Panic Attacks

The room is too small and the walls are closing in

I can’t breath

My lungs are collapsing under pressure from this

elephant that has planted it’s beautiful self on my chest –

The world is spinning faster and faster –

I’m on a tilt.

My fingernails dig into the rich earth,

searching for a hold,

something to keep me from falling into the blackness lying below –

I scream

But no one can hear me because

my mouth never opened.

– Chan Eliza

For the love of an Introvert

I am an introvert. The dictionary definition describes us as “a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things”, as opposed to the dictionary definition of an extrovert being – “a person predominantly concerned with external things or objective considerations”. These are the psychological definitions, while simplified labels are shy versus outgoing. While no one can be boxed completely into either category, we all lean more heavily into one state of being. For me, I have always enjoyed the quiet of being alone with my thoughts, rather than abundant conversations and other activities that require me to socialize.

There is always an exception to this rule. Of course, I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, and if you were to see me around my family, best friend or boyfriend, you would have no idea that I am normally very quiet and closed off.

While the dictionary would label me as “shy”, this isn’t a term I connect with. I choose to keep to myself not because I am nervous or timid, but simply because that is what feels right to me. Sure, I have a history with social anxiety, but this keeps me from leaving my house – not from speaking when I actually do. I have no problem expressing my opinion if I am angry or irritated, or overjoyed even. I just don’t feel the need to always speak on the mundane and simple topics that normally fill everyday conversation.

For the longest time, I was ashamed to be labeled as an introvert. I thought there must be something wrong with me, some wiring in my brain that kept me from wanting to talk. I would beat myself up over it, and admire the people that could strike up a conversation about the tiniest of things, making friends as easy as counting to three.

I embrace the label now. I am proudly an introvert – if you feel the need to label me this way – because of the qualities that come with it. I am a good listener, an abundant feeler, and when I do choose to speak, I know I am saying the right thing. My opinions and thoughts are well thought out, I care deeply about everything and everyone, and I enjoy my own company. I don’t fear being alone with my thoughts anymore, because I am one of my own best friends.

Which label do you fall under? I personally find that most of us fall somewhere in between, and that is perfectly okay.

 

What Anxiety Feels Like

When I was a little girl the monkey bars at the school playground were my worst enemy

They were out to get me, I know it because

All of my friends could crawl across them like they were born to scale buildings but

When it got to my turn the bars became fire and my hands were sticks

At the first touch I would burst into flames

Imagining falling three hundred feet to my death with no one there to catch me –

Of course –

When I did fall, that one (or ten) times

There was always someone there who would catch me

In their outstretched arms as if they knew the whole time

That I would not make it to the other side

Now the other side is my own happiness

And the monkey bars, the dreaded monkey bars

Are my own mind

A burning fire living and breathing to take me down into the depths of an ocean

And I can swim pretty well

But I never learned how to stay afloat above waves ten feet tall

I don’t know if I can get across

But shouldn’t I be able to? – because all of my friends did it

On their first try

They are smiling and I don’t think they have to think about how to move their face muscles into the correct position just to prepare themselves to do it

They are talking and I don’t think they have to prepare themselves five minutes for the simple interaction of saying Hello

My worst enemy now lives within me

Getting to the other side looks like it should be so simple

But I have felt the heat of the flames too close for comfort licking at my hands

And what if I catch fire?

I hear “Someone will be there to catch you when you fall”

I can see them below me

With their arms outstretched

An army of ants swarming beneath with the sole intent of breaking my fall

Before the fall breaks me

Why do I need a safety net?

Shouldn’t I be able to cross without the help of these warriors who seem to be able

To handle their own lives so well – why do they have to handle mine too?

My mind, this anxiety, these monkey bars stretch before me

It is not that I don’t want their help

I have depended on others for too long

The fire is licking and the ocean is raging and my heart is pounding

But for fucks sake I am going to make it across this time

And I won’t need anyone to catch me

– Chan Eliza