Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Eating Shit

by Jared Woods

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Eating Shit, Part one of four - I shimmied my way up towards the ceiling until my head began to rise above the surface of the congregation, and I finally caught a view of the voice in charge. But let me tell you, I almost wish I hadn’t of.


There I was, only moments ago, stomach bloating up from a foamy death, the dry bitter taste of poison transitioning into the sweet euphoric escape of darkness. And then, I was abruptly elsewhere. I guess that’s how dying happens? At first, you’re in one place, the next, you’re in another.

I instinctively rubbed my cheeks with my fingertips as I surveyed my surroundings with uncertainty. The immediate sense of discomfort was quickly understood, as I was now standing in frustratingly close proximity to a large quantity of people, all squashed together within some sort of an unstable container, like a fistful of stress balls. I cannot express this enough: the majority of my body parts were squeezed up against so many other different body parts, that limbs and hips and torsos were prodding every surface area of my skin, crudely invading my personal space and polluting my comfort zone with their odours. At the best of times, such an intrusion would surely be enough to make me scream—and I would have too, if only everyone else wasn’t already screaming.

I awkwardly pushed my thumbs into my earholes to dampen these sounds and to bring a bit of calm into my mind, and began summoning my best memories to connect the last event of suffocation into this dire position. I got as far as remembering the fishy stink of Palama’s jaws until another (louder) external sound crept into my brain and sabotaged my thoughts. I removed my fingers to hear a weird little ditty of music, of all things, followed by a voice crackling over our heads from some speakers in the ceiling which was so unexpected that it ceased all the screaming, thank God.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” it broadcasted. “Please give yourselves a waaaarm welcome this evening to the one, the only, the Johnson Line!” ...fake applause crashed from the speakers, and then... “I will be your host for this evening, Rodney the Marcidus! Applause! Applaaaause!” Naturally, no one beyond the speakers were actually applauding as far as I could see, but being cursed by my unnaturally short pubescent female stature, there was no real way for me to tell what was going on. Perhaps I would have even applauded myself, but besides watching the fields full of legs and arms surrounding me shift nervously at something or other, there was simply no way of knowing anything from this standpoint. Regardless, the high-pitched voice continued its speech. “Alright then! Would you all allow me to welcome you abound my carriage today, and please do not be afraid! As I am here to explain exactly what is going on, in no time! But first of all, I’d like everyone to pat your bad selves on the back for being selected for the ride of a lifetime! Or should I say, the ride of a deathtime, heeheeheeee.”

I won’t lie, I wasn’t exactly paying attention. Rather, my priority was to worm my way around this crowd and try to get a closer look at whatever was making this racket, but his recent words did call attention to the shifty floor and clanky sounds vibrating the underneath of my feet. We were on a train! It seemed so obvious now, the whole motion was identical to those underground tubes in the Goat’s Nest, except this one was a hundred times more rickety and unkempt and stenchy. It squeaked and moaned at every bump as if it was moments away from falling apart, which disrupted the crowd just enough for me to use to my advantage, contorting my small frame between peoples’ kneecaps whilst their senses were flooded with distractions. So yeah, as I was saying, at this moment I was only half paying mind to the voice itself, but I did catch the next thing it said, which caused my mission to stall. It was probably the most terrifying information I think anyone could have ever imagined.

“The rumours are true!” it flamboyantly continued. “You are all, indeed, very very dead! Some of you may be able to wrack your little minds towards themselves and pinpoint those few minutes ago, when your merry earthly lives were stolen right out from your core. However, this information could come as a shock to others of you, as your death may have happened so abruptly that you don’t even know what caused such a demise. But none of this is of any matter! For, whatever the fuck, you are dead! So bloody dead! The deadest of dead! And what’s more, you are in the one place your mommy told you never to go! You are in Hell!

What a disappointing thing to hear, especially when (like myself), you did not believe in a Heaven and Hell, world in opposites kind of reality. However, when considering the odour of sweaty bodies all overcrowded on this moving vehicle, it did make some sort of sense. And now that I thought about it, if there was some type of afterlife for the wicked, I guess it would always be where I ended up anyway. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bothered by all of this—because I was. But judging by the pathetic shrieks and sobs that immediately followed this grand reveal, it seemed I wasn’t quite as surprised or even as phased by the punchline as all the others. No, rather I was smart about it, and used this sudden influx of panic to my aid once again, edging my way towards a rusty pole I noticed a few feet ahead. My hands eventually found the beam and wrapped themselves around it, and I suddenly found myself humoured by its existence. I knew the function of such poles on transport systems were placed to give travelers something to hold onto in order to prevent tumbles, but when you are already forcefully propped up by the bodies surrounding you, their whole purpose was rendered utterly pointless. Well, that is except for what I intended to use it for, of course.

I gripped the rough steel as high up as I could, and then jumped, quickly wrapping my legs around its circumference which kicked a few fellow passengers in assorted parts of their upper bodies, but if they noticed then I didn’t notice. Then, using the pressure of the crowd around me, I shimmied my way up towards the ceiling until my head began to rise above the surface of the congregation, and I finally caught a view of the voice in charge. But let me tell you, I almost wish I hadn’t of. I probably would have slid right back down that pole in shock if the tightness of my neighbouring people wasn’t glueing me to my position.

Quite a distance ahead of me, addressing the crowd as if a pastor, was what could only be described as a giant lump of flesh; like a mound of cancer the size of a small car, with no distinguishable parts except for a gaping hole I assume worked as its mouth and one football sized eyeball darting in seemingly random directions. But as if somehow aware of its grotesque flappy veiny testicular-esque appearance, it had made a slapdash effort to beautify itself by covering every wrinkly crevice in brightly coloured glitter, complete with a comedically undersized top hat balanced precariously on the highest point of the mess. And then, finally, there was perhaps the most out of place piece of this vulgar creature: one long skinny arm protruding out from its pulsating excess of flab, so brittle that it seemed as if it was about to snap right off, quivering as it held up a megaphone to the crater-mouth performing its game show host speech. It was the most revolting sight I had ever seen. Worse than any hooker with a crustacean head, that’s for sure. And I gagged.

I was so consumed by this rancid tumour’s appearance that I completely zoned out, forgetting to listen to its valuable information, and by the time I came to, it was already in the middle of another point. “ say whatever you will about Hell, but never say we are an unfair bunch! On the contrary, you are all bad people, but we have deemed you undeserving of the eternal torment we offer to most of our customers. You are very lucky indeed! As we, as in me, as in the powers that be, have granted you a second chance at life! And to redeem your spirit back into your earthly existence, all you have to do is partake in these little games! Oh, how we love games here on the Johnson Line! It’s what we do, baby! And we have plenty of them, you be sure of that! Enough for everyone! You and you and you and you! Simply pick whichever one you fancy, and in doing so, you will choose your own destiny! Oh, and what’s that? I think I hear the first game approaching right now! Toot-toot!

Despite the curiosity flaring up inside of me about some chance to win back my old life and go crawling into my mother’s arms... and despite the engrossing grossness of this monstrosities’ faggot demeanour... and even despite the fact that I was fucking dead on a train in Hell... my attention had diverted elsewhere. For, up ahead, a dozen yards or so beyond me—quite close to that fat ballsack thing, in fact—stood a black-and-white boy. About my age. And the only passenger to be standing in the opposite direction of everyone else, as if he too was the leader of the show. And what’s more, he was staring right back at me.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Eating Shit, Part two of four - His bombastic monologue got too campy for me to repeat here word for word—I definitely couldn’t do the accent justice, I’d just embarrass myself.


You don’t even notice the jagged rust injecting bacteria into your hands and ironising your bloodstream when there is a gigantic animated blob of meat in front of you, detailing an activity which revolved around an eternity of sexual depravity and perversion. He called it The Bucket Chamber, and spoke about it with such glee that you would be forgiven in assuming it was the first time even he had heard of it. But his showmanship did the trick, as we, the audience, were captivated, all fearful chatter now kidnapped by his eager detailing.

By this point our involvement was clear: we were here because we were evil, but for whatever reason, not evil enough for full-blown damnation. Rather, we had been given another shot at life, which we could earn by competing in a sick game of our choice, each task held at a stop on this train line. It was as simple as successfully completing one of these challenges, and then apparently our freedom would be granted, just like that. Some passengers still seemed confused by these rules, whilst others silently protested in defence, simply offended that they were included on this naughty list in the first place, as if death had made a mistake. But not me. No, I was more surprised that I wasn’t sent straight to the most uncomfortable region of Hell’s corners, do not pass go, do not collect 200 credits. I was not a good person. I had spent my final earthly moments with a knife in my hand, ready to murder a useless hooker, driven by a repulsed hatred and a homicidal desire which had plagued me my whole life. There was an evil rooted deep within me far greater than the weight of my own soul, and for me to be forgiven to some degree was much more unexpected that any of the shock some of these passengers were vocalising just by being here.

