All My Panic Attacks Taste Like Matcha
Here's a walk-through of social anxiety.
They feel like 90% humidity in the summer
It's impossible to have friends. The idea of a thriving social life feels like joining a circus. What else is friendship if not performance art?
Most of the time I feel hot. Really hot. The anxiety feels like a kettle's boiling beneath my feet. It's not a sudden heat. It's a slow and steady boil. The centre of my palms get clammy. In contrast to the heat building in my legs and stomach, it's like the blood in them is freezing. They're stiff and immobile.
All of my most anxious moments tasted like a matcha latte. Before they were a panic attack, they were bright green and earthy with a hint of honey.
Trauma lives in the body. It remembers what triggers you better than you do. The lingering taste of matcha is often the beginning of the heat. It increases my heartbeat to uncomfortable rates. I start to feel like I've been running. Or that I should be running.
The irony of social anxiety is that it's a precursor to a lot of social faux pas. Which surprise, surprise doesn't help with the heat already building in my body.
It takes you time to forgive yourself for being the weird one. The friend who won't, or can't, go to clubs. Who can't always hang out. Who's quiet and doesn't ever know what to say.
Your friends, and the extended acquaintances you see all the time just think you're shy. And you are, but that's not all. You're also on the brink of implosion.
You know they talk about you. Or you think you know they talk about you. And when you're an anxious person, that's enough. Why wouldn't they? They like talking about other people doing weird things with you. So surely weird people are a topic of conversation. Therefore, they definitely talk about you.
Which plainly makes you want to die. Yet another cruel irony of social anxiety. How much attention it commands. How much it makes you stand out though you desperately wish to never be seen or perceived in any regard.
You're not into any of the same things your friends are and that's worth discussing. Why doesn't she ever want to go out? Why doesn't she date more? Why won't she do these things with us? Maybe they think you hate them.
You'd like to think they don't pay attention to you, not everyone's as self-absorbed as anxious people are. Anxiety makes you very inwardly focused. You're so preoccupied with yourself, you really don't perceive others around you much. How can you? You're way too focused on whether or not anyone's noticed you haven't added anything to the conversation and they've already rattled through three new topics.
You only realize how loud planes are when you're in the silent cab ride away from the airport. The noise of the engine starts to become background noise. Though it's the loudest one you're hearing. Conversing through social anxiety is like being on a plane. Your anxiety is the loud engine humming behind all the talking and crying babies.
My anxiety smells like my perfume. Perfume is always my final accessory. It's the last thing I do before I grab my keys and leave. It's a signifier that it's time to go. There's nothing else to do. Nothing left to stall.
I could check if my stove is on one more time, but that'll take me a second at most. I can check the oven again. My perfume makes me smell like a pear to whoever I'm about to hug. To me, it smells like smoke.
Something about to set off the fire alarm. Something that's elicited a sense of panic and urgency. A sign I need to leave the safe haven of my house.
My panic attacks taste like matcha, smell like perfume, sound like a plane and feel like a humid summer day. If you didn't know any better, you'd think they were rather pleasant.