My body remembers feeling the pain. I wasn't supposed to feel pain. And yet, it's ingrained in my body. Something went wrong. Nothing's wrong now. And yet, I'm crying. The fear my body holds is visceral. My brain tries to calm me down. It does not work. I keep crying, I breathe. I panic. I breathe. I panic. Back and forth. Back and forth. I'm 26. I'm 12. I'm 26. I'm 12. I scream. My body's response. The memory plays. My body remembers. I'm aware of the why. My brain is calm. My brain is silent. My body shakes.
I sit in a room with my legs crossed and my hands on my knees. I’m focused on my breath, trying hard to ignore my racing thoughts. The music is relaxing and the yoga teacher is the only one who is speaking. Her presence is calming and trusting. I feel safe. I’m trying to get my mind to feel the same. Halfway through the class, my thoughts halt. I’m left with a quiet mind. It’s a very rare experience for me. After yoga, my mind remains quiet. Everything that captured my attention before class quickly washes away. My mind isn’t rushing or holding onto burdening thoughts. I’m present, I’m relaxed, I’m quiet. I don’t speak. I sit on my bed with a heating pad on my shoulder, taking refugee in these rare moments of solace within myself.
I go on a drive looking for my old self.
I listen to old music and sing along. Dixie Chicks and Bob Dylan,
Songs from my childhood that have bled into my young adult years.
The leaves have barely changed
As the season of summer is about to leave for the year.
Saturday, 79 degrees, and endless blue skies
Guide my way as I drive a route
I once swore I'd never return to.
Too many loops, too scary, too many unknowns.
This is my second time on this road this month
I got lost the first time and made the experience less than thrilling,
Trying to navigate a road by memory without second guessing
Myself takes serious concentration.
Now, I'm going back and forth up a hill,
Reminding myself that this is where I first felt car sickness.
I didn't find my old self, she's no longer around.
Instead, I was reminded of how much I've grown
Since I've been on this road and how much
I'm still scared of the great unknown.
I wake up in the morning and do not feel like myself.
My body aches in unfamiliar ways.
The joints in my hands crack,
my right thumb somehow feels unnerved.
The muscles in my back and neck haven’t
been the same since experiencing multiple panic attacks.
I look in the mirror and do not recognize myself.
My cheeks are puffy, resembling a chipmunk,
reminding me of when I had my jaw surgery.
My eyes are strange, for my top lids are pulled back,
giving me an unwanted stare I don’t realize I have.
The puffy pockets underneath my eyes indicate
swelling that somewhat subsides by the time I say goodnight.
I look out onto the day and everything has changed.
My vision has been on the decline
for the last two months and has suddenly
taken a nose dive into the great unknown.
I can’t see much beyond twelve feet,
it’s like looking into a fish bowl,
everything is fuzzy or blurry or double.
I see double if I look up and tilt my chin down.
My reality shifts into two, pulling apart from one
another like something is breaking from being
overstretched, people often look like their souls
are leaping out of their bodies like fading ghosts.
This has been occurring since October, it seems like
a lifetime ago and yet it’s still jarring every time
I watch something transform into perspectives
no one else can see. People often have four
eyes, which is always the most alarming.
I haven’t felt like myself in a long while.
This temporary normal that’s constantly shifting
will never feel normal. I woke one morning
and everything had changed without a warning.
I’m still process everything that has happened,
it’s overwhelming and terrifying to have no
control over what is going on with your own body.
I just want to see again. More than anything,
I want to have my vision back.
I want to be able to see things far away
without fuzziness or double preventing me
from appreciating the beauty around me.
I want to walk around without feeling
my depth perception being off.
I want to be less sensitive to bright lights.
I want to look up with my eyes
instead of craning my poor neck.
I want to not feel my eyes focusing.
I want to no longer feel eye strain.
I want to no longer feel like my eyes are buzzing.
I didn’t realize how much I took my eyes
for granted until things unexpectedly shifted.
Though my viewpoint tends to focus on
the negative since they’re more overwhelming,
there are a few shining spots in all this chaos.
My eyes are not budging out of their sockets.
Though my eyes are sitting in different places,
it can go unnoticed if you don’t know it.
They may look a little different and certainly I can tell,
it’s not my biggest problem by any means.
I have a prism on one of my lens that corrects
the double vision when I look forward.
I don’t know what I would do without it.
The support I have from my family is unconditional,
they continue to help me through this process
as we figure out the best avenue to take
to relieve the discomfort so I can move forward.
The mind is at war with itself.
Tugging back and forth
between what is rational
and what is emotional.
Foreign emotions ride the wave
of overwhelming intensity,
crashing into reasoning
before the mind can
comprehend what is happening.
Thoughts are left swirling
in madness as the heart shutters
like it’s surrounded by blowing snow
in the middle of a blackout blizzard.
The rational part tries to gain control,
but is met with the feeling
of not breathing while swimming.
Eventually, rationality takes the reigns,
stopping the pain.
Unexpected events can often spark
the flight or fight response.
Overwhelming thoughts that present
the worst to the extreme
come barging into your head when the universe
takes you down a road without
giving you a heads up before the decision is made.
In those moments, the only thing
you can control is how you react to those shifts.
I've always been someone who either
ignores the shift to process it later or panic
with uncontrollable emotions.
I'm trying to change this by beginning
to embrace meditation,
taking time to settle my thoughts
and focus on the now
instead of taking a negative thought
and running with it into the fire.
The ways in which you conduct yourself
when unplanned things occur
says a lot about how you control nerves.
Finding ways to calm
your emotions before they become heightened
is important for your mental health.