But we were here, wide-eyed and gaping-mouths, listening to this monster explaining just what the first potential task entailed, which is where we came in. This was a vile game, structured around lust, where the ‘client’ (or so we were referred to) would be locked in a small room and then sexually pleasured by a never ending conveyor belt of attractive partners, all acting out our greatest fantasies, forever masturbating our genitals until we eventually produced enough liquid to fill a bucket. With a certain predetermined volume, the weight of bucket could pull open the door to freedom, and there you would go, back to the real world, more sexually satisfied than you could have ever achieved in your previous life. At least, that’s what I think was said, I only half paid attention as I’d lost interest during the very introduction of the premise. I don’t know, I guess growing up with a prostitute mom literally surrounded by the darkness of men and their pathetic sexual appetites helped me see straight through the practice. And even if my own virginity still held strong (as any 12-year-old’s should have), I think my upbringing had desensitised me to the sickness of males, and ultimately the concept of intercourse did nothing more than repulse me as a human weakness. Not to mention, in hindsight, how illogical the idea would be of a female ever leaking enough foam to fill a whole bucket. It seemed ludicrous, a total sexist disadvantaged game, which I opted to give a miss immediately. I was far more curious as to what lay ahead, anyway.

I can’t say the same for everyone else, however, as my stomach churned watching the almost exclusively male clientele salivating at the thought of this endless sexfest, the disbelief of their luck shining from their sweaty foreheads while the train squeaked to a halt and allowed them to scramble out the doors. A sick part of my brain imagined what they were in Hell for, and I could almost smell the aura of rapists or pedophilia musking off of them. Maybe I was making it up, but I choked regardless. However, once the doors beeped closed and we were on the move again, I was actually grateful as to how many perverse figures had been surrounding me, the crowd having dissipated substantially, allowing some breathing room as well as the chance for me to carefully lower my feet onto the ground again and still hold a decent view through the gaps between people’s legs and armpits.

And this train, like life and death, carried forward oblivious to the murmured unrest of the passengers’ incessant oppositions. But I did not join in. On the contrary, looking back, I was naively having a twisted sort of fun at this point of the story, quite charmed by the idea that I could potentially escape this realm just by winning a game. I was certain that if any one of these puny characters could pull it off, it would be me. I did not subscribe to the surrounding fear, but was rather calmed by it, almost amused at how weird the afterlife could be, how strange it was that trains of retribution existed. And there I squatted, watching the blob doing some vocal warm ups from his abyss of a mouth, while I endlessly moved my head from side to side to improve my view, eagerly anticipating the next game.

And that’s just about when that goddamn black-and-white boy came back into play again. I could still see him eyeing me through the assorted array of legwear, and naturally I looked right back at him, refusing to look down, hiding my curiosity with what I hoped was a glaze of fierce antagonism. In that moment I figured “well, we’re in Hell after all”, and I might as well play the part and attempt to provoke my own breed of terror, but he did not break character, and I started to realise that maybe he was as hard as me. And there we were, probably having one of the weirdest exchanges in all of history: two pubescent dead kids, staring each other down from a distance, standing on a train riding through the dark side of the afterlife, yet with a promise of potential redemption. How bizarre.

“Ladies and gentlemen, would you please settle your pretty selves back down and get ready for the next station! The next game! Your next chance to win win win freedom!” the fat mound began to inform. “And, may I add, this is truly one of my personal favourites! Before you know it, we will be arriving at the one, the oooonly... the DigestiTrack! Which I know many of you will adore as much as yours truly!”

His bombastic monologue got too campy for me to repeat here word for word—I definitely couldn’t do the accent justice, I’d just embarrass myself. But what he said was true, as his explanation scraped a spark of interest in me, and I briefly forgot I was playing the no-blink game with this boy and turned my attention to listen. The seemingly symbolism of this specific game was not lost on me: the participant was abandoned in a multiple story high glass container which was filled with an edible substance, and you simply had to eat your way to the top and crawl out a free lady. Now, as you can imagine, for someone like me who had spent her life starving herself just to gain some transparency, nothing could possibly sound more satisfying. I knew I could eat better than anyone on this train, because the very idea of being stuffed was not a discomfort in my experience, but rather a luxury I never afforded myself. And if I somehow overestimated my ability and exploded my stomach from an excess of content, I’d be fine with that too. That too was a fantasy I’d played in my mind many an occasion during my missions of self-induced hunger.

But even if my mind was already made up before the wheels yelped to their halt, nothing could have encouraged me more than what that little fucking black-and-white boy did. As soon as the doors beeped open, he aimed his direct eye-contact my way, raised his hand upwards to make the OK symbol with the index and the thumb, and then turned to get off himself. I don’t believe in signs, but that was a white rabbit if I ever did see one.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Eating Shit, Part three of four - It was shit. The edible substance, it was fucking faeces.


It was shit. The edible substance, it was fucking faeces. Do you want to know what a bad feeling is? It’s when you’re placed in a massive glass container, five stories high and the width of god knows how many football fields, and then you suddenly get covered with mounds and mounds of poo. Instinctively, you’d be forgiven in thinking you’re going to suffocate in this mess and you hold your breath for as long as you can until you can't, and then you gasp it in, only to realise you can somehow breathe under this crap because... well, you’re in Hell now, and I guess that’s how Hell plays. Except with each breath, the rotten stench of shit still swims into your lungs, and I, for one, dry heaved for what felt like days.

But eventually, you just kinda get used to it. What else you going to do? After, like, a week or so, the smell becomes fairly normal and the idea of gulping down mouthfuls of poop doesn’t irk in quite the same way as it did at first. Which is all fine and good, except even once the desensitising acceptance kicks in, you realise it is still far more complicated than that.

The consistency of the matter was thick enough to fill the belly real quick, yet watery enough that natural gravity took control of things and insisted on sucking you back down to the bottom. You’d swallow and swallow and thrash your arms and kick your legs, only to rise a few inches before growing tired and sinking down to the floor again like quicksand, frustrated and disheartened and defeated. There were various times that I figured this must be impossible, which would not be surprising considering this was eternal damnation after all. “Let’s just humiliate them by covering them in shit and watching them struggle to eat the stuff for the rest of time”. It seemed likely, even now.

And weeks went by like this. Days passed when I rose by almost a meter before slipping back down, and days passed when I lay on the bottom, thinking about mommy, thinking about Palama, watching the brown mud swirl shapes before my eyes, wondering why they didn’t sting my retina, wondering how my immune system was managing to hold up. But all that changed when Priscilla came along.

At least, that’s what I think she said her name was, it’s hard to communicate with ears and mouths full of crap. But I could just about make out her appearance through the muck, as a large woman, obviously quite a glutton in her time, the reason why she chose this station not lost on me. Regardless, as so many often do, she saw me as the helpless child figure I was, perhaps reminding her of someone back home, and she took pity on me. Through muffled shouts and hand gestures, she told me she wanted to help get me out, and personally, I was all for that. God knows why she felt this way, perhaps she too had become discouraged by the months we’d spent in here, and figured by some good deed, she could get into heaven after all by saving someone else, someone lighter than herself, I don’t know. She seemed relatively stupid, I wouldn’t put it passed her.

The reason why I make such a rude judgement, is because her grand plan of assisting my escape was to slowly pick up my tiny frame, and force me upwards, ascended me in the dense faeces until she managed to place my feet upon her shoulders. The thickness of this fecal matter (or perhaps all fecal matter, I don’t want to know) means that such a fast rise put a whole load of pressure on my body and my ears popped and rang in response. And for what? So I could stand on her shoulders and be several feet closer to the goal without actually being anywhere near the top? It was a stupid idea from a stupid stupid woman, and I was astonished by her simplicity, but in hindsight, bless her for trying, really.

And bless her for something else too, as by the time I had sunk back down to her level, I’d devised a plan of my own. She had started to talk to me about something or other, mouthing a bunch of muffled bubbles that I struggled to make out, when I reached out as fast as the poo would let me, and grabbed her windpipe like it was a cylinder under a sink. I dug my fingertips as deep as they would go into her neck, and then yanked out towards me, ignoring her shocked face with guilt as I did so. Whether my hands were the perfect shape for such an act, or whether people have extra weak throats in Hell, I’ll never know, but her oesophagus came loose relatively quickly, a tube now only half attached to her lower jaw floating aimlessly about in its freedom while she thrashed in slow motion, the poop gradually diluting with the colour red. And I didn’t let go. Not until she stopped her stupid thrashing, anyway. And you know what? It actually felt good. After the miserable failed attempt of murdering Palama, it felt like I’d finally scratched a craving left exposed for far too long now, even if the death was of someone already dead.

Now, you might be wondering why I killed Priscilla like that, a woman who had obviously taken some sort of a liking to me and was only trying to help. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because I had figured something out, and as I dragged her fat corpse through the mud for what felt like miles, I became more and more certain that with enough bodies like hers, I could build a ladder to the top of this horrific torture container and escape the fuck up out of here without having to swallow another mouthful of bacteria. Which sounded great, especially because I suddenly had an urge to kill everything.

And, lucky me, resources were somewhat plentiful. I’d wade around half blind in a fixed direction, counting my paces, until my eyes could make out a blurry victim ahead which my fingers could jab into. They’d generally be quite surprised by this child entering their comfort zone, but perhaps the months of solitude had weakened them, their loneliness relieved to have someone seemingly non-threatening to attempt a conversation with. That’s why not a single one was prepared for this little girl to strangle them or push their windpipes deep into their necks or whatever, and my collection grew as fast as I could drag these lifeless bodies through the excrement—which, truth be told, actually took a fucking long time.

