The A-bomb of adrenaline: a poetry of panic | Matthew Clegg

Longbarrow Blog

It’s the annual Christmas dinner at my old place of work.  I’ve eaten a slimy, peppery shellfish stew, plus a gluey portion of Christmas pudding, and I’ve a bad case of acid reflux.  The ‘Secret Santa’ ritual has commenced and there are 30 members of staff to get through before we’re free of its sluggish rhythm.  I rummage in my jacket pocket for a Gaviscon.  This combination of eating in public, of anticipating being suddenly conspicuous, often triggers it.  Or the feeling of being captive, but not in sync, not sharing the spirit.  The muscles in my chest tighten like overloaded suspension cables.  My heartbeat starts to accelerate, and an impossible sensation is shooting down my left arm into my fist.  I know this isn’t a heart attack.  I’ve been through all that before.  It’s panic attack syndrome.  Other people’s words, faces and body language are becoming increasingly grotesque. They…

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