I can smell it – fear and the sterile hallways of the clinic. I can see the light through the windows and I know it is winter but somehow this is an outer body experience as if I am not quite there. Even in my dreams I can feel it. It is always there when I am least expecting it.
I am aware of him sitting next to me. He is looking at me as I gaze straight ahead. My heart is pounding painfully and I think that this might be when I actually have a heart attack. I can hear my breathing accelerating as people fill the room. No eye contact. I look ahead and realize I am panicking. It takes hold of me and I cannot fight it.The loss of control is overwhelming. I can hear my breathing as though it is someone else that I am observing. It is short and shallow and catches at the back of my throat. My throat is raw. Burnt from the bile and acid of heaving breakfast back up.
He puts his hand on my thin thigh and says something that I do not hear. He is telling me to breath. It seems so absurd that in that moment when my breathing is so loud that it seems to fill the room that he tells me to breathe. Slower or deeper or calmer or something that makes no sense. He is no comfort at this moment even though he should be. My vision closes in. The edges are darkening and blurring. I cannot hold on. I want to get up, to run, to flee as if for my life from this thing that comes for me. It is huge. It is monstrous has invaded me and taken over and I am powerless against it. I try to stand up but he stops me, takes my hand covering my raw knuckles.
The last thing I feel is him. His hand is behind my neck as I look up, bewildered. His other arm around me as I collapse. But he cannot save me.
This is my intervention. The years of anorexia and bulimia culminating in this moment. The clinic is painted white. In my dreams I can see the tree outside those windows. Every detail is startlingly clear except the faces of the people. I cannot see the nurse or the doctor or the family that surrounds me but I can recall the room like a photograph. I can see the pictures on the wall as if they are here now. I can hear, I can smell, I can feel it. The fear, the bleach, the panic. If I could run there would be nowhere to go but I am too weak. I am starving and shivering. I am paralyzed with anxiety. My heart lurching inside my chest deafens everyone else. They always warned me it would give out but I didn’t imagine that this would be that moment.