I couldn’t tell you how long all in all, but it must have taken almost a year or so to get the job done, I guess? Still, I was so preoccupied by the task, even entertained, that it hardly felt like a chore, imaginatively stacking dead corpses on top of one another in the most logical fashion, interlocking limbs as elaborate placements to grip or stand on, minimising the time needed to pack the latest human corpse onto the collection, and ensuring they did not topple over by using a mix of constructive ingenuity and the firmness of the poo. Actually, looking back now, this was really great. I recall periods of much pride and happiness for a few moments there.

And the hard work paid off too. Bodies on top of bodies until I could feel I was almost at the top. The shit was different up there, more watery, easier to swallow, less likely to drag you down. Which is why I spent the last few days refusing to come down, bored of the murder, rather trying to stay afloat, moving my arms as minimally as possible and allowing my body to ascend bit by bit naturally, until my head finally began to surface out of the top, feeling the cold crown of actual oxygen upon my wet hair, eventually reaching above myself and wrapping my fingers upon the glass ledge, lifting up and out to freedom. Oh, what a feeling.

Except, weirdly, in that brief moment my only regret was that I never found that black-and-white boy. I would have loved to had killed him too.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Eating Shit, Part four of four - His skin was so black that he looked almost like silhouette with horns, only his mustard eyes betraying his life.


The slurping sound of my body worming its way out from the gigantic tank was soon blasted away by the click click sounds of cameras swarming my every angle, the once drowning vision of brown now blinded by white flashes of nothing. “Macy! Macy!” were the only words I could recognise beneath the snapping percussion of film being memorised, disorientating my attempt to stabilise until I fell over, sprawled out onto a crap covered carpet, once a dark red now the colour of soil from my own body. I was beyond relieved to be breathing real air, the type of luxury you only appreciate once starved of it for so long, but all my liberation was ruined by this brand new annoyance, and I felt more angry than I had for weeks.

What the fuck is going on? I had been trapped in silent isolation for such a lengthy time that I could not cope with this abrupt mass of unrecognisable creatures excitedly surrounding me, creepy fingers of all lengths and thickness and variations reaching out to touch my skin while all I wanted was a few moments alone with actual clean oxygen, invited naturally in through my mouth, expanding my lungs, arming my blood cells. This attention was not welcome, and all fury in my fiber told me to tear down these beings, except my exhaustion refused to start any engines, and I lay there, destroyed and suddenly very self-conscious of my nudity even though I had been naked for most my life.

Thankfully, this embarrassing predicament was short lived. A group of muscular hands tucked beneath my armpits and raised me to my feet. A being that looked like an oversized ant wrapped a towel around me to cover the fresh shit sliding off of my body as well as the dry clumps which had hardened to my skin colour. I witnessed various other assorted creatures push the collected crowd aside, out of my view to reveal a pathway, and whomever had lifted me up guided my steps in that direction, in between the blur of flashing cameras and gawking cheers. I clumsily stumbled, placing one shaky foot in front of the other, remembering how to walk until I noticed our destination a few yards ahead. It was a door.

As we approached the sight whilst attempting to ignore the noise, the door creaked timidly open and a few steps later, the hands holding me steady let go, and I tumbled into a room, onto my knees, followed by the sound of the door shutting behind me, instantly swallowing the chaos into silence and allowing my mind the calm it needed to look up and evaluate my new surroundings.

“Please, take a seat,” said a demon I found sat on a throne-like chair in front of me. His skin was so black that he looked almost like a silhouette with horns, only his mustard eyes betraying his life. Beside him stood another monster type, about seven feet tall and dressed in a dapper butler suit, a total normal physique other than his head, which was nothing more than a floppy tube resembling a flaccid elephant trunk, hung limply over his collar and down to his belt like a sad tie.

I achingly stood up, leaving an impressive imprint of muddy poop in my shape behind, and then sat on a quaint leather seat pointed out to me. The room was a small space dimly lit by candles, and after the vastness of the crap tank, I felt a slight shallow pang of claustrophobia. But I dared not speak a word, as the intense overbearing of my senses had drained me entirely, dulling any logical comprehension and cultivating distrust for my own thoughts.

“Would you like a cup of tea?” this dark figure asked me, and then without hesitating for a response, signalled to his sidekick who promptly went to the corner and pulled a steaming mug out of nowhere, handing it to me. The aroma cleansed my sinuses and it screamed of health, to which I eagerly cradled in my palms, unfazed by the burn as my lips stole a huge gulp. It tasted of plants but in the best way possible, my eyes watering from the pleasure of not tasting shit.

“So, I guess a congratulations is in order,” the demon requested my attention once again. “For you have not only escaped the DigestiTrack—a feat only a small crowd have managed to conquer in all of eternity—but you have also achieved this mission in a much faster fashion than anyone else in our history: 9 months, 10 days, and 9 hours. Such a time beating the record by years and years, it must be noted.”

He paused for a moment and sat there, staring at me, his sharp eyes encouraging a response, but I just continued to sip this ‘heavenly’ tea, appreciating the warmth it provided but feeling a touch awkward in all other areas of the situation. I wasn’t sure what he was expecting from me. Was I supposed to cheer for joy? Jump to my feet and pat myself on the head? Thank him for the congratulations after I’d been shoved into a tormented tub of poop, having pushed myself alone to freedom, without any intentional help from anyone else? I did not know, and so I did not respond, which was enough silence for him to get on with it.

“Ok, let me cut to the chase, Macy,” he leaned forward. “By all deals and agreements, you have succeeded in what so many have failed to do—you have rightfully earned an exit from Hell. But you have done so in such a resourceful and unique manner, that Lucifer himself has taken notice of you. What an honour this is. Not a usual affair, and not something that should be taken lightly. Which is why I am here, to deliver a message, sent from him, to you, through me.”

I’ll admit, the idea that the Devil himself knew who I was did stir some intrigue in me, but I was also wary about what the consequences of such an attention could be. How weird it is, that only a short time ago I would have sneered at the concept of a Satan and a Hell, disregarding it as a technique invented by religion to instill fear into children, ensuring they obeyed some rigid rules to the Church’s liking. And yet, here I was, receiving a message from the Dark Lord himself. Strange how quickly things change. I stopped sipping my drink. I listened.

“There is a natural evil in you, Macy. A fundamental villainous core which cannot be taught, one we foolishly didn’t notice before, otherwise you would have never been granted a ride on the Johnson Line in the first place. However, what’s done is done, and we can only extend an invitation to you. Stay here, Macy. Stay here in Hell with us, and you will be rewarded greater than any king on Earth, showered with such rewards that even the most wealthiest of human beings wouldn’t have enough imagination to fathom it. Everything you have ever desired will be placed in front of your fingertips—your own mansion filled with slaves, food so fine that the soil it came from would be considered a delicacy in your old home, but most of all: power. You would be granted an acclaimed position in the ranks of Hell, one which would harness and progress your skills, giving you the opportunity to command a large fleet of Satan’s already very potent army. Make no mistake, Macy, this is an offer of the most desirable calibre. The face of every single person living on Earth will soon be affected by our intentions, and we want you to be a part of its leadership. A seat in this congress is not something which comes available very often, and I myself have never heard of it being offered on such short notice.”

At some point, without realising it, I had begun to sip my tea again, which had cooled down considerably and lapped comfortably at my pallet. The idea of power interested me—as it would interest anyone—but after what I’d just endured, with the faeces and that, not to mention the countless amounts of times I’d cussed down the name of Hell during the ordeal... I personally still held onto some resentment towards the favour of Satan, but decided not to mention that.

“And what if I refuse?” I croaked, the hoarse voice which came out of my mouth giving me a fright, the first words I’d spoken in close to a year.

“Then that would be a great loss for both of us, Macy,” this demon leaned back. “But a deal is a deal. We here in Hell pride ourselves on keeping our deals. And you must also know that there would be no hard feelings from our side either, if you so choose to go down this route. Lucifer’s interest in you is... special. He has made it clear that no matter what your decision, just be aware that his eyes will forever be upon you, eagerly awaiting your inevitable return.”

“Well, then, I must wholeheartedly thank you for this opportunity,” I didn’t even blink. “But I have to gratefully yet regrettably turn down your offer. I've got to go back to where I came from. There is something I need to do.”

And to that, the demon laughed. “And I’m sure I know exactly what that something is. Alright, Macy. So be it. Jasmith, prepare the box,” he spoke to his sidekick as he stood up. “And Macy, until we meet again, it has been a complete honour to watch you work.”

With that, he bowed, turned, and exited out a door that wasn’t there before, and I watched as the trunk-monster shuffled around, producing a large wooden box out of thin air, and then placing it at my bare shit-encrusted feet.

“Whenever you are ready, ma’am,” he spluttered from his one nostril, and I reluctantly placed my half empty mug upon the floor. I was apprehensive, but knew I had to commit to whatever this was before I started to second guess my decision. I stood up, tiptoed into the box, and then looked up, awaiting further instruction.

“Please lie down, ma’am,” this creature snotted, and I followed his order, scrunching myself into fetal position, suddenly feeling very vulnerable and fearful in my discomfort. Was this yet another trick to trap me in a Hell within a Hell? There was definitely a chance, but thankfully, this was not the case.

