Intense, overwhelming danger thumping and beating thoughts and feelings towards an unfounded nothing.
What is wrong?
The body reacts — pulse races, blood pressure skyrockets, stomach is churning, toes go cold, breath is quickened.
Sweat starts, face flushes, shivers cross the skin, tingling runs down the spine.
Something must be wrong.
Checking, no blood, no pain, nothing is wrong, just queasiness and a sense of foreboding.
Anxiety begins. Dread grips. Fear comes in a wave washing over everything.
What to do? Who to call? What’s next?
Maybe there is a reason. Something could have happened. Something that requires action.
Something, usually bad news or an incident having just happened, is at least a reason for the body and the mind to react in such a manner. Something at least is tangible and can be described, whether near or far, serious or not. While that something may be out of control at least there is a cause and an action to be done.
Other times, for many, there is no reason for the panic.
It just is, and it takes over everything without notice.
The body reacts and then thoughts begin connecting one to another, reinforcing the anxiety and making it grow.
Each unreasonable feeling more convincing than the last that something is going horribly wrong and you need to flee, to fight, to act.
Unfortunately, there is no action to take and most likely any action taken will make the situation worse because it will not end the fear. It will not relieve the emotions roiling over your whole being, and it will become worse with each passing moment.
How do you combat nothingness? What is there to do when reason and logic do not apply, when control is gone and the thoughts spiraling in your head lead you to the darkest of thoughts about yourself, those around you and those out there?
Then, just simply, the moment of dread relinquishes its hold but fear still floats just beneath the surface.
Anxiety is a constant companion for many in our society, huddling and rippling, awaiting the moment to break through an outward facade of calm.
While I am not afflicted with such anxiety attacks, and the above is only my understanding from conversations with those who have suffered such incapacitation, I have had my own somethings happen and my refuge is found in the prayer below.
“Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us our trespasses
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
At other times it is in the tautology of the benediction that I know as the best blessing anyone could offer.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
This is where my peace is found. In the still moments of understanding powerlessness, letting go of control when control is merely an illusion, and trying, but usually failing, to just accept.
RICHARD PUGH, of Ottawa, is enjoying living in the Illinois River Valley. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.