Sometimes she felt like the whole weight of the world was pressing down upon her, but she couldn’t do anything against its mighty force. It squeezed every last bit of air out of her lungs, and did not stop until she was left in a daze which she couldn’t escape or understand.
This was her panic attack. Like a sheer wave of panic, nay a wall, that would slam into her, seemingly random. She could be doing absolutely nothing, be completely fine, and then wham. It hit her like a ton of bricks and she would go completely still except for the racing of her heartbeat and her gasping for breath, the air passing through to her lungs but doing nothing to help the waves of feeling like there was no air in the room, no air in the world fer her to take in.
She knew some of her triggers, however; if she thought about her mother’s nonexistent pulse beneath her 5 year old hand, she would stop breathing. If she thought about the blood on the receiver of the home phone as she held it, if she thought about anything about that fateful day, or the times after it, her panic would hit her.
She learned to be weary of these times, or episodes as they were called. It had never happened to her in public before, but, even still, she never wanted to risk it. For her, she knew the ways to keep them away, or at least ward them off, but she knew that during the storm itself she had no control at all. That she was in her body, but her mind had taken her hostage and was torturing her soul for anyone who wanted to see. So she never wanted that to happen in public, of course. There would be too many variables; at least when she was alone, she could wait it out and and she knew that it would end soon. But in public, where she was very much not alone, who knew what would happen. She felt like she would not be able to come back as quickly, and the rush of people coming to try and help her, surrounding her and caging her in, cutting off her air, would only make it worse, and inevitably lead to someone calling 911, for an ambulance to whisk her away yet again to another unknown place which was only more panic inducing… She saw that train of thought disappear deep down the rabbit hole, and didn’t want to investigate it any further than she absolutely had to. And so she resolved that she would never let it happen in public.
By that logic, it was safest to stay home alone all day so that nobody would ever be able to witness her terror, her crazy, irrational, inexplicable, terror. So she stayed home; she didn’t go outside. If she let nobody into her heart, nobody could break it in half again by leaving her behind. She wouldn’t give them the power to break her like her mother did, when she chose that she would rather be dead than stay with her own child.