Jasmith picked up a matching wooden lid and just before he placed it on top of my little compartment, he hesitated, then reached into his top blazer pocket and produced a safety pin about the size of my pinkie. “Here, take this,” he spoke in a flustered hurry. “It will come in use, I promise, but please never tell anyone where you got it from”.

Before I could question the item I had suddenly found in my palm, the box was shut with me inside. Utter darkness, and I began to hyperventilate until I could hear crickets chirping and a slight chilling wind molesting my nude skin through the wooden slats.

They gave me the name Macy Dull. And this was the first, and only time I was resurrected.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps
Wow, the 26th of June 2014 was a day I probably won’t be forgetting any time soon. There I was, innocently eating my pesto pasta lunch at my desk, probably watching a video of someone hitting their head on something, when I was suddenly struck by the most peculiar, exciting feeling of all time. It was like I was going up on a roller coaster! But I was only at my desk! Wheee! Except when my stomach started to flutter so rapidly that my chest decided to get in on the action, collapsing onto my heart so tightly that I couldn’t remember how to breath, I suddenly wasn’t so sure about this. Oh my God, am I having a heart attack? Yes. Yes I am. Jesus, I’m having a fucking heart attack! I need to immediately find a place to crawl under and die, out of sight because I’d be far too embarrassed to pass away in front all these people! The only issue is that I can’t really move because my eyesight had changed channels to that TV static one, and even worse was that I’d already just about shot out of my body, no longer a part of myself, observing me from a distance. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my first ever panic attack to the scene, at the ripe old age of 29.

And, of course, it was not my last, because that would be far too easy. No, rather the next one came an hour or so later. The next one was not long after that. And this became my life, for over a year to come. Naturally, the dramaqueen inside of me initially refused to believe this was as pathetic as a simple panic attack. Oh no, not me, I was not a statistic. I was the best! I was not one of them anxiety kids! This didn’t happen to people of my age! This was surely a legit heart condition and I was dying! However, after countless doctor appointments and even a trip to the hospital to get my body covered in wires and blood sucked from my veins, it was confirmed that my heart was the pinnacle of health and I was going to live. Which annoyed me because I was forced to admit to myself that I had become another loser, a victim to the impossibly high stream of life’s demands, and was no longer in control of my brain juice. I needed to accept that I too had now joined the ranks of people who lived as a nervous-wreck, every single fucking day of my life.

Sound familiar? I assume so, because here you are, reading my amazing words, which is great for me as I thrive on attention. But this is also great for you! It shows you are making an effort to fix yourself, and honestly, that’s essentially the only thing all of these 10 steps are going to ask from you. To make an effort. To apply yourself to each one as best you can, and then eventually use them to overcome panic attacks once and for all, rising to become the greatest person in the world! (results may vary)

However, before we jump into it, I feel it’s important to give you a bit of insight into my own emu situation first. Without going into too much detail about what may or may not have caused my affliction (although the sister article to this one may give a clue), you must firstly understand that my specific incarnation of panic was very situationally based, most likely to occur when public speaking, or in crowds, or at the urinal, or having a conversation, or anything involving other people in any circumstance whatsoever. It was a type of agoraphobia apparently, a proper panic disorder, and because of this, it’s difficult for me to sway the following findings away from my own personal experiences. That said, I have still tried my best to keep all other types of trouble in mind, and hopefully the majority of this guide should be loose enough to apply to all of ya’lls, or at very least provide some direction for you to make up your own individually tailored approaches. Because you’re an adult now. I can’t do everything for you.

That said, I can wish you all the strength and love for this journey. I know it sucks, believe me, I know it sucks, maybe the suckiest thing like ever ever. But just remember that, no matter who you are, you do not deserve this. You were not designed to be this way. And it can be fixed. But only you can fix it. I'm ready when you are.

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 1: One Step To Rule Them All

Step 1: One Step To Rule Them All

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

As it is with every single guide ever written in the HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, the first step is always the most important one. And who am I to break the formula? Jared Woods, that’s who. But I’m still not going to break the formula.

Ok, so here it is... the pinnacle of urgency... the apex point you must consider the most vital... the singular step you must prioritise for your mental comfort... and it goes like this: Make. The. Decision. Make the decision right now that you are not going to stand for this any longer. Nope, not gonna do it, not anymore. From this point onwards, you will do whatever it takes to rise above and ultimately conquer this rubbish festering within your tummy. You will approach and embrace every idea that comes into your head with open arms and the valour of a storybook hero. No matter how difficult it may seem, and no matter how much these ideas threaten your vision with the exact same fear you are trying to subdue, you will take this upset head-on. No more excuses. You are now declaring a war.

"Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle." - Napoleon Hill

Exhausting thought, eh? Of course it is, because this isn’t going to be easy. But you must know on some level that (by your very human nature) you have the ability within yourself right now to overthrow this distress, right? People have climbed Mount Everest (or died trying, which is still the point). People have built rocket ships that survive in space. People have reportedly cured cancer with the power of thought alone. The end to human capabilities is yet to be found, so for you (no matter who you are) to strike at and potentially defeat something as commonplace as panic attacks, is a concept you cannot logically deny yourself as wholeheartedly capable of. This anxiety is not who you really are. You’ve got to fight to get back to your true self. You’ve got to fight to regain control of your life. And there is nothing more worth fighting for in the whole wide world.

“Don't be afraid of your fears. They're not there to scare you. They're there to let you know that something is worth it.” - C. JoyBell C.

If you aren’t willing to do this, fair play to you, good luck, get off my blog. Go back to your life where you avoid situations and cower in permanent despair, anticipating the next demon's jumpscare. Hell, there’s probably a part of you that quite likes being a neurotic wreck, isn’t that right? You’re almost proud of being a little bundle of anxiety, hey? It means you’re 'complex' and 'special' and have a convenient excuse to run away from things when you get the slightest inkling of threat, correct? Yeah, I know you, bitch. Keep at it! You’re so unique. You’re so deep. You just weren’t born into the right world. Get back into your bed and let the big kids take care of business.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." - Mahatma Gandhi

For everyone else willing to do this, congratulations! You’ve pretty much laid all the groundwork for everything you need to do already. The rest of this article is just a stew of ideas which you can use at your own will in order to build upwards and out of the swamp, mostly designed to point you in a few directions, encouraging the breeding of your own ideas, which will work even better for your particular case of ouchiness. It’s not going to be a summer stroll, but the closer you get to victory, the more powerful you will become, eventually turning into an entity much stronger than anyone who hasn’t been through all of this. Believe me when I tell you that.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Ok, so you ready to battle this monster? Take my hand! Here’s a good first move:

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 2: It’s Legitimately Somebody Else’s Job To Fix You

Step 2: It’s Legitimately Somebody Else’s Job To Fix You

I want to start this article by taking it slow and gradually easing you into the recovery process, because I love you and I want you to be comfortable. And so the first thing you want to remember, is this age old cliche:

“Prevention is better than cure.” - Desiderius Erasmus

So true! Which is why I am going to spend the next several steps focusing on things you can start doing right now and in your own time, which is useful because I don’t think you’ll be able to read these words mid-panic attack. And here is the first one: seek professional help.

“Admitting that you need help doesn't make you broken. It makes you fixable. And teachable.” - Anonymous

Perhaps you’ve already given this a shot, in which case, good on ya! Feel free to skip this action and be merrily on your way. However, for many of us (including me) this was a very difficult step to take. An embarrassing step. An admission of weakness. A surrender into defeat. I was supposed to be invincible! How the fuck did this happen to me??

If you feel this way, allow me to smother your apprehension right now: Doctors don’t actually care. They hear cases like yours every single day, and while they have practiced their sympathetic pout down to an art, they’ll probably forget your sob story the moment you walk out of their door, right until they open your file once again. I'm sorry, but they don't actually care about you, they get paid because people with ailments like yours exist. If anything, they depend on you to feed their kids, which makes you a giver, so feel good about it, if anything.

You must also always remember that anxiety disorders affect 18.1% of adults in the United States alone. That’s 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54, without even considering the rest of the world whatsoever, because the US don't consider the rest of the world whatsoever. You are not a special little fingerprint with some unique type of freak out designed just for you. You are actually just another schmuck crumbling under the high pressures of modern living, and as a result, are a well documented story, mundane, mainstream, and very treatable, for centuries now. So swallow your fat pride with a big cup of orange juice, do I headstand until you are over yourself, and make that appointment. Right neow.

“You can be as miserable or angry about anything as much as you want, at the end of the day getting emotional will not solve any of your problems. The only thing you can do is keep moving forward because whether or not you are ready, life will always go on with or without you.” - Anonymous

Ok, so what happens next? Why you asking me? You think I know? I’m not a doctor. However, I am a bit of a psychic, and predict the following two suggestions will come your way:

(1) I see medication on your near future tarot cards. Perhaps you’re already there, and if so, I have a star sticker for you right here, but when it came to my own personal story, I was always wholeheartedly against the practice of shoving pills into my mouth just to be normal. But when you’re desperate, it can be the flashlight from God in a dark maze of scary devils. Think of it like this: when you have a headache, you take painkillers, so why should this agony be any different? Which is why I surrendered, gracefully accepting a prescription for Propranolol (lol) initially, and then swiftly moving on to 5 HTP for a while afterwards, the latter of which you can buy on Amazon right now if you like (and they are a lot of fun too, the druggie in me recommends them highly). IMPORTANT TO NOTE THOUGH that these little soldiers were never intended as a permanent crutch, but rather as an elevated platform from where I could just about get my head above the murky waters long enough to locate an exit point. And they worked for a bit, maybe not as the miraculous cure you’d think or I'd hoped for, but at least enough to wave away some of the fog. Eventually, I tipped my hat to them out of respect and then kicked them the fuck out of the door, going into battle alone, a method I'd recommend you practice too, if you can find the strength. And you can find the strength! You know where? Point two, after the quote.

