The first panic attack I remember having was when I was roughly 11 years old. I was reading a book by Dr. Raymond Moody called Life After Life. I can still remember the cover art; the book sleeve was all black and on the front flap, a picture of a galaxy in all of it's starry, spiral glory. The book was a treatise on reincarnation, based on Dr. Moody's research into NDE, or Near Death Experiences. In the middle of reading a chapter, I suddenly realized that I was going to die one day too. I fell into an intense, blinding panic; my heart raced, my stomach churned, I broke out into a cold sweat and just then, my mother called me for dinner.
Have you ever had a moment of such emotional intensity that the image of where you were and what you were doing was burned into your brain forever? This episode happened 19 years ago and I can recall, with crystal clarity, that when I sat down for dinner that night, I had a cheeseburger on my plate, with no bun, American cheese and sliced pickles on the side. I went to my mother later that evening for comfort, telling her what I had been thinking, and she told me that everyone was going to die one day, including her, but that it wouldn't be for a long, long time. Part of my fear was based in the fact that I thought once you died, you didn't remember who you were anymore, that your earthly persona dissolved and winked out of existence. I didn't want to disappear. I would miss my sister and brother, I was terrified I wouldn't see or know anyone that I loved ever again.
After a bit of time these thoughts faded away from my immediate concerns and lodged themselves into a corner of my brain where they could rear their ugly heads late a night, while I was trying to lull myself to sleep with fantasies and daydreams, but they've never completely left me. That has been my cross to bear in this lifetime, Fear. I wouldn't know myself without it. The more I reflect on my fear the more I realize that it has been following me around since I can remember, just appear in different incarnations, but it's the same beast under the disguise. Anger is fear dressed up to look aggressive. I'm angry also. I suppose I feel, deep inside, that there is no escape, no release from my terrors. They've fluctuated in intensity and frequency over the years, even become dormant for a period of time, but it's never completely left me. I'm afraid it never will.