(by Tayla Shepard)
It’s a late Sunday afternoon when I arrive back at my brother’s house, where I am house-sitting. I’ve just come from acting class, and I lie down on the couch, continuing to watch the making of “Game of Thrones,” a television show I hadn’t seen before, but who wouldn’t be curious about the intense effort put into something like that?
I keep looking at the door on my right because there’s a draft, but I’m too comfortable to move, sinking into the sofa cushions. Eventually I get up, and as my hand grasps the handle of the door, I let go of it. My heart starts to race. I look at my chest and focus on my heart rate to convince myself of what’s actually happening. But why?
For no reason that I can think of, I am having a panic attack. I touch my chest on the left side over my heart. I feel it pounding like someone knocking on a door that has been locked. A spiral of fear overtakes me. Will this ever stop? Am I going to die or go crazy? What is going to happen to me? I feel the need to control, stop, and survive what is happening inside my body, but all of those actions seem impossible. I have to call one person: Mom.
It seems to take forever until she answers. I tell her what’s happening, tell her I don’t want to die. She tells me to breathe and to go outside for fresh air. I argue that it won’t help—what I’m feeling isn’t normal—but it’s the best advice I can get at that moment. I stand barefoot on the dewy grass and feel the coldness of the ground, reminding me of what’s real. I look at the sky and try to keep breathing. My heart is still racing. I close my eyes and keep breathing. My heart is still racing. I stand up, open my eyes, and breath. My heart is still racing. I feel so very alone, helpless, and afraid of myself. It feels like this is happening without my permission.
Mom calls back and says, “I’m coming.” My heart starts to slow down.
Then she asks, “Do you want a chocolate McFlurry?”
She knows me too well. I say yes.
Realizing that Mom will be there soon, my heart begins to slow down to something that feels normal, something we usually don’t even notice. It’s our unawareness of just being.
Mom arrives with two ice creams in her hand and arms open ready for me to be held in. We walk to the kitchen and warm up her leftover potato bake from the family get-together we had the night before. I get back on the couch with my warmed-up potato bake.
Mom comes and sits down next to me. I’m better. Always.
Tayla Shepard is an aspiring educator, actress, and small business owner. She can be found on Facebook.