“But the main thing is that medication, too, is not all the help.” - Tanya Tucker

(2) Therapy! And in all honesty, of all the weapons I attacked my anxiety with, I feel like this was surely the most beneficial. I’m not sure where you live, but I am very lucky that my sessions were covered by the NHS and we could even have our conversations over the phone, meaning once a week I’d sneakily book a meeting room at work and whisper out my problems to some lady I never met on the other side. And (I shit you not!), during the very first phonecall, we hit a massive break through, exposing the root of all my panic attacks, a cause so obvious that I cursed my own predictability and nearly hung up in shame. Regardless, the bottom-dollar is that sometimes we need a professional outside mind to unveil our trademarks, and once I had my eyes opened upon my own foolish neurosis, it became much easier to stare it down without blinking. And it didn’t even end there either, because our chats continued to provide various other bullets to combat my mind’s ordeal (many of which are included in this blog) until we finally reached a point where we closed my case. Needless to say, I had pretty much fallen in love with this lady by this point without ever seeing her face, and so even if it’s hugely unlikely, I hope to one day give her a hug out of thanks. Anyway, the point is, this should be one of the first pitstops on your mission, because I've never heard of anyone who went to therapy and got worse.

“I love therapy! There's nothing like talking to someone who has no emotional tie to your life.” - Eva Mendes

As with everything, neither of these will be the end-all solution to our issues, and I personally had to fight with many other angles every single waking hour just to find some relief. But the wobbly days had large arrows to follow, and I consider this step to be one of the most valuable in your arsenal. If you do not have the same experience, I’d recommend seeing a different doctor.

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 3: Read Much Too Far Into It

Step 3: Read Much Too Far Into It

Just the fact that you are right here right now on my supreme life changing blog is an indication that you are already well underway to taking this specific step. But whether you came here by someone’s suggestion, or a bit of a googly, or because you love and me and read everything I write (xxxxx), I suggest you keep this thing going, not only with my magical words, but all over the show. Religiously spend at least 10 minutes a day researching your ailment online, and you will slowly begin to uncover many things, such as: stories from those who are exactly where you are; new and 'exciting' methods to scrape your own dirt away; and perhaps even getting to the core of your specific hiccup. It’ll be more beneficial than wasting 10 minutes on Facebook, I assure you of that.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr. Seuss

But WAIT! Why stop there? Take this bitch even further, always always. One suggestion I have is to buy actual legit self help books which specifically deal with this type of problemo. As is the nature of such things, you may find some of them are not very relevant, but I am yet to read a single guidance publication that didn’t give me something to take away (no matter how small), and even more importantly, you will at very least get a sense of pride that you’re not taking this battle lying down. And there are so many to choose from that I have no doubt you’ll find one or two which really smack your tummy around. Public speaking? Large crowds? Small spaces? Drugs? Your job? A break up? Your inadequacy? Your mortality? Your mother's face? They have a book for that! Hell, even if you have no idea what’s going on, that’s cool, there are tons of other pages out there simply dealing with anxiety attacks themselves, no matter which way they are striking from. Read a bit in the morning to start your day off with strength, read a bit at night to calm your mind into sleep, and sandwich your day between the advice of others.

“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” - George Carlin

On a personal note, a little selfy-helpy booky-wooky named The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris probably helped me the most, and a fair amount of information from said printed material has been molested and digested into a couple of treasures you’ll find on this very page right here. So if you want my two cents on which direction to get the ball rolling towards, I’d undoubtedly recommend this one above all others. You’re welcome.

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 4: Throw Your Brain Away

Step 4: Throw Your Brain Away

“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.” - Dalai Lama

Running the risk of getting a bit too hippie here, there is a method which is frequently cited as one of (sometimes, even) the greatest reliever above all of the others. And it's meditation, don't be scared. The reasons for such a high regard are plenty, but for me personally it was two fold: (1) every day, I took the time to break away from life, practising the process of separating the stream of insanity we call 'thoughts', from the calm inner-being which yearns for peace; and (2) by regularly stroking this path, accessing a certain space in the brain became easier, which was invaluable in times of agonising pressure.

“Meditation makes the entire nervous system go into a field of coherence.” - Deepak Chopra

Now, this is not a how-to blog, and I’m not going to sit here and give you some grand guide on the different methods to achieve said zen—mostly because I’d fuck it up and say it wrong and then people will stop listening to me. However, there are plenty of resources out there, from books, to blogs, to YouTube videos, to even studios offering sessions and information (often for free), so just do a little clickie and explore this avenue, because this could very well be the main thing you are looking for. And if you are reluctant, fearful that mediation is a gateway drug into veganism and tie dye bandanas, all I can ask is that you don’t knock it until you try it. Because I knocked it. And then I tried it. And now I don’t knock it anymore. It’s been praised for millenniums for a reason.

“Half an hour's meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.” - Saint Francis de Sales

However, I must be honest with you here, it didn’t move mountains for me. I seriously thought it would too, like I’d find God and he’d give me a mushroom pizza and I’d calculate the exact formula to see through walls, which didn’t fucking happen. But some stuff did happen, and I found just by dedicating 10 minutes to it every night (or perhaps before a stressful situation, if you get a chance), I did begin to work it better and better. Transcendental meditation was a good candidate, but I got the most value from guided meditations (of which there are all sorts on YouTube for you to experiment with) because they help take the hand of your thoughts and then gently lift them away from themselves. Some days were better than others, granted, but just the focus on breathing alone probably saved me many an embarrassing meltdown in public. However, as shallow breathing is the NUMBER ONE ENEMY to the panic victim, I won't focus too much on it here and will rather dedicate some more time to it later. We’re talking about meditation here, ok? Jesus, Calm down. Don’t have a panic attack, hahaha.

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” - Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation

Ok, wait, actually I’m done, lol, let’s move on to the next topic, which is

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 5: Run Away From Your Demons

Step 5: Run Away From Your Demons

I have this theory, right, that goes like this: all anxiety consists of, is an excess of energy. It certainly feels that way, don't it? As if this super siayan amount of explosive motion is threatening to tear your entire body apart. So, within this hypothesis, what’s the most straightforward way to defeat said energy? Simply by wearing it out.

“Exercise is really important to me—it's therapeutic. So if I'm ever feeling tense or stressed or like I'm about to have a meltdown, I'll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride along Lake Michigan with the girls.” - Michelle Obama

No matter what your problems in life, there is very little that exercise can’t help you with (except maybe broken bones or something, but whatever, stay on topic). If you’re anxious and depressed, but spend all day lying in bed or watching TV on the couch, you can’t expect to ever get better. So with this idea in my head, I started running and regularly hitting the gym in the mornings, which meant by the time I started my work day, my body was far too destroyed to even contemplate an escape, while my brain swayed from a wave of endorphin happiness, just stoked to be included whatsoever. Believe it or not, I didn’t actually make this method up myself, it’s a fact observed and reported a billion times by a billion different people. Activity breeds serenity, you already know this. Join a netball team or a yoga class or train for a marathon, anything you like, just don’t be a lazy fuck and then complain about your anxiety. I can't imagine why you wouldn't give this a shot, it's a guaranteed substantial rise in your mood or a full refund.

“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” - Mike Adams

On that exact same page, there are many other healthy things your mommy told you about that you really should already be doing anyway. If you are miserable all the time but are living on a diet of garlic bread and chips and chocolate, you need to step back and realise you are a complex structure made up from chemical compounds, and are completely fucking with the normal balance you were designed to survive on. It's natural science! Once again, I have no sympathy for you if you are complaining about your stressy life and yet you fuel your brain with junk. Just do a little bit of research on nutrition, don’t skip breakfast, eat your veggies and fruit and beans and nuts, and drink fuckloads of water. Save the crap for the weekends where it doesn’t count (fact).

“Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other.” - Joseph Addison

Finally, alcohol and drugs are definitely not going to do you any good. Now, this is a tough one, because I get intoxicated all the time, but this affliction does make me somewhat of an expert on the subject. Simply put, it definitely has done me the opposite of any favours, and I have had some pretty vicious attacks as a result of a hangover—and many other people attest to this trouble themselves. So cut that backwards as far as possible, which I did, and it helped loads. It is also known that smoking narrows the blood vessels, which isn’t very beneficial to someone who is in genuine need of more oxygen, so look at ways to limit your nicotine intake, if you’re into that sort of thing. And, for the love of God, stop drinking caffeine. That stuff is a panic attack in a cup waiting to happen, you’re literally fighting fire with matches there, you do not need any more of that hype, and I personally quit the stuff for well over a year during my darkest journeys. That said, now that I’ve achieved a better balance, I have started drinking crazy amounts of coffee again and it’s such a thrill. Love that evil shit. But you should stop.

