Breathe in.

I am lying in a hospital bed. The lights are dimmed low. Family and friends gawking over me. My withered skeletal frame is stretched out in front of my eyes. The plain, white walls devoid of all character, reflect the sentiment held in my spirit. I hear the incessant beeping of my heart rate monitor mindlessly tracking the life-giving contractions that stem from within my chest. I hear the monotonous drone of voices which creates an audible haze of white noise that uncomfortably settles into every crevice of this damned room. I feel my strength waning beneath the weight of my disease. My once strong and capable body, turned to nothing but an aching shell of what it once was. Spiting me with every moment that its pathetic existence persists. I feel the cold air settle on my bare scalp. My hair slowly molting away, creating a garish caricature of myself that betrays the memory of the person I used to be. I taste the acrid, inescapable, unforgiving atmosphere of death, lingering over me like an insidious specter feasting on the despair that emanates from my being. The metallic taste of blood permeating through the cracks on my lips is all too familiar. I feel the ulcers that line my mouth and all the way down my throat, punishing any attempt to talk with brilliant torture. My mother leans down close to me, tears welling up in her eyes. I can see her pain. Her soul is slowly being crushed. Letting go of her youngest son, her baby boy, has ruined her. It has ruined my whole family. It has ruined all of my friends. Young lives meant for wonder and adventure have been sacrificed to watch me suffer. Their happiness has been torn from their lives. Their days are cold, moments of joy, fleeting- stolen by the thought of me wasting away. I have forever stained their lives with a pain that cannot be reconciled with. I can see it. I can feel it. I am nothing but a burden- a nightmarish concoction of chemical therapies and terminal diseases rolled up into a miserable sack of meat. Mum opens her mouth to speak. Her voice cracking and trembling. The words barely escape, but they manage to find their strength, ‘wake up’.

Breathe out.

The light turns green. The cars in front of me edge forward. Traffic is bad today. The rain was heavy this morning but it’s starting to clear up. My heart is pounding. I’m hyperventilating. My body temperature is rising. My hands are tingling. All of my senses are in disarray. I look down to see I’m in my work uniform. I remember it’s a Wednesday, hump day. I wipe the sweat from my forehead and turn on the radio. Music always helps. The images keep on fighting against me. My disease wants to take control again. I can feel it gnawing at the back of my mind. Hungry, wanting to feed. Its been 17 years of this. 17 years of fighting for control, of fighting to be free. It follows me everywhere I go, it’s in everything I see. Like a malicious companion, it constantly twists and molds reality into a nightmare that doesn’t actually exist. It creates visions of a future that only pillage and destroy the possibility of happiness. It does not care, it does not discriminate and it does not relent. Welcome to anxiety.

Just Breathe.