The Monster

WP Daily Prompt asks What fears have you overcome and how?

Photo A.M. Moscoso

I used to have panic attacks and during these panic attacks I was convinced that I was going to die.

I couldn’t breath, I had tunnel vision and my chest felt so tight I was sure that not only could I not be breathing, I was sure my ribs were going to crack.

Nothing triggered my attacks, I could be having a great day and then all of the sudden my heart would start to race and before I knew it I was looking down a long dark tunnel and then I couldn’t take a breathe.

It was like drowning on dry land.

It was a terrible way to live- it was like Death was sneaking up on me and just giving me a taste of what was in store for me.

After one attack where I ended up in the hospital,  the Doctor showed me my blood work results which showed my blood was getting enough oxygen. He showed me the results of my EKG- not only was my heart not racing during my panic attack, it was actually strong and doing what it should be doing when you are a healthy 25 year old woman  and my blood pressure? You’d think it would be through the roof, but it wasn’t.

Of course the writer in me was curious- if this wasn’t death that was playing with my head, what was? Was it me? Was there a monster with no name living in my head?

After that day I immersed myself in learning about funeral customs, I read book after book about forensics, forensic anthropolgy and of course I gave myself a crash course in what the body went through as it was dying.

Now you would think this would make my condition worse, but it didn’t. I felt like if I knew what Death was, I could separate that  from whatever it was that was causing my anxiety attacks.

It worked. About two years after giving myself a crash course in Death and what it looked like to people in different cultures and what they did to understand it, I never had another panick attack again.

I wouldn’t recommend that someone who is having panic attacks where they think they’re going to die go about things the way I did. I think this process worked for me because I am a writer and the writer in me who wrote about monsters understood that the best way to bring a monster down was to drag it into the sunlight and pound a stake through it’s heart.

So that’s what I did.

Stephen King has said that “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

The truth is sometimes they lose and we win and those victories are the sweetest victories of all.



One thought on “The Monster

  1. Panic attacks are no joke, they really do make a person feel like they are going to die. I am glad that you are starting to understand and manage them. Also rad quote by King. It is so true.

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