In summary: a healthy brain will love you and want you to be happy. Meet it halfway at least.

“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?” - Unknown

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 6: Tell Everyone

Step 6: Tell Everyone

Ok, so now that we’ve covered all the obvious factors which you probably already knew, how about we delve into the higher grade techniques, yeah? Yeah?? You ready??? YOU FUCKING READY, MATE????

If you're anything like me (and you're probably not), I’m sure the last thing you feel like doing is calling any attention to this already annoying annoyance, and would rather dust it beneath the carpet of your best poker face, until everyone leaves you alone. Unfortunately, as with most things, this won't really help, and you'll have more luck treating honesty as the best policeman. Someone once told me that 'shame dies in the light,' and I have found this to be true.

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” - William Shakespeare

Let me tell you a story, my child. During my early stages of freaking-outs, I was naturally at a loss. My brain was perpetually threatening to faint in the most inconvenient of places, and my heart found no greater pleasure in testing how many BPM it could reach before I screamed. There was even a time I got up and walked out of a meeting because that’s how much of a wuss I am. I recognised this was very unprofessional behaviour, and knew this was not the type of action I could regularly find an excuse for. My very job was under potential threat. And eventually, I realised that I was going to have to explain myself one way or another.

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.” - Thomas Jefferson

Now, granted, I am a very lucky boy in that my company prides itself on a homely vibe and everyone is super chill and I get along with my boss very well. I am endlessly grateful for such a thing, which was enough to give me the confidence to do what I did. And what I did, was take my boss out for a few pints, and when I got enough liquid in me to talk about my emu feelings, I broke the news to him: I was experiencing panic attacks regularly at work. But this wasn’t some sob cry for help, please take note, but instead a reassurance. I told him that I was not giving up, detailing the various methods I had tried on this list already, about the doctors, and the therapy, and my determination to beat this thing, and my refusal to take any stupid shit without a fight. And, most importantly of all, I told him not to go easy on me nor let this make his job any harder. I wanted to still go to the meetings and I wanted to still be placed in high pressure situations, because I knew it was the only way I was going to defeat this beast.

And he listened and he was very open to my pathetic troubles, ultimately telling me that he appreciated my honesty, and kindly informing me that if I was ever struck by a panic attack in front of him again, I just needed to give him a signal and then leave, and he’d cover for me. What a good guy! Furthermore, can you actually comprehend the type of relief that came with this support? I actually now had permission to have panic attacks! One secret hand gesture, and I'd be out and off the hook! And what's even better is that this simple permission came with such an immediate relief that I never even had to use it. Just to have this get-out-of-jail-free card at my disposal was enough of a defence for me to keep the exit in my sight but never walk through it.

“What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.” - Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

But why stop there? Push this theory as far as you can! Next time you feel the evil creeping over you, simply lean over to the person next to you and ask them: 'Do you want to see what a panic attack looks like? Then watch this!'. Interestingly enough, 9 out of 10 times, it will be like sneezing. You won’t be able to pull it off with the additional attention and pressure to perform. Hell, if you’re feeling upto it, maybe even start your day that way. Walk up to random people and inform them 'just so you know, I am prone to panic attacks, and might have one right now.' Best case scenario, they think you’re joking, such a funny person, everyone laughs, they love you, and you go on your adored way. Worst case scenario, you break out into an epileptic fit and foam onto their shoes, and then at least you warned them.

“Everybody will help you. Some people are very kind.” - Bob Dylan, I’ll Keep It With Mine

To summarise: despite what your newspaper is telling you, people are generally pretty cool, and anxiety is a super common thing now. Nobody thinks it's contagious, and nobody is unfamiliar with the concept. So rather than suffering in mute, talk to your friends, your family, your colleagues, the guy next to you on the tube. Help them understand what is happening rather than trying to shove it down, because the panic demon thrives on oppression and will only boil over. Expose the fucker, and its power will dissipate immeasurably.

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 7: Say Yes!

Step 7: Say Yes!

Cool, so here's something else you’re not going to want to do at all: let’s try induce panic attacks! Scare yourself shitless! So much fun! Yay! Sound like a stupid idea? Well, it’s not. Just trust me, ok? It’s my blog, so I tell you what to do now.

“Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.” - W. Clement Stone

Right, so what you are going to do from now on is pretty much just agree to everything. If someone asks if you want to do something, and you feel that twitch of 'omfg, that sounds terrifying, why would I do that to myself', then that’s your queue to shut all thoughts off, and say 'yes' immediately, booking yourself in, double stamp, no erasies. Hey, does anyone want to say a few words at this open mic poetry night? Of course, I’d love to. Someone keen to be photographed for a project I’m doing? Sure, I can be a model. Want to watch me get my nipple pierced? I can't think of anything I'd rather do. Have you ever been bungee jumping? No, but I’d totally be up for that death feeling. All of these examples are things I committed to during my worst of times, just by the way.

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” - Jim Morrison

The idea of this one should be obvious, but I’ll break it down for you anyway: you are building a strong shell around your core. Slowly but surely, every day life will no longer have the artillery to scare you, because you’ve already scared yourself, only much worse. And next time you feel that flutter of 'oh shiiit' poking about in your intestines, you can breathe around it with an air of condescending arrogance, reminding yourself of that time you jumped off a crane with a cord attached to your ankles. Remember how scary that was? Very scary. Way scarier than whatever your anxiety is trying to pull off right now. And hopefully, within these recollections, the panic will cower back to where it came from whilst you float above it, stronger than ever, each time you win a battle.

“It’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.” - Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

This step may perhaps be one of the most difficult to execute, true, but it is undeniably a very powerful one nonetheless. And if nothing else, is by far the most fun when you look backwards at the end of it all, because you have a whole bunch of cool shit decorating your CV. Once again, you gotta trust me on this. Would I lie to you, baby? Would I lie to you? Oh yeah.

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." -Bill Cosby (which maybe isn't the best advice if you want to rape women, but in context, it's still pretty sound guidance)

Important Interlude

These previous steps are all fine and randy, but each of them suffer from the same fatal flaw: they are done in your own time. This does not guarantee anything, especially when you’re out on the battlefield. Which brings us to the final three items to tackle, designed to be utilised specifically when you find yourself in the middle of the scariest scary. Try remember these as best you can, because as with any respectable list, I’ve saved the most potent for last...

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 8 (and Rule Number Fucking 1): Whatever You Do, Do Not Run

Step 8 (and Rule Number Fucking 1): Whatever You Do, Do Not Run

Remember the first step? The one I dubbed the 'most important step of them all' or something like that? Well, this is the second most important step, and RULE NUMBER 1, so please take this all very seriously.

“Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.” - Simon Sinek Read

But before we go on, let’s take a moment to admire panic attacks themselves, and analyse how they work. It goes like this: a (usually external) event comes along and rudely triggers the emotion of fear within you, which causes a buttload of adrenaline to pump throughout your body, preparing you for a concept you’ve probably heard of, known as fight-or-flight mode. This mental crossroad is preparing your person for some heavy physical action, and if you step back and think about it, this is actually a really good thing! It’s an essential defence mechanism built into our biology which could very well save your life some day. So on some level, appreciate this weird thing that happens. However, as you are already painfully aware, there are some bugs in this system.

“Fear was the hand of the devil holding a scalding hot branding iron and touching your brain and your stomach and yelling at you to run with leaden feet.” - Dan Groat

The first obvious problem is that we have come a long way since our monkey ancestors, and the code is slightly outdated now. The chances of an animal attacking us in the wild is not quite as immediately threatening as it once was, and our minds have excelled in such complex directions, that for some of us, our neurosis has taken control and kinda just malfunctioned, activating this thing for no real justifiable reason. It’s almost funny, if you think about it that way. Almost...

Which leads us to our next problem. The situations presented by our modern lives which most commonly provoke us into these states of spazz-response, usually don’t leave much space for a fight. You can’t exactly go on a punching spree because you get struck by claustrophobia in a crowded elevator, right? Which is why most of us opt for the latter: flight. Spread your wings and fly away as fast as you can! Leave your problems in the dust as soar back to your nest and regurgitate worms into the mouths of your little babies! Wheee!

“Running away will never make you free.” - Kenny Loggins

Except it isn’t really that much fun because your problems know how to fly too. So what, then? Literally the only thing your natural instinct is telling you to do is run away, are you really expected to rebel against the request from every atom in your body? And the answer is, of course, yes. Yes, you are. And I’m sorry. So very sorry, because believe me, I know what this is like so fucking well it makes me want to cry. But the basic fact is that by running, you simply will never defeat this monster. Retreating will become your only reliable defense, and you will be trapped in this hell for ALL ETERNITY. Is that what you want? No? Then don’t run, duh.

Directly on topic, this applies in the exact same way as avoidance, which is kinda like running except before you even get into trouble. If there are certain situations guaranteed to unearth a nasty panic, then once again, it is in your best interest to walk full force into them, despite what your knotted intestines are begging you to do. Do not make excuses. Do not call in sick or hide in the bathroom or get your friend to break your leg just to get out of it. You must go into this with an army march, because that is the only way to get through it, and you know this. If you’ve been paying attention, this is pretty much a repeat of what I’ve been saying for a while now.

