I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well, here I am, dying."
Good news: You're not dying. Hooray!
That didn't work, did it. I know. Now you're thinking, "You don't know, Alice Bradley. You don't know how I’m definitely dying. Jerk."
Call me names all you like. Note this, however: you’re reading. If you were dying you wouldn’t be able to read. Don’t look that up, that part about not being able to read if you were dying. Although if you are looking things up, color me even more impressed.
But truly, if you were seconds away from demise, would you really have the cognitive capacity to read? It’s just common sense. I don’t need a medical degree to tell you that. Have I mentioned yet that I don't have a medical degree? If I did I'd never shut up about it.
Having established that you’re not dying, we can at least admit that you’re not feeling your jauntiest. Your symptoms may include:
- Heart: Racing or skip-skippiting around in a way that’s far too weird
- Mind: Also racing with suspicion and/or knowledge of imminent doom
- Stomach: Anything from queasiness to actual, honest-to-God barfing
- Vision: tunneling. Or expanding. Tilting, maybe? Look, vision can do all kinds of things
- Hands: you can’t feel them, or you can feel them too much; they’re either too big or seem like they’re someone else’s
- Mouth: Too dry. Too wet. Too mouth-y. Don't think about your tongue, whatever you do.
Yep. That’s a panic attack, all right.
WHY THIS HAPPENS
Oh, my nervous lil' pal: it turns out there’s a little walnut-sized part of your brain nestled deep inside. It’s called the amygdala and in some of us it’s a little more active than others. It’s also the part of your brain that wigs out when you’re under attack. Right now, your amygdala thinks you’re under attack. Who can say why? This brain nugget’s a real dummy. Imagine a squirrel. A squirrel is probably smarter than this part of your brain. Deep in the center of your brain sits the brain of a mentally defective squirrel. It’s astounding that we don’t think we’re on fire all the time.
ARE YOU BETTER YET? DID SCIENCE HELP
Here are some facts that are interesting and will distract you from the hyperventilation etc.:
-Did you know that dolphins have names for each other? They call to each other by name. Interestingly they’re all named “Barbara” or “Craig.”
-Baby elephants will suck their own trunks for comfort. Can you stand it? I would suck a baby elephant’s trunk. This would comfort no one.
-Butterflies taste with their feet. Bam. Also: butterfly have goddamn FEET.
-One out of five people are having a panic attack right along with you at this very moment. If you’re in the DMV, it’s one out of four.
-A fast heart rate means you’re whooshing all that panic out of your system. You know how dogs tremble it out? That’s you, like a chihuahua, all a-tremble until you’re not. Soon you’ll turn in circles a few times and then fall asleep. At the DMV. You’ll never get your boating license renewed at this rate! Ah, well.
IF THAT DIDN'T WORK, THEN HERE
I know exactly what you need: a project. Why just sit there while your heart is hammering away at your chest? Do something with all those chemicals flooding your system. Projects are fun and distracting!
—1 American-made bamboo blanket
—1 naturally woodsy scented, non-soy candle
—1 abandoned warehouse
—1 plate of freshly cooked bacon
—1 roll of duct tape
—At least 30 copies of Ekhart Tolle’s A New Earth
—The musician Moby
Light the candle and wrap yourself in the infinite coziness of your chenille/bamboo blanket. Breathe deeply and imagine you’re out camping.
Take a small bite of your locally sourced, nitrate-free bacon. It’s perfectly crisp, not too oily or dry. Breathe in as you close your eyes, reveling in your bacon, candle, and warm blanket.
You hear a choked sob and crack open your eyes. Having previously restrained Moby to a chair across from you using the duct tape included above, you forgot to gag his mouth. “It’s one thing to abduct me,” he tells you. “I don’t know why I deserve your punishment. But I really don’t know why you have to murder innocent pigs. Oh, god. I mean Gaia.”
Any minute now he’s going to start on how smart pigs are. Are you going to stand for that? Of course not. Throw a copy of A New Earth at Moby. Really whip it at him. Aim for the face! This may seem cruel, but Moby can't feel pain like the rest of us, due to his veganism. The most painful part of this will be that he can't pick up that copy of A New Earth which I am fairly certain is his favorite book.
Repeat as needed. There’s not a court in the world that would convict you.
When all the bacon is gone and/or Moby is insensible and you’re feeling better (and that last part is important), it’s time to get up and leave. Don’t forget to blow out the candle. Safety first!
OKAY BUT REALLY
How are you going to find an abandoned warehouse anywhere near where Moby might live? Use your head. I know you’re in mid-panic attack but by the time you’re done cooking the bacon do you really think Moby wouldn’t have gotten free? I’m 90% sure he spends his days practicing bikram yoga. He’s nimble, is what I’m saying. He's probably covered in avocado oil. He'll slip out of anything.
By the time you’ve read this, your panic attack should have ended. If not, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to start over. No matter what, you can’t hurt Moby. Or anyone! Do I have to tell you this?
(p.s. I wanted to tell you that I now have a weekly newsletter! Sign up here. Okay bye.)