How do I end this?

Anxiety.

The only thought is one of how to escape. Escape what? I’m sitting in a perfectly normal area, surrounded by perfectly normal people, looking perfectly normal as they drink their perfectly normal coffee.

Panic.

My heart rate spikes. Is it the caffeine? I push my drink away. I look back down at my biology textbook. Focus. Read.

“The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, which is intended to maintain the metabolism — ”

Panic.

I can’t. Not here. Not now. It’s been a year since this happened last. Why now? I put my head in my hands. Close my eyes. Stop thinking. Can’t.

The world shakes. Or is it me? I hold out my hand but all I see is trembling, as if it’s struggling to hold itself together. This hand looks foreign to me. It can’t be mine, can it?

I don’t want to drive like this, but it seems that I have no choice in the matter. So I get in my car, hope it stops. There’s no controlling it anymore; I don’t even know if there ever was.

What’s triggering this? Is it the stress? Everything I have yet to do… I have to beat traffic and get home and I have that biology test tomorrow — God, I still haven’t done anything for history! Okay. Take a breath. Calm down. One thing at a time.

At this point, I am acutely aware of everything in my surroundings. The sound of cars rushing by and the sight of the kids walking down the sidewalk next to me and the feeling of my hair against my neck. It’s all so suffocating.

There’s a white van behind me as I sit at a red light. Panic. When the light turns green they turn and drive in the same direction that I’m headed. Panic. They aren’t following me, are they?

The van veers left. Of course they aren’t.

I haven’t felt this in so long; I had almost forgotten the other things that come with it. I start seeing shadows that aren’t there, feeling paranoid for no reason. I’ll be brushing my teeth and my mind will say, “What if there’s someone standing right behind you?” and I have no choice but to turn and look. It doesn’t matter how irrational it seems; I can’t shake the paranoia. I have to check.

It makes me nervous about things that I normally don’t notice. I jump whenever I hear a creak, even in my own home. I hesitate before turning the lights out. I bury myself under blankets at night.

But during the day, it’s worse, because it’s almost addicting. I know that if I think certain thoughts, it will return. But those thoughts come anyway, and I welcome them; because feeling something is better than feeling nothing, even if that something isn’t good.

How do I end this?