“Anxiety's like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far.” - Jodi Picoult

Scared yet? Of course you are. That’s what this is all about. It’s the scariest thing in all of possible existence, there isn’t a much scarier level in the depths of the human psyche, that’s why it’s called panic. But what we are trying to achieve here, as we've covered before, is to induce panic attacks. The more attacks you have, the better you will become at predicting them, the better you will be at recognising them, the better you will get at disguising them, the better you will be at surviving them, and eventually coming out of the other side victorious. YOU MUST WELCOME YOUR PANIC ATTACKS WITH OPEN ARMS. YOU MUST LEARN TO LOVE YOUR PANIC ATTACKS. You need to become an expert at this, and the only way to advance, is by playing their game and then beating them at it with their own moves. Or something like that. You know what I mean.

“I tend to stay with the panic. I embrace the panic.” - Larry David

Ok great, so how do we play? We’re not running anymore, and now we’re staring down the wicked laugh of anxiety squeezing our lungs and licking our palms. So awesome. What now? How the hell is this a game? This isn’t fun at all! What kind of life will you live if you’re walking into extreme terror every single day? And I will tell you: not a very enjoyable one, which I inform you with much experience. However, by enduring panic attack after panic attack, I personally did begin to maintain some sort of a grasp on rational thinking, and worked out a few tricks along the way. And that’s what these final steps are about. Hopefully some of these will apply to you, or at least give you some ideas of your own, but no matter what happens, remember this: there is nothing wrong with fucking up. As long as you give it your best shot and progress little by little, eventually you may even grow up to be as gangster as me.

Try this:

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 9: Preparing Yourself For A Panic Attack

Step 9: Preparing Yourself For A Panic Attack

Obviously no two cases will be identical, but I guess I was 'lucky' in my ailment because my anxiety attacks were quite specific and almost predictable as to when they’d strike (i.e. pretty much any time I had to speak in front of an audience, or to someone I didn’t know, or to anyone whatsoever). But while I recognise the silver lining, it ultimately became my biggest curse, because I could see Satan coming a mile away, and then I started to get panic attacks worrying about my panic attacks. As soon as someone asked me to attend something, I’d freak out that I might get struck by an attack, and then ended up having one anyway just because of that very thought. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy nightmare. It was the worst thing ever.

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems” - Epictetus

That said, there are only so many times you can walk into a high pressure social situation and practically faint in front of an audience, before you kinda get used to the repetitiveness of suffering, and begin to experiment with your own mind. And so here are four thoughts I found helped me as I was walking into my situation of doom.


1. “I must enjoy this moment. It will probably be the most exciting part of my day.”

Say what you will, panic attacks are crazy exciting! Everything completely falls apart for no reason as you have enough energy in your fingertips to tear open your manager’s stomach just to get away from him/her. And when you look back exhausted upon your day, that bout of anxiety spasm will probably stand out as the most notable event that took place. No, it wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, granted, but I found these outbreaks made everything else in the previous hours seem quite tame in comparison, and so simply by registering it and attempting to appreciate them in a 'if-my-life-was-a-movie' type of way, it nearly (but not really) turned the whole ordeal into a positive one. I have used this angle to successfully ward off anxiety plenty of times before, by treating it as a highlight of my daily script. Weird, I know, maybe try the next one instead.

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” - Søren Kierkegaard

2. “This is going to be greatest performance of my life.”

This one is tailored specifically for those of us who spent our youths standing in front of our mirrors, accepting our revered awards with humble speeches, dreaming of fame and the applause from our adoring fans. I still fantasise about this actually. Which is why I found great relief in pretending anything was a gig of some sort. When I knew my turn to talk was fast approaching (and as lame as this may seem), I’d imagine a crowd chanting my name “Jared, Jared, Jared,” eagerly anticipating my presence and my superior celebrity words. The nerves would still be there, but with a little research you’ll find even your favourite artists of all time suffer from a bit of pre-show nerves themselves, so you can possibly relate to them in that moment, 'this is what David Bowie probably felt like,' etc. Perhaps this idea petrifies you, and if so, hurry along, but for me, it would put my mind right in the middle of my fear, and yet by hanging on to the dream, I could view the stress as practice for the big time, refusing to let my theoretical crowd down. This one helped me a lot.

“A little bit of stage fright, then I'm ready.” - Faith Hill

“I've never told anyone this. But I suffer from terrible stage fright. True. You can't tell though, can you? Unbelievable, the panic. I nearly die of fear before I go on stage. Something wicked. I can't eat a thing the day before a gig. It'd make me vomit.” - Johnny 'Rotten' Lydon, Sex Pistols

"I have stage fright every single concert I've ever done. I have at least four or five minutes of it. It's absolute living hell." - Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys

“I’m not particularly a gregarious person. I had an unbearable shyness; it was much easier for me to keep on with the Ziggy thing, off-stage as well as on. Who was David Bowie and who was Ziggy Stardust? It was motivated by shyness.” - David Fucking Bowie

3. “I’m going to show these fuckers exactly what a panic attack looks like.”

I've already covered this in step 6, but it works such wonders that it warrants repeating: don’t fight it. Actually try force a panic attack. I’d attempt to provoke the biggest anxiety explosion I’d ever had, because if I was going to shatter in front of all these people, I wanted it to be the biggest meltdown the world has ever fucking seen, no half measures, these assholes are going to see a fucking show before I’m done with them. And, of course, the attention kills the whole thing. Try it right now. Have a panic attack. C’mon, just do it, where you are, have a panic attack. You have them all the time! Just have one right now! Why aren’t you having one?


Finally, scream some random funny words in your head every time the thought comes up. Do it in different silly voices. What would the cookie monster sound like saying these negative things? Less threatening, I'm sure. Keep it as stupid and as random as possible. Be the comedy you want to see in the world.

“I'd love to tell you I had some deep revelation on my way down, that I came to terms with my own mortality, laughed in the face of death, et cetera. The truth? My only thought was: Aaaaggghhhhh!” - Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief


When walking into situations which were coated by the eggshells of my neurosis, I realised the best way to swerve left of an episode was to achieve comfort as quickly as possible. And I eventually worked out that the shortcut to said comfort was via my very nemeses itself: other human beings. Of course it would be, because that’s what Life is like. Life likes to play with you.

“Instruments sound interesting, not because of their sound, but because of the relationship a player has with them. Instrumentalists build a rapport with their instruments, which is what you like and respond to.” - Brian Eno

Break the ice as immediately as you can. Build a rapport before anything has the chance to tighten. Talk to surrounding people. Take control of the conversation right away. Be light. Make jokes. Treat these humans like they are already your friend, and hopefully by the time it comes to anything even remotely serious, you’re already quite chilled within the company and everyone has accepted you into their tribe, keeping it calm, keeping it casual.

“You’ll succeed best when you put the restless, anxious side of affairs out of mind, and allow the restful side to live in your thoughts” - Margaret Stowe

Unfortunately I know these methods apply to quite a specific form of nervousness, but I hope you can perhaps get an idea and modify it accordingly. However, if not, here’s two we all can do:

1. Find a song which soothes you. I’ll shamefully admit, I never used this one myself, which is stupid in hindsight, but two of my friends reported great relief was to be found within organised sounds (one finding better vibrations within the magic of The Antlers, the other, Felix Laband, which are both excellent choices). Such an approach will always heavily rely on tastebuds, but once you find one which works for you, pop it onto your headphones before your adventure, and get lost as far away from reality as possible. Hell, maybe even listen to whale sounds or traditional Indian chants or an audiobook about prosperity or an interview with your favourite comedian (I actually did this one!). Just a little extra handbag of encouragement to prop under your armpit and fall back to when forwards has become daunting.

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” - Ludwig van Beethoven

2. Keep a journal. I have read quite a few similar articles which swear by the success they’ve had from this approach, noting the events which lead to each attack, noticing patterns, as well as pinpointing which methods of defense seemed to work better than others. The reason why this pathway can be so beneficial is because it turns the disaster into a game, one where you try beat your mind, where you end up thinking about how to document the experience rather than just enduring it, and if nothing else, leaving you with something material to show your friends at the end of the day. How do you think this whole blog started, eh? That’s right. You are reading the last page of my diary right now, enjoy it.

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” - Graham Greene

How to Overcome Panic Attacks in 10 Steps, Step 10: What To Do During a Panic Attack

Step 10: What To Do During a Panic Attack

The big red button has been pushed! The alarms are screaming in your head so loud that you can’t hear anything outside of your own skull! Bright fuzz is blinding your vision and your very soul is trying to burst out of your body! Oh my God, everything has gone tits up! All our preparation has failed! We are in the process of having a full blown panic attack! Fuck! What the hell now??

It’s a difficult one to address, because as we all probably know, the most difficult aspect of an anxiety onslaught is that your usual inner dialogue gets sucked right out from your eyeballs and all rational files are impossible to locate. How is anyone supposed to remember what Jared said when you are practically shitting yourself in fear? Not easily, that’s for sure.

“Stress is something that is sort of out of your control. You get stressed out over looking at the finish line. Stress is something that is an outside thing. Stress is an anxiety.” - Joe Torre

As we covered earlier, the reason this is so problematic is because you have essentially become an animal, your brain flipping the switch and dumping a pint full of adrenaline into your operating system, now ready to react based on an instinctual basis rather than any logical one. Which, obviously, isn’t the best when you’re supposed to be pretending you’re a normal functioning human member of society. And the sad news is that there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to escape this snag you are currently tangled in.

