I can’t sleep. My eyes are red, my mouth is dry, my lips blistered from my obsessive licking. I roll over. My arm goes numb. I switch sides. My other arm goes numb. I roll onto my back. A brick crushes my chest, and the air struggles to fill up my lungs. In a blind panic I bolt out of bed and into the bathroom. My heart is racing, hands are sweating, knees are trembling, mind is faltering.
No one can know. No one can see. I MUST keep this a secret. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. Everything is fine. Everything WILL BE fine. I’m okay. I’m okay.
My uncontrollable sobs threaten to creep out from underneath the locked bathroom door and break the quiet silence of the night. I cover my mouth with a towel and let the tears flow freely.
They mustn’t know. No one can know. I’m okay. Please let me be okay.
The world around me is spinning. I hold onto the edge of the bathtub and slowly lower myself to the floor. Why is this happening again? Why am I so sad? Why do I feel so alone?
I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m…not…okay.
The realization of this sends me into another round of heaving breaths and muffled sobs. I can’t breathe. Why can’t I breathe? The air is thick and heavy and threatens to choke me. I cough and cough as if I can somehow cough up all this pain that’s threatening to tear through my chest.
I’m not okay I’m not okay I’m not okay Oh God why am I not okay why is this happening to me why can’t I just be okay please stop please stop please stop
My breathing steadies. My chest begins to rise and fall, once again at a steady pace.
Just. Breathe. Everything will be okay. Breathe.
And it’s over. Just like that. Another panic attack has come and gone. I stand up slowly, my knees still shaking. Staring back at me from the mirror is an image of a broken girl, her face a dark shade of red, her eyes even darker. She’s a mess. Her matted hair is stuck to her freshly wetted cheeks, her nose dripping like a leaky faucet.
I turn on the sink, check to make sure the water is cold, and then splash a wave onto my face, not caring where the water goes. It trickles down my red cheeks, washing away the sticky warmth my tears had left behind. A few more deep breathes, and back to bed I go. Sleep won’t come easily tonight.
No one must know. No one can see.