Inspired by @ListPrompts
  1. this is exceptionally long, so get out now if you thought I was capable of brevity. but it's about when I forgot how to breathe.
  2. third night of freshman orientation at Colgate I had a panic attack thing
  3. I was 3,000 miles from home, family, my puppy love high school girlfriend who preemptively broke up with me, and all my friends.
  4. I was convinced I wasn't prepared for what was ahead of me.
  5. I knew how subpar my high school education was compared to a most of the kids around me.
  6. I was convinced I was on my way to struggling to pass classes and feeling like the dumbest kid in the room.
  7. I had skated by and half assed most of high school because it didn't challenge me.
  8. I felt like a fraud that was about to get exposed.
  9. and I was alone.
  10. not literally because my roommate was 8 feet away, soundly asleep.
  11. all of this shit isn't what made the moment dark, it's just what created the anxiety.
  12. I remember laying on my back with the window open behind my right shoulder
  13. halogen street light pouring in
  14. the irony of a blue light below.
  15. laying on sheets that were not soft yet. they were new and crunchy.
  16. they weren't comfortable or comforting, yet.
  17. it was pretty warm and humid. I wasn't under the covers.
  18. and I kept rolling the insecurities around in my head.
  19. and couldn't shake them.
  20. and after a few hours I was exhausted but still panicking.
  21. I finally started falling asleep, usually my way out of these fits.
  22. and started to feel relieved.
  23. and as I drifted to sleep, and exhaled deeply, I relaxed some.
  24. and it felt okay.
  25. and my body didn't inhale.
  26. like it forgot.
  27. like it didn't know how to breathe.
  28. like I couldn't trust it.
  29. so after a few seconds I gasped to full wakefulness like I had been holding my breath in the pool.
  30. and I was awake again, and now felt like I couldn't trust my subconscious to breathe.
  31. but I wrote it off as a one time glitch. so I tried to go back to sleep.
  32. and then it happened again. and then again.
  33. and again.
  34. exhale.
  35. calmness.
  36. PANIC
  37. *gasp*
  38. and then cold sweat.
  39. I thought if I did fall asleep I would die in my sleep.
  40. I realize that this is totally irrational, and I knew it at the time. but those moments of panic before I would consciously force a gasped inhale were desperately helpless. it was weird.
  41. so, bathed in halogen light with sticky upstate humidity unlike the dry heat of home, and unable to trust my body to keep itself alive, and emotionally totally alone, I was really, capital-A afraid.
  42. of death, of failure, of loneliness, of change, of the future, of humidity.
  43. of everything, at once.
  44. while my body forgot how to breathe.
  45. so I cried into my pillow so my roommate wouldn't hear. for a pretty long time.
  46. around 4:30 am I decided to just stay awake all night and figure out subconscious breathing, like, later.
  47. but I eventually fell asleep without a gasp.
  48. so I woke up the next morning, and basically decided that if I was capable of subconscious breathing again that was enough to be thankful. but i was exhausted.
  49. I asked Steph, my Link (upper class orientation leader) to let me skip some of the morning activities.
  50. she said okay, but she thought it would better for me to be around other people and have fun. she was right. she made me feel cared for. (we're still good friends.)
  51. so then I was breathing and also felt a lot less alone.
  52. really, I just wanted to skip the swim test.
  53. sidebar: Colgate was one of the last colleges in the country to require a swim test
  54. even though I'm a really strong swimmer and the test would've been no problem, holding my breath under water is kind of what it had felt like the night before.
  55. so I attended but didn't swim.
  56. and spent the next four years being reminded on my grade transcript that I needed to take the swim test, which reminded me of the night I forgot how to breathe.
  57. but I did well academically, I never felt alone at Colgate again, and I got used to the humidity (in the 3 weeks each year before it started snowing). and my sheets got softer. and I grew to like the light in the window.
  58. then Colgate repealed the swim test requirement my senior year, a couple months before graduating, and I never had to take the swim test.
  59. so, silver linings?
  60. this was an overshare. I should probably delete it.