However, if you can hang on to one thing, it’s this: your goal is to maintain a grip onto reality as best you can, slowly bringing yourself back into some form of physical matter, hopefully allowing the outside world to once again direct your thoughts rather than the brain blaring orders of the EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCESS INITIATED. And here are some of the ways I’ve found which help me.

First and foremost, for the love of Jesus: DO NOT FORGET TO BREATHE! Anyone will tell you that. And I’m not talking shallow little breaths (which is probably what you’ve been doing, hyperventilating yourself into passing out), but rather... slow... deep... breaths. Take your time, dude. Pull in some oxygen through your nose for five seconds. Hold it for five seconds. And then release it for five seconds out from the mouth. Experiment with this timing, imagining the anxiety as a mess of colour swirling within your solar plexus, then breath around it, count your numbers backwards, unwind. These actions alone will slow your heartbeat which counters the process which the panic itself is trying to induce here. It’s the most commonplace advice for good reason. It is the single most effective biological warfare you have.

"Fear cannot be banished, but it can be calm and without panic; it can be mitigated by reason and evaluation." - Vannevar Bush

Hopefully this will give you a bit of sobriety and space to aim your next move, to which I’d start by splitting your brain into two: the you you, and the anxiety voice. Give this anxiety voice a stupid name, like Samuel The Wonder Boy, or Boris Johnson. Change this anxiety voice to sound like Mickey Mouse or Spongebob, so when it tells you to freak out, it will at least have a flavour of comedic ridiculous associated. And now, address this anxiety, as a person, as condescendingly as possible, and inform it of the following points:

You are what you are.
You are a little panic attack, and that is all you ever will be.
I know this, because I’ve met you before, and you are an asshole.
You are not dangerous, you do not threaten me.
You cannot kill me even if you tried.
Go ahead and try, you little fuck.
I don’t even resist you, just hurry up and do your thing.
You will be gone soon, and I will still be here.
You do not have enough power to dictate my existence, and do you know why?
Because you are too silly.

“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.” - Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

While it’s good to repeat these reassurances in your calmest internal voice during this dreaded intrusion, it is even more important that you get out of your head as fast as possible. To do this, try slowly taking a sip of very cold water. Swirl it around your mouth. Ask yourself questions about the water. Really feel the temperature on your gums. Play with it through the teeth. Swallow it. Focus on the outline of your throat as it slides down. Marvel at the incredible nature of your body and appreciate its ability to consume liquid. Hold the cup or bottle it came from. What does it feel like? How cold is it? When does it expire? Does it have branding on it? What does it say? Who designed that? Could you do a better job?

There are plenty of variations to this approach. Chew some gum. Define the flavour. Aren’t teeth weird how they fit together? How does the tongue translate this taste into my mind? What kind of intricate patterns can I press into this gum using the roof of my mouth alone?

Hold an ice cube. It’s fucking freezing. Secretly stab your arm repeatedly with a pin. That really hurts! How fucked up am I that I’m doing these things! Take off your jacket really slowly. Streeeeeetch! Pick the dirt from beneath your fingernails. How long can you hold a squint for? Would anyone notice if you doodled a picture of a hippopotamus? I bet you can't do it, drawing a hippopotamus off the top of your head is pretty hard, I struggle to do that myself, and I'm an excellent drawererer.

You get the idea, right? You’re trying to secure yourself back into reality by focusing on the outside, using your immediate surroundings to gently gravitate towards. Make no mistake, your mind is a tough fucker to beat and there will be a power struggle to dominate the situation, but if you take it slow and don’t fight it so much as recognising it and then trying to move on from it, you will get better with practice. You won’t always win, but you will learn your own ways as to not pay these detriments much notice.

“Letting the radio play on without giving it much attention is very different from actively trying to ignore it.” - Russ Harris

HOWEVER (and this is a big HOWEVER and a WARNING): try not to repeat the same techniques too often. The reason why is what they taught me during my cognitive behavioural therapy sessions: if you rely on one specific defence mechanism, it becomes a crutch and merely another cog in the cycle. The ultimate idea is to eventually train the ability to face these fuckers head-on, learning to deal with them via your raw self and not some fancy trickery. What I suggest is to find something above (or elsewhere) that works, and then begin to wean yourself off of it. Feeling a little stronger today? Don’t bring water with you. Keep the jacket on. Leave your lucky skittle at home. That’s how you’re truly going to get stronger.

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.” - Tagore

Of course, this all ignores the fact that someone might expect you to say something or do something at some point, and in my experience, this was always the worst. The actual catalyst to most of my fits, in fact. So what’s the way around this? I have no idea, but I did find a few things which helped. For example: reminding myself that if I can just keep a semi-straight face, no one will have any idea what I am going through (although I have been known to turn different shades of green at times, but that’s not an every day worry).

Another approach which has been INVALUABLE to me is to always have my first sentence planned out. Do not script out everything you are going to say, because that can overwhelm your already stressy brain and your thoughts may scatter, but instead just keep your first sentence in an easy-to-access brain pouch, repeated few times in your head, ready to spit out whenever someone expects you to say something. Even if you change the topic, fukkit, makes you look cooler. Just remember to speak as slow as humanly possible without sounding like you’ve had brain surgery. Take a short moment before responding, maybe even clear your throat. Blurting out shit really fast will reveal your edginess, but by granting your words some space, you suddenly seem chilled whilst offering your speech some additional control. And then hopefully, once that first sentence is out, the rest of your words will flow much easier from there.

“Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.” - Martin Farquhar Tupper

Related, and another SUPER POWER TRICK I learned all by my lonesome, was to try and say something relatively funny if the scenario calls for it. Nothing (and I mean NO-THING) takes the edge off quite so immediately than someone laughing at what you said. For me and my chronic longing for validation, it literally evaporates all tension, my entire demeanour shifts, my mojo comes rushing back, and I spend the rest of the time focusing on winning them over even more. It’s great. That said, if you have a shit sense of humour, maybe don’t give this a try, because I imagine nothing would be worse than standing there, about to pass out, stammering a joke, and having no one laugh. I think you might actually literally die.

“Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” - Victor Borge

But if none of this works, and you are forced to ride it out old school like, just remember that statistically, anxiety only affects people of a higher intelligence. So if nothing else, at least you’re one of the smarty chosen ones. OH LUCKY YOU. Seriously though, you got this, you will only get better at it, and you will be fine. I love you, anyway.

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” - Ernest Hemingway


It is with a heavy heart and a facial expression resembling self pity that I end this article on a bit of a disappointing note. You see, I have been a bit less than honest with you, dear reader, about my own personal journey through the depths of uneasiness, and am now going to come clean. I'm still not 100% ok. Every day, without fail, a spark of nerves flicks in my stomach at some point, and for a brief moment, I will tense up, the whole scene playing before my eyes where the walls of my hard work threaten to tumble upon and crush my fragile skeleton once more. I wish I could tell you that I'm thoroughly cured, that this vicious stalker of nerves has been utterly defeated never to return, but that would be untrue.

What I can tell you with all the pride in the world, however, is that 19 out of 20 times, I am able to snuff it out within the same very second it flares, my mind now equipped with so many automatic procedures that these distorted thoughts are quickly misdirected, snagged and disposed of, quickly replaced without even a twitch of my eyelid. Sometimes they are a bit more determined and get a bit further into my safe zone, and every now and again, the ordeal turns into a full-fledged battle once again, where I have to dart my focus and fire every trick I've invented just to avoid running back to my daddy's arms. Perhaps a part of me will forever have to deal with this, and that sucks balls. But it does not discourage me.

Because at the end of the day, if I ever need some reassurance, all I need to do is think back to where I used to be before I took Step 1. Before I made the decision not to be controlled by this weight, and began the slow long walk towards the promise of liberation. And when I pause and made this observation, admiring how far I have come, I sometimes nearly break into tears, as timid as that seems. I feel legit sympathy for my former self, over how hard my life was not so long ago. And I feel legit gratitude as to how easy my existence is now in comparison. And this proves, above all else, that with a bit of application, my approach actually works, and that is why I felt confident enough to write this blog in the first place. That fact alone warrants its existence.

But no matter where you are in your current struggle, I want to leave you with this final thought. Right now, someone is having their first panic attack ever. They don't know what it means, and they probably think they are about to die. They could be a teenager with mommy issues or a middle-aged business man with a bad hangover, it doesn't matter. What matters is that this will never be us, ever again. We know what this shit is. It may catch us off guard from time to time, but it can never truly sucker-punch us like it once could, because we've endured it before, we've done some research into its ingredients, and we have an idea on how to deal with it. And it that regard, even if you feel weak at this point in time, you are actually stronger than most. You have a new playing card, you have earned a new stripe, and in time, a panic attack will be just like stubbing your toe. It will be uncomfortable. You will never enjoy it. But you will be able to brush it off and walk on with or without it, while everyone else next you simply crumbles. And that is why, if people like us are around for the end of the world, we will inherit the earth. God bless, or whatever.

“Don't Panic.” - Douglas Adams