It reminds me of Schrödinger’s cat, panic attacks that is, the attack in both real and unreal, in another time, an event which causes panic is both happening and not happening. This was the thought-process I had while I had a panic attack today. As I sat at an intersection, in the middle lane, I tried to convince myself that nothing was actually happening. I felt my body rise up and I imagined getting out of the car. Instead, I turned and parked in the first parking lot I saw, the Northfield Police and Firefighter parking. I placed my hand on my chest, drank some water and breathed. The radio was still playing— Adele “Rolling in the Deep,” and just the sound made me want to vomit.
When I saw that intersection, I think it reminded me of reoccurring dreams I used to have about rowing in the Passaic River. I would be there, in the middle of the river, and have no way of crossing or getting back to the dock. The water would be almost black and covered in sticks, filth, garbage, and it scared me. The unknown of what else was in the water. (This dream wasn’t a far stretch from how gross that water actually happens to be.)
I regained some breath and suppressed the need to vomit and cry, and some how drove the two remaining miles home without trying to think too hard about panic attacks. When I got home and Peter put me to sleep, I realized how disoriented I was before when I was driving. On the country road I take home from the farm, I could barely figure out what direction I was facing. It must have been sleep or heat exhaustion that caused this extreme disorientation and panic attack. In another time or in a dream, this experience was even more real and I never found a way to dock because I was too overcome by panic and fear.