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Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Anxiety attacks have a way of sneaking up on a person. Slowly, the way a spider creeps up
the leg of an arachnaphobe. The unwitting victim ignores the warning signs, hinting at their upcoming
realization, and the spider is left undiscovered. But soon, they happen to glance down and discover
their worst nightmare sitting on their knee.
At first the arachnaphobe is shocked and horrified, but hindsight's 20/20, and in hindsight,
the arachnaphobr recalls a light crawling sensation on their pant leg, which they now realize wasn't
just a product of their imagination. Like the spider, an anxiety attack approaches its victims, subtly
enough to seem imaginary, and patiently waits to be noticed by its victim
First comes the heat. Your body bursts into flames, but cold sweat erupts from your pores,
drenching your clothes, which now cling suffocatingly close your body. The walls around you begin
to close in, and your heart starts to beat a little faster. A subconscious whisper predicts an attack.
Let that whisper be wrong.
Next you're battling desperately against yourself, fighting to immerse yourself into something,
anything: conversation, music, television, food. Denying the fact that your eyes are jumping frantically
around the room, and the ghost of a fearful quiver haunts your fingertips. Your panic begins to
overwhelm you, and that familiar sense of impending doom is a storm cloud looming over your
existence. In response you grit your teeth, and will that cloud to blow over. Blink back the tears
and tell yourself that it's going to be okay. Not once do you ask yourself why you resist with every
ounce of effort-
A brief, involuntary spasm.
The second layer of freezing sweat washes over you, and you're absolutely mortified. How
could you let this happen to you? How weak, how lazy, how pathetic.
You continue to verbally abuse yourself, almost too livid for panic. Lucky for you, though, that
initial shiver paved the way for many, many more.
Then, your hair is standing on end, and each shiver is an eruption, and explosion of teeth
chattering violently, and chills brutally consuming you. Drowning in your own fear, suffocated by
panic, and each gasp of air fails to fill your lungs.
This is Hell. This needs to stop.
Human beings can't shiver without oxygen. In time, the chills become agonizingly painful.
Hold your breath, rest those weary legs.
But deep breaths are the best treatment. All the doctors say so. You can trust them.
This conflict tears you apart, these thoughts racing through you, driving you insane, till
they crash and burn. Thinking makes anxiety worse, and anxiety makes thinking worse. One of
them has to go, and this is a battle reason always loses.
Now you're faced with a choice: how do you cope with this terror? If you're alone you'll
probably try to watch some TV, most likely a comedy. Or, you could kick and scream for dear life
and cry yourself to sleep. The unfortunate find momentary relief in popping their Valiums. And the
truly blessed victims sob hysterically in the arms of an understanding loved one.
Between three minutes and three hours, the terror eventually subsides. You did something right,
the weight of panic is lifted from your shoulders, and you're finally okay. You relish your freedom from
fear for a moment, and decide to shower off the layers of dried sweat from your body. The hot water
is refreshing, and you reach for the bottle of shampoo-
Lather, rinse, repeat.
These words fill your head.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Your brain is going to explode.
Lather, rinse, repeat, with no instruction to stop. Terror, release, repeat. Your
neurotransmitters have no instruction to stop. To the anxious, life is just this cycle.
Simpletons don't stop washing their hair until their shampoo runs out. The anxious don't
stop living in read until their lives run out.