Over a year ago, when I first began having issues with anxiety at work, I wrote a poem. I have always been a writer, and have a certain soft spot for poetry. In that moment, I really wanted to capture what an anxiety attack felt like through writing. I jotted it down on a piece of scrap paper and shoved it into the pocket of my uniform.
I forgot about that poem for the most part until months later when I was working for my college’s fine arts magazine. We were doing an open mic, and the head of the magazine wanted me to perform. I knew that I had the piece, but I did not feel comfortable sharing it with my friends from school. At this point no one besides a few close friends knew that I had issues with anxiety.
I overcame my nerves and recited the poem to the mostly silent crowd of peers. It was such an empowering moment for me, and one that will stay with me for a very long time. It is so hard to be vulnerable with those who know you, and worries of criticism and hate abound. Yet, once those fears of vulnerability are silenced, it is so freeing to be able to come clean and be honest.
Therefore, I would like to share my poem with you too. I hope that it can provide a greater look into panic attacks, or can provide a sense of camaraderie with those who also struggle. You may think it is beautiful, you may think it is dark, but it is my truth, and I am honored to be able to share it.
Someone please tell me
What it means to be alive
I don’t even remember anymore.
Someone please tell me
How to feel
Because I think I feel wrong.
\Wait, Don’t speak. WRONGED.
I think I feel wronged,
Like all this is just a game.
Play with my emotions,
Highlight my fears,
That’s what it is.
Do you know what it’s like,
To constantly tremble,
Cause the world is full of wolves.
More like crowds, Tight spaces, traffic,
Traveling far from home.
All things that imprison me.
Steal my joy, steal my pride,
In, out, in, out,
Focus on what’s real.
Realize you are absurd.
Why fear traffic?
It’s harmless, everyday.
But traffic means stuck,
And I don’t want to be stuck.
What if we are here forever?
But we aren’t here forever,
How do I know?
Because I feel like I’m dying right now,
And If I can feel death.
Then it must be real.
But if death is real,
Why do I fear?
It will happen anyway.
But not to me, Not now.
It’s just a car trip.
It’s every day.
Every day feeling like I could die.
Like the world is trying to suffocate me.
Gravity crushes me.
A little more than the rest.
Sleeping has always been a problem for me
I am afraid of the monsters in my room
Only my monsters are real.
Anxiety is my monster.
While other little girls were dreaming of unicorns
True love, cupcakes, and roses.
I dreamed of being shut in a box
And buried alive.
So when I say I can’t sleep.
I mean I won’t sleep.
I mean I am not strong enough
To combat the dark, terrifying land that is my own mind.
So I go through life and say I’m “Just tired”
But I really mean I am exhausted
I am defeated
Because I have been fighting with myself for too long.
Rationalize. Breathe. Relax.
Focus on something concrete.
When I wake up with nightmares I try everything.
Looking around the room and making sure it is real.
And the more I think the faster my thoughts go.
They run like ants in a fire.
It’s hard to catch them when I am already so out of breath.
Maybe they weren’t meant to be caught.
Maybe they were meant to fly away.
Oh but they can’t fly away,
And do you want to know why?
Because my thoughts love to torment me.
Like maggots in an open wound they consume me.
My chest is tightening, I can feel it now.
The cold, strong, Lucifer snake
Slowly winding its way around my neck.
Anxiety is the devils cruel lover,
And I am its victim.
Like a deer stalked by a lion,
Anxiety will forever hide in my shadow.
A silent, sullen reminder
That I am not my own.
In, out, in, out.