio feedback is a problem for amplifiers and oscillators.
A lightening pain in my head. Partial blindness. Dizziness. Some nausea. The memory of watching a girl have an aneurism in my seventh grade language arts class. Her face turned green before she threw up. Is my face green. This will be irreparable.

What they feel like is this:

A stabbing, aching chest pain that takes my breath away. I cannot catch my breath. My hands are numb and then, sometimes, my feet. I hold all the aching parts of my body, chew on an aspirin. I casually call you to tell you I love you and goodbye. It is foolish for me to believe that I am having a heart attack unless I actually am. And in that case I’ll just die so it’s not worth making a fuss. By this point I am ready to die. I am so exhausted that I want it. At least then I wouldn’t have been crazy.

I am yelling against the tone but I can’t even hear my own voice. I’m dying. I say. But it doesn’t sound as dire as it feels.

If I could just figure out what the problem was. I have hours a day– two, five, sometimes ten, to look it in the face and act normal instead or totallys succumb or cry and beg. Once, in a philosophy class, a classmate of mine suggested that science, religion, and philosophy were all primarily interested in getting to “truth.” Of course he was wrong. But– something is getting caught and recycle and I can’t figured out how to stop it without breaking the circuit.