Panic Attacks

It rages in me.

What it is is hard to fathom. Do you want to talk about it? he asks, so kindly. Not now. Not really. It would be opening a lid that I don’t think I’d be able to shut again. But we do. A little. And I cry, a little. It is everything and nothing. Everything and nothing. What is it? My work, the trip to Spain, all that re-visiting of her pain, her bitterness, her locked-in-ness and mine. It is simple really. This is where I am. Here not there. In this life. A small life, mostly, but inside it is infinitesimal – enormous, gigantic. And mostly I am sated. It is enough but there is still this raging. Something isn’t right.

You’re drifting, he said, switching off the TV, after a brief watch of Lark Rise with Twister and his tiny twist of his head. So beautifully done. That’s a nice kind of re-visiting. I love this programme, he says. It is easy on the eye. No sex, no violence (at least not graphic). And the acting is subtle and sublime. We watch on his bed and he strokes my feet. Glorious. I want nothing more, then. But during the day I feel worth-less. Less. Less and more than less. What am I doing? What has happened? Do I just need to let go of all expectations? Do what you love, he says.

You do not have to be good, the poet says, you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. What does it love? Making, forming, using its hands, writing, being still, sitting in the sun, walking by the sea, the smell of the morning air, the smell of baking bread, wearing Miss Dior perfume, silence, whiteness, lying in white sheets, being absorbed, listening, capturing, reading, being captivated, enraptured, transcending. Let it be, I want to say. Wait. Wait for what is to come. Not by anticipating but being in the what is, now. So you are lost. Be lost. How does it feel to be lost? Let it be and you will find your way.

What about your drawer full of projects? he asks. Yes, what about them? What if I just see them through. It is ego stuff this pain. An ego that needs recognition, to be valued, noticed. Let it go. How would it be to let it go? To just do for the sake of doing. Get up and work. Get up and work. And let the doing be the reward. Not the ending. The ending is beyond my control. So do them. One a week, alternating. See them through. Let that be the reward. Seeing them whole. It is just time. And you have it. Become immersed. But stay a little detached. Watch, notice, pay attention and write. You are not one thing, you are moving, always, changing, always. Spirit, not flesh. So be it.

The sky was clear. The stars alive in the black. And the moon beginning to wane. Few were about. The cold was a shock. A couple of people stood outside The Angel. A girl’s voice. A girl with pigtails, wearing a vest and glasses. A loud, confident voice. So basically, she was saying, he said ‘what yer doing on the beach on yer own, yer drunk and the tide could come and take you away. Well, said the girl to her companion, you know my sense of humour. So I said to him, ‘Well they’re worse ways to go’.

I walked down Great Darkgate Street, hearing her cackle ringing out.

They say she has anxiety attacks. Who wouldn’t. Let her go. Set her free.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.