When I was 9,
my teacher’s name
was Mrs. Catalano. She was tiny (short, slender).
I would marvel
at her body.
How it could contain
intestines, a stomach, two lungs, a heart.
(I was also jealous; 9 is not too young
to be aware
of your body. But that is for another time).
I am now 24.
I am still aware
of my body (fuller, taller),
but I am also aware
of my mind (fuller, overflowing).
at my body.
How it can contain
intestines, a stomach, two lungs, a heart, and,
in the same skeleton,
the excruciating pain
trains of thought,
and planes of feeling. Broken engines
of anxiety, turning
they make this body (full, tall)
feel so small.
I don’t think I can hold it all.
"This was written after having an anxiety attack while falling asleep one night. I called a friend, and as I was talking I realized how little I was able to communicate the details of my current state of mind.
I have OCD, general anxiety disorder and panic disorder (or at least that’s what the DSM says). I have had both ‘anxiety attacks’ and ‘panic attacks’ for years. For me, a panic attack is very viscerally physical: heart pounding, difficulty breathing, chest tightness and dizziness.
I identify my anxiety attacks as different and more difficult to capture; it’s when I either get caught on specific obsessive thoughts and can’t seem to escape the thought loop, or when I have an onrush of a lot of different thoughts at once. Even trying to externalize it now is difficult for me - essentially, this poem is about grappling with all of the distressing thoughts I have, and just being shocked most of the time that I, as one person, can have them all at once."