She was running a little late as she got in the car. "Damn," she thought, "I have to get gas somewhere." She looked in her bulky, black purse and found four lonely dollars. Well, she thought, that will get me there and back.
She was going to see a new therapist. She had had her initial consult, and felt comfortable talking to the nice lady with the short blonde hair, and gentle, kind smile. She was almost at ease from the beginning. A difficult feat to accomplish in the best of times, she knew.
Cranking the car, she backed out, and headed for the bridge. She liked the bridge now. Once, long ago, she had developed a fear of bridges, but she had overcome that, and now found pleasure watching the waves and small boats, as she crossed the James River.
As the bridge came up, she accelerated to keep up with the traffic.
She looked in her rear view mirror, and found a large truck riding her bumper. She hated that. She felt like he could run over her.
Out of nowhere, she suddenly began to feel an uneasy feeling, like she might wreck. That's absurd, she thought. The steering wheel seemed to take on a life of its on. She felt her pulse begin to race, and sweat broke out and dampened her back. She turned the heater down, and looked worriedly around, feeling trapped. She began to frantically check the rearview and side mirrors.
I feel like I'm going to faint, she thought, horrified. Just the idea of it sent her panic out of control. Her heart racing, she desperately wanted to pull over and stop, but there was no place to stop. Nothing to do but go forward.
She kept tapping the brake, and worried how the other drivers would keep from running into her. She felt deeply afraid, and felt tears of frustration and anger fill her eyes.
The road before her seemed to be getting longer rather than shorter. The bridge seemed to be growing and she wondered if she would ever get to the end. She clutched the steering wheel with sweaty palms, slowing her speed, hoping the other drivers would race ahead of her.
She knew she might wreck, she could feel it coursing through her system, like electrical volts. God, she thought, what the hell is going on!!
Frantically capturing her racing thoughts, she focused now on one objective. Keeping the car and herself in control. She could see the drawbridge ahead. After that it was a short distance to Jefferson. "Oh, God, she cried aloud, please don't let me die."
That's me on the bridge today. Having a panic attack that I haven't had in two years. Not since my first visit to Arlington by myself. When I did reach my therapist's office, I felt so charged up with adrenalin, and fear, I wanted to avoid everyone in the waiting room. I felt they could see the fear on me, smell the fear like wild animals.
My therapist managed to calm me down, but recommended I call my doctor, to see about my medication. He never returned my call, and I don't expect him to. So, now I wait, and know that when I cross the bridge again, it won't be the blue waters of the Chesapeake bay I'm concentrating on. I will be locked inside myself, taking inventory of every little change in my behavior, valiantly trying to stave off the beast that is panic.