an old visitor a-knocking

i had a panic attack in public yesterday, the first time in a very, very long time. it arose the same way they usually do: a quick flurry of negative thoughts, one chasing after the other, bludgeoning their way through my usually-sturdy mental fortress, and then the very, very unpleasant (vague but consistent) BGM thudding in my peripheral vision, making me feel like nothing will feel happy or good again.

this all happened within the span of like, 2 minutes, right after the waiter served my hor fun soup and as i picked up my chopsticks. and then i lost my appetite immediately after, stomach acids churning again.

the seed got implanted inadvertently during a conversation with marco in the car which made me come to the realisation that july was only four months away. CLP was only four months away. and i’d spent the past week not attending classes or studying or doing anything substantial because i was down with a stomach infection. and i am so unprepared for CLP. and it’s all going to shit.

the timing was very unfortunate because it caught me in a sickly, hungry and exhausted state and i had little to no willpower to fight against it. but i was fortunate that at least i wasn’t alone by myself when i was panicking in public.

for the whole day after that the mini episode just left a sour taste on my tongue (and stomach, literally) and i just cried and cried because it reminded me of very bad days and feeling powerless and weak against my own thoughts and the frightening anxiety of what the future entails. but that’s the thing about overwhelming thoughts: they are a box that squares you in until you are unable to see beyond it and look at the bigger picture. and after allowing myself to calm down and talk to family and friends, i managed to recall bit by bit my general optimism towards life, and things that made me happy, make me happy and would make me happy. i recalled the bigger picture of things not entirely going to shit even if the worst case scenario happens. because in that snap moment during lunch, my memory had absolutely let go of all of that.

i’m still terrified of CLP, but i’m taking my mom’s advice from ages ago which still very much applies: to take one day at a time.

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Michelle Teoh

24-year-old cynical Asian, book enthusiast and purveyor of fine sarcasm.

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