My Fight with Panic Disorder (Part I)
Written by
Cindy Zelman
February 2013
Written by
Cindy Zelman
February 2013

The cashier and the bag boy look at me as if I’m insane.

They have a point.

I toss items out of my shopping cart onto the conveyor belt at mental-case warp speed. The Oscar Mayer bologna package bounces off the belt and onto the floor. The meat is pink and the supermarket lights are bright yellow. It pungent in here, the smell of fresh fruit and deli roast beef wafting through the aisles. The conveyor belt is black, faded after years of rotation and thousands of grocery orders. It squeaks on every other turn. I try to focus on the normal task of placing groceries on the belt, but the florescent lights glare in my eyes and make me look away.

I am having a panic attack.

My fingers shake.

My breath comes in short gasps.

Focus, Cindy.

The cashier is young, high school, with long brown hair, pretty, someday beautiful. The bag boy is no more than sixteen and will grow to be handsome and strong. I think. Maybe I’m fantasizing. My bologna is on the floor. That’s no fantasy. I’m in my forties. Another reality. Sweat screeches from the pores in my chest and underarms. I bend over and throw the bologna package back on the belt, and it bounces to the floor again. Who knew a package of bologna had so much elasticity?

I’m hot. I mean like hells-oven-hot. Eight-hundred-degrees-hot. Who-the-fuck-lit-me-on-fire-hot.


Breathe deeply.

I inhale slowly and exhale. Three times. Like the shrink taught me. I have a moment that’s something less than raging panic.

See more at The Story of My Panic Disorder.

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