In 2, 3, 4
Out 2,3, 4
“Just breathe” They say, as if I’m not already trying to do that
But my heart is racing to the beat of a marching band
And there’s a force holding my lungs hostage
“Just breathe” like it’s the most simple thing in the world
And usually it is
We don’t even think about it
Until something is keeping us from doing it
In 2, 3, 4
Out 2, 3, 4
And the only thing I want at that moment
Is to get away from all of these people
Because I’m raw and unfiltered and in trouble
“Just breathe” but how does one
Who’s drowning just breathe?
There’s water washing over my head
My legs are kicking fruitlessly, my hands reaching to the sky
In 2, 3, 4
Out 2, 3, 4
And I have to remind myself that there’s nothing out to get me
But fight or flight has kicked in and it’s too late
My hands are numb
My face is tingling
“It’ll be okay”
I know, shut up, I’m not five, I’m not new to this
That’s all I want to say, but words are stuck in my throat
And there’s these cold, clammy hands
The hands of dread and paralyzing fear
Keeping me from doing anything
It doesn’t come at 2am, when there’s nothing going on
It comes at 2pm when I have things to do
For no reason, and with no cause
It comes when I’m the busiest
“Run RUN” my body is screaming
My feet are glued to the ground though
I know that there are tears running down my face
But I don’t feel them
And just as suddenly as it’s appeared
I’m okay again, like it’s never even happened
I have to sit down, because I’m shaky and exhausted
But I’m okay
In 2, 3, 4
Out 2, 3, 4
Everything will be okay
Eastonville was a town in Colorado near Black Forest that was established around 1880. It was named after a pioneer, John Easton. The area was noted to be great for potato farming, and was the self-proclaimed “Potato Capital of the World”. It was one of the many stops on the railroad, laid by Denver and New Orleans Railroad. The original stop, however, was called McConnelsville and was a couple miles away from the actual location of Eastonville. Eastonville had so many jobs and not enough workers that large ads used to be printed in the Colorado Springs Gazette boasting high pay and good work. By the 1900’s, the town had three churches, a school house, three hotels, a race track, and several businesses, as well as 350-500 residents. The town thrived until 1930, when drought and depression hit. All that remains today are a few scattered structures, and the cemetery which is still in use today.
My visit to Eastonville yielded discovery of the most known still-standing structure of the old town. It was an old house, right on the edge of the road, and while I couldn’t get close to it (as it’s on private property and a no trespassing sign is posted) I could feel the echoes of the past still resonating through the dilapidated, leaning structure. In the cemetery, there were several headstones worn far too much to be read, by weather and age. There were other headstones that were readable, dated in the early 1880’s. It was so incredibly peaceful to walk around the graves of these people that had lived over a hundred years before me. The peculiar thing that I noted about the cemetery is that, because it is still in use, there is a strange layout of very old graves next to very recent graves. It made for a very strange sense of stepping through time as I traversed the landscape. There were several graves that were not marked at all by headstones, but merely white, wooden crosses, or large rocks with no carvings on them. These made me feel sad, as there was no way to know who I was paying my respects to. I really enjoyed seeing this strange collection of graves and dates.
I’ve seen you for a couple of weeks now, lurking in the corner. I’ve simultaneously been preparing myself for you, and trying not to think about you. Somewhere in between my all-day classes and my nightly practicing, you’ve managed to rear your ugly head once again. And here I was, thinking I was finally done with you. How could I be so silly?
But really, you couldn’t have chosen a worse time to do it, what with all of the things I’ve got on my plate right now. And of course, how could I ever forget your lovely partner, panic attacks? I hope your marriage is going well.
Believe me, Anxiety. I see that person walking towards me, but I really don’t think they’re going to do much of anything. You think they might look at us? Well shit, better give me a heart attack right here on the damn street.
Trust me, Anxiety, they really don’t hate us, even though you’re almost positive that they do. I can almost guarantee that you’re over-reacting.
The other night, you poked me on the shoulder and asked me pretty innocently if I’d remembered to lock the door before I left, and panic attack had to jump in. She was pretty sure that I hadn’t. I’m pretty upset, Anxiety, because you pulled me away from my rehearsal, mentally, for a long time, because even though I was pretty sure that I locked the door, you just couldn’t remember.
Do you remember a couple days ago, Anxiety? I was trying to talk to a friend of mine, and you decided to test your strength. I could feel you then, holding my lungs so tightly I thought I might deflate entirely. Were you practicing for a strongman competition? I think you could win.
I feel you running around in my head, scattering my carefully filed papers every which way. What day of the week is it? What time is it? What month is it? What am I doing? What was I supposed to do today? Did I have plans? Did I have class? Sorry, what’s going on again?
You never pick up your mess, Anxiety. You always just leave things a huge jumble when you finally take a vacation. It takes me days just to clean up the tornado you’ve caused in me. I wish you were a better roommate. I hate that you keep me up half the night asking me really deep questions about why I’m here. Like, I would care if it wasn’t 3am and I didn’t have class in the morning. Can’t you ask me when I have free time in the afternoon?
But the worst part about it, Anxiety, is that whenever you come knocking, I never feel like I can talk to anyone. And that’s entirely your fault. Because I know that I have people that I can definitely talk to, people that won’t judge me OR you. But here’s the thing, Anxiety. I can’t talk to them when you keep telling me that they don’t care, that I’m just bothering them. Do you see my dilemma here?
I’m not going to pretend that you aren’t there, Anxiety, because that seems kind of ridiculous when you’re a pretty large part of my brain. I see you, and I acknowledge you, and I accept you. But I don’t like you. You make mountains out of mole hills in every sense of the word, Anxiety. You’re playing ping pong with my emotions, and you’re asking Stress to play with you too. Stress doesn’t want to, because he’s pretty sure that I have four thousand assignments due in the next week, even though it’s really only one. But don’t tell him that, he’ll never believe you.
Anxiety, I just want you to know that I see what you’re doing, and I feel what you’re trying to tell me, and I’m really trying to listen. But sometimes, you make me want to sleep for seven days when I can’t afford to, and I don’t like that. But you’re a big part of me, Anxiety, and even though I wish that I didn’t have to deal with you, I know that I do. So maybe you can just take it a little easier on me?
Your not-so-friend Shannon
- Always find a way to make the day great!
- Smile always
- Don’t let the little things get you down
- If you don’t want to do something, then don’t do it
- Find your own happiness
- Laugh often
- Love everyone!
- Have fun in everything you do
- Don’t let the stresses of life get you down
- Take a break
- Take a breath
- Go outside
- Dance in the rain
- Sing loud, and often
- Appreciate the little things
- Thank your family and friends
- Don’t get hung up on mistakes
- Know that mistakes can happen, and that’s okay
- Don’t second guess yourself
- Don’t do anything you’ll regret
- If stress becomes paramount, stop what you’re doing
- It’s okay to take a break
- Put yourself first
- If it makes you feel bad, don’t do it
- Eat every day
- Drink lots of water
- Take care of yourself!
- And last but not least, LOVE YOURSELF!!!
This came into my head at 2:59 am and I had to share it.
There are a lot of big fancy terms I could use
Research statistics and website links
But it doesn’t really capture what it’s all about.
Laying awake all night with a pit in your stomach
Thinking about every single thing that could go wrong tomorrow.
Feeling a lump in your throat
That you have to breathe around
Because somebody looked at you.
Not being able to use public restrooms
And waiting until you’re alone in it
If the situation is really dire.
Taking all class hour to find courage
Because you know all the answers
But everyone is going to look at you
Not making new friends
Sitting alone all the time
Scared to even get up to throw your trash away
The inability to order food
Or go shopping
Without working yourself up
Sitting alone in your room.
It rules your mind and your life
And no matter what you try
You can’t make it stop.
You feel helpless and alone.
Fear of speaking up
Of teaching others
Because you aren’t normal
And they’re all going to look at you like you’re strange
Or think that you’re making it up
Even though you know that you aren’t.
Because even though they can’t see it
Doesn’t mean